Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 16 of 31)
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— This is expressed by what we call the attributes of
God. These represent His determinate character, i.e., in-
asmuch as we have seen that there is a particularisation
of God, God's self-determination, and that this self-
determination is the creation of the world, it follows that
along with this there is posited the fact of a relation on
the part of God to the world, or to put it otherwise, the
attributes are the determinate element itself, only known
in the Notion of God.

The One is something which has got determinate char-
acter, which is known as being, as not returning into God,
the Other is God's being made determinate as a determinate
quality of God. It is this that we are in the habit of
calling by the name of attributes, God's relations to the
world, and to say that we know only this relation of God
to the world and do not know God Himself, is to use an
unfortunate expression. It is just this which is His own
determinate character, and it is this consequently which
is represented by His own attributes.

It is only when things are represented in an external
way and from the point of view of the senses, that
anything can be said to he, and to be for self, in such a
way that its relations to other things, its attributes, are
distinguished from its existence, for it is just these which
constitute its own peculiar nature. The manner in which
a man stands related to others is just his nature. The
acid is nothing else than the particular character of its
relation to the base — that is the nature of the acid itself.
If we understand the relation in which an object stands to
other things, we understand the nature of the object itself.
These distinctions, therefore, are of a very inferior
character, since they directly coincide as being the product
of an understanding which does not know them, and is
not aware what it possesses in these distinctions. This


determinateness as something external, immediate, as a
determinateness of God Himself, is His absolute power,
which is wisdom, the definite moments of which are
goodness and righteousness.

Goodness consists in the fact that the world is : Being
does not belong to it, as Being is here reduced to the
condition of a moment, and is only a Being which has
been posited or created. This act of dividing, of differen-
tiation, represents the eternal goodness of God. What
is thus distinguished from God has no right to be ; it is
external to the One, something manifold, and because of
this, something limited, finite, whose essential character is
not to be, but the goodness of God consists just in the
fact that it is. Inasmuch as it is something which has been
posited, it also passes away, is only appearance. God only
is Being, the truly real ; Being which excludes any of its
elements. Being outside of God, has no right of existence.

God can be a Creator in the true sense only in so far
as He is subjectivity, for as such He is free, and His
determinate character. His self-determination, is set free.
It is only what is free that can have its determinations
standing over against itself as free and can give them
freedom. This differentiation, whose totality is repre-
sented by the world, this Being, is The Good.

The Being of the world, however, is only the Being
of Power, or, to put it otherwise, the positive reality and
independence or self-existence of the world is not its
own self-existence, but the self-existence of Power. The
world accordingly must, in relation to the Power, be
thought of as something incomplete in itself. The one
side is represented by the mauifoldness of the differences,
the infinite realm of definite existence, the other side
accordingly by the substantiality of the world, though
this quality does not attach to the world itself, but is
rather the identity of the Essence with itself. The
world does not maintain itself independently ; on the
contrary, its Being-for-self, its real existence, is the


Power which maintains itself in the differences, inas-
much as it remains Being-for-self, and thus represents
the Being of tlie world. The world is thus divided
within itself; regarded from one side it is dependent,
selfless difference, and regarded from the other side it is
its own Being.

The manifestation of the nothingness, of the ideality
of this finite existence, of the fact that Being is here
not true independence — this manifestation in the form
of Power, is Eighteousness, and in this justice is done
to finite things. Goodness and righteousness are not
moments of Substance. These characteristics exist in
Substance in a state of being, and they also are immedi-
ately present in it as not being, as becoming.

Here the One is not thought of as Substance, but as
the personal One, as Subject, and here the determination
of the end is the determinateness of the Notion itself.
The world has to be, and so, too, it has to change, to
pass away. Here righteousness is thought of as deter-
mination of the Subject in its self- differentiation from
these determinations which belonij to it, from this world
which is its own world.

Creation, preservation, passing away are, in the ordi-
nary conception of them, separated in time, but in the
Notion they are essentially moments only of one process,
namely, of the process of Power. The identity of Power
with itself is thus the Nothing out of which the world
has been created, being both the subsistence of the world
and the cancelling and absorbing of this subsistence or
independent existence. This identity of Power which
presents itself in the Being of things, too, is both the
Being of things and their Not-Being. In so far as good-
ness is concerned, the world exists only as having no
justification for its existence in itself, as upheld and
maintained in a contingent way, and in this fact is, at
the same time, contained its negativity, which owes its
existence to righteousness.


