The Flow of History:

Hegel's Historical Idealism Vs. Geussian-Benjaminian's Historical Realism


  • Ramze Endut Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA) Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)


History, Idealism, Realism, Historical Continuity, Historical Discontinuity


This paper aims to study the concept of history in two opposite dimensions: idealism vs realism. As the background of discussion, I start by introducing GWF Hegel’s progressive reading of history. With this approach, Hegel would like to demonstrate history in a linear and rationalistic perspectives as symbolizes in his famous dictum, "what is rational is real; and what is real is rational." As a result, this teleological perspective portrays the concept of history in a closed history and totally encompassing the past/present/future. I would argue this optimism and normative view of history is highly problematic. Following that, I invite Raymond Geuss who argues that certain society has its sense of locatedness and metaphysical need. This argument based on his proposal that each and every society should be understood in its specific historical context. It is at this point, I link the discussion to Walter Benjamin's "On the Concept of History" by illustrating the discontinuity flow of history. Unlike Hegel, Benjamin views history as non-linear. Therefore, contrary to Hegel’s optimistic reading of history, it seems that Benjamin's historical conception is likely pessimistic. To conclude, inspired by Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, I discuss the tension between Hegel's historical idealism and GeussianBenjaminian's historical realism by suggesting that our history is apparently trapped into the power of present time; where the present has become too broad: capturing altogether the recorded past and the predictable future.




How to Cite

Endut, R. (2023). The Flow of History:: Hegel’s Historical Idealism Vs. Geussian-Benjaminian’s Historical Realism. Journal of Ethnic and Diversity Studies (JOEDS), 1(2). Retrieved from