Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 13 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 13 of 31)
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tered form. The content, however, is one ; the result is
what they implicitly are, only the mode and manner
of their appearance are altered. The result is the sum
of what is contained in the circumstances, and the mani-
festation of this in a definite form. It is Life which thus
projects its own conditions, means of stimulus, impulses,
though in that form they do not look as if they were
Life, for the inner element, what is implicit, appears
first in the result. JSTecessity is thus the Process which
implies that the result and the preliminary condition are
different only as regards their form.

If we now consider this form and how necessity has
come to get the definite shape of a Proof of the exist-
ence of God, we see that the content is the true Notion.
Necessity is the truth of the contingent world. The
more detniled development of this thought belongs to
Logic. The notion of God is the absolute necessity ;
this is a necessary and essential standpoint, not indeed
the highest or the really true one, but 'one from which
the higher proceeds, and which is a condition of the higher
notion which itself presupposes it. Thus the Absolute is
necessity. The notion of absolute necessity does not yet
correspond to the Idea which we must have of God, but
which, however, is to be presupposed in the form of a
pictorial or general idea. The higher notion or grasp
has to grasp, to comprehend itself. There is here a defect
in this Proof of the existence of God. So far as the
form of the Proof is concerned in reference to absolute
necessity, we find it to be the well-known Cosmological
Proof, which is expressed simply thus : contingent things
presuppose an absolutely necessary Cause, but contingent
things exist, I and the "World are such, therefore there is
an absolutely necessary Cause.

The defective element in this Proof is easily seen.


The major proposition runs thus : Contingent things pre-
suppose an absolutely necessary Cause ; this proposition,
taken in a general sense, is quite correct, and expresses
the connection between what is contingent and what is
necessary, and, in order to obviate captious criticisms
which would otherwise be made, one does not require to
say they presuppose an absolutely necessary Cause, for
this expresses a relation between finite things ; but we
can say they presuppose the absolutely necessary in such
a way that this is conceived of as Subject. The pro-
position, accordingly, further contains a contradiction in
reference to external necessity. Contingent things have
causes ; they are necessary, that by means of which they
exist in this form may itself be contingent only, and so
we are referred back from the cause to contingent things
in endless progression. The proposition cuts short this
style of reasoning, and is perfectly justified in doing
so. What is only contingently necessary would be no
necessity at all, and the real necessity stands in contrast
to that implied in this proposition. The connection is in
a general way correctly expressed too, contingent things
presuppose absolute necessity ; but the mode of the con-
nection is incomplete, the union being defined as some-
thing presupposed or demanded. This is a connection
belonging to untutored reflection, and implies that con-
tingent things are placed on one side and necessity on
the other, and thus while a transition is made from the
one to the other, both sides are firmly opposed to each
other. Owing to the fixity of Being in this form, con-
tingent things become the conditions of the Being of
necessity. This is still more plainly expressed in the
minor proposition : There are contingent things, conse-
quently there is an absolutely necessary Cause. Since
the connection is thus constituted in such a way that
one form of Being conditions the other, it would seem
to be implied in this that contingent things condition
absolute necessity ; the one conditions the other, and


tbus necessity appears as if it were something whose
existence is presupposed as dependent on or conditioned
by contingent things. Absolute necessity is in this way
put in a position of dependence, so that contingent things
remain outside of it.

The true connection is as follows. Contingent things
exist, but their Being has the value merely of possibility ;
they are and pass away ; they are themselves simply pre-
posited, or have hypothetical existence through the process
of unity. Their first moment consists in their becoming
posited with the semblance of immediate existence ; their
second moment consists in their being negated, in their
being therefore conceived of essentially as appearance.
In the Process they are essential moments, and so it may
be said that they are the essential condition of absolute
necessity. In the finite world it is true we start from
some such immediate form of Being, but in the true world
external necessity is simply the appearance referred to,
and what is immediate is merely something posited, de-
pendent on something else. It is this which constitutes
the defect in mediations of this kind which pass for
proofs of the existence of God. The really true content
consists in this, that the Absolute must come to be
recognised as absolute necessity.

