Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 14 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 14 of 31)
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opposed to it and through it. Necessity is there on be-
half of the end, its process is the maintenance and the
realisation of the end ; the end stands above it, and neces-
sity is thus posited as one side only of the process, so
that one part only of what is created is subjected to tliis
Power, and appears accordingly as contingent. It is from
the notion or conception of a wise Power that the act of
positing, along with the difference referred to, proceeds.

2. By means of the conception alluded to we get two
aspects of this truth ; on the one hand we have ends,
and on the other what is contingent. The second step
accordingly is the mediation between the ends and what
is contingent. They are, as a matter of fact, different; life
and what has not life, each exists immediately for itself,
they have an equal right to be — they are; the Being of
the one has no more justification than that of the other.
The ends are living ; they are thus individuals existing as
so many immediate single points which stand off from
each other, and in reference to which the other exists for
itself and to which it can offer resistance. The mediation
or reconciliation between these two consists in this, that
tlie two do not exist for themselves in a similar way.
The one class consists of ends, tlie other of what has
merely material independent Being, and has no higher
signification even when it is living.

It is this second characteristic or mediation which has
been put into the special form of the Proof of the exis-
tence of God known as the Physico-Theological.

What has life is in fact Power, though at first it is
this only implicitly ; in its organs it is the living Soul
which is the Power, though this power does not yet hold
sway over the inorganic, which also exists and is infinitely
manifold. We thus have, on the one hand, what is as
yet Quality, what is, to begin with, immediate Being, and
the living things in a condition of indifference to each
other. They use the material which also exists in this
definite particular form which they themselves come to


have, and the other side is first given when the living
things exist as power exercised over the materiah It is
by regarding the matter from this point of view that
Understanding has constructed that Proof which is called
the Physico-Theological.

Ill definite existence there are, in short, elements of
two kinds which are indifferent to each other, and a third
element is required through which the end can realise
itself. Immediate existence is composed of elements
which are indifferent to each other. Here it is the Good
which is the ruling principle, and tliis means tliat each
determination is so related to itself as to be indifferent
towards what is other than it — that they are, in fact, dif-
ferent, though this does not mean that they are opposed
to each other, for such opposition is not present in im-
mediate existence. It is this inwardness, this poten-
tiality, which forms the notion or conception of wise
Power, and it is thus to this quality that the Proof after
its fashion attaches itself. The Teleological Proof consists
of the following moments as set forth by Kant, moments
which he has specially taken up and criticised, and which
he regarded as discredited. In the world are to be found
clear traces or indications of a wise arrangement in ac-
cordance with ends. The world is full of life, spiritual
life and natural life. These living things are implicitly
organised, and so far as these organs are concerned it is
possible to regard the parts as unrelated. It is true that
the life in tliem is their harmony, but the fact of their
existing in harmony does not seem to be based on their
actual existence. Then, again, living things are related
to what is external to them, and each form of life is
related to its own part of inorganic nature. Plants
require a particular climate or a particular soil, animals
are of particular species — things, in fact, have their
particular natures. Life is merely productive, and does
not pass over into the Other along with which it forms
part of a process. On the contrary, it continues to be


itself while constantly altering and reconstructing the
process. , Thus what strikes any one who begins to re-
flect, is the element of harmonious relation in the world
existing between the organic and the inorganic, and how
existing things seem to be arranged with special reference
to Man. For, at first, Man has before him things which
have an independent existence, things which exist solely
for themselves, but which, all the same, are in harmonious
relation with his existence. What is really wonderful is
that those very things which at first seem totally un-
related are just the things which really exist for one
another, and therefore what produces wonder is the oppo-
site of that indifference or absence of relation, namely,
conformity to an end. We are thus in presence of a
principle which is entirely different from that involved
in unrelated existence.

This first principle is, so far as existing things are
concerned, merely accidental. Nature, things, could not
of themselves work harmoniously through so many forms
of existence towards a contemplated end, and for this
reason a rational arranging principle has to be forth-
coming, and this the things themselves are not.

That things exist in conformity to an end is not a truth
which is involved in or posited by the things themselves.
Life certainly is so active that it makes use of inorganic
nature, maiutains itself by means of its act of assimila-
tion, nesrates it, identifies itself with the inorsanic and
yet preserves itself in it. Its activity is certainly that
particular activity of the subject which constitutes itself
the centre point and uses the Other as a means, but the
second characteristic is external to the things. Men, it
is true, make use of things, they assimilate tliem, but the
fact that there are such things which they can use is not
involved in man's existence, is not posited by men. The
fact of their being externally unrelated or indifferent to
each other so far as their existence is concerned, as well
as the fact of their existence, are not involved in or


posited by the end. This indifference of things to eacli
other does not express their true relation, but is merely
an illusion. The true character of the relation is the
teleological characterisation of conformity to an end, and
it is iu this, accordingly, that we have the absence of iu-
difference in the relation between existing things. This
expresses the essential relation, the relation wliich is valid
and true. The Proof points to the necessity of having
one supreme principle of order or regulating essence, for
we infer from the unity of the world that the cause
is one.

