Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel? Heinrich Heine? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel had a major influence on later schools of thought including Marxism and existentialism. Yet, critics have complained of his unintelligibility. One colorful anecdote claims that Hegel made the following pronouncement on his deathbed:
Only one man ever understood me, and even he didn’t understand me.
Would you please explore the provenance of this expression?
Quote Investigator: Hegel died in 1831, and in 1834 the prominent poet and essayist Heinrich Heine included the anecdote in “Zur Geschichte der Religion und Philosophie in Deutschland” (“On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany”): 1
Als Hegel auf dem Todtbette lag, sagte er: „nur Einer hat mich verstanden,” aber gleich darauf fügte er verdrießlich hinzu: „und der hat mich auch nicht verstanden.”
Here is one possible rendering in English:
When Hegel lay on his death-bed he said: ‘only one man has understood me;’ but immediately afterwards he added with chagrin: ‘nor did he understand me neither.’
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