Georg Wilh. Friedr. Hegel 1770 – 1831

Born in Stuttgart and educated in Tübingen, Hegel was a philosopher who devoted his life wholly to academic pursuits. His absolute idealism criticised the epistemological distinction of objective from subjective and it has been frequently suggested that his philosophy provided an intellectual foundation for modern nationalism.

In ‘A Defence of the Boulevardier’, Emmett Williams compares Hegel, with his contemporary in Berlin, the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, – “They were never chums”. Williams draws attention to the fact that though Humboldt has so many things named after him; universities, mountain ranges and animal species, etc., Hegel by contrast, seems to have no such honours – though Williams does point to a tiny café next to a bordello on Berlin’s Savignyplatz! 

If this was not bad enough for poor Hegel, another contemporary, Arthur Schopenhauer wrote; ‘Hegel’s philosophy is a colossal piece of mystification which will yet provide posterity with an inexhaustible theme for laughter at our times, that it is a pseudo-philosophy paralysing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking, and, by the most outrageous misuse of language, putting in it’s place the hollowest, most senseless, thoughtless, and, as is confirmed by it’s success, most stupefying verbiage…’  

On his deathbed – 14th Nov. 1831 – Hegel’s last words were, “And he didn’t understand me.”