Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 12 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 12 of 31)
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of wisdom which is the Power which determines itself
within itself, and this determination is the finite aspect,
and thus the Divine is known as what is concrete in
itself, inherently infinite form. This form is the aspect
of the finite as potential, but posited here under the
aspect of the Infinite. In the concrete ideality of the
Essence the contradiction referred to as existing in the
Immeasurable is done away with, since the Essence is a
manifestation of itself for itself, and not an abstract being-
for-self. Posited as Power, it is the absolute negativity
which differentiates itself, but in such a way that the
differences are done away with, and are only a sem-
blance. That is powerful which has the soul, the Idea of
the " Other,'' which the Other is in its immediacy only.
Whatever thinks that which the "Others'" only are, con-
stitutes their Power. The Essence (not a particular
Essence or one higher Essence) — i.e., the Universe as
absolute Power — is satisfied in itself and is Totality, since
all other determinations are taken up into and absorbed
in it. In order to be, it does not have recourse to natural
objects, but has a determinate character of its own within
itself, and is the totality of its appearance or semblance.

Since thus the determination of pure thought belongs
to the determining or characterisation of the Essence
itself, it follows that further advance in characterisation


is not connected with the natural inode or aspect of
things, but takes place within the Essence itself. If,
accordingly, we are to find three stages here, then they
constitute an advance within the metaphysical notion
itself. They are moments in the Essence, different forms
of the notion for the religious self-consciousness which
occupies this standpoint. At an earlier stage the ad-
vance was merely in the external form, here the advance
is within the notion itself. Now, the Divine Essence is
actual Essence, Essence for itself, and the differences are
its own reflection of itself into itself. We thus get three
conceptions. The first is that of Unity, the second that
of Necessity, the third that of Conformability to an End,
though of conformability which is finite and external.

We have (a.) Unity, absolute Power, negativity, which
is posited as reflected into itself, as existing absolutely
for self, or as absolute subjectivity, so that here^ in this
particular form of essential being, the sense element is
directly abolished. It is Power which is actual, for itself,
and has within it nothing belonging to sense, for this
latter is the finite, which has not yet been taken up
into, is not yet absorbed by, the Infinite. Here, however,
it is in process of being absorbed. This subjectivity,
which is actual, which exists for itself, is accordingly the

We have (6.) Necessity. The One is this absolute
Power, and everything is posited in it as merely negative.
This constitutes the conception or notion of the One.
But when we express it thus, development is not as yet
postulated. The One is nothing more than the form of
simplicity, and necessity then comes to be the process of
unity itself. It is the unity as inner movement, and is
no longer the One, the unit, but the unity. The move-
ment which constitutes the Notion is the unity, the
absolute necessity.

We have (c.) Conformability to an End. In absolute
necessity is posited or made explicit the movement which


the One is only implicitly. It is the process, and it is the
process of contingent things, for it is contingent things
which are thus posited and negated. In necessity, how-
ever, it is only the transition, the coming and going of
things, which is posited. But now it must be further
posited that tliese things exist and appear as distinguished'
from this unity of theirs, from this process of necessity
which belongs to them. They must appear, at all events,
momentarily as existing, and at the same time as belonging
to the power out of which they do not pass. They are
thus means in general, and the unity consists in this, that
it maintains itself within this process which belongs to it,
and produces itself in these means. This is the unity of
necessity itself, but thought of as distinguished from what
moves itself, and within which it maintains itself, so that
it has the element of Being only as something negative.
Unity is thus End in general.

These three points stand in the following relation to
each other. Since the Essence is absolute negativity, it
is pure identity with itself, the One ; it is at the same
time the negativity of the unity, which, however, is in a
relation to the unity, and owing to this interpenetration
of both shows itself as necessity. In the third place,
the One returns into itself out of the isolation of its
difi'erence, a unity, nevertheless, which, as being this self-
absorption of the Form into itself, has a finite content,
and in this way, by developing into the difference of the
Form as totality, gives us the conception of conform ability
to an end, a conformability which is, however, finite.

When it is said that in this are contained the three
metaphysical notions or conceptions of the three religions,
it is not to be supposed that each of these conceptions
belongs to one religion only. On the contrary, each of
these three determinations or characteristics belongs to
all three. Where One is the Essence, there too is
necessity though only implicit, not in its determinate
quality : and so, too, if the One determines Himself in


accordance witli ends, then He is wise. ISTecessify is
One also, and conformability to an end is present here
also, only it lies outside of necessity. If conformability
to an end is the fundamental characteristic, we have along
with this the presence of the Power to carry out the
ends, and the end itself is Fate. The point of difference
simply is as to which of these determinations of the
object is to be regarded as the Essence, and whether this
latter is the One, or ISTecessity, or Power with its ends.
The point of difference is simply as to which of them is
to pass as the fundamental determination of the Essence
for each religion.

