By ‘the grey in grey of philosophy’ Hegel meant the theoretical comprehension of a ‘shape of life’, and this is, he is suggesting, only possible after the event. It is only when a historical phenomenon has worked itself out that it will cease to be a dynamic and changing reality; only then can the philosopher be confident that it will not assume a new form and escape the conceptual net that has been laid for it. The ‘owl of Minerva’ – the symbol of theoretical comprehension – is able to take flight only when dusk is already falling on the shape of life it seeks to understand.