In essence, Spirit is the result of its own activity: its activity is the transcending of what is immediately there, by negating it and returning into itself. We can compare it with the seed of a plant: the plant begins with the seed, but the seed is also the result of the plant’s entire life. Yet the vulnerability of life is shown when the beginning and the result fall asunder. The same is true in the life of individuals and of peoples. The life of a people brings a certain fruit to ripeness—since its activity aims at fulfilling its nascent principle. Yet this fruit does not fall back into the womb of the people that produced and matured it. On the contrary, it becomes a bitter draught for this people: because of its unquenchable thirst for it, the people cannot let the cup pass from it, even though the drinking means its own destruction—and this leads to the rise of a new principle.
We have already explained the end-goal of this progression. The principles of the various National Spirits, progressing in a necessary series of stages, are themselves only phases of the one universal Spirit: through them, that World Spirit elevates and completes itself in history, into a self-comprehending *totality*.
Because we are concerned only with the idea of Spirit—and we regard the whole of world history as nothing more than the manifestation of Spirit—when we go over the past, however extensive it may be, we are really concerned only with the *present*. This is because philosophy, which occupies itself with the True, is concerned with what is eternally present. Nothing in the past is lost to philosophy: the Idea is ever present, Spirit is immortal, i.e., Spirit is not the past, nor the non-existent future, but is an essential *now*.
G.W.F.Hegel 1820s Introduction to The Philosophy of History, page 82
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World Spirit! Knock three times if you have come!