Resilience and the Owl of Minerva: Using Hegel’s Philosophy of History to Help LAS Students Find Faith in their Educational Choices

Activity: Talk or presentation / Performance / SpeechesTalk or presentation - at conferenceAcademic


Studying Liberal Arts and Sciences is a jump into the unknown. These programs lack a clear professional orientation and students often enter them without a clear idea of which academic disciplines they are most interested in or what they will be afterwards. This causes them a great deal of stress and anxiety; almost all LAS-students experience something of an identity crisis or question their educational choices at some point. In his Philosophy of History, Hegel presents a theory of the evolution of the world spirit throughout history. He shows that seemingly disconnected historical events are actually necessary phases in the dialectical development of the world spirit. However random and contingent they may appear to be at the time, they are indispensable steps in the world spirit’s ascension to full self-consciousness. And when that self-consciousness is achieved, the necessity of the steps that led to it, however purposeless they may have seemed at the time, becomes apparent. Hegel’s famous saying that the owl of Minerva flies only at dusk captures this insight. This presentation will argue that studying Hegel’s theory of history can help students reflect on the development of their own spirits. By considering the mechanism, which explains how events that may seem quite random at the time are understood as purposeful and necessary in retrospect, they may see how a similar mechanism is at work in their education. This can give them faith that the choices they are making now, which may seem quite random and without clear goal, are actually necessary for their own evolution and that, one day, looking back, they will understand why this is the case. Such faith may help them find the resilience they need to persevere in their education and stick with decisions they have made without fully understanding why.
Period19 Jan 2023
Event titleResilience in the Face of Adversity: A Core Textual Approach
Event typeConference
LocationTilburg, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational