In this essay, Hegel attempted to show how Fichte’s Science of Knowledge was an advance from the position of Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason, and how Schelling (and incidentally Hegel himself) had made a further advance from the position of Fichte.
Hegel finds the idealism of Fichte too abstractly subjective and formalistic, and he tries to show how Schelling’s philosophy of nature is the remedy for these weaknesses. But the most important philosophical content of the essay is probably to be found in his general introduction to these critical efforts where he deals with a number of problems about philosophical method in a way which is of general interest to philosophers, and not merely interesting to those who accept the Hegelian “dialectic method” which grew out of these first beginnings. Finally, the Difference essay is important in the development of “Nature-Philosophy” as a movement in the history of science.
The student will find these texts indispensable to understanding the essentials of Hegel’s early development.