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  • Thumbnail for  Redefining historical consciousness in the age of the nation-state
    Redefining historical consciousness in the age of the nation-state by Epstein, Alexandra

    The rise of the nation-state since modernity is a phenomenon that has been studied by theorists across various fields. What is it about the past few centuries that have inspired men to place so much faith in their nation? My paper will seek to ground G.W.F. Hegel’s Philosophy of History as the philosophical work that legitimized the nation’s rise to power, through the construction of a national historical consciousness. Hegel was the first thinker who attempted to unite the subjective self with the objective, by making the objective realizable through a philosophic understanding of history. The nation-state, Hegel suggested, was the ‘end of history’, because through individual thought man found himself to be reflected in his nation. The questions I will ask in my paper are: does Hegel go far enough to ground his extraordinary claim, that we can internalize our historical destiny through reason? How did his claims about history influence his followers, for better or for worse? Have we really reached the ‘end of history’, or did Hegel mean something else by his famous phrase? Last, is it still likely for national history to reveal a shared consciousness in today’s multicultural world? With these questions, I hope to provide a new perspective regarding Hegel’s Philosophy of History, as well as give the discipline of history a new place in our modern world.