3. Finally, absolute necessity actually is and contains
in itself Freedom ; for it consists just in this, tliat it
comes together with, comes into harmony with itself;
it is absolutely for itself, is not dependent on another;
its action is free, is simply the act of meeting with or
coinciding with itself, its process consists simply in its
finding itself ; but this is just freedom. Implicitly, neces-
sity is free ; it is only by an illusion that the distinction
is made between it and what results from it. We see
this in the case of punishment. Punishment comes upon
a man as an evil, as force, as the exercise of power which
is foreign to him, and in which he does not find himself.
It appears as external necessity, as something external


which falls upon him, and something different from what
he has done results from it ; punishment follows on his
action, but it is something different from, other than,
what he willed himself. If, however, a man comes to
recognise punishment as just, then it is the consequence
and the law of his own act of will which is bound up
with his act itself. It is the rationality of his act whicli
comes to him under the semblance of an " other ; " he has
not to submit to any kind of force ; he bears liis own
deed, feels himself to be free in it, it is his own which
comes to him, justice, the rational element in what he
has done. It is only, however, implicitly that necessity
contains freedom, and this is an essential circumstance.
It is only formal freedom, subjective freedom, and tnis
means that necessity has not as yet any content in itself.

Just because necessity is the simple act of coming
together with itself, is it freedom. We require in connec-
tion with it movement, circumstances, &c. This belongs
to mediation, but when we say, This is necessary, then
this is a unity; whatever is necessary, is; this is the simple
expression, the result, in which the process has come
together or coincided with itself. It expresses simple
relation to itself, the act" of finding itself ; necessity is
what is freest ; it is not determined or limited by any-
thing ; all mediations are once more taken up into it
and done away with. Necessity is the mediation which
freely yields itself up ; it is implicitly freedom. The
feeling which finds expression in submitting to necessity,
as it existed among the Greeks, and as it still exists
amongst the Mohammedans, certainly contains freedom
in it, but it is only potential or forujal freedom : in
presence of the necessity here, no content, no purpose,
nothing definite has any value, and it is in this that its
defect lies.

Necessity, according to the higher conception and notion
of it, real necessity, is thus just freedom as such, it is the
Notion as such ; or, more definitely characterised, it is the


End. Necessity, in short, is without content, or, to put it
otherwise, the difference contained in it is not yet posited ;
it is the process which we have seen, simple Becoming,
which only is to contain differences, and therefore what
is contained in it, though it is certainly difference, is
difference whicli is not as yet posited. It is something
which coincides with itself though only through media-
tion, and in this way difference in general is posited.
It is, to begin with, only abstract self-determination ; the
determinateness or specialisation is merely something
which is to he. In order that the determinateness be
real, it is necessary that the specialisation and the dif-
ference should, in the act of coinciding with self, be
posited as being able to hold out against the transition
which goes on in the process, as maintaining themselves
in the necessity. To posit is to give determinateness,
and this determinateness, accordingly, is what coincides
with itself; it is the content which maintains itself.
This act of coinciding, thus characterised as content
which maintains itself, is End.

In this specialisation or determinateness which takes
place in the process of coinciding or coming together,
there are two forms of determinateness to be noticed.
The determinateness appears as content which main-
tains itself going through the process without undergoing
alteration, and in the act of transition remaining equal
to itself. Accordingly, so far as the determinateness is
that of Eorm, it appears here in the shape of subject
and object. The content is, to begin with, subjectivity,
and the process means that it realises itself in the form
of objectivity. This realised end is end, the content
remains what it was ; it is subjective, but at the same
time objective as well.

(c.) We have thus arrived at the idea of conformity to
an end ; it is in the end that the definite existence of
the notion in general begins, the Pree existing as free
Eeing which is at home with itself, what maintains itself.


or, to put it more definitely, the Subject. Tlie Subject
determines itself within itself; this determination, re-
garded from one point of view, is content, and the
Subject is free in it, is at home with itself, is free from
the content, it is its own content, and the content has
value only in so far as the Subject permits. This is the
Notion taken generally.

The Subject, however, also gives realisation to the
Notion. The particularity thus acquired is at first
simple, it is held within the Notion in the form of
Being which is at home with itself, and which has re-
turned back into itself. This subjectivity, although it
is totality, is still at the same time one-sided — subjective
merely, only one moment of the entire form. The char-
acteristic here is that the content is posited only in the
form of the equality of what coincides with itself. This
form thus defined as that which coincides with itself is
the simple form of identity with self, and the Subject is
the totality of Being as thus at home with itself. But
so far as the Subject is concerned, that specialisation
whereby it has an end is opposed to totality, and the
Subject accordingly seeks to do away with this form and
to realise the end. The realised end, however, remains
attached to the Subject ; the latter possesses its own self
in it, has objectified itself, set itself free from its single-
ness or simplicity, while at the same time maintaining
itself in its manifoldness. This is the conception or
notion of conformity to an end.

The world has now to be regarded as being in
conformity to an end. We had previously the charac-
terisation that things are contingent, but the higher
characterisation is the teleological view of the world, the
thought of its conformity to an end. It is possible to
accept the first of these characterisations and yet to be
in doubt as to whether we ought to consider things as
being in conformity to an end, whether some of them
are to be regarded as ends to which other things are


related as means, and it may be maintained that what
appears as an end may have been merely produced
mechanically under external conditions.

