Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 15 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 15 of 31)
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which we call God. This last is free subjectivity, in
connection with which the finite is posited merely as a
symbol, in which God, Spirit, appears. This is the mode


of present individuality, of Beauty. In respect of the
determination of the end, this mode means that the end
is not one only, but that there are many ends, and that
the infinitely limited end is elevated to the condition of
a real end. Here the real end is no longer exclusive, but
allows much — all, in fact, the right of existence along-
side of it, and a genial tolerance is here the fundamental
characteristic. There are subjects of various sorts which
have a valid existence alongside of each other, many
unities from which definite existence gets the means
it employs, and thus existence gets a certain friendly
character attached to it. Just because there are many
particular ends, multiplicity does not disdain to exhibit
itself in immediate determinate existence. The multi-
plicity, the kind or variety, possesses universality in itself.
The end permits the different kinds of things to have a
valid existence alongside of itself; it is on terms of friend-
ship with particularity and shows itself in it, and in its
character, as particular end, it permits the means to have
a valid existence alongside of itself, and manifests itself in
it. It is at this point that the determination or category
of Beauty comes in. Beauty is end existing potentially,
which allies itself with immediate existence, and in this
way establishes its own validity. Above the Beautiful
and the particular end there floats the Universal in the
form of a Power devoid of anything subjective, devoid of
wisdom, indeterminate in itself, and this accordingly is
Fate— cold necessity. Necessity is, indeed, that particular
development of the Essence which allows its phenomenal
manifestation or appearance to unfold itself in the form
of independent realities, while the moments of this outward
manifestation show themselves in the shape of distinct or
differentiated forms. Implicitly, however, these moments
are identical, and their existence is accordingly not to be
taken seriously. It is only Destiny, the inner identity of
tlie differences, which is to be taken seriously.

(c.) The third form of religion is equally represented


by a finite particular end, which in its particularity
represents itself as universality, and expands itself so
as to reach universality, but which is all the same still
empirical and external. It is not the true universality of
the Notion, but one virhich, comprising the world and the
peoples of the world within itself, extends them so as to
reach universality, while it at the same time loses its
determinate character, and has for its end the cold abstract
Power, and is in itself devoid of an end.

In external existence these three moments are repre-
sented by the Jewish, the Greek, and the Eoman religions.
Power, as subjectivity, determines itself as wisdom acting
in accordance with an end ; this end is, to begin with, still
undetermined ; particular ends come into existence, and
finally an empirical universal end appears.

These religions correspond in reverse order to those
preceding them. The Jewish religion corresponds to the
Persian, the element of difference common to the two
being that, regarded from this standpoint, the determinate-
ness represents the inner nature of the Essence which is
the end of self-determination. At an earlier stage, how-
ever, in the religions which precede, the determinateness
had a natural character. In the Persian religion this
was represented by light, this element being in its nature
universal, simple, and physical. This was accordingly the
final stage reached, taking the natural as a starting-point.
Nature being thus comprehended in & unity which was
similar to that of Thought. Here, in the Jewish religion,
particularity is represented by a simple abstract end,
namely, power, which is really only wisdom. Eegarding
the question from the second standpoint, we have in the
Greek religion many particular ends and one Power
above them ; in the Hindu religion there are in the same
way the many natural realities, and above them Brahma,
the self-thinking One. Considering the matter from the
third standpoint, we have an empirical universal end
which is itself the selfless, all-destroying Destiny, not


true subjectivity, and corresponding to tliis we have
power as individual empirical self-consciousness. Thus,
too, in the Chinese religion there appears an individual
existence which represents itself as the Universal pure
and simple, as determining everything as God. The first
mode of natural existence is self-consciousness, individual,
natural. The natural, in its character as something sin"le
or individual, is what actually exists as, and is determined
as, self-consciousness. Here, accordingly, the arrange-
ment is the reverse of what we have in the Eeligion of
Nature. In the present instance, what is primary is
Thought, which is concrete in itself, simple subjectivity,
which then advances so as to get determination within
itself. In the other case, in the Eeligion of Nature, it
was the natural immediate self-consciousness which was
the primary element, and which finally embodied itself
in the pictorial conception of light.


What this religion has in common with that of Beauty
is the ideality it ascribes to the natural, which it brings
into subjection to the spiritual, and further that in it
God is consciously known as conscious Spirit, as Spirit
whose determinations are rational and moral. God, how-
ever, in the Eeligion of Beauty has still a particular nature
or content, or, to put it otherwise. He is merely moral
Power in the manifested form of Beauty, and therefore
in a manifestation which still takes place in a sensuous
material, in the region of sensuous matter, the matter of
the idea or ordinary conception : the region in which the
manifestation takes places is not yet that of Thought.
The necessity for rising higher to the Eeligion of Sub-
limity is to be found in the fact that the particular
spiritual and moral forces are taken out of their state of


particularity and included within a spiritual unity. The
truth of the Particular is the universal unity, which is
concrete in itself in so far as it has the Particular within
itself, and yet has this in itself in such a way that in its
essence it is subjectivity.

