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“The Owl of Minerva only takes flight at dusk”



The title is from the famous words of 19th-century philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

Hegel wrote, in the preface to his Philosophy of Right: ‘The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.’

What did he mean? What is the owl of Minerva?”

Taking Talal Alrubaie’s meaning from his work, “The Iraqi Communist and the Owl of Minerva,” in which he states, philosophy understands reality only after the event. It cannot prescribe how the world ought to be.

Minerva” is the Roman name of the Greek Athena, goddess of wisdom and philosophy,
philosophy/wisdom takes flight only at the end of the day after the day’s main events have taken place.

Hegel’s statement should not be taken as one highlighting of the futilities of life. Contrarily his point was that the beauty in understanding comes only at the end of the long and winding staircase toward enlightenment. Because then we can, if just for a brief moment, fully comprehend what it all meant.

In fact, our coming to understand history is part of this developmental logic; and once we fully understand we are reconciled to the past and thus would not have wanted history to have gone differently in any critical respect.

Take today’s appearance of Volatility.


Sourced from




– G. W. F. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, tr. T. M. Knox (Oxford, 1967).

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