The common representations of the “system collapse” of Hegelian philosophy are superficial and false.

The criticisms of Hegel in the 19th and 20th centuries are largely based on misunderstandings12 (especially in those forms that have become more familiar / effective).

J.E.Erdmann3, C.L.Michelet4 and C.Rosenkranz5 continued to teach and research (and write good books) as Hegelian professors until the 1870s, but after 1848 only a few people were interested.

There were many local Hegel renaissances outside Germany during Hegel’s time and afterwards (in all Scandinavia until about 1870, in Poland and Russia in the 19th century, in the UK6 and the USA7 in the second half of the 19th century, in Italy from Hegel’s time uninterruptedly until the end of the 20th century etc.)

However, all these Hegel receptions were only partially and also partially deficient, we are in a better situation today.

Personally, I assume that in future Hegel will get the status Plato and Aristotle had in the previous 2500 years.

Chronological listing (1830-1850)

In the following I will try to summarise some of the facts there together with many other single observations from various sources chronologically:

The following should be read against the background of the circumstances of Hegel’s last years in Berlin, as described on the Hegel Biography, in the section about Berlin8.

Further negative developments in 2nd half of the 19th century, adding to a climate negative to Hegel

All this leads to the fact that Hegel is a “dead dog” in the public consciousness (but also at the universities, where in the 19th century the process of the separation of the individual sciences from philosophy is taking place anyway - another point!

Summary of the biggest problems in the environment

In principle, at least three hostile tendencies come together from the surrounding area, which the Hegelians could no longer sufficiently oppose after Hegel’s death:

Philosophical-historical - inner philosophical explanation

From the point of view of the history of philosophy, of course, it should also be possible to explain the whole thing from an inner-philosophical point of view; that would be most interesting.


  1. For a detailed examination and refution of the critiques that appeared at Hegel’s lifetime, see Burkhardt, Bernd: “Hegels ‘Wissenschaft der Logik’ im Spannungsfeld der Kritik - Historische und systematische Untersuchungen zur Diskussion um Funktion und Leistungsfähigkeit von Hegels”Wissenschaft der Logik" bis 1831", Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim, 1993↩︎

  2. For an examiniation and refutuion of the critiques of Hegel’s logic in the works of the German 19th century Philosophy books on Logic, see Frank-Peter Hansen “Geschichte der Logik des 19. Jahrhunderts. Eine kritische Einführung in die Anfänge der Erkenntnis- und Wissenschaftstheorie,” Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg, 2000.↩︎






  8. see the part on Hegel in Berlin within our Hegel biography↩︎



  11. Very detailed, with lot of further literature at Wolfgang Eßbach: “Die Junghegelianer - Soziologie einer Intellektuellengruppe,” Wilhelm Finck Verlag, München 1988. Regarding which place hosted which Young Hegelians, see the useful overview at pp.40-42 (Online Version of pp.40-41).↩︎

  12., more works to download↩︎

  13. The development of the Hegelian school from a philosophical context is described in details in German at Michelet “Geschichte der letzten Systeme der Philosophie” (Band 1, 1837, Band 2, 1838) and Erdmann “Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie,” Band 2 (1. Auflage, 1866, 2. Auflage, 1870). An English version of Erdmann’s decription is his “History of Philosophy,” Vol.3↩︎

  14. I am thinking of Heine 1830 “Reisebilder, Vierter Teil, Die Stadt Lucca, Kapitel 2” and Heine 1834 “zur Geschichte der Religion und Philosophie in Deutschland,” Drittes Buch.↩︎

  15. On the disappointed expectations of the young Hegelians in connection with the new king see Eßbacher pp.121ff.↩︎

  16. See detailed source for the “Dragon Seed” quote (in German)↩︎

  17. The list of the prominent attendees of Schelling in Berlin I took from↩︎

  18. on Trendelenburg see Klaus Christian Köhnke 1986 “Untersuchung zu Entstehung und Aufstieg des Neukantianismus”; pp.35-57, on his greatly underestimated role in the politics of philosophy in Prussia, see in particular p.43: "Not as a philosophical author, but as a long-standing professor at Germany’s largest university, as its multiple rector and above all as a Prussian cultural politician and ‘man of school supervision,’ Trendelenburg, like the reform pedagogue Paul Petersen said ‘a full human age dominated the Berlin university’ and the ‘Prussian school system was largely under his influence can assume.’ Köhnke also presents Trendelenburg’s philosophy and his critique of Hegel and criticises it, similarly to Frank-Peter Hansen, loc. cit, pp.46-52.↩︎

  19. Trendelenburg “logische Untersuchungen” 1840 Bd.1, Bd.2↩︎

  20. Trendelenburg 1843 “Die logische Frage in Hegels System”↩︎

  21. Wolfgang Eßbach: “Die Junghegelianer - Soziologie einer Intellektuellengruppe,” Wilhelm Finck Verlag, München 1988↩︎

  22., see also next footnote↩︎

  23. Bruno Bauer 1841 ”Posaune des jüngsten Gerichtes" Regarding the context of the “Posaune” see Eßbacher S.124-130, regarding Bauer within the further context of the other Young Hegelians p.173ff.↩︎

  24. see Karl Hegel’s Autobiography↩︎

  25. Klaus Christian Köhnke “Untersuchung zu Entstehung und Aufstieg des Neukantianismus”↩︎

  26. Haym 1857 “Hegel und seine Zeit”.↩︎

  27. Domenico Losurdo “Hegel und das deutsche Erbe. Philosophie und nationale Frage zwischen Revolution und Reaktion,” Pahl Rugenstein Verlag↩︎

  28. Rosenkranz 1844 “Hegels Leben”↩︎

  29. see and↩︎

  30. Vittorio Hösle: “Moralische Aufklärung und Institutionenverfall - Zur Dialektik von Aufklärung und Gegenaufklärung”↩︎

  31. Vittorio Hösle: “Wahrheit und Geschichte.” Frommann-Holzboog, Stuttgart 1986.↩︎

  32. see↩︎