Kant, in opposition to this, says that this argument
shows us God merely as an architect and not as a creator,
and that it is concerned merely with the contingent ele-
ments of forms and not with the substance. It is, in
fact, only the suitability of means to end which is de-
manded, the quality of objects in relation to each other
in so far as it is posited by or depends for its existence
on some Power. This quality, says Kant, is merely form,
and the Power which posits would be a Cause producing
forms merely, and not a Power creating matter. The
distinction upon which this criticism rests has no mean-
ing. There can be no positing of the form by the Power
without the positing of the matter. If we have once got
into the region of the Notion, we have got far past the
distinction of form and matter, and must know that
absolute form is something real, that therefore form is
something, and that apart from matter it is nothing.
When the word form is used in this connection it ex-
presses a particular quality. The essential form, how-
ever, is the end, the Notion itself which realises itself ;
the form in the sense in which it is the Notion is the
substantial element itself, the Soul ; what can be distin-
guished from it as matter is something which is formal
and entirely secondary, or it is merely a formal charac-
terisation in the Notion.

Kant says further that the syllogism starts from the


world and from an arrangement and conformity to an
end which have been reached merely by observation, and
which express a merely contingent existence — what is
said about existence is undoubtedly correct, the contingent
is reached by observation — and goes on to infer the exist-
ence of a Cause proportionate to these, which works in
accordance with an end. This remark is quite correct.
"We say that the arrangement in accordance with an end
which we observe cannot have sprung up of itself ; it
demands the existence of a Power acting in accordance
with ends ; it is the content of this Cause, though we
cannot know anything more of this wisdom than what
we leam of it from observation. All observation gives
nothing more than a relation ; but no one can reason
from Power to Almighty Power, from wisdom and unity,
to an all-wise and absolute Unity, and so the physico-
tlieological Proof gives us only a great Power, a great
Unity. The content desired, however, is God, absolute
Power, Wisdom ; but this is not involved in what is con-
tained in observation, a leap is made from what is great
to what is absolute. Tliis is a point thoroughly well
established ; the content from which the start is made is
not that of God.

It is from conformity to an end that we start, and this
category is got at empirically ; these are finite contingent
things, and they are also ordered in conformity to an end.
Wliat, then, is the character of this conformity ? It is,
of course, finite. The ends are finite, particular, and
are accordingly contingent also ; and it is here that the
element of inadequacy wliich attaches to this physico-
tlieological Proof comes in, a defect which is felt at once,
and which raises a suspicion against this style of argu-
ment. Man uses plants, animals, light, air, water ; and
so too do animals and plants. The end is thus an
entirely limited one ; animals and plants are at one time
ends and at another means — they eat and are eaten.
This physico-theological way of looking at things is apt


to lead to trivialities and to direct attention to small
details. It may satisfy those who wish for edification,
and the heart may be impressed by looking at things in
this fashion. It is another thing, however, if we have
to get to know God by this means, and if we mean to
speak of absolute wisdom. A bronto-theology, a testa-
cean-theology, &c., have been discovered in this way. The
content, the active working of God, are here simply such
finite ends as may be shown to be present in existence
generally. Absolutely higher ends would be found in
morality, in freedom ; moral good would have to be an
end for itself in order that an absolute end of such a
nature might also be attained in the world. But here
we are in the region of actions in accordance with ends
in general, while it is finite, limited ends which present
themselves in observation. The Power which works in
accordance with ends is merely the life-force, and is not
yet Spirit, the personality of God. When it is said that
the Good is the end, then it may be asked, What is good ?
If it is further said that happiness comes to men in pro-
portion to their moral worth, that the end is that the
good man should be happy and the bad man unhappy,
then, as a matter of fact, we see in the world what forms
a most cruel contrast to this, and we find just as many
incitements to morality as there are sources of tempta-
tion. In short, perception and observation, considered in
this aspect, do indeed give us conformity to au end, but
in an equal degree do they give what is not in conformity
to an end, and in the long-run it comes to be a matter of
calculating which of the two elements predominates. It
is, accordingly, some such finite end, speaking generally,
which constitutes the content of the idea of the wisdom
of God.

The defect of the proof consists in this, that the idea
of conformity to an end or of wisdom is defined in a
general way merely, and for this reason attention is
directed to those observations and to the knowledge



'gained ' by sense-perception, in connection with which
accordingly relative ends of this sort present themselves.

