Hegel’s Contacts with and Knowledge of the Scottish Enlightenment

  • Norbert Waszek
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 120)


The aim of the present chapter is to bring together and evaluate the evidence of Hegel’s direct and indirect contacts with Scottish philosophy. This task will be dealt with in three stages: (a) the question of Hegel’s knowledge of English is examined; (b) the dates and extent of Hegel’s reading and indirect knowledge of the Scottish Literati are reconstructed; (c) Hegel’s explicit references to the Scots are collected and scrutinized.


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    Cp.: H.S. Harris (1972) p. 155.Google Scholar
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    Hans Strahm, p. 514, interpreted Hegel’s utterances in this way. For further support, one should consider the formulations Hegel used in some other letters to Schelling, for example, HBr, Vol. I, pp. 32 + 59 - HL, pp. 42 + 64; see also Harris (1792) p. 157 note.Google Scholar
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    The library was later sold and there exists an auction catalogue: Catalogue de la Bibliotheque de Tschougg (Bern, 1880) which contains 1389 items. Hans Strahm’s article (pp. 527–531) includes a list of selected items. Dr. Helmut Schneider (Hegel-Archives, Bochum) is preparing a reprint of the catalogue and has kindly allowed me to use his copy. — An extract from the auction catalogue forms appendix V of the present study.Google Scholar
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    H.S. Harris gets only the English title wrong, probably because Hoffmeister did not give it, and calls it: “Principles of Moral Philosophy” (1972, p. 51 note). Harris seems to be followed by Ripalda (1977, p. 31), who begins by calling it “Principles of Moral Philosophy” but manages to alter this, in the course of one page, to “Principles of Modern Philosophy.” — R. Plant, in turn, confuses the “Institutes” (which Garve did translate) with the “Essay on the History of Civil Society” (which was not translated by Garve, but by C.F. Jünger), and his error is repeated by Cullen (Plant, 1973, p. 17; Cullen, 1979, p. 3). — For the bibliographical details, see: Appendix I.Google Scholar
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    See Hegel’s diary, the entries of February 18, 1786 and January 5, 1787 (DHE, pp. 29 + 40 f.) and compare the notes of Hoffmeister (DHE, pp. 406 f.) and F. Nicolın (1970) pp. 131 & 137; see also Rosenkranz (1844) p. 12.Google Scholar
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    H.S. Harris (1972, p. 271 n.) is probably right in describing Herder’s influence on the young Hegel as “the hardest to estimate reliably”, but he himself has collected valuable evidence (p. 188 note), such as Hölderlin’s letter to Hegel (dated January 25, 1795; HBr, Vol. I, p. 19) from which Hegel’s knowledge of Herder can be inferred; cp.: Haym (1857) p. 35; Haering (1929) p. 40; for internal evidence, see: J. Schwarz (1938) pp. 19–30.Google Scholar
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    F.H. Jacobi, Eduard Allwills Papiere. [First published in 1776] = Reprint: (Stuttgart, 1962). In 1792, a revised version appeared under the title: Allwills Brief Sammlung which is reprinted in: Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Werke. Edited by Friedrich Roth and Friedrich Köppen. In VI vols. (Leipzig, 1812–1825), here Vol. I, pp. 1–226. — Although “Allwill” does not contain any explicit references to the Scottish Enlightenment, there appear to be some affinities, particularly obvious in the 1776 version, with the Scots’ views. To follow up these affinities would go beyond the scope of the present study.Google Scholar
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    F.H. Jacobi, Woldemar. Eine Seltenheit aus der Naturgeschichte (Flensburg and Leipzig, 1779). Revised and enlarged editions were published in 1794 and 1796. I have used a reprint of the 1796 edition contained in: Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi: Werke (1812–25), here Vol. V (Leipzig, 1820). — The following page references are to this edition.Google Scholar
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    Since much of our knowledge of Hegel’s Frankfurt and Bern years, especially with respect to his political and historical studies, depends upon manuscripts (such as DHE, pp. 257–277) the originals of which have been lost and cannot therefore be dated with precision, the two periods are here treated together. Cp.: Harris (1972) p. 417 and note; Pöggeler (1974) p. 74.Google Scholar
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    HBibl, p. 44, Nos.: 1101–1111: William Robertson, History of Scotland. 3 parts in 6 vols. (Basel, 1791); An historical Disquisition concerning India (Basel, 1792); The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V. In 4 vols. (Vienna, 1787).Google Scholar
