Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

Lectures on the philosophy of religion, together with a work on the proofs of the existence of God online

. (page 1 of 31)
Online LibraryGeorg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelLectures on the philosophy of religion, together with a work on the proofs of the existence of God → online text (page 1 of 31)
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Cornell University

The original of tliis book is in
tine Cornell University Library.

There are no known copyright restrictions in
the United States on the use of the text.







By the rev. E. B. SPEIRS, B.D., and


By the Rev. E. B. SPEIRS, B.D.




The rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved.

Printed by Ballantynk, Hanson & Co.
At the Baltantyne Press




Definite Religion — continued 1-323


The Religion of Natdke — continued . .1-65

II. The division of consciousness within itself — continued.

2. The religion of imagination or phantasy . 1-47
a. Its conception . . . . . i
h. The general idea of the objective content of this

stage . 1 1

c. Worship or cultus . . 30

3. The religion of Being-within-self 48-65
a. Its conception ... 48
h. The historical existence of this religion 49
c. Worship or cultus . 59

III. The religion of nature in transition to the religion

of freedom . 65-122

1. The religion of the Good, or of light 70-82
u,. Its conception ... -7°
h. This religion as it actually exists 77
c. Worship or cultus . . 82

2. The Syrian religion, or the religion of pain 82-85

3. The religion of mystery . . 85-122
a. The characterisation of the conception or notion

of this stage . . .88

6. The concrete idea belonging to this stage . . 10 1
c. Worship or cultus 109




The Religion of Spiritual Individuality . 122

A. The transition to the sphere of spiritual indi-

viduality . . 123

B. The metaphysical conception or notion of this

sphere ... 131

a. The conception of the One 135

b. Necessity ... 140
t. Conformity to an end 148

C. The division of the subject 166
I. The religion of sublimity 1 70-2 1 9

^4 . The general nature of its conception or notion . 172

B. The concrete general idea or popular conception . 175

a. The determination of the divine particularisa-

tion . 175

b. The form of the world 183

c. The end God works out in the world 1 89

C. Worship or oultus . . 205

The transition to the stage which follows 220

II. The religion of beauty 224-288

A. The general conception or notion 225

B. The outward form of the Divine . . 229

a. The conflict of the spiritual and the natural 229

b. Formless necessity . . 239
e. Posited necessity or the particular gods 243

C. Worship or oultus 256

a. Inner feeling . 257

b. Worship as service 267

c. Service as reconciliation . . 278

III. The religion of utility or of the Understanding 288-323

A. The general conception of this stage 288

B. This religion as the Eoman religion . .298
0. Worship or cultus . . 309



The Absolute Religion . . . 327

A. The general aspecta of this religion 328

1. The revealed religion 328

2. The revealed religion known as revealed 335

3. The religion of truth and freedom . 346

B. The metaphysical notion or conception of the Idea

of God , 348






2. The, Religion of Imagination or Plianlasij.

(a.) Its Conception.

The second of the main forms of Pantheism, when this
latter actually appears as religion, is still within the
sphere of this same principle of the One substantial
Power, in which all that we see around us, and even
the freedom of man itself, has merely a negative, accidental
character. We saw that the substantial Power, in its
first form, comes to be known as representing the multi-
tude of esssential determinations, and the entire sphere
of these, and not as being in its own self spiritual.
And now the question immediately arises as to how this
Power is itself determined, and what is its content ?
Self-consciousness in religion cannot, lilce the abstract
thinking understanding, limit itself to the idea of that
Power known only as an aggregate of determinations
which merely are. In this way the Power is not as
yet known as real, as independently existing unity ; not
as yet as a Principle. Now the opposite form of this



determinatiou is the taking back of the manifold deter-
minateness of existence into the unity of inner self-
determination. This concentration of self-determination
contains the beginning of Spirituality.

1. The Universal, as determining its own self, and not
merely as a multitude of rules, is Thought, exists a,S
Thought. It is in our thoughts alone that Nature, the
ruling Power which brings forth everything, exists as
the Universal, as this One Essence, as this One Power
which exists for itself. What we have before us in
Nature is this Universal, but not as a Universal. It
is in our thought that the truth of Nature is brought
into prominence on its own account as Idea, or more
abstractly as something having a universal character.
Universality is, however, in its very nature Thought,
and as self-determining is the source of all determina-
tion. But at the stage at which we now are, and where
the Universal appears for the first time as the determining
agent, as a Principle, it is not as yet Spirit, but abstract
Universality generally. The Universal being known in
this way as Thought, it remains as such shut up within
itself. It is the source of all power, but does not
externalise or make itself manifest as such.