It is here, in fact, that characterisation of a permanent
sort begins. The end maintains itself ia the process ; it
begins and ends, it is something permanent, something
exempted from the process, and which has its basis in
the subject. The contrasted points of view may, accord-
ingly, be put thus. Are we to keep to the point of view
from which things are regarded as determined by other
things, i.e., by the element of contingency in them, by
external necessity, or to that from which they are regarded
as determined by the end ? It has been already remarked
that external necessity stands in contrast to the end, is
something which is posited by, whose existence depends
on, an " Other ; " the concurrence of circumstances is the
producing factor, something different is the result ; the
end, on the other hand, is what remains, what gives the
impulse, what is active, what realises itself. The con-
ceptions of external necessity and conformity to an end
are mutually opposed.

We saw that external necessity returns back into the
absolute necessity which is its Truth, that this is im-
plicitly freedom, and that whatever is implicit must be
posited. This characteristic appears as subjectivity and
objectivity, and thus we get the idea of End, We must
therefore say, that in so far as things exist for us in im-
mediate consciousness, in reflected consciousness, they are
to be characterised as in conformity to an end, as having
an end in themselves. The teleological view of things
is an essential one ; but this way of regarding things is
at once seen to have in it a distinction, that between
inner and outer necessity, and the inner again can itself,
in accordance with its content, be a finite conformity to
an end, and thus it comes to be once more included within
the relation of external conformity to an end.

I . External Conformity to an End. — Suppose an end has


been posited in any kind of way and has to be realised, then
in so far as the subject together with its ends is something
finite, is an immediate definite form of existence, the
further characteristic of realisation lies outside of it. It is,
looked at from one point of view, immediate, and in that
case the subject, together with its ends, is immediate, and
the aspect nnder which realisation presents itself is an
external one, i.e., the realisation appears as material, as
something which has been got outside, and serves simply
to realise the end. It is, in fact, merely a means in
reference to the end, and it is the latter which firmly
maintains itself and is permanent. Being as an " Other,"
Being in the aspect of reality, the material, is, as com-
pared with the fixed end, something which has no inde-
pendence of its own, has no actual Being, but is simply
a means with no soul in it. The end is outside of it and
is first impressed upon it by the activity of the subject,
which realises itself in the material. External conformity
to an end has thus an objectivity outside of it which has
no independence, and in contrast to which the subject,
together with its ends, is what is permanent. The material
has no power to offer resistance, but is simply a means
for the end which realises itself in it, and in the same
way the realised end is itself merely an external form in
the material, for this latter is something which has been
immediately got, and is therefore dependent, though it is
independent as well. In their union, therefore, both of
them, means and end, remain external to one another.
Wood and stones are means, but the realised end is equally
wood and stones which have received a certain form ; but
all the same the material is still something external to
the end.

2. Inner Conformity to an End. — This is the confor-
mity which has its means in itself. Thus what has life is
an end for itself, it makes itself into an end, and here the
end is also the means. What has life is marked by this
simple inwardness, which realises itself in its parts or


members; it is an articulated organism, an organism with
dijEferentiated members. Since the subject produces itself
■within itself, it has as its aim to have its means within
itself. Each is a part or member and maintains itself,
and is the means whereby the others are produced and
maintained ; it is consumed and consumes ; it is this form,
and not the material particles, which remains and main-
tains itself in this process. Life is thus an end ia

But it now further appears that the end, which is end
for itself, stands at the same time in relation to external
conformity to an end. Organic life has relations to in-
organic Nature, and finds in it the means through which
it maintains itself, and these means exist independently
so far as this organic life is concerned. Thus inner con-
formity to an end has also relations to a conformity which
is outside. Life can assimilate the means, but they have
already been found for it, they have not come into exis-
tence through Life itself. Its own organs can produce
the life but not the means.

We are here in the region of finite conformity to an
end ; absolute conformity we shall get to later on.

The teleological way of looking at the world thus con-
tains the different forms of the end in creneral. There
are fixed ends and means, and even the end which has
the end in itself is merely finite, dependent, standing in
need of help in respect to the means. This conformity
to an end is so far finite, and finitude in these relations
to externality is, to begin with, the means, the material ;
the end cannot continue to exist apart from these means,
nor, on the other hand, can it exist unless these means
are powerless in reference to the end.