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    H. Emmel, “Gemüt”, Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie. Ed. by Joachim Ritter and Karlfried Gründer (Basel and Stuttgart, 1971 ff) 5 vols, have appeared so far, here Vol. 3, pp. 258–262; Otto Pȯggeler (1974) pp. 96 f.Google Scholar
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    J.C. Friedrich Schiller, “Uber die asthetische Erziehung des Menschen” [1795]. I have used the following edition: Schillers Philosophısche Schrıften. Ed. by Jost Perfahl, with notes by Helmut Koopmann (München, 1968) pp. 311–408, here pp. 366–376. The following page references are to this edition. There is also an excellent bilingual edition: On the Aesthetic Education of Man. Ed. by E.M. Wilkinson & L.A. Willoughby (Oxford, 1967).Google Scholar
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    HTJ, p. 266; TWA, Vol. I, p. 324 — for an English translation, see: G.W.F. Hegel: Early Theological Writings. Translated by T.M. Knox, with an introduction by Richard Kroner (Chicago, 1948) p. 212.Google Scholar
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    In a letter to Schelling, dated April 16, 1795, Hegel calls the letters “a masterpiece”: HL, p. 36-HBr, Vol. I, p. 25.Google Scholar
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    M.A. Goldberg, Smollett and the Scottish School (Albuquerque, 1959), especially pp. 1–21.Google Scholar
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    Some references to the Scots in other writings which correspond to Hegel’s history of philosophy, e.g. his references to Hume in “Glauben und Wissen” (“Faith and Knowledge”), will also be dealt with in this context.Google Scholar
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    HTJ, pp. 357–8. — This parallel was suggested, in a passing way, by Ripalda (1973, p. 109 note), but not followed up or fully documented.Google Scholar
  123. 129.
    Gisela Schüler, “Zur Chronologie von Hegels Jugendschriften”, HS, Vol. II (1963) pp. 111–159, here p. 128.Google Scholar
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    To be found in Rosenkranz (1844) pp. 529 f; DHE, pp. 273 f; TWA, Vol. I, p. 446 -for an English translation, see: Clark Butler, “Hegel’s Fragments of Historical Studies”, with an introduction by H.S. Harris: Clıo. Vol. 7, No. 1 (1977) pp 113–134 here pp. 127–8.Google Scholar
  125. 133.
    DHE, p. 273 — the English translation is quoted from Clark Butler (1977) p. 127.Google Scholar
  126. 134.
    Cp.: TWA, Vol. I, pp. 234 f. For Hegel’s authorship of this manuscript, see: Otto Pòggeler, “Hegel, der Verfasser des ältesten Systemprogramms des deutschen Idealismus”, HSBh 4 (1968) pp. 17–32.Google Scholar
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    DHE, pp. 10 and 7 respectively.Google Scholar
  128. 137.
    TWA, Vol. XII, p. 48 — The same image occurs in the ‘Phenomenology’: TWA, Vol. III, p. 489.Google Scholar
  129. 138.
    William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar IV. 3 (slightly modified); O. Pöggeler has frequently and rightly stressed this point, for example: “Der junge Hegel und die Lehre vom weltgeschichtlichen Individuum”, D. Henrich & R.P. Horstmann (Eds.), Hegels Philosophie des Rechts (Stuttgart, 1982) pp. 17–37, here p. 36. However, he makes rather little, in this context, of the fragment on Hume.Google Scholar
  130. 139.
    Sh. Avineri (1972) pp. 230–234; Charles Taylor, Hegel (Cambridge, 1975) pp. 392 f.Google Scholar
  131. 140.
    In this context, Duncan Forbes recalls the insular position of England and quotes very aptly from J.P. Kenyon, The Stuart Constitution (Cambridge, 1966): “... the revolution of 1688 stamped England as a wildly eccentric country outside the mainstream of European political development.” (DHH, p. xxiii).Google Scholar
  132. 141.
    DHH, p. LII — The phrase “ignorant armies...” goes back to Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach”, The Poems of Matthew Arnold. Ed. by K. Allott, second edition revised by M. Allott (London & New York, 1979) p. 257.Google Scholar
  133. 143.
    In their notes to the new critical edition (HGW, Vol. VI, pp. 384–5) Profs. Dusing and Kimmerle have convincingly argued that the reference is to the English edition of Smith’s “Wealth of Nations’ to be found in Hegel’s library” (HBibl, p. 11, No.: 239–42; cp.: Appendix IV).Google Scholar
  134. 144.
    Nathan Rosenberg, “Adam Smith on the Division of Labour: Two Views or One?”, Economica (1965) Vol. XXXII, New Series, pp. 127–139, here p. 127.Google Scholar
  135. 145.
    A conclusion that is further supported by the 1819/20 lecture course, cp.: PhRDH, pp. 158 f: “Smith, in his work on the wealth of nation[s], was the first to draw attention above all to the division of labour.”Google Scholar
  136. 147.
    VRP, Vol. I, p. 313. This definition goes back to the natural law essay: HGW, Vol. IV, p. 450; cp.: VRP, Vol. IV, p. 499.Google Scholar
  137. 148.