What we have now to consider more definitely is the
form in which these determinations appear as they have
been connected with the proofs of the existence of God.

(a.) The Conceptioji of the One.

Here we have not got to do with the proposition,
God is only one ; for it is implied in these words that
the One is only a predicate of God ; we have the subject,
God, and a predicate outside of which He may have others
in addition to this. That God is only One is a proposi-
tion which it is not difficult to prove. Being passes over
into Essence, and this reflected into itself is what has
been frequently called an Ens, or Individuum. When
we say, God is the One, we mean sometbing different
from what was expressed formerly in the words, The
Absolute Being is One, to ev. Parmenides expressed it
thus : Being alone is, or the One only is. This One,
however, is only the abstract Infinite, not the Infinite
as reflected into itself, and is thus rather the Immeasur-
able and Powerless, for it is the Infinite only as com^
pared with actual existence in its, infinitely manifold
forms, and its existence is necessarily dependent on this
relation. Power at first conceived of as the One is in
reality the Universal posited as Power. The abstract
One is the one side, and over against it is the manifold-
ness of the essence of the world. The concrete One, on


the other hand, is individuality, the Universal, what is
reflected into itself, the other side of which itself com-
prises all being in itself, so that it has returned into its
own unity.

Eeflection accordingly conceives of the unity of God
as a characteristic quality, and seeks to demonstrate it.
This, however, does not supply the form in which to
express a proof of the existence of God. The One is
distinguished from the substratum, and the point is
simply to exhibit the characteristic of Being as One.
Eeflection lights upon this idea because One is just
reflection into self.

Accordingly this characteristic or determination that
God is only One has reference, to begin with, only to the
Many with which it is contrasted, and so far also to the
other Form, which will be dealt with as the second Form
belonging to this stage. The disproof of the determina-
tion which comes later is thus given here in advance.
This second form in itself and in tlie determination of
its notion is undoubtedly more concrete ; but as definite
or determined Being in and for itself when it appears as
N"ecessily is only something that ought to be, an ideal,
and because it is only what ought to be is thus multi-
plicity, it has not as yet absolute reflection-into-self, and
it is wanting in the characteristic of being One. Doubt-
less the characteristic of the One is also as yet one-sided,
since it is only the abstract form in an actual state, for
itself, and is not the developed form in the shape of

The development of the necessity of this characteristic
of the One, the rising up to this one Subject as the One,
is carried out thus. Being as One is conceived of as
predicate, while God is presupposed as subject, and it is
then shown that the characteristic of multiplicity is op-
posed to the presupposition of this subject. The relation
belonging to the Many can thus be considered as consist-
ing in their reference to each other; they are then thought


of as coming into contact with each other, and getting
into conflict with themselves. Tliis conflict is, however,
the appearance of the contradiction itself in an immediate
way, for the different gods liave to maintain themselves
in accordance with their own nature or quality, and it is
here that their finitude comes to light. In so far as God
is presupposed as being the Universal or the Essence, that
finitude which is involved in the multiplicity is inadequate
to express what is contained in that presupposition.

In the case of finite things we are accustomed to think
that substances may be in conflict without losing their
independence. It would seem, then, that it is only their
superficial elements which they send out to engage in
the conflict, while they keep their real selves in the
background. In accordance with this a distinction is
made between the inner nature of the subject and its
relations, between the substance considered in reference
to others and the substance as passive, without prejudice
to its aforesaid activity. This distinction is as yet un-
proved. What the many are so far as content and power
are concerned, they are only in contrast with something'
else ; their Being, as reflected into self, is simply some-
thing devoid of content. If they are thus, so far as form
also is concerned, independent, they are, nevertheless,
finite so far as the content is concerned, and this succumbs
to the same process of dialectic as that to which finite
Being has to yield. In face of the presupposition of ab-
solute Power, of the universal negativity of all that has
Being, the multiplicity of such formal finite things accord-
ingly directly disappears. It is directly involved in the
presupposition of the Universal, that form and content
cannot be so separated that a quality can attach to the one
which is wanting to the other. Thus the gods by means
of their qualities directly cancel each other.