2. Now to Spirit belongs the power of differentiation
and the full development of the difference. Of the system
of this complete development, the concrete unfolding of
Thought on its own account, and that particular unfolding
which as manifestation or appearance is Nature and the
spiritual world, form an inherent part. Since, however,
the Principle which makes its appearance at the present
stage has not as yet got so far as to permit of this
unfolding taking place within that principle itself, it
being rather held fast in simple abstract concentration
only, the unfolding, the fulness of the actual Idea, is
found outside of the Principle, and consequently differen-
tiation and manifoldness are abandoned to the wildest,
most outward forms of imagination. The specialisa-


tion of the Universal manifests itself iu a multitude of
independent powers.

3. This multiplicity, this wild abandonment, is once
more taken back into the original unity. This taking
back, this concentration of thought, would complete the
moment of spirituality so far as the Idea is concerned, if
the ori"inal universal thought resolved within its own
self upon differentiation, and if it were known as essen-
tially this act of taking back. Upon the basis of
abstract thought, however, the taking back itself remains
a process devoid of Spirit. There is nothing wanting
here, so far as the moments of the Idea of Spirit are con-
cerned, the Idea of rationality is present iu this advance.
But yet those moments do not constitute Spirit ; the
unfolding does not give itself the perfect form of Spirit,
because the determinations remain merely universal.
There is merely a continual return to that Universality
which is self-active, but which is held fast in the
abstraction of self-determination. "We have thus the
abstract One and the wildness of extravagant imagina-
tion, which, it is true, is recognised in turn as remaining
in identity with what is primary, but is not expanded
into the concrete unity of the Spiritual. The unity of
the intelligible realm reaches the condition of particular
independent existence ; this last does not, however, be-
come absolutely free, but remains confined within universal

But just because the unfolding does not as yet return
in a true way into the Notion, is not as yet taken back
into the Notion by its own inner action, it still retains
its immediacy in spite of that return, still belongs to
natural religion, and therefore the moments fall apart,
and are kept independent and separate relatively to one
another. This is tlie curse of nature. Everywliere we
shall find tones that accord with the Notion, with the
True, which, however, become the more horrible in the
strain as a whole because they continue to retain the


character of separateiiess or mutual exclusion, and
because the moments, being independent and objective
in their particularity, are looked upon theoretically.

The further question which now presents itself is,
What are the forms, the shapes in which this indepen-
dence appears ? We are actually in such a world, con-
sciousness finds itself in an existing world, of such a
mutually exclusive character — in a world of sense, and
thus has to deal with a world of many-coloured mauifold-
ness. Taking it as a whole, it is thus just " these,'' these
individual things ; that is the fundamental determination
here. We call " these," Things, and this is the more
precise characteristic we assign to the Objective, and by
which we distinguish it from Spirit. In a similar way
we have in inner life to do with manifold forces, spiri-
tual distinctions and experiences, which the understand-
ing in like manner isolates ; — as, for example, this incli-
nation, that passion, this power of memory, that power
of judgment, &c. In thinking, too, we have determina-
tions each of which exists for itself, such as positive, nega-
tive, being, not-being ; this, for our consciousness, which
takes things in their sensuous aspect, for our understand-
ing, is independence. In this way we have a view or
theory of the universe which is of a prosaic character,
because the independence has the form of what is a
thing, of forces, faculties of the mind, &c., and conse-
quently its form is abstract. The thouglit is not Eeason
here, but Understanding, and is present in that form.
But when we so regard the world, what we have is the
reflection of understanding, which appears much later,
and cannot as yet exist here. Not until prose, not until
thinking, has permeated all relations, so that man every-
where assumes the attitude of one who thinks abstractly,
does he speak of external things. The thinking in ques-
tion here is, on the contrary, this Substance only ; it is
merely this self-containedness or being at home with
self ; it is not as yet brought into exercise, not applied


tliouglit, and has not as yet permeated the entire man. The
special Powers, which are partly objects, such as the sun,
mountains, rivers, or else are more abstract ideas, such as
origination, decay, change, assumption of form, and the
like, are not as yet taken up into Spirit, are not as yet
truly posited as ideal, and yet at the same time, too, are
not as yet intelligently distinguished by the understanding
from Spirit, and pure Being is still concentrated in that
undeveloped state of Substance which is not as yet spiri-
tual Substance.