    A review of the German translation of Say’s “Traité” appeared, for example, in the “Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung” (Nos.: 139 & 140, June 15 & 16, 1807, pp. 498–510), a journal which, we know, Hegel read regularly. The review presents Say’s work as a successful popularization as well as a further development of Smithian principles.Google Scholar
  138. 148a.
    See above, chapter one, p. 53; cp.: Ludwig Siep’s forthcoming article “Hegels Theorie der Gewaltenteilung”, will appear in: Hans-Christian Lucas & Otto Pȯggler (Eds), Hegels Rechtsphilosophie im Zusammenhang der europäischen Verfassungsge-schichte (Stuttgart, 1986).Google Scholar
  139. 150.
    W.G. Tennemann, Geschichte der Philosophic In 11 vols. (Leipzig, 1798–1819); Amadeus Wendt (Ed.), Tennemann s Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie (Leipzig, 3rd edition, 1820);Google Scholar
  140. 150a.
    J.G. Buhle, Geschichte der neuern Philosophie. In 6 vols. (Gȯttingen, 1800–4);Google Scholar
  141. 151a.
    T.A. Rixner, Handbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie. In 4 vols. (Sulzbach, 2nd edition, 1829). The specified editions are those that I was able to use.Google Scholar
  142. 151.
    Apart from the introductory sections of his lectures (cp.: MS, M. Pinder [Hegel-Archives, Bochum] p. 28; MS, Helcel [Polish Academy of Science, Cracow] pp. 15 f), the point is made in the section on Newton (MS, von Griesheim, p. 202; MS Löwe, p. 279; TWA, Vol. XX, pp. 232 f).Google Scholar
  143. 152.
    WW, § 7, pp. 13 f - TWA, Vol. VIII, pp. 50 f.Google Scholar
  144. 153.
    TWA, Vol. XX, pp. 285 f - LHP, Vol, III, pp. 375–379.Google Scholar
  145. 154.
    Cp.: Josef Socher, Grundriss der Geschichte der philosophischen Systeme von den Griechen bis auf Kant (München, 1802) pp. 263–267; Tennemann/Wendt (1820) pp. 340–345; D.F. Ast, Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie (Landshut, 2nd edition, 1825) pp. 354–359; Rixner (1829) Vol. III, pp. 249–264.Google Scholar
  146. 154a.
    The line from Hume to Jacobi to German Idealism is drawn most clearly in Hegel’s “Glauben und Wissen”, HGW, Vol. IV, pp. 315–414 (for the Hume-Jacobi relation, in particular, see pp. 346–349, 375 f) — for an English translation, see: G.W.F. Hegel, Faith and Knowledge. Translated by Walter Cerf and H.S. Harris (New York, 1979) pp. 97–100, 137 f. See also Hegel’s 1819 lectures on the history of philosophy: MS Meyer [University Library, München] pp. 309 ff; MS Carriere [Hegel-Archives, Bochum] pp. 24c ff.Google Scholar
  147. 155.
    For Kant’s comments on the Scots, see above, chapter two, p. 81; among the textbooks, Rixner (1829, Vol. III, p. 250) is a good example, as he starts his Hume section by quoting Kant’s famous words that it was Hume who aroused him from his dogmatic slumber.Google Scholar
  148. 156.
    LHP, Vol. III, pp. 369 f - TWA, Vol. XX, pp. 275 f; cp.: Rixner (1829) Vol. III, p. 250.Google Scholar
  149. 156a.
    TWA Vol. XX, pp 278 f. I have altered the English translation of E.S. Haldane and F.H. Simson (LHP, Vol. III, p. 372) in this case as their rendering “we cannot get any deeper in thought” does not appear to match Hegel’s “herunterkommen”.Google Scholar
  150. 157.
    TWA, Vol. XX, p. 282: “Their principles are moral sense, benevolent propensities, sympathy, etc.”Google Scholar
  151. 158.
    MS, Carriere [Hegel-Archives, Bochum] p. 24 g.Google Scholar
  152. 158a.
    TWA Vol. XX, p 286 - LHP, Vol. III, pp. 378 f; I have replaced “healthy human understanding” by the more appropriate “common sense”.Google Scholar
  153. 159.
    MS, Diecks [1827/28] p. 129. Photographs of the original manuscript, marked “Privatbesitz” have reached the Hegel-Archives (Bochum) via Johannes Hoffmeister’s estate. Since the owner and the location of the original manuscript are no longer known (it has to be feared that the manuscript was destroyed during the last war), I have quoted from the surviving photographs by kind permission of the Hegel-Archives (Bochum).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norbert Waszek
    • 1
  1. 1.Hegel-Archiv der Ruhr UniversitätBochumGermany

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