The characteristics indicated are certainly character-
istics of the Notion itself, but the subject which possesses
them has not its real nature in them. The fundamental
characteristics are the One and Power, and the ISTotiou,
the inmost nature of the subject, is posited as still existing
independently of the attributes. If they really belonged
to it, then they would themselves be Totality, for the
Notion is the absolute goodness, it shares with itself its
own characteristics. In the case of their belonffina; to
the Notion, it would be further implied that they them-
selves were the whole Notion, and thus it would be for
the first time truly real ; in which case, however, the
Notion would be posited as Idea and the subject as
Spirit, in which goodness and righteousness would be

But althoufrh goodness and righteousness contain the
element of difference, they are not thought of as being
the abiding character of Power. Power, on the contrary,
is by its very nature what is without definite character,
what is undetermined, i.e., it shows itself essentially
powerful as against these very differences ; its goodness
passes over into righteousness, and vice vcrsd. Each
being posited for itself excludes the other, while the
very nature of Power consists iu this, that it simply
does away with or cancels the determinateness.

Righteousness is the moment of negation, i.e., it
makes manifest the nothingness of things. Paghteous-
ness thus understood is a characteristic, just as origination
and passing away are in Siva. It simply expresses the
general aspect of the process, the aspect of contingency,
the nothingness of which is made plain. It does not
express negation as an infinite return into self, which
would be the characteristic of Spirit. Negation is here
nothing more than righteousness.

(5.) The Form 0/ the World.

The world thus regarded is prosaic ; it exists essentially
as a collection of things. In the East, and in Greek


life particularly, a feeling of delight arises from the
friendly and joyous character of the relation in which
Man stands to Nature, since Man, in so far as he is
related to Nature, is related to the Divine. By taking
up this generous attitude lie spiritualises what is natural,
makes it into something Divine, gives it a soul.

This unity of the Divine and the natural, this identity
of the ideal and the real, is an abstract characterisation,
and is easily reached. The true identity is that which is
found in infinite subjectivity, which is not conceived of
as neutralisation, as a kind of mutual blunting of the
characteristics of the two elements, but as infinite sub-
jectivity,, which determines itself, and sets its determina-
tions free in the form of a world. At this stage these
determinations thus set free are, in their character as
things, at the same time unsubstantial or dependent, and
this is indeed their true nature. They are not gods, but
natural objects.

These particular moral Powers, which the higher Greek
gods essentially are, possess independence only in form,
because their content, owing to its particular character, is
unsubstantial. This is a false form ; the Being of these
unsubstantial things, which are immediate regarded from
the present standpoint, is really conceived of as something
formal, as something unsubstantial, which comes to have
Being not in the shape of absolute divine Being, but
Being which is abstract, one-sided, and since it gets the
character of abstract Being, it has attached to it the
categories of Being, and being finite, the categories of the

We are in the presence of prosaic things when the
world thus exists for us, in the presence of external things,
existing in accordance with the manifold connection of
the Understanding as expressed by ground and conse-
quence, quality, quantity, and all such-like categories of
the Understanding.

Nature is here undeified, natural things have no sub-


stantiality or independence in themselves, and the Divine
is only in the One. It might well seem to be a matter
for regret that Nature should in any religion be undeified,
and should get tlie character of what has no divine
element in it. We are wont rather to extol the unity of
the ideal and the real, the unity of Nature and God, and
where natural things are considered to be freely deter-
mined as substantial and divine, it is the custom to call
this the identity of ideality and reality. This is certainly
the Idea, but such a determination of identity is so far
very formal, it is cheaply got, and it is to be found every-
where. The main point is the further determination of
this identity, and the true one is to be found only in
what is spiritual, in God, who in a real way determines
Himself, so that the moments of. His Notion are at
the same time themselves present as totality. Natural
things, so far as their particular existence is concerned,
have, as a matter of fact, an implicit existence ; looked
at through their Notion, their relation to Spirit, to the
Notion, is an external one, and so too Spirit as finite,
and appearing as this particular form of life, is itself
external. Life, it is true, is essentially something inward,
but the totality referred to, in so far as it is merely life,
is external relatively to the absolute inwardness of Spirit ;
abstract self-consciousness is equally finite. Natural
things, the sphere of finite things, purely abstract Being,
represent something which in its nature is external to
itself. It is here at this stage that things get the charac-
ter of externality ; they appear in accordance with their
Notion in their true nature. If regret be felt that such
a position is assigned to Nature, it must at the same
time be granted that this beautiful union of Nature and
God holds good for fancy only, not for reason. Even
those who object so strongly to the undeifying of Nature,
and extol that identity, will all the same certainly find it
very difficult to believe in a Ganga, a cow, a monkey, a
sea, &c., as God. It is here, on the contrary, that a


foundation is laid for a more rational way of looking at
things and at their connection.

This, however, is not as yet the place at which to give
to this form of conscious thought theoretic completeness
and make it knowledge. In order to do this, there must
exist a concrete interest for things, and the Essence must
be conceived of not merely as universal, but also as deter-
minate Notion. The definite theoretic view of things
cannot exist alongside of the popular idea of abstract
wisdom and of one limited end.