Now we do not only say things " are" but we add in
the second place that they stand in manifold relation to
one another ; they have causal connection, they are de-
pendent on one another : this second moment of tl:e
action of understanding cannot be present here. It is
the understanding only as pure self-identity, or as a self-
consistent process, which conceives of objects under these
categories. " Since the one is, therefore the other is,"
is its way of speaking; and without once turning back,
it carries this chain of connection continuously on into
the bad or false infinite. Thus tlie independence we are
speaking of has not this form. The form of indepen-
dence wliich is present here is no other than the form
of that which is the form of concrete self-consciousness
itself, and this first mode is therefore the human or ani-
mal mode. At this stage there is a filling-up ; the con-
crete makes its appearance as existent, as something
which is actually perceived, no longer as Power. In
this last the Concrete is posited as merely negative, as in
subjection to the Power ; it is only the practical element
which is objective in the Power, not the tlieoretical. Here,
on the contrary, the theoretical element is set free.

Spirit, as being theoretical, has a double aspect. It
relates itself as within itself to itself, and it relates
itself to the Things, which " things " are for it universal
independence. Thus for Spirit the tilings themselves
break up into their immediate external varied form on


the one hand, and into their free independently existing
Essence on the other. Since this is not as yet a Thing,
nor represents, in fact, the categories of the Understand-
ing, and is not abstract independence produced by thought,
it is the free independence of ordinary conception ; and
this is the idea formed of man, or at least of what has
life, which consequently may be, in a general sense, called
the Objectivity of Imagination. In order to conceive of
the sun, the sky, a tree as existing, as self-sustained, it is
only necessary I'or us to have a sensuous picture or image
of it, to which nothing which appears heterogeneous has to
be added in order that it may be thus presented to us as
self-sustained or independent. But show or semblance is
a deception. The image, when represented to us as inde-
pendent, as having Being, and when regarded by us as
such, has for us just the character of Being, of a force, of
a causality, of a form of activity, of a soul; it is in these
categories that it has its independence. But in so far as
the independence has not as yet advanced to the prose of
Understanding, for which the category of force or of cause
is the characteristic quality of objectivity generally, the
apprehension and expression of that independence is this
poetry, which makes the idea of human nature and out-
ward form the supporting basis and Essence of the external
world, or, it may be, even animal form, or the human form
in combination with the animah This poetry is, in fact,
the rational element in imagination, for this rational ele-
ment is to be kept firm hold of, although consciousness, as
before stated, has not yet advanced to the category, and
thus the element of independence is to be taken out of the
world which is around us, and, in fact, in direct contrast
to what is not independent, to what is conceived as ex-
ternal. And here it is animal and human existence alone
which is the form, mode, and nature of what is free among
things. Tiie sun, the sea, a tree, and the like, are, as a
matter of fact, without independence as compared with
what lives and is free ; and it is these forms of indepen-


dence which in this element of independent existence
constitute the supports of the category for any content
at all. A subjective soul is thus given to Matter, which,
however, is not a category, but is concrete Spirituality
and Life.

The immediate result is that as soon as objects gene-
rally and universal thought-determinations have this free
independence, that connection of things in the world
which is the work of understanding is dissolved ; — it is
the categories of the relations of necessity, or the depen-
dence of things upon one another in accordance with
their quality, their essential definite character, which
form this connection ; all these categories, however, are
absent, and thus nature, with nothing to support or give
it stability, reels at the mercy of imagination. There
may be any sort of unregulated fancy, any kind of chance
occurrence and result ; the movement in connection with
any condition of things is not bound and limited by any-
thing whatever ; the whole splendour of nature and of
imagination is available as a means of decorating the
content, and the caprice of imagination has absolutely
unbounded scope, and can follow whatever direction it

Passion in its natural untrained state possesses but
few interests, and that in which it has an interest it
negates, while on the other hand it pays no attention to
whatever is void of interest. From this standpoint of
imagination, however, all distinctions are taken special
notice of and firmly clung to, and everything which has
an interest for imagination becomes free, independent,
and is exalted to the rank of fundamental thought.

But it is likewise owing to this very imagined inde-
pendence itself that conversely the peculiar position of
the content and of the definite outward forms disappears,;
for since they have a definite finite content, they would
properly have their objective support, their return and
abiding renewal, only in that connection of the under-


standing which has vanished, and by means of which
their independence, instead of being a reality, becomes
rather a complete contingency. The phenomenal world,
the world of appearance, is therefore drawn into the ser-
vice of imagination. The divine world is a realm of
imagination, which becomes all tlie more infinite and
manifold as it has its home in a region where Nature is
exuberant ; and this principle of passionless imagination,
of a fancy built on a theoretical foundation, has enriched
the character of the mind and its emotions, — emotions
which in this gently hatching warmth are permeated in
a pre-eminent degree by a strain of voluptuous and sweet
loveliness, but at the same time of feeble softness.

The objective content, too, is not apprehended here
in the form of Beauty ; those powers, whether general
natural objects or the forces of individual feeling, as,
for example, love, are not as yet embodied in forms of
beauty. To beauty of form belongs free subjectivity,
which in the sensuous world and in concrete existence
is both free and knows itself to be so.

