For Hegel, all reality (everything) was interrelated within one vast, complex system or whole which he called the Absolute. All consciousness is part of Absolute Knowing [Phenomenology of Spirit], all concepts belong to the Absolute Idea [Science of Logic], all the world is Absolute Spirit [Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline].
However, Hegel's monism is something intended [by Spirit], the outcome of a process, and not presupposed. (Does that mean he doesn't have to prove it?) Therefore Hegel's reality is monistic and not monistica multiplicity or world of differences that drives itself beyond itself towards difference in identity and multiplicity in unity.
Idealism: The idea that mind or spirit is [the ultimate] reality [being] or that thought is the world [and not just stuff circling around in your head].
The Absolute (see above) is also a thinking/speaking reality, thought thinking itself as self-consciousness. Hegels idealism is again the result of process, not a presupposition. All material reality (so it does exist!) will be ultimately subsumed in the ideal.
Critique: Kant introduced the term for the critical examination of reason by itself. Kants presupposition that analyzing the structures of thought is the key to understanding reality. For Hegel, reality is identical to thought: The real is rational and the rational real. Reality is rational process. The Absolute emerges through critique of itselfsomething like critical introspection of whatever stages of consciousness it happens to be at, and which will result in TOTAL CONSCIOUSNESS or ABSOLUTE KNOWING.
Romanticism: the basic idea that man is a finite principle tending
to the infinite. Obviously Hegel is a Romantic. His romanticism
is that the infinity is only fulfilled and realized by speculative thought,
reason, self-consciousnessand things like religious feeling, moralism,
or aesthetic contemplation cannot achieve infinity because each involves
a self-annihilation of the human spirit.
When Hegel says that negation is always determinate," he means that it always has a positive element. The negation of a philosophical system, for example, is always [always produces] a more complete philosophical understanding. That something new.
The dialectic advances because, says Hegel, its second moment, the negation of a thesis, does not simply obliterate the thesis. That's what most negations do [if you "negate" there is a pizza on the table you get "there is no pizza on the table"--the obliteration of the pizza.] Not so, says Hegel.
THE CONCRETE UNIVERSAL
Hegel distinguishes between the abstract universal concept and the concrete universal concept which is the abstract such as it is realized in the world. But this is still a thought: there are still [what we would call] the realities themselves, which dont really exist according to an idealist.
UNDERSTANDING VS REASONING
Understanding = the ordinary way of thinking that presupposes that thoughts are not things and things are not thoughts. It cannot tolerate contradictions. I.e., this is how most of us think.
Reason = philosophical way of thinking, that thinks things through, turns them into thought. Reason is embodied in the dialectic. "Reason" is able to transcend contradictions, to see difference-in-identity and multiplicity-in-unity.
Process of contradiction that underpins all of reality.
|For Socrates, the dialectic was a method of discovering truth through
questioning and debate
For Kant, dialectic expressed reason's capacity to reach contradictory conclusions from apparently sound premises.
For Hegel, dialectic drove the necessary unfolding and development of concepts in history.
A kind of therapya knowing which heals, which makes whole. On Hegels view, human beings especially, but all being or reality, is in a state of constitutive alienation.
Man needs healing, to be made whole (=alienation). Speculative knowledge, pure thought, is healing knowledge for Hegelby philosophy mans alienation is mediated and remedied, and though philosophy, all of being, the Absolute, realizes itself since all is one.
In man, "being" [or the Absolute] becomes aware of its alienation. In man, being can take the steps to heal its alienation. As philosophy has an affect on all of being (reality), man is a savior of the cosmos. (Remember how Socrates comes off better in Hegels comparison of Socrates and Jesus?)
A good hegel page on the web
Some things to remember about Hegel