The relation of God to the world in general is thus
defined as His immediate manifestation in it in a parti-
cular, individual way, for a definite end in a limited sphere,
and it is at this point that the definite conception of
miracles comes in. In the earlier religions there are no
miracles ; in the religion of India everything has been in
a deranged state from the very start. The idea of miracle
comes in first in connection with the thought of opposi-
tion to the order of Nature, to the laws of Nature even
when these have not as yet been discovered, but when
there is only the consciousness of a natural connection
between things of a general character. It is here we
first meet with the miraculous, and the idea which is
formed of it is that God manifests Himself in some indi-
vidual thing, and does this at the same time in opposition
to the essential character of this thing.

The true miracle in Nature is tlie manifestation of
Spirit, and the true manifestation of Spirit is funda-
mentally the Spirit of Man and his consciousness of the
rationality of Nature, his consciousness that in these
scattered elements, and in these manifold contingent
things, conformity to law and reason are essentially pre-
sent. In this religion, however, the world appears as a
complexity of natural things which affect each other in
a natural way,' and stand in an intelligible connection
with each other, and the necessity for miracles is present
so long as that connection is not conceived of as the


objective nature of things, i.e., so long as God's manifesta-
tion in them is not thought of as eternal universal laws
of Nature, and so long as His activity is not thought of
as essentially universal. The rational connection which
is first reached at this stage is only objective connection,
and what it means is that the individual thing as such
exists in its finiteness for itself, and is consequently in
an external relation.

Miracle is still conceived of as an accidental manifes-
tation of God ; the universal absolute relation of God to
the natural world is, on the other hand, sublimity. We
cannot call the infinite Subject conceived of in itself and
in its relation to itself, sublime, for so thought of, it is in
its essential nature absolute and holy. The idea of sub-
limity first comes in in connection with the manifestation
and relation of this Subject to the world, and wlien the
world is thought of as a manifestation of the Subject, though
as a manifestation which is not affirmative, or as one which,
while it is indeed affirmative, has yet its main characteristic
in this, that what is natural, what is of the world, is negated
as inadequate to express the Subject, and is known as such.

Sublimity is therefore this particular appearing and
manifestation of God in the world, and it may be defined
thus. This act of manifestation shows itself at the same
time as sublime, as raised above this manifestation in
reality. In the Eeligion of Beauty there is a reconcilia-
tion of the signification with the material, of the sensuous
mode and Being for an " Other." The spiritual mani-
fests itself entirely in this external way. This external
mode is a symbol of what is inner, and this inner some-
thing is completely known in its external form.

The sublimity of the manifestation, on the other hand,
directly destroys reality, the matter and material which
belong to it. In His manifestation God directly distin-
guishes Himself from it, so that it is expressly known to
be inadequate to manifest Him. The One has not there-
fore His complete Being and essential existence in the


externality of the manifestation as the gods of the Religion
of Beauty have, and the inadequacy of the manifestation
is not something of which there is no consciousness, but,
on the contrary, it is expressly posited along with con-
sciousness as inadequacy.

It is not accordingly enough to constitute sublimity
that the content, the Notion, be higher tlian the outward
Form, even if this latter be exaggerated and stretched
beyond its natural measure, but what manifests itself
must also be the Power which is above the outward form.
In the religion of India the representations of the Divine
are devoid of measure, and yet they are not sublime but
are rather a distortion, or, it may be, they are not dis-
torted, as, for instance, the cow and the ape, which express
the entire power of Nature, yet the signification and
the outward form are not proportionate to each other ;
they are not sublime, however, for indeed it is this want
of mutual proportion which is the greatest defect. It is
accordingly necessary that the Power be at the same time
put above the outward form.

Man ia a state of natural consciousness can have
natural things present before hiai, but his spirit does
not suit with such a content. Tiie mere act of looking
around gives nothing sublime, but rather the glance
towards heaven which is above and beyond what lies
around. This sublimity is in a special sense the character
of God in relation to natural things. The Old Testament
Scriptures are extolled because of the presence in them
of this sublimity. "And God said. Let there be light,
and there was light." Here we have one of the sublimest
passages. TJie Word represents the greatest possible
absence of effort, and this breathing is here at the same
time light, the world of light, the infinite pouring forth
of light ; and thus light is degraded to the rank of a
word, to something so transitory as a word. God is further
represented as using the wind and the lightning as ser-
vants and messengers, Nature is so obedient to Him. It


is said, " From Tliy breath the worlds proceed ; before
Thy threatenings they flee away ; if Thou openest Thine
hand, they are filled with good ; if Thou hidest Thy face,
they are troubled ; if Thou boldest in Thy breath, they
pass away into dust ; if Thou sendest it forth, they
spring up again." Sublimity consists in this, that Nature
is represented as thus entirely negated, in subjection,



Firsi Determination. — The determination of the end
appears here as the essential one that God is wise, to
begin with — wise in Nature generally. Nature is His
creature, and He lets His power be known in it, though
not His power only, but His wisdom as well. This
wisdom reveals itself in what it produces by the presence
of arrangement in accordance with an end.