For the Beautiful is essentially the Spiritual making
itself known sensuously, presenting itself in sensuous
concrete existence, but in such a manner that that
existence is wholly and entirely permeated by the
Spiritual, so that the sensuous is not independent, but
has its meaning solely and exclusively in the Spiritual
and through the Spiritual, and exhibits not itself, but
the Spiritual.

Such is true beauty. In living human beings there
are many external influences which check pure idealisa-
tion, this subsumption of the bodily sensuous element
under the Spiritual.

Here this condition does not as yet exist, and for this
reason, that the Spiritual is as yet only present in this
abstract shape of Substantiality. It is, indeed, unfolded
into these particular forms, into special Powers, but
the substantiality still exists for itself ; it has not per-


meated and overcome these its particular shapes, this
sensuous concrete existence.

Substance is, so to speak, an universal space which
has not as yet organised, idealised, and brought under it
that with which it is filled up — the particularisatioii
which issued from it.

For this reason, too, the form of beauty cannot he
created here, because the content — these particularisa-
tions of Substance — is not as yet the ' true content of

Since, then, the limited content is the foundation, and
is known as spiritual, the subject — this definite spiritual
agent — becomes, owing to this, an empty form. In the
Religion of Beauty, the Spiritual, as such, constitutes
the foundation, so that the content, too, is the spiritual
content. In, that religion, statues or pictures, as sensuous
matter, are merely the expression of the Spiritual. Here,
however, the content is not of a spiritual kind.

Thus, the art we find here is symbolical art, which
does indeed express essential characteristics, but not
characteristics of the Spiritual. Hence tlie unbeautiful,
the mad, the fantastic character of the art which makes
its appearance here. The symbolism is not the purely
Beautiful, just because a content other than spiritual
individuality is the basis. Free subjectivity is not the
permeating element, and is not essentially expressed by
the form. In this phantasy there is nothing fixed,
nothing moulds itself into forms of the beauty which
is given only by the consciousness of freedom. Speaking
generally, what we have here is complete dissolution of
form, the restless movement, the manifestation of the
self-importance of the individual. Devoid of anything
to give it stability, the inner element passes over into
external existence, and the unfolding of the Absolute — a
process which outdoes itself in this world of imagination
— is merely an endless breaking-up of the One into the
Many, and an unstable reeling to and fro of all content.


It is the sj'stem of universal fundamental determina-
tions, the system determined in and for itself through
the Notion, as that of the absolute sovereign powers to
which everything returns, and which permeate every-
thing through and through, which alone brings thorough
stability into this region of caprice, confusion, and
feebleness, into this measureless splendour and enerva-
tion. And it is the study of this system which is of
the most essential moment. On the one hand, we have
to recognise the presence of these determinations through
the perverted sensuous form of the capricious, externally
determined embodiment, and to do justice to the essential
element which lies at their foundation ; and on the other
hand, we have to observe the degradation which they
undergo. This degradation is partly owing to the mode
in which the indifference of those determinations toward
one another appears, partly owing to the presence of
arbitrary human and externally local sense experience,
through which they are transposed into the sphere of
the every-day life, where all passions, local features —
features of individual recollection — are joined on to them.
There is no act of judgment, no feeling of shame, nothing
of the higher mutual fitness of form and of content ; the
every-day existence as such is not made to vanish, and
is not developed into beauty. The inequality or dispro-
portion of form and content consists, more strictly speak-
ing, in this that the fundamental determinations are
debased, inasmuch as they acquire the semblance of
being similar to the disconnected facts of existence, and
that conversely the external sensuous representation
becomes -depraved by means of its form.

From what has now been stated it will be already
clear that these determinations of the divine Essence
have their existence in the ludian religion. We have
here to look away from its vast and characteristically
endless mythology and mythological forms, in order to
keep to the principal fundamental determinations alone,


which are on the one hand haroqne and wild, and are
horrible, repulsive, loathsome distortions, but at the
same time prove themselves to have the Notion for their
inner source ; while in virtue of the development which
it gets in this theoretical region, they recall the highest
element of the Idea. At the same time, however, they
express that definite stuntedness under which the Idea
suffers when these fundamental determinations are not
brought back again into their spiritual nature.

What constitutes the principal point of interest in
this religion of India is the development or explication
of form in contrast with an abstract monotheistic re-
ligion, and so too with the Greek religion — that is to
say, in contrast with a religion which has spiritual indi-
viduality as its principle.

(b.) The general idea of the ohjective content of this

What is the first in the Notion, what is true, the

Online LibraryGeorg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelLectures on the philosophy of religion, together with a work on the proofs of the existence of God → online text (page 1 of 31)