3. The next element of truth in this relation of means
and end is to be found in that universal Power or Force
through which the means potentially exist for the end.
From the standpoint of conformity to an end, things which
are ends have the power of realising themselves, but they


Lave not tlie power of positing the means. Both the
end and the material appear as indifferent to each other,
both appear as having an immediate definite existence,
the means beincr something found for the end. Their
potentiality, accordingly, is necessarily the power which
posits the end, and brings the end, which has its end in
itself, into a unity with the means ; and in order that the
finitude of the relation may be done away with — the
finitude being what we have so far been dealing with —
we must proceed to the point at which the Totality or
whole of the process in its inner conformity to an end,
comes into view. What is living has ends in itself ;
it has means and material within its own existence ; it
exists as the power or force of the means and its material.
This we find present at first only in the living individual
existence. It has in its organs the means, and is there-
fore its own material too. These means are pervaded
and penetrated by the end, they do not exist indepen-
dently for themselves, they cannot exist apart from the
soul, apart from the living unity of the body to which
they belong. This fact must now take on the form of
what is universal, i.e., the means and materials which
appear as accidental forms of existence as contrasted with
what the end implicitly is, have actually to be brought
under the sway of the Power in them, and to have their
soul only in the end, spite of their apparently indifferent
independent existence. The universal idea here is Power,
which exerts its power in accordance with ends, universal
Power. In so far as the end, which is an end in itself,
exists, and inorganic Nature is outside of it, this latter
as a matter of fact belongs to the Power which shows
its power in accordance with ends, so that those forms of
existence which appear immediately exist only for the
end. There are, it may be said, things which are im-
plicitly ends, and things which appear as means, but this
characterisation cannot be maintained, for the first men-
tioned may in their turn be relatively means, while the


last mentioned may, on the contrary, exist in a permanent
form. This second class, that of those things which
appear as existing independently, is implicitly posited,
not by means of the Power of the end, but by means of
a higher essentially existing Power which conforms them
to the end.

This is the general conception or notion of Power which
acts in accordance with ends. The truth of the world
consists in this Power; it is the Power of Wisdom, the
absolutely universal Power, and since it is the world
which is its manifestation, the truth of the world is the
completely realised essential existence of the manifesta-
tion of a wise Power.

We have now more particularly to consider the proof
of the existence of God which is based on this thought.
Two points call for notice. The wise Power, namely, is
the absolute Process in itself ; it is the power of producing
effects, of being active. This wise Power has by its very
nature to posit a world which has ends in itself ; its nature
is to manifest itself, to pass into actual definite existence.
This actual existence is, spealdng generally, the positing of
the difference, of the manifoldness which attaches to ex-
ternal existence. We thus get the element of difference
in a more important and more essential specialised form.
Power produces what it does produce in its character as
wisdom, what is produced is the difference ; this means
that the one is implicitly an end and the other a means
for the first ; it is merely something in conforndty with
an end, contingent, and not an end in itself. This dif-
ferentiation, namely, that the one is the means of the
other, is the one side. The other side in this mediation
consists in this, that the mutual relation between these
two sides is Power, or, to express it differently, it is just
this which characterises those on the one side as ends
and the others as means, and is thus the maintenance or
preservation of the ends. This aspect of the differentia-
tion is Creation ; it proceeds from the ISTotion ; the wise


Power produces effects, makes distinctions, and tlms is

It is to be noticed that this part of the mediation
does not belong to the proof of the existence of God,
for this part of the mediation begins with the concep-
tion or notion of wise Power. We have not here as
yet reached the point at which the proof starts from
the ISTotion, but that at which it starts from definite

I. It is at this point that we first get the conception
of Creation strictly so called ; it is not to be found in
any of the discussions which have gone before. We had
first infinitude, then Power as the Essence of God. In
the Infinite we have simply the negative of the finite ;
and in the same way in necessity finite existence is
something which merely goes back whence it came ; things
disappear in it as accidental. What is is only in so far
as it is a result. In so far as it is, all that can be
asserted of it is only the fact that it is ; nothing can be
said of how it is ; it can be in the particular way in which
it is, but it might be otherwise as well, right or wrong,
happy or unhappy. In necessity we get no further than
formal affirmation ; we do not get to the content ; here
there is nothing which is abiding, there is nothing which
would be an absolute end. It is in Creation that we first
come upon the positing and the being posited of affir-
mative forms of existence, not only as abstract, as things
which only are, but as having content as well. It is just
for this reason that Creation is only rightly in its place
here. It is not the action of Power as Power, but of
Power as Power that is wise, for Power first determines
itself as wisdom ; what appears as finite is thus already
contained in it, and the determinations here get affirma-
tion, i.e., the finite existences, the things created get true
affirmation. There are ends which are valid, and necessity
is reduced to the condition of a moment in reference to
the ends. The end is what persists in the Power, as

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 13 of 31)