No Comment, Quotation — February 15, 2008, 7:52 am

Hegel on Athena’s Owl

Um noch über das Belehren, wie die Welt sein soll, ein Wort zu sagen, so kommt dazu ohnehin die Philosophie immer zu spät. Als der Gedanke der Welt erscheint sie erst in der Zeit, nachdem die Wirklichkeit ihren Bildungsprozeß vollendet und sich fertig gemacht hat. Dies, was der Begriff lehrt, zeigt notwendig ebenso die Geschichte, daß erst in der Reife der Wirklichkeit das Ideale dem Realen gegenüber erscheint. . . Wenn die Philosophie ihr Grau in Grau malt, dann ist eine Gestalt des Lebens alt geworden, und mit Grau in Grau läßt sie sich nicht verjüngen, sondern nur erkennen; die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug.

To come back to the learning of how the world should be, let me offer this: philosophy always comes to the question too late. As the concept of the world, she always makes her first appearance after reality has completed her educational process and thus has completed the transformational process. What the concept teaches shows just as history does that the ideal appears across from the real for the first time in maturity. . . As philosophy paints in its shades of gray-upon-gray, one form of life grows old, and the gray-upon-gray will not make it younger, it will only permit recognition; Athena’s owl takes flight only as the dusk begins to break.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, Vorrede (1821) in: Sämtliche Werke, vol. 7, p. 37 (H. Glockner ed. 1927)(S.H. transl.)

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