Multiplicity is, however, in this case taken also in the
sense of pure difference which does not come in contact
with itself. Thus we speak of a multiplicity of worlds


which do not come into conflict and are not in contra-
diction with each other. Ordinary thought obstinately
clings to this idea by maintaining that the truth of such
a presupposition cannot be controverted because no con-
tradiction is involved in it. It is, however, really one
of the ordinary bad forms of Eeflection to say that it is
possible to form an idea of anything. It is certainly
possible to form to oneself an idea of everything, and to
conceive of it as possible; but that does not mean any-
thing at all. If it be asked wherein the difference con-
sists, and if the answer is that the one is as powerful as
the other, and that no one of them is to have qualities
which the other also has not, then the difference is an
empty phrase. The difference must necessarily directly
advance till it becomes a definite or determined difference,
and in that case, so far as our reflection is concerned,
there is wanting to the one what is peculiar to the other,
but only in so far as our reflection is concerned. Thus
the stone, in so far as we reflect upon it, is not so perfect
as the plant, yet there is no defect in the stone considered
in itself ; it neither feels nor knows anything of its defect.
Thus the difference spoken of is only an idea in our mind,
in our reflection.

It is in this way, therefore, that Eefiection reasons, and
its reasoning is correct, but all the same it is likewise
inadequate. The Universal, the Essence, is presupposed
under the form of Power, and it is asked if the predicate
of the One attaches to it. The determination of the One
is nevertheless already in harmony with the presuppo-
sition, for absolute Power is directly contained in the
determination of individuality, of oneness, or the One.
The proof is thus quite correct but superfluous, and what
is overlooked is that the absolute Power itself is already
contained in the definition or determination of the One.
To prove predicates of God is really not the business of
the Notion, nor is God in this way to be kaown philo-


But as a matter of fact, the true meaning of this notion
is not contained in the proposition that God is One, but
rather in the statement that the One is God, so that the
One exhausts the meaning of this Divine Essence, and is
not a predicate. Nor is it a characteristic along with
other characteristics, but, on the contrary, it is one which
fully expresses the Essence in the sense of absolute
Power as subjectivity, as reflected into itself. God is
thus just this movement of the subject from itself and
back to itself, the self-determination of itself as the One
in such a way that subject and predicate are the same,
are this movement within each other, so that there is
nothing left which comes between them. This notion is
not adapted to be expressed in the form of a mediation
in which the notion will appear as a proof of the exist-
ence of God, for it is the Infinite, the absolute negativity
from which we start in order to reach the determination
of the One. The One is merely the determination which
is attached to it, and which expresses the thought that
this is subjectivity reflected into itself. The movement
proceeds, so to speak, only within the potential Being of
the Infinite. It is, therefore, not in the form of mediation
that we have to consider it here. We certainly might'
say there is an advance from the Infinite to subjectivity
determined within itself, but the beijinnin" is the Infi-
nite, and this Infinite, moreover, as the absolute nega-
tivity, is the Subject reflected into itself, in which all
that is manifold is done away with and absorbed. If
we wished to look at the mediation more closely, we
would start from one thought and conceive of the Notion
in and for itself as Thought, and from this we would go
on to the Other, to Being. But here we cannot start
from the Notion, for a beginning in this form gives a
different proof of the existence of God, and one which
belongs to the Christian religion, and not to the religion
under consideration. The One is not yet thought' of as
Notion, not yet thought of as^ Notion: for us j what is-


true, posited concretely in itself, such as we have in the
Christian religion, is not as yet present here.

Since the Absolute is thus defined as the One and as
Power, self-consciousness is merely a semblance of the
Absolute. It is certainly something for which the Abso-
lute manifests itself, and to which it stands in a positive
relation, for the reflection of Power into itself directly
gives repulsion, and this is self-consciousness, and thus
personality. Self-consciousness begins here to have a
certain value, but still it has only an abstract determi-
nation, so that self-consciousness in its concrete form
knows itself merely as a semblance of existence. It is
in bondage, has no extended sphere in itself, no room iu
which to act ; heart and mind are hemmed in ; what feel-
ing it has consists only in feeling the Lord ; it has its
existence and finds its happiness only within this narrow
enclosure. Even if, as is the case here, the element of
difference comes to light, still it is held fast ; it does not
really break away, and is not set free. Self-consciousness
concentrates itself only in this one point, and though it
knows itself as essentially existing — for it is not killed
as in Brahma — it is at the same time the non-essential
element in the Essence.

(b.) Necessity is something which is self-posited as
mediation, and is here accordingly a mediation for self-
consciousness. Necessity is movement, implicit process,
implying that the accidental element in things and in
the world is definitely characterised as accidental, and
thus raises itself to and disappears in necessity. When
in any religion the absolute Essence is conceived of, or
known, or revered as Necessity, then this process is pre-
sent. It might seem as if we had seen this transition
already in the advance of the finite to the Infinite in the
fact that the truth of the finite was the Infinite, the
absorption of the finite in itself into the Infinite, and
that in the same way the accidental also returns into
necessity. Whether we regard the determination of the


