He he plunges into the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831). Or, as his friends call him, Hegel.
He warns his listeners, "Yo les había dicho que Kant era difícil. Bueno, Hegel es más defícil. Es mucho más defícil." ("I told you that Kant was difficult. Well, Hegel is more difficult. Is much more difficult.")
He begins his approach by describing how Hegel conceived of dialectics as "historical process." Hegel saw history as a permanently developing process, "and that this development is a dialectial development." It proceeds by affirmations, negations and the overcoming of negations, explains Feinmann. He clarifies in a second formulation, "once again the negation that negates the established and the conciliation of the third dialectical moment that contains the antagonisms." And in this way, "history advances by means of negation."
Hegel saw history prceeding in a linear continuity, explains Feinmann. And the dialectical stages in which he invisioned it occuring each "constitutes itself as a totality." And he notes that "the concept of totality is the one that will come to be most questioned in Hegel, for these thoughts that are very close to the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the crisis of the Soviet Union, and the crisis of Marxist thought. When one critiques Hegel, one is criticizing Marx in these cases."
The most appealing of Feinamann's formulations in this segment is when he says:
... Hegel es el primer filósofo que dice: "La historia es mi materia, la historia es lo que yo tengo que pensar."Feinmann does a great job here of failing at what is an impossible task for anyone: providing a good introduction to Hegel in a 30-minute presentation for a general audience.
[... Hegel is the first philosopher who says: "History is my material, history is that of which I have to think."]
He does it by continuing his practice in this series of understanding the philosopher he's discussing in the context of his own time and tying his thought to more recent historical events. That's especially appropriate for Hegel, who, as Feinmann says, not only constructed a philosophy of history but took human history as the material for his philosophising.
He had influences for this, of course. Not the least of them was Jewish and Christian apocalyptic thought in the Christian Bible. As even a Hegelian-Marxist scholar like Herbert Marcuse was careful to note, Hegel was very much a Christian philosopher.
Hegel's contemporary Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803), for instance, elaborated a philosophy of history. But it was Hegel's comprehensive version that was to have such a huge influence, not least on Marxist thought. Karl Löwith even argued that every later theory of history as a progressive process of development wound up being influenced by Hegel's.
Feinmann emphasizes the importance of Hegel's influence by describing various thinkers who have grappled in some way with Hegel's thought:
Louis Althusser (1918–1990)
Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007)
Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995)
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)
Michel Foucault (1926–1984)
Jean-François Lyotard (1924–1998)
Gianni Vattimo (1936− )
He also mentions Walter Benjamin's (1892–1940) notion of history as catastrophe.