Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, Volume 1: Introduction and The Concept of Religion

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His lectures at Berlin were the platform from which he set forth the system elaborated in his writings. At the heart of Hegel's philosophy is his philosophy of history. In his view, history works in a series of dialectical stepsthesis, antithesis, synthesis. His whole system is founded on the great triadthe Idea as thesis, Nature as antithesis, and the Spirit as synthesis.

The Idea is God's will; Nature is the material world, including man; Spirit is man's self-consciousness of the Idea, his coming to an understanding of God's will. The formation over time of this consciousness is History. Spirit does not exist in the abstract for Hegel, but is comprehended in "peoples," cultures, or civilizations, in practice states. Hegelian Freedom is only possible in organized states, where a National Spirit can be realized.

A profound misunderstanding of this doctrine led many German intellectuals to subvert it into a narrow, authoritarian nationalism that glorified the "state" as an end in itself. Although Hegel saw his philosophy as universal, applicable throughout the world, the focus and inspiration of his thought was European. He left Berlin to lecture on logic and metaphysics at the university in Jena, becoming an extraordinary professor in In , Hegel left Bamberg to become headmaster of a gymnasium in Nuremberg.

In , he married Marie Helena Susanna von Tucher, with whom he had two sons. Hegel briefly accepted a post at the University of Heidelberg before accepting the chair of philosophy at the University of Berlin, where he remained until his death. Format: Digital. Overview Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is one of the most influential thinkers in modern philosophy. Key Features All of the lectures on the philosophy of religion, revised with an introduction by the editor In-depth index Lectures on the proofs of the existence of God.

Hegel Translators: E. The Philosophy of Right as it is more commonly called can be read as a political philosophy that stands independently of the system Tunick , despite the fact that Hegel intended it to be read against the background of the developing conceptual determinations of the Logic. The text proper starts from the conception of a singular willing subject grasped from the point of view of its individual self-consciousness as the bearer of abstract right. While this conception of the individual willing subject possessing some kind of fundamental rights was in fact the starting point of many modern political philosophies such as that of Locke, for example the fact that Hegel commences here does not testify to any ontological assumption that the consciously willing and right-bearing individual is the basic atom from which all society can be understood as constructed—an idea at the heart of standard social contract theories.

Just as the categories of the Logic develop in a way meant to demonstrate that what had at the start been conceived as simple is in fact only made determinate in virtue of its being a functional part of some larger structure or process, here too it is meant to be shown that any simple willing and right-bearing subject only gains its determinacy in virtue of a place it finds for itself in a larger social, and ultimately historical, structure or process.

Thus, even a contractual exchange the minimal social interaction for contract theorists is not to be thought simply as an occurrence consequent upon the existence of two beings with natural animal wants and some natural calculative rationality, as in Hobbes, say; rather, the system of interaction within which individual exchanges take place the economy will be treated holistically as a culturally-shaped form of social life within which the actual wants of individuals as well as their reasoning powers are given determinate forms. Hegel is well aware of the distinctive modernity of this form of social-life.

Here too it becomes apparent that Hegel, taking up themes from the Phenomenology, follows Fichte in treating property in terms of a recognitive analysis of the nature of such a right. Such an interactive constitution of the common will means that for Hegel that the identity among wills is achieved because of not in spite of co-existing differences between the particular wills of the subjects involved: while contracting individuals both will the same exchange, at a more concrete level, they do so with different ends in mind.

Each wants something different from the exchange. This dependence shows how anthropological determinations do not simply disappear with the development of more psychological ones—they are preserved as well as negated as in the pattern of what is aufgehoben. It also shows the mutual dependence of the determinations of the singularity of the atomistic subjects of civil society and their particularity as members parts of holistically conceived families.

Philosophy of Religion (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

These two opposite but interlocking principles of social existence provide the basic structures in terms of which the component parts of the modern state are articulated and understood. As both contribute particular characteristics to the subjects involved in them, part of the problem for the rational state will be to ensure that each of these two principles mediates the other, each thereby mitigating the one-sidedness of the other.

Thus, individuals who encounter each other in the external relations of the market place and who have their subjectivity shaped by such relations also belong to families where they are subject to opposed influences. As the estates of civil society group their members according to their common interests, and as the deputies elected from the estates to the legislative bodies give voice to those interests within the deliberative processes of legislation, the outcome of this process might give expression to the general interest.