advance of the finite to the Infinite or of the accidental
to Necessity, the distinction, so far as the advance is
concerned, does not seem at all to be an essential one.
As a matter of fact, both have the same fundamental
determination, so that, from one point of view, this is
correct ; but if we regard the matter from another point
of view, the difference or distinction is more concrete
than that of the earlier form of the process. That is to
say, if we begin from the finite, then the matter stands
thus ; but the first beginning is that it has real worth,
that it exists as Being, or, in other words, we take it to
begin with in an affirmative, positive form. Its end is
indeed involved in it, but at the same time it still pos-
sesses immediate Being. " Accidental " already suggests
something more concrete, for what is accidental can either
be or not be. The Eeal is accidental, for it may quite
as well be possibility, the Being of which has the value
of Not-Being. Thus there is posited in the accidental
the negation of itself, and it is accordingly a transition
from Being into Nothing. Like tlie finite, it is inherently
negative ; but since it is also Not-Being, so too is it the
transition from Not- Being to Being. The characteristic
or determination of contingency is thus much richer and
more concrete than that of the finite. The truth of con-
tingency is necessity, and this is determinate existence,
which has arisen by mediation with itself through its Not-
Being. Eeality is a definite form of existence of this sort,
in the case of which the process is shut in within itself, and
which by means of itself comes into harmony with itself.

In connection with Necessity we have, however, to
make the following distinctions : —

I. External necessity is in a peculiar sense contingent
necessity. When an effect is dependent on causes, then
it is necessary ; when one or another set of circumstances
concurs, then one or another result must follow. Only
circumstances which occasion this are immediate ; and
since, regarded from this standpoint, immediate Being has


merely the value of possibility, the circumstances are such
.as may or may not be, and so the necessity is relative,
and is related thus to the circumstances which constitute
the beginning, and vi^hich are accordingly immediate and
contingent. This is external necessity, which has no
higher value than that possessed by contingency. It is
possible to demonstrate external necessity in such a way
as to show that this or the other thing is necessary, but
the circumstances always remain contingent ; they can
exist, but they can also not exist. A tile may fall from
the roof and kill a man, but the falling down of the tile,
the concurrence, may be or may not be ; it is contingent.
In this external necessity it is the result only which is
necessary ; the circumstances are contingent. These two,
the conditioning causes and the results, are for this reason
different. The one is determined as contingent, the other
as necessary ; this is the difference considered abstractly,
but there is also a concrete difference. Something results
quite different from what was posited ; and since the
forms are different, so too the content of the two sides is
different. The tile falls accidentally ; the person who is
killed, the particular concrete subject, his death, and that
act of falling down, are entirely heterogeneous, have a
perfectly different content ; something appears as result
which is entirely different from what was posited. When
life is considered according to the conditions of external
necessity as a result of soil, heat, light, air, moisture, &c.,
as a product of these conditions, what is implied is that
the matter is being looked at from the point of view of
external necessity. Tliis latter has to be carefully dis-
tinguished from the true inner necessity.

2. The inner necessity consists just in this, that
everything of the nature of cause, occasion, occasioning
circumstance, is presupposed and definitely distinguished,
and the result belongs to One. The necessity puts to-
gether the two elements into one unity. All that takes
place in this necessity takes place in such a way that


nothing results from the presupposed coudition, wliich is
different from these, but rather the process is of such a
kind that whatever is presupposed appears also in the
result, coincides with itself, finds itself; or, to put it
otherwise, the two moments of immediate existence, and
of its being posited, are posited as one moment. In
external necessity contingency is substantial or imme-
diate existence. What is, is not as being something
posited, the conditions do not belong to the unity, they
are immediate, and the result is only something posited,
is not Being. The effect is what is posited, the cause
is what is underived. In the true necessity these are
a unity ; the circumstances exist, but they not only are,
they are also posited by means of the unitj', are, as a
matter of fact, contingent, but are this in themselves; in
that they cancel themselves the negation of their Being
is the unity of necessity, so that their Being is one
which is implicitly negated. The result is, accordingly,
not only result, or only something posited, but it is just
because of what thus takes place that the result comes
to have Being. Necessity is thus the positing of the
conditions, they are themselves posited by means of the
"unity ; the result is also something posited, and is this
indeed by means of reflection, by means of the process,
by means of the reflection of the unity into itself; this
unity is therefore the Being of the result. Tims what-
ever takes place within necessity simply comes into har-
mony with itself. The unity projects itself outward,
disperses itself in circumstances which appear as if they
were contingent; the unity of itself projects its con-
ditions as if they were innocent of any connection with
it — as if they were, so to speak, ordinary stones which
appear in an immediate way, and rouse no suspicion of
their being anything else. In the second stage they are
posited, they do not belong to themselves, but to an
" Other," to their result. They are thus broken up in
themselves, and the manifestation of their nature as


posited is their self-abrogation, the production of an
" Otlier," the result, namely, which, however, appears as
an " Other " only as opposed to their existence in a scat-

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 12 of 31)