Volume 52, 2018
Philosophy of History
Hegel and the End of History: No Panacea
Hegel boldly proclaimed that the time for searching for the truth had come to an end, not because such truth was an illusion and the search was misguided, but because we were at last in a position to grasp the truth in its fullness. What the Hegelian philosophy seems to offer is “the absolute” itself, the ultimate ground of all knowledge, knowledge free from skeptical doubts, knowledge which is underwritten by Hegel’s equally grand claim, in The Philosophy of History, that in Europe of his day, history had “come to an end”. While Hegel’s claims may strike a contemporary reader as naively optimistic, outmoded and quaint, or bombastic and dangerous, I will attempt an interpretation of Hegel’s thesis on the “end of history” which I hope is plausible today. Having done that, I will then argue that even this defense of the Hegelian thesis cannot salvage the “end of history” as a panacea. History might have come to an end and the fullness of truth revealed itself, and yet we have grounds to fear that our relationship to truth is as contested as ever.