LX:117 | [would also be] An Achievement

Public opinion therefore deserves to be respected as well as despised – despised for its concrete consciousness and expression and respected for its essential basis, which appears in that concrete consciousness only in a more or less obscure manner. Since it contains no criterion of discrimination and lacks the ability to raise its own substantial aspect to [the level of] determinate knowledge, the first formal condition of achieving anything great or rational, either in actuality or in science, is to be independent of public opinion. Great achievement may in turn be assured that public opinion will subsequently accept it, recognize it, and adopt it as one of its prejudices.

Addition (H). Every kind of falsehood and truth is present in public opinion, but it is the prerogative [Sache] of the great man to discover the truth within it. He who expresses the will of his age, tells it what its will is, and accomplishes this will, is the great man of the age. What he does is the essence and inner content of the age, and he gives the latter actuality; and no one can achieve anything great, unless he is able to despise public opinion as he here and there encounters it.


Hegel, GWF. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Ed. Allen W. Wood. Trans. H.B. Nisbet. Cambridge University Press 2012. § 318. P. 355.



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