The region for the play of this manifestation of reason,
which, as subjectivity, is, so far as its content is concerned,
universal, and is, so far as its form is concerned, free —
the region in which pure subjectivity shows itself, is that
of pure Thought. This pure subjectivity has been freed
from the natural, and consequently from what is sensuous,
whether this is found in the external world of sense or
is a sensuous idea. It is the spiritual subjective unity,
and it is this which first rightly gets from us the name

This subjective unity is not substance, but subjective
unity ; it is absolute Power, while the natural is merely
something posited, ideal, and not independent. It does
not manifest itself in any natural material, but in Thought.
Thought is the mode of its definite existence or mani-

There is absolute power in the Hindu religion also,
but the main point is that it be concretely determined
within itself, and thus be the absolute wisdom. The
rational characteristics of freedom, the moral charac-
teristics, are united so as to form one characteristic, one
End, and thus the characteristic of this subjectivity is
holiness. Morality thus characterises itself as holiness.

The higher truth of the subjectivity of God is not the
determination or characteristic of the Beautiful, in which
the constituent element, the absolute content, is separated
into particulars, but the characteristic of holiness ; and
the relation between these two determinations is similar
to that between the animals and man : the animals have
a particular character, but it is the character of univer-
sality which is the human moral rationality of freedom,
and the unity of this rationality, a unity which has au


essential independent existence, is the true subjectivitj',
the subjectivity which determines itself within itself.
This is wisdom and holiness. The content of the Greek
gods, the moral Powers, are not holy, because they are
particular and limited.


The Absolute, God, is defined as the one subjectivity,
pure subjectivity, and, as a consequence, as subjectivity
which is universal in itself, or the reverse. This sub-
jectivity, which is universal in itself, is clearly One only.
The unity of God consists in this, that the consciousness
of God is the consciousness of Him as One. The point
here is not to show that the unity exists implicitly, that
the unity lies at the basis of things, as is the case in the
Indo-Chinese religion ; for God is not posited as infinite
subjectivity when His unity is merely implicit, and He
is not known and does not exist for consciousness as sub-
jectivity. God in the present case is, on the contrary,
consciously known as a personal One, not as One, as in
Pantheism. Thus the immediate natural mode of con-
ceiving of God disappears, the mode, for instance, which
appears in the Persian religion, in which He is thought
of as light. Eeligion is conceived of as the religion of
Spirit, but only so far as its basis is concerned, only as
it exists in the region that specially belongs to it, that of
Thought. This unity of God contains itself One Power,
a Power which consequently is absolute, and within this
all externality, and consequently all that belongs to the
world of sense, that takes on the form of sense, or is a
picture, disappears.

God is here without form. He does not exist in any
external sensuous form. There is no image of Him.
He does not exist for the sensuous idea, but, on the con-
trary. He exists only for thought. The infinite subjec-


tivity is the subjectivity which thinks, and, being thinking
subjectivity, it exists only for thought.

(rt.) God is defined as absolute power, which is wisdom.
Power in its form as wisdom is, to begin with, reflected
into itself as subject. This reflection into self, this self-
determination of power, is the self-determination which
is entirely abstract and universal, which does not yet
particularise itself within itself, the determinate character
being only determinateness in general. It is owing to
this subjectivity which makes no distinction within itself
that God is defined as One. Within this One all par-
ticularity has vanished. It is implied in this that
natural things, the things which have a determinate par-
ticular character and constitute the world, have no longer
any valid independent existence in their condition of
immediacy. Independence is represented by One only.
All else is merely something posited, dependent for its
being on something else, something which is kept from
existing by the One, for the One is abstract subjectivity,
and all else is unsubstantial as compared with it.

(b.) The next point is the determination of the end
followed out by the absolute Power. From one point of
view, God is Himself His end. He is wisdom. And it
is, to begin with, required of this determination that it
be equal to the power. It is itself, however, merely a
general end, or, to put it otherwise, wisdom is merely
abstract, is merely called wisdom.

(c.) The determinateness, however, must not remain
merely a determination within the Notion, but receive
the form of reality also. This form is, to begin with, an
immediate one. The end of God is, in fact, merely the
first reality, and accordingly is a wholly single or in-
dividual end. The next step is that the end, the de-
terminateness, should on its part be raised to the condition
of concrete universality. We certainly have here pure
subjectivity on the one side, but the determinateness is
.not yet equalised with it. This first end is thus limited,


but Man, self-consciousness, is the sphere in which it
shows itself. The end must, as being a divine end, be
universal, inherently and potentially universal ; it must
contain universality in itself. The end is thus merely
human, and as yet naturally the family, which widens
out into a nation. A definite nation becomes here the
end set before itself by wisdom.