Even if God is conceived of as a Power working
actively in accordance with ends, still this does not give
what is sought after when we speak of God. A Power
which works in accordance with ends is, in fact, the life-
force of Nature, and not yet Spirit. The conception of
the life-force expresses something which is an end for
itself, an actually existing end and activity in accor-
dance therewith. In its content, accordingly, as thus
expressed, we have nothing beyond what is involved in
the conception of living Nature.

So far as the form of this Proof is concerned, we
have in it, speaking generally, that of the syllogism of
the Understanding. There are existing things charac-
terised by a teleological arrangement, i.e., there are in a
general way relations between things in conformity with
ends, and in addition to this there is the definite existence
of these objects which have the character of means, of
something accidental so far as the ends are concerned.
These objects, however, are at the same time not con-
tingent when standing in this relation to one another,
but rather it is implied in the notion or conception
of the end, in the conception of the life-force, that not
only have the ends been posited, but the objects too,
which are means. This is quite correct, but the argu-
ment is further developed as follows. The arrangement
of things in accordance with an end is composed, so far
as its inner, its essential nature is concerned, of a Power
which constitutes the connection or positing of the two,
and by means of which they come to suit each other.
Now, it is argued, if there are such things, here again
it is the Being of these things which constitutes the
starting-point. The transition, however, on the other
hand, contains the moment of Not-Being. The meatis
do not exist; they exist only in so far as they have
been negatively posited, and so far as they exist they


have merely a contingent existence in connection with
the end. What, however, is demanded by the argument
is, that they should not be forms of existence standing
in a relation of indifference to the end. When, there-
fore, it is said that such things do actually exist, it is
necessary to add to this the moment that their Being
is not their own Being, but Being which has been
degraded to' a means. On the other hand, when it is
said ends do actually exist, they certainly do ; but since
there is a Power which arranges them in a certain way,
the existence of the ends in common with that of the
means is posited as well. It is not the Being of the
ends which, as positive Being, has the power of making
the mediation the transition, but rather it is just in this
transition that their Being is changed into a Being which
has been posited or made dependent on something else.

The minor proposition here, however, does not get
farther than the Being of things, instead of taking their
Not-Being also into consideration. The general content
of this form of proof is this : The world is arranged in
accordance with an end, leaving out of consideration
more definite ends. Conformity to an end is the notion
not only in finite things, but expresses also the absolute
essential character of the Notion, i.e., the divine Notion, the
essential characterisation or determination of God. God
is Power, self-determination, and this means that He de-
termines Himself in accordance with ends. The main
defect in the argument is that it starts from perception,
from phenomena. These supply a conformity to ends
which is finite merely, while the pure end is the universal
and absolute end.

We shall now pass on to the concrete or more definite
form of religion, to the concrete determination of God.
The notion or general conception is that of Power which
works actively in accordance with ends. In the region
of religion we occupy a different standpoint, that of con-
sciousness or the self-consciousness of Spirit. Here we


have the Notion no longer in the form merely of life-
force, but as it determines itself in consciousness. We
now have religion as consciousness of Spirit, which is a
universal Power working in accordance with ends. In
the object of religion it is the idea of Spirit in general
which is present, but the point to determine is, which
moment of Thought or Spirit is actively present. The
content is not yet Spirit in and for itself; the object of
the idea does not yet express the content of Spirit, this
content being here a Power which works in accordance
with ends. Since religion is defined as consciousness,
here it is to be defined as self-consciousness. Here we
have divine self-consciousness in general, both in its
objective form as determination of the object, and also
in its subjective form as determination of the finite spirit.
Consciousness, Spirit, determines itself here as self-
consciousness. That is implied in what has gone before;
how it is so implied has now to be briefly indicated. In
power, which is wisdom, the determinateness is posited
as ideal in such a way that it pertains to the notion.
The determinateness appears as determinate Being, Being
for an Other. Along with consciousness difference is
posited first as difference in reference to the self. Here
it is posited as the individual difference of the self ; it is
relation to self, and consciousness is thus self-conscious-
ness. God is posited as self-consciousness in so far
as consciousness and its connection with the object are
thought of essentially as self-consciousness. Definite
existence, the objectivity of God, the Other, is something
ideal or spiritual. God is thus essentially for Spirit, for
Thought in general, and this fact that He as Spirit is for
Spirit is at all events one aspect of the relation. It
may constitute the Totality of the relation when it means
that God is worshipped in spirit and in truth, but it is
essentially, at all events, one characteristic. "We have
further seen that the ISTotion must be characterised as
end. The end must not, however, merely preserve this


