BOOK THREE BERLIN
Hegel's Rectorate and the Celebration
of the Augsburg Confession in 1830
The Celebration of the Augsburg Confession
In 1826, a letter of Hegel to his children, then at Nuremberg, tells them of the battle of Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein there in the cause of Reform during the 30 years war.
Hegel wished though, to see the objectivity of Catholicism and the inwardness and subjective nostalgia of Protestantism overcome and united by the agency of philosophy. In his address, he defended the idea of 'justification by faith' against the supposed Pelagianism of the Roman Church. He drew a picture of the Roman Church of the late 16th and 17th centuries as corrupt and oppressive of the freedom of science and of faith. Celibacy undermined the family; the exaltation of poverty undermined work; bigotry justified mental laziness; and obedience exalted as virtue undermined conscience. The rejection of royal sovereignty, marriage, property, and self-certainty weakened the State. [There would be ready replies to some of this.] In contrast, he praised Protestantism.
At this time, Hegel also supported the idea of a church for the university, which had 1,800 students and around 100 families of lecturers. Berlin had not inherited church funds or buildings, but the case was strong in principle.
He fulfilled his tasks as Rector scrupulously. There were no outbreaks of demagogy amongst the students. In one case, a German hat was mistaken for a French cocard [revolutionary symbol], which gave rise to a comic story on the subject.
The Critique of the English Reform Bill 1831
"He felt so at home there, so happy, that he had come to abandon constitutionalism and to find the salvation of states in the monarchical principle as such, even deprived of popular representation, budgets, freedom of the press and public spirit. [...] It was thus that his political views turned more and more towards conservatism." (617)
The July 1830 Revolution in France
"Disposed as he was, the event of the July  revolution was a terrible blow for him. We lack written documents sufficiently important to be able to give an idea of Hegel's state of mind at this time." (618) [This of course, leaves room for doubt.]
"Now, as a number of his friends and Berlin students, notably Gans, were of a different opinion, to the point of enthusing over the July revolution and its possible consequences, there followed from then on violent discussions, often filled with animosity. (620)
"You know, Hegel was in the last period totally absolutist and he felt the liveliest aversion for the popular movements. He felt in particular a hatred full of fury for the troubles of Belgium and when these could not be snuffed out he was completely beside himself. It was above all Gans who was entirely on the other side from him, who had to bear with this bad political humor." (620n)
Rosenkranz comments that when one thinks that Hegel had seen the first French revolution, the Napoleonic wars, then a period of peace and personal prosperity under the Restoration, it is not surprising that a new revolution and the prospect of further wars would be repugnant to him. [Walter Kaufmann takes up this comment, I seem to remember.]
In due course, Hegel found an interpretation of the necessity of the July revolution in the opposition between the Catholic religion and the demands of the State for autonomy. Both principles demanded victory. The only answer, he thought, was a reform of the church. In Germany, there was no such contrast of sacred and profane. There was a further conflict between hommes de principes and hommes d'État. [men of principle and statesmen, in French in Rosenkranz.] The latter had a grasp of concrete tasks. He expanded these ideas in both his philosophy of religion and philosophy of history lectures.
The English Reform Bill
"Hegel was basically for the Bill, considered as an unavoidable measure demanded by justice and equity." (622)
- the weakness of the monarchical principle against parliament.
- the ostentatious character of political declamation, excepting Wellington's declarations.
- the bad state of informal private law.
- the cruel treatment inflicted on Ireland.
He lamented the depredations of large landowners, class rights, poverty amongst the people; church tithes and rich clergy; and the conduct of elections - this with an admirable erudition.
All in all, he painted England in too black colors and Germany too brightly in his despairing refrain on the former and praises of the latter, thinks Rosenkranz. He was arguing against blind admiration for England and denigration of Germany, but perhaps there is a morbid humor in the writing.
[Postscript: We have since covered Jacques D'Hondt's and Rudolf Haym's views of Hegel's politics in the Berlin period on this blog. I would recommend Walter Jaeschke's essay "Hegel's Last Year in Berlin" in Hegel's Concept of Action (ed. Stepelevich & Lamb. NJ: Humanities, 1983) for an informed, recent discussion of the above subjects. - SC]