Denethor’s Hegelianism

Yesterday I posted on Denethor’s Machiavellianism. He is also Hegelian (not coincidentally: the notion of conflict or strife lies at the heart of both Machiavelli’s and Hegel’s thought), describing (admiringly) Sauron’s policies this way: “He will not come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending even my sons? For I can still wield a brand.”  Compare this instrumental outlook to Hegel’s characterization of the “world-historical individual”:

“It is not the universal Idea which involves itself in antithesis and struggle, exposing itself to danger; it remains in the background and is preserved against attack or injury. This may be called the Cunning of Reason, that it allows the passions to work for it, while what it brings into existence suffers loss and injury… Compared to the universal, the particular is for the most part too slight in importance: individuals are surrendered and sacrificed. The Idea pays the ransom of existence and transience—not out of its own pocket, but with the passions of individuals.” (Introduction to the Philosophy of History, 35)

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Denethor’s Machiavellianism

Denethor’s statement to Faramir could have come straight out of Machiavelli’s The Prince: “Ever your desire is to appear lordly and generous as a king of old, gracious, gentle. That may well befit one of high race, if he sits in power and peace. But in desperate hours gentleness may be repaid with death.” Faramir’s response is equally classic, the response of an unflinching faith: “So be it.”