form, remain shut up within itself and belong to itself ;
on the contrary, it has to be realised. The question now
conies to be, supposing that wisdom has to act, that the
end has to be realised, what is to serve as the material
or sphere for this ? This can be nothing else than Spirit
in general, or, to put it more definitely, Man. He is the
object of the Power which determines itself, which acts
in accordance with this determination, namely, wisdom.
Man, or finite consciousness, is Spirit in the character of
finitude. The act of realisation is a positing of the ISTotion
of a kind which is different from the mode in which the
absolute Notion realises itself, and consequently it assumes
the mode, of finitude, which, however, is at the same time
spiritual. Spirit is only for Spirit; it is here charac-
terised as self-consciousness, and the Other, in which it
realises itself, is the finite spirit, and there too it is equally
self-consciousness. This sphere or universal reality is
itself something spiritual. It must be a sphere in which
Spirit at the same time actually exists or is for itself.
Man is thus conceived of as an essential end, as the
sphere of divine power or wisdom.

rinally, Man thus stands to God in an affirmative
relation, for the fundamental determination is that he is
self-consciousness. Man, who constitutes this aspect of
reality, is accordingly self-consciousness ; he is conscious-
ness of the absolute Essence as being his own, conse-
quently the freedom of consciousness is posited in God,
and thus Man is here at home with himself. This
moment of consciousness is an essential one, it is a funda-
mental determination, though not as yet the complete
expression of the relation. Man exists for himself as a
self-constituted end, his consciousness is free in God, it
is justified in God, exists essentially for self, and is directed
towards God. This is the principle in a general form,
while the definite forms are the particular religions, those
of Sublimity, of Beauty, and of Utility or Conformity to
an End.



We have on the one side power pure and simple and
abstract wisdom, and on the other a contingent end to be
carried out. Botli are united, and wisdom is unlimited ;
but for this reason it is indeterminate, and because of
this the end as real is contingent or finite. The media-
tion of the two sides to concrete unity, which is of such
a kind that the notion of wisdom is itself the content
of its end, already constitutes the transition to a higher
stage. The main determination here is expressed by the
question, "What is wisdom ? what is the end ? It is an
end which is inadequate to the power.

(a.) The subjectivity which is inherently power has no
connection with sense ; the natural or immediate element
is in it negated ; it is only for Spirit, for Thought. This
Power, which exists for itself, is essentially One. That
which we have called reality. Nature, is only something
posited, negated, and passes away into independent self-
existent Being, where there is no Many, no One and the
Other. Thus the One is purely exclusive, having no
Other beside it, and not suffering anything alongside of
it which might have independence. This One is the
wisdom of The All ; everything is posited by means of it,
but is for it merely something external and accidental.
This is the sublimity of the One, of this Power, and of
Power which is wise. Since, on the other hand, it takes
on the form of definite existence, namely, self-conscious-
ness, and as Being exists for an Other, the end also is
only one, though it is none the less sublime, and still it
is a limited end which is not yet determined by means
of multiplicity, and is thus an infinitely limited end.
Both of these aspects correspond with one another, the
infinitude of the Power and the limited character of its
actual end. On the one hand there is sublimity, and on


the other the opposite, an infinite limitedness or restricted-
ness. This is the first form in reference to the end.
The One has what is infinite alongside of it, while, how-
ever, setting up for being the One.

So far as the relation between Nature and Spirit is
concerned, the Religion of Sublimity means that the
sensuous, the finite, the natural, what is spiritually and
physically natural, has not yet been taken up into free
subjectivity or transfigured within it. The characteristic
of this stage is that free subjectivity is elevated to the
condition of pure Thought, a form which is more adequate
to express the content than the sensuous is. Here the
natural element is dominated by this free subjectivity, in
which the Other is merely ideal, and has no true lasting
existence as against free subjectivity. Spirit is what
raises itself, what is raised above the natural, above fini-
tude. This is the Eeligion of Sublimity.

The Sublime is not, however, the Measureless, which,
in order to determine itself and to take on a definite
form, can make use only of what is immediately present
and of silly distortions of it, and has to do this in order
to produce a conformity with its inner nature. Subli-
mity, on the other hand, can do without immediate exis-
tence and its modes, and does not, like the other, get
into a condition of poverty which forces it to lay hold of
these modes in order to represent itself, but pronounces
these to be a mere show or illusion.

(6.) The other characteristic or determination is that the
natural or finite is transfigured in Spirit, in the freedom
of Spirit. Its transfiguration consists in this, that it is a
symbol of the spiritual in such a way that in this trans-
figuration of the physical-natural or spiritual-natural, the
natural itself stands over against the spiritual as finite,
as the other side of that essentiality, of that substantiality

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 14 of 31)