This end has rather the character of somethin"- inde-
terminate, superficial ; the conformity to an end is rather
of an external kind, " Thou givest to the beast its food."
The true end and the true realisation of the end are not
present within Nature as such, but rather they are essen-
tially to be found in consciousness. He manifests Himself
in Nature, but His essential appearing is that He appears
,in consciousness, in His reflection or reappearance, in
such a way that in self-consciousness it reappears that
His end is just to be known by consciousness, and that
■ ITe is an end for consciousness.

Sublimity, to begin with, gives only the general idea
of power, and not as yet that of an end. The end is not
only the One, the truth rather being that only God Him-
self can be His end, and this means that His Notion be-
comes objective for Him, and that He possesses Himself
in the realisation. This is the universal end in general.
If, accordingly, turning our attention to the world, to


Xature, we here seek to regard it as the end of God,
then we see that it is His power only that is manifested
in it, it is only His power that becomes objective to Him
in it, and wisdom is as yet quite abstract. When we
speak of an end, it must not be thought of as simply
power ; it must have a really determinate character.
Spirit is, in fact, the region in which it can be present,
and since God is end in Spirit as consciousness, in Spirit
which is posited over against Him, and here, therefore,
in the finite spirit as such, His end in the finite spirit is
His representation. His recognition. God here has the
finite spirit over against Him. Being-other, or other-
ness, is not as yet posited as having absolutely returned
into itself. The finite spirit is essentially consciousness.
God must, therefore, be an object of consciousness as
being the Essence, i.e., in such a way as to be acknow-
ledged and extolled. It is the glorv of God which is, to
begin with. His end. God's reflex presence in self-con-
sciousness, taken generally, is not yet known. God is
only recognised, but if He is also to be really known or
cognised, then it is necessary that He, as Spirit, should
posit differences in Himself. Here He has as yet only
the abstract characterisations referred to.

Thus at this stage the thought that religion, as such, is
the end, is an essential characteristic, which means that
God becomes consciously known in self-consciousness,
that He is object in it, and has an affirmative relation to
it. He is God as being infinite power and subjectivity
in Himself. The second point is that He manifests
Himself, and that this should be essentially in another
spirit, which, as finite, stands in an objective relation to
Him. Thus tlie characteristic which comes in here is
the acknowledgment and exaltation of God, the glory of
God, His universal glory, for not only the Jewish nation,
but the whole earth, all peoples, all nations are to praise
the Lord. This end, namely, that He should be recog-
nised, known, honoured by consciousness, may, to start


■with, be called the theoretic end. Its more definite form
is that of the practical end, the peculiarly real end, -which
realises , itself in the world, but always in the spiritual

Second Deterviination. — This essential end is the moral
end, morality, signifying that Man, in what he does, has
present to his mind what is in accordance with law,
what is right. This element of law of what is right is
the Divine element, and in so far as it belongs to the
world, and is present in finite consciousness, it is some-
thing which has been posited by God.

God is the Universal. The man who guides himself
and his will in accordance with this universal is the free
man, and thus represents the universal will, and not his
own particular morality. The doing of wliat is right is
here the fundamental characteristic, walking before God,
freedom from selfish ends, the righteousness which has
worth before God.

Man does what is thus declared to be right in refer-
ence to God with a view to the glory of God. This
right-doing has its seat in the will, in the inner nature of
man ; and, in contrast to this exercise of will in reference
to God, we have the natural state of existence, of Man,
and of what acts.

Just as we saw that in Nature there was a broken up
or disjointed sta.te of things, that God existed indepen-
dently while Nature had Being, but was yet something
in subjection, so too we see exactly the same distinction
in the human spirit ; we have right-doing as such, then,
again the natural existence of Man. This, however, is
equally something determined by means of the spiritual
relation of the will, just as Nature in general is some-
thing posited by the absolute Spirit.

The natural existence of Man, his outward worldly
existence, is placed in direct relation to what is inward.
If this will of his is a substantial, essential will, action
is right action ; and so, too, Man's external existence


ought to be in keeping with this something which is
inward and right. It can go well with Man only accord-
ing to his works, and he must not only conduct himself
morally in a general way, respect the laws of his country,
and sacrifice himself for his country, happen what may,
but there arises a definite demand that it should also go

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 16 of 31)