Hegel to Niethammer,
January 6, 1814

Source: Hegel: The Letters, translated by Clark Butler and Christine Seiler with commentary by Clark Butler, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, © Purdue Research Foundation.
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden for Marxists.org, 2005.

Nuremberg, January 6, 1814

... All this I am still getting done this morning by lamp so as to be able to add what Held will express himself, and to send this letter on time. I cannot help mentioning to you that I am starting to have often very confused fantasies. I have just awakened from one such dream, which allows nothing else to come to verbal expression in me. Thus I will probably have to recount it to free myself of it. It appeared to me quite vividly in the dream that I was in a large group attending a disputation in which two physiologists – I now believe the entire dream stemmed from the fact that a medical student handed me your letter – discussed the relative merits of apes and pigs. One confessed to being an adherent of philanthropinism. With a loudmouthed corpulent fellow named Pippel standing at his side, he went on to defend the well-known physiological thesis that, among all the animals, pigs most resemble human beings in their digestive and other intestinal organs. The other physiologist declared himself a partisan of humanism. He belittled the similarity of digestive organs and extolled apes, on the contrary, for their drollery, humanlike appearance, mannerisms, imitative ability, and so forth. That fellow Pippel, however, continually wanted to bring up still other matters, even juridical matters such as human rights, constitutions, government, and so forth. But the moderator, who, so to speak, played the role of fate throughout the whole proceeding, treated all matters of this sort as mere irrelevancies, mere packaging. He disallowed them from being seriously discussed, and remained firm in his insistence that the topic was merely the relative virtues of the two species of animals. But a super-clever man, murmuring in the corner more or less to himself, then asked the moderator – in a manner that seemed to me quite unrelated – whether he meant that Pippel, should he someday feel a swelling in his heart and head, would, as is well known, risk the shirt off his back; that aristocrats would put this to their advantage; and that Pippel would thus play the fool in a game – as in fact occurs quite legally in the name of the Devil, and has always occurred from time immemorial. The historian Zschokke then ran up to jump in, shouting that the people of Bern had already received an answer at least verbally from Zurich, but that there were still many other considerations – some of them already presented and some of them about to be presented – to which there was still no reply in sight; that the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition, monks, and an infinity of other things Spanish and Portuguese also militated on his behalf, and so on. At that point I woke up. But it seemed difficult to me to have to go to class and lecture on law.

P.S. I have spoken with Held. His reply is in complete accord with the views you yourself have formed in his own best interest, so that it would be very painful for him at present to be torn away from his quiet and his studies. ...



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