That God should be thus characterised as One seems
to us a thought which is familiar, and not striking and
important, because we are accustomed to this figurative
idea of Him. The idea is formal, too, but of infinite
importance, and it is not to be wondered at that the
Jewish people put such a high value upon it, for the
thought that God is one is the root of subjectivity, of
the intellectual world, the way to truth. The essential
character of absolute truth is contained in it ; still it is
not yet truth as truth, for development is a necessary
quality of this latter, but it is the heginning of truth and
the formal principle of the absolute harmony of the
Absolute with itself. The One is pure power, and all
that is particular is posited in Him as negative, and not as
belonging to Him as such, but as inadequate to express
Him, as unworthy of Him,. In the religion of Nature we
saw the determinateness under the aspect of natural
existence, as, for example, light, .and the self-conscious-
ness of the Absolute appeared in this manifold manner.
In the infinite Power, on the other hand, all this exter-
nality is .annihilated. There- is, therefore, an essence
without form or representation which does not, exist for
the Other in any natural mode, but only for thought, for
Spirit. This definidon of the One is that formal defini-
tion of unity which forms the basis of the conception of
God as Spirit, and, so far as self-consciousness is con-
cerned, it is the root of its concrete, true content.

But it is, to begin with, nothing more than the root
merely. For the point to be determined is not how
many spiritual predicates — as, for example, wisdom.


'goodness, mercy, are to be ascribed' to tbe One, but wbat
He does and really is. What we are concerned with is,
the actual determination and reality. It must, therefore,
be determined whether or not the action expresses the
mode in which Spirit appears. If the activity is not
of the kind which develops the nature of Spirit, then
the subject may certainly pass for being Spirit so far as
ordinary thought is concerned, but it is not itself true
Spirit. The fundamental characteristic of activity here,
however, is, to begin with. Power, which does not assume
an outward form implying that the reality is its own
reality, but rather its attitude to reaility is still essentially
a negative one.



(a.) The Determination of the Divine Particularisation.

First Determination. — In the divine act of judgment,
God is wisdom ; God's self-determination, His differentia-
tion, or, to put it more definitely, His act of Creation, is
contained in it. Spirit is simply what mediates self within
self, what is active. This activity implies a distinguish-
ing from self, an act of judgment, which, in its original
meaning, is separation or division. The world is some-
thing posited by Spirit ; it is made out of its nothing.
The negative element in the world, however, is the affir-
mative element, the Creator, namely, in whom what is
natural exists as the non-existent. The world, therefore,
in its nothingness has sprung from the absolute ful-
ness of the power of the Good. It has been created from
its own nothingness, which, as being its Other, God is.
"Wisdom means that an end is present in the world, and
determines it. This subjectivity, however, is what comes
first, and is accordingly abstract to begin with, and con-


sequently the particularisation of God is not .j'et posited
as being within Himself, but rather His act of judgment
or separation means that He posits something, and what
is thus posited and gets a definite character exists at first
in the iorm of an immediate Other. The higher con-
ception is certainly that of God's act of Creation within
Himself, by which He is beginning and end in Himself,
and thus has the moment of movement, which is here
still outside of Him, in Himself, in His inner nature.

When wisdom is not abstract but concrete, and God
is thonght of as self-determining in such a way that He
creates Himself within Himself, and preserves what is
created within Himself, so that it is produced and known
as permanently contained within Himself as His Son,
then God is known as concrete God, truly known as

Since, however, wisdom is as yet abstract, the act of
separation, what is posited, is something which has Being,
the separation or judgment has still the form of imme-
diacy, but it has this only in so far as it is form, for God
creates absolutely out of nothing. He alone is Being,
what is positive. He is, however, at the same time the
positing of His power. The necessity by which God is
the positing of His power is the birthplace of all that is
created. This necessity is the material out of which God
creates ; it is God Himself, and He therefore does not
create out of anything material, for He is the Self, and
not the immediate or material. He is not One as against
an Other already existing, but is Himself the Other in
the form of determinateness, which, however, because He
is only One, exists outside of Him as His negative move-
ment. The positing of Nature necessarily belongs to the
notion or conception of spiritual life, of the Self, and is
the sinking of intelligence into sleep. Since power is
conceived of as absolute negativity, the Essence, i.e., what
is identical with itself, is at first in a state of repose, of
eternal calm and seclusion. But this very solitude in its


own self is merely a moment of Power, and not its totality.
Power is in its very nature a negative relation to self, a
mediation within self ; and since it is negatively related
to self, the abolition or annulling of abstract identity is
the positing of difference, determinateness, i.e., it is the
creation of the world. The element of nothinsf, out of
which the world is created, is the absence of all difference,
and it is in connection with this quality that Power,
Essence, is first thought of. If, accordingly, it is asked
where God got the material, the answer is, just in that
simple relation to self. Matter is what is formless, what
is identical with itself. This is merely a moment of the
Essence, and is thus something different from absolute
Power, and is accordingly what we call matter. The
creation of the world, therefore, means the negative rela-
tion of the Power to itself, in so far as it is to begin with
something which is defined as merely identical with self.

