Main content

Hegel's Philosophy of History

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Hegel's ideas on history as the progress of the consciousness of freedom, and whether we enjoy more freedom now than those in past centuries.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ideas of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 - 1831) on history. Hegel, one of the most influential of the modern philosophers, described history as the progress in the consciousness of freedom, asking whether we enjoy more freedom now than those who came before us. To explore this, he looked into the past to identify periods when freedom was moving from the one to the few to the all, arguing that once we understand the true nature of freedom we reach an endpoint in understanding. That end of history, as it's known, describes an understanding of freedom so far progressed, so profound, that it cannot be extended or deepened even if it can be lost.


Sally Sedgwick
Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Boston University

Robert Stern
Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield


Stephen Houlgate
Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

52 minutes

Last on

Thu 26 May 2022 21:30



Stephen Houlgate at the University of Warwick

Sally Sedgwick at Boston University

Robert Stern at the University of Sheffield


Eric Michael Dale, Hegel, the End of History, and the Future (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Michael N. Forster and Kristin Gjesdal (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of German Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford University Press, 2015), especially ‘Philosophy of History’ by Sally Sedgwick

G. W. F. Hegel (trans. J. Sibree), The Philosophy of History (Dover, 1956)

G. W. F. Hegel (ed. Johannes Hoffmeister), Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction, Reason in History (Cambridge University Press, 1975)

G. W. F. Hegel (trans. H. B. Nisbet), Elements of the Philosophy of Right (Cambridge University Press, 1991)

G. W. F. Hegel (ed. and trans. Robert F. Brown and Peter C. Hodgson), Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, volume 1: Manuscripts of the Introduction and the Lectures of 1822-3 (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Gunnar Hindrichs and Axel Honneth (eds.), Freiheit: Stuttgarter Hegel-Kongress 2011, (Klostermann, 2011), especially ‘Freedom in History’ by Michael Rosen

Peter C. Hodgson, Shapes of Freedom: Hegel’s Philosophy of World History in Theological Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Stephen Houlgate, Hegel: Freedom, Truth, and History, 2nd edn (Blackwell, 2005), especially Chapter 1

Stephen Houlgate and Michael Baur (eds.), A Companion to Hegel (John Wiley & Sons, 2011), especially ‘Hegel and Ranke: A Re-examination’ by Frederick C. Beiser and ‘“The Ruling Categories of the World”: The Trinity in Hegel’s Philosophy of History and The Rise and Fall of Peoples’ by Robert Bernasconi

Jean Hyppolite (trans. Bond Harris and Jacqueline Bouchard Spurlock), Introduction to Hegel’s Philosophy of History (University Press of Florida, 1996)

Thomas A. Lewis, Religion, Modernity, and Politics in Hegel (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Joe McCarney, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Hegel on History (Routledge, 2000)

Angelica Nuzzo, Memory, History, Justice in Hegel (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

George Dennis O’Brien, Hegel on Reason and History (Chicago University Press, 1975)

Terry Pinkard, Does History Make Sense? Hegel on the Historical Shapes of Justice (Harvard University Press, 2017)

Sally Sedgwick, Time and History in Hegelian Thought and Spirit (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

Rudolf J. Siebert, Hegel’s Philosophy of History: Theological, Humanistic, and Scientific Elements (University Press of America, 1979)

Olufemi Taiwo, ‘Exorcising Hegel’s Ghost: Africa’s Challenge to Philosophy’ (African Studies Quarterly 1, 1998)

Burleigh Taylor Wilkins, Hegel’s Philosophy of History (Cornell University Press, 1974)


Georg Hegel - Wikipedia


  • Thu 26 May 2022 09:00
  • Thu 26 May 2022 21:30

Featured in...

In Our Time podcasts

In Our Time podcasts

Every episode of In Our Time is available to download.

The In Our Time Listeners' Top 10

The In Our Time Listeners' Top 10

If you’re new to In Our Time, this is a good place to start.

Arts and Ideas podcast

Arts and Ideas podcast

Download the best of Radio 3's Free Thinking programme.