To declare that for Hegel the monarch plays only a symbolic role here is to miss the fundamentally idealist complexion of his political philosophy. The expression of the general will in legislation cannot be thought of as an outcome of some quasi-mechanical process: it must be willed. If legislation is to express the general will, citizens must recognize it as expressing their wills; and this means, recognising it as willed. Thus while Hegel is critical of standard social contract theories, his own conception of the state is still clearly a complicated transformation of those of Rousseau and Kant.

Spirituality in Modern Philosophy: Hegel’s Spirituality

From within the type of consciousness generated within civil society, in which individuals are grasped as bearers of rights abstracted from the particular concrete relationships to which they belong, Smithean optimism may seem justified. But this simply attests to the one-sidedness of this type of abstract thought, and the need for it to be mediated by the type of consciousness based in the family in which individuals are grasped in terms of the way they belong to the social body.

In fact, the unfettered operation of the market produces a class caught in a spiral of poverty. Hegel, however, did not draw this conclusion. Rather, the economy was to be contained within an over-arching institutional framework of the state, and its social effects offset by welfarist intervention.

The final 20 paragraphs of the Philosophy of Right and the final 5 paragraphs of objective spirit section of the Encyclopaedia are devoted to world history die Weltgeschichte , and they also coincide with the point of transition from objective to absolute spirit. We have already seen the relevance of historical issues for Hegel in the context of the Phenomenology of Spirit , such that a series of different forms of objective spirit can be grasped in terms of the degree to which they enable the development of a universalizable self-consciousness capable of rationality and freedom.

Just the same dialectic that we have first seen operative among shapes of consciousness in the Phenomenology and among categories or thought-determinations in the Logic can be observed here. An historical community acts on the principle that informs its social life, the experience and memory of this action and the consequences it brings—a memory encoded in the stories that circulate in the community—results in this principle becoming available for the self-consciousness of the community, thus breaking the immediacy of its operation.

This loss of immediacy brings about the decline of that community but gives rise to the principle of a new community:.


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PWH: It is a dialectic, however, which only passes through some communities. The actual world is full of contingencies from which empirical historians will have already abstracted in constructing their narratives, for example, when writing from particular national perspectives.

Hegel clearly thinks that there is a way of cognitively relating to history in a way that goes beyond the standpoint of consciousness and the understanding—the standpoint of what we now think of as informing scientific history. From the perspective of consciousness history is something that stands over against me qua something known, but from the standpoint of self -consciousness I grasp this history as the history of that which contributes to me , qua rational and free being.

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Assembled and published in the years immediately following his death, these were the works through which Hegel was to become known as perhaps the most significant synoptic theorist of these cultural phenomena. Rather than to attempt to capture the richness of his thought here in a few paragraphs, which would be bound to be futile, I will simply try to allude to how this material is meant to draw upon the conceptual resources noted so far.

Hegel was writing in a time of intense development of ideas about the arts. Kant had treated aesthetic experience largely in relation to the experience of the beauty of nature, but for Hegel aesthetics becomes primarily about art. The reason for this is simple: art is an objective medium in which a community collectively reflects upon itself, and the art of historical peoples is to be understood in as the attempt to bring before the consciousnesses of its members the totality of what is.


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The peculiarity of art lie in the sensuousness of the medium in which its content is objectified. Again, the romantic or modern here will be characterized by the depth of a form of individual subjective consciousness that is largely missing in antiquity. But those in Greek antiquity, where psychological determinations were closer to anthropological ones, had lived with a comfortable felt unity between spirit and body and between the individual and society.

A characteristic of the Greeks was their Heimatlichkeit —their collective feeling of being at home in the world as they were each at home in their bodies. Modern subjectivity is thereby purchased as the expense of a sense of abstraction and alienation from the actual world and from the self—a consequence of the way the modern subject has become related to his or her body in a different way.

The symbolic art of pantheistic religions of the East used natural elements to symbolize the gods of their cultures: Zoroastrianism had taken light, for example, to symbolize the divine Aes I: , and animal worship was found in the Egyptians Aes I: A new form of art will be needed to resolve these contradictions, and this is provided by romantic art. But the material for this form will not come from within art itself.