The creation by God is something very different from
the act of proceeding from God, or from the idea of the
world proceeding out of God. All peoples have had
theogonies, or, what comes to the same thing, cosmogonies.
In these the fundamental category is always procession,
not the fact of something being created. It is out of
Brahma that the gods proceed, while in the cosmogonies
of the Greeks, the highest, the most spiritual gods are
those which have finally proceeded from some source,
which have been the last so to proceed. This poor cate-
gory of procession now disappears, for the Good, Absolute
Power, is a Subject.

This procession does not express the true character of
what is created. What thus proceeds is what exists,
what actually is, and in such a way that the Ground or
Essence from which it proceeds is thought of as the un-
essential element which has disappeared in something
higher. What proceeds out of God is not thought of as
something created, but as something independent, self-
subsistent, not as something which has no inherent in-



dependence. This, therefore, is the form taken by the
Divine self-determination, the mode of particularisation.
It cannot blunder, for wisdom is necessary to the very
idea of it. It is not, however, any kind of particu-
larisation of God in Himself, otherwise God would be
known as Spirit. The particularisation, just because
God is One, attaches to the other aspect of existence.
This particularisation is, to begin with, the Divine act of
characterisation in general, and is thus Creation. This
positing of the world is not transitory, but, on the con-
trary, what proceeds out of God preserves the character
of something posited, of the creature, in fact. Thus what
is created has upon it the mark of something which has
no independence. This is the fundamental characteristic,
and one which remains attached to it because God is
conceived of as Subject, as infinite Power. Here Power
exists only for the One, and thus it follows that what is
particular is merely something negative, something posited,
as compared with the subject.

Second Determination. — This determination means
that God is hypothetically Subject. If He is not, then
Creation is a vague popular conception which readily
suggests the mechanical and technical methods of pro-
duction used by man, and this is an idea which we must
keep out of our minds. God is the First : His act of
creation is an eternal creating, in which He is not a
result, but that which originates. When He is conceived
of in a higher way, namely, as Spirit, He is the self-
creating, and does not proceed out of Himself, being both
beginning and result. Here, however, God is not con-
ceived of as Spirit. Human production, technical produc-
tion, is an external process. The Subject, what is First,
becomes active, and connects itself with something other
than itself, and thus comes to stand in an external rela-
tion to the material which has to be manipulated, which
offers resistance and has to be overcome. Both actually
exist as objects which have a mutual relation to each


other. God, on the other hand, creates absolutely out of
nothing, since there is nothing which was before Him.

The mode of production, therefore, in connection with
which He is Subject, is intuitive, is infinite activity. In
the case of human production, I am consciousness, I have
an end, and know what it is, and I have, too, accordingly
the material, and know that my relation to it is a
relation to an " Other." Intuitive production, on the
contrary, the production of E'ature, belongs to the con-
ception of Life. It is an inward act, inner activity,
which has no reference to something actually existing.
It is life-force, the eternal production of Nature, and
Nature, speaking generally, is something posited, some-
thing created.

God is in reference to the world the totality of His
determinateness, of His negation, and in reference to the
totality of immediate Being, He is what is pre-supposed,
the subject which remains absolutely first. Here the
fundamental characteristic of God is subjectivity, which
relates itself to itself, and as inherently existing permanent
subjectivity it is what is first.

The derivative character of the Greek gods, who repre-
sent the spiritual element, is something which belongs to
their finitude. It is this which gives them their cou-
ditional character, in accordance with which their own
nature is considered as dependent on something previously
existing, as is the case with the finite spirit of Nature.

This subjectivity, however, is the absolutely First, tlie
Beginner of things, its conditional character being done
away with ; but it is only something which begins, and
this does not mean that the subjectivity is characterised
as result and as concrete Spirit.

If what was created by the absolute Subject were itself,
then the difference would in that case be done away with
and absorbed in this difference. The first Subject would
be tlie last, something which resulted from itself. But
this is a characteristic we have not yet got, and all we


can say is that this absolute Subject is something which
begins merely — that is first or primary.

The third determination of God in relation to the world.

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 15 of 31)