Hegel’s Rejection of the Concept of Force

  • Karl-Norbert Ihmig
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire Des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 136)


In Germany, the influence of Hegel’s philosophy began to ebb away as soon as he passed from the scene in November 1831. His successor in Berlin, Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg, helped on the decline, as did the subsequent arrival of Schelling in the Prussian capital. Many regarded the way in which Hegel had dealt with the empirical sciences as scandalous in the extreme. By the middle of the century there was a general conviction that there should be a much closer connection between philosophy and the empirical research being carried out in the natural sciences, and that this could only be brought about by a revival of Kantianism. Hermann von Helmholtz was one of the first to advocate a return to the philosophy of Kant. In a lecture “On human vision”, delivered in 1855, he put forward the view that Hegel’s criticism of Newton was one of the main reasons why his philosophy had fallen so completely out of favour. In this particular respect he associated him closely with Schelling, and observed that:

The way in which these scholls of thought set themselves up in opposition to the proper principles of scientific research, is particularly noticeable in the eminently unphilosophical and unbalanced manner in which Hegel and certain of his followers inveighed against the theories of Newton.1


Centrifugal Force Centripetal Force Planetary Motion Universal Gravitation Independent Force 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

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  • Karl-Norbert Ihmig

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