While Greek art can be understood as simultaneously belonging to aesthetic and religious realms, romantic art results from a fission within the symbolic realm of what in the Phenomenology Hegel had treated as a single category, Art-Religion. The transition from classical art to romantic art represents both a liberation of art from religion and of religion from art and the sensuous. Thus Christianity, whose rituals centered around the myth of God becoming man in the person of Jesus, had avoided the type of reliance on the beautiful productions of art in the way that characterized Greek religions.

go site The shift from classical to romantic art, then, represents a broader shift between a culture whose final authority was an aesthetic one and a culture in which this authority was handed over to religion, and thus represents a shift in the authoritativeness of different cognitive forms. While officially declaring that philosophy and religion had the same content —God—Hegel claimed that the conceptual form of philosophy dealt with this concept in a more developed way than that which was achievable in the imagistic representational form of religion. The limitations of Greek at-homeness in the world had to do with the inability of Greek life and thought to sustain that dimension of human existence that is reflected in the category of singularity of the subject.

The fate of Socrates had thus represented the ultimate incompatibility with the Greek form of life itself of the type of individual, reflective individual who could reflectively bring any belief into question and take a stand against convention. Similar incompatibilities could be seen reflected in Greek tragedies such as Antigone. With the decline of the Greek world and the rise of the Roman one, movements such as Stoicism and Christianity would come to give expression to an individual point of view, but under the social conditions of Rome or the Middle Ages such a subjective point of view could only be an alienated one attracted to what, in contrast to Greek concreteness, would be seen as abstractions.

Prior to the modern world there would be no real place in either everyday life or in philosophical culture for any non -alienated versions of the reflective or subjective position that had first emerged with Socrates—no form of life in which this individual dimension of human subjectivity could be at home. But Christianity marked a type of advance over Stoicism in that its doctrines of the nature of a good life had a this worldly exemplar.

In this sense Christianity marked a definite advance over the more intuitively based religious cults to which Hegel had been attracted in his youth, but it would only be in the modern world that the content of the core ideas of Christianity could be given proper expression. These need to become conceptualized, and this happens under modern Protestantism, and this, for Hegel, requires a type of demythologization of the religious content handed down from the past. Christ must somehow come to stand as an example of the human kind in general, which is the ultimate bearer of the status of being the son of God.

Once more, it is the purported singularity of the category son of God that must be brought back into relation to the universality of the human genus. The understanding of what Hegel means by the concept religion in turn becomes tied to understanding what he means by philosophy. The mere six paragraphs devoted to this science in the Encyclopaedia and dealing almost exclusively with the relation of philosophy to religion were to be expanded into the massive posthumously published three volumes on the philosophical history of philosophy based on various sources including student transcripts for his lecture series given in Berlin.


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Tennemann, who presupposed a type of Kantian framework. There is an important caveat to add here, however. Philosophy is often identified with the capacity for abstract thought, and this is not confined to Europe and its history. Rather, it is typical of eastern cultures like those of India and China. As we have seen in the context of art , Hegel identifies Greek culture with a type of at-homeness in the world—what we might think of as the opposite of a tendency to abstraction and its typical attraction to the transcendent or other-worldly.

Greek philosophy, and so philosophy itself , starts with Thales and Ionian natural philosophy.

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In short, Socrates had added a subjective dimension to the otherwise natural moral lives of Athenian citizens, in that he had challenged them to find the principles not of worldly things but of their own actions , and challenged them to find these within the resources of their own individual consciousnesses. In him we see pre-eminently the inwardness of consciousness that in an anthropological way existed in the first instance in him and became later on a usual thing. LHP I: Plato and, especially Aristotle, represent the pinnacle of ancient philosophy, but this philosophy, no matter how great, represents its time , that is, the time of the Greek form of spirit, raised to the level of thought.

Neither Plato nor Aristotle can break free in thought from the contradiction between the conception of autonomous subjectivity represented by Socrates and the essential collectivity of Greek culture. Classical Greek philosophy will succumb in the same way that the Greek polis succumbs to its own internal contradictions, and what will eventually replace it will be a type of philosophizing constrained within the doctrinal constraints of the new religion, Christianity. But Christianity, as we have seen, gives representation to a solution to the problem of subjectivity encountered in the form of Socrates.

Philosophy proper only thrives under conditions of at-homeness in the world and such conditions obtained in neither the Roman nor medieval world. Hegel then sees both periods of philosophy as effectively marking time, and it is only in the modern world that once more develops. What modern philosophy will reflect is the universalization of the type of subjectivity we have seen represented by Socrates in the Greek polis and Jesus in the Christian religious community.