G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831), the influential German philosopher, believed that human history was advancing spiritually and morally according to God's purpose. At the beginning of Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel writes: "What the history of Philosophy shows us is a succession of noble minds, a gallery of heroes of thought, who, by the power of Reason, have penetrated into the being of things, of nature and of spirit, into the Being of God, and have won for us by their labours the highest treasure, the treasure of reasoned knowledge."
Volume 2 of Lectures on the History of Philosophy, titled Plato and the Platonists for this Bison Books edition, introduces the most renowned disciple of Socrates and the theory of Platonic forms before moving to Plato's disciple, Aristotle, whose advance to scientific thinking is carefully detailed. The subsequent increasing systematization and sophistication of philosophy leads to a discussion of the Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics. The first period in the history of philosophy comes to maturity with Plotinus in the third century B.C.