Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 19 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 19 of 31)
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power, all actions are of an indeterminate character, and
for this reason they get their determinate character in au
entirely external and arbitrary \vay. The keeping of the
commandment 'O'hich demands service, obedience to God,
is the condition upon which the nation continues in the
state in which it is. This is the other aspect of the
covenant. It is possible for individuals, or for the whole
nation, to fall away by self-will from the laws, but this
is a falling away merely from definite commandments
and from ceremonial service, and not a falling away from
what is original or fundamental, for this latter is some-
thing which has the authority of what ought to be.
Accordingly the penalty attached to disobedience is not
an absolute penalty, but is merely external misfortune,
namely, the loss of the possession, or its diminution and
curtailment. The penalties which are threatened are of
an external earthly sort, and have reference to the undis-
turbed possession of the land. Just as the obedience
demanded is not of a spiritual and moral sort, but is
merely the definite blind obedience of men who are not
morally free, so also the penalties have an external
character. The laws, the commands, are to be followed
and observed merely as if by slaves or servants.

If we consider those penalties which are threatened in
the form of frightful curses, the thorough mastery which
this nation attained to in the matter of cursing is worthy
of notice ; and yet these curses have reference only to
what is external, and not to what is inward and moral.
In the third Book of Moses, in the twenty-sixth chapter,
we read : —

" If ye shall despise My statutes, and will not do all
My commandments, and break My Covenant, I will visit
you with terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that
shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. Ye
shall sow your seed iu vain, and your enemies shall eat
it ; and they that hate you shall reign over you, and ye
shall flee when none pursueth you. And if ye will not


yet for all this hearken unto Me, then I will punish you
seven times more for your sins. And I will make your
heaven as iron, and your earth as brass ; and your toil
and labour shall be lost, so that your land shall not yield
her increase, and the trees shall not yield their fruits.

" And if ye walk contrary to Me, and will not hearken
unto Me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you,
according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts
among you, which shall eat your children, and tear, your
cattle, and make you few in number ; and your highways
shall be desolate. And if ye will not be reformed by Me by
these things, but will walk contrary to Me, then will I
punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will
bang a sword upon you that shall avenge the quarrel of
My covenant. And though ye are gathered together within
your cities, yet will I send the pestilence among you, and
will deliver you into the hand of the enemy. Then will
I break the staff of your bread, so that ten women shall
bake in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread
again by weight ; and when ye eat, ye shall not be satisfied.

" And if ye will not for all this hearken unto Me, then
I will walk contrary unto you also in fury, and will
chastise you yet seven times, so that ye shall eat the
flesh of your sons and daughters. And I will destroy
your high places, and cut down your images, and cast
your carcases upon your idols, and My soul shall abhor
you, and I will make your cities waste, and bring your
sanctuaries unto desolation ; and I will not smell the
savour of your sweet odours. And I will bring the
land into desolation, so that your enemies which dwell
therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you
among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after


We have already seen that amongst the Jews the place
of evil is in the subjective spirit, and that the Lord is
not engaged in a conflict with evil, but that He punishes
evil. Evil accordingly appears as an external accident,


and this is bow it is represented in the story of the Fall,
according to which it enters in from the outside, in that
man is deceived by the serpent.

God punishes evil as something which ought not to be.
It is good only that ought to be, since it is what the Lord
has enjoined. There is here as yet no freedom, and there
is not even freedom to find out what the divine and
eternal law is. The characteristics of the Good, which
are undoubtedly the characteristics of reason as well,
derive their worth from the fact tliat they are rules laid
down by the Lord, and the Lord punishes any transgres-
sion of these ; this is the wrath of God. The relation in
which the Lord here stands to the Good expresses merely
the idea of something that ought to be. What He ordains
is what ou£;ht to be, is law. To the Lord belongs the
exercise of penal righteousness ; the conflict between good
and evil occurs within the subject as being finite. An
element of contradiction is thus present in finite con-
sciousness, and consequently there enters in a feeling of
contrition, of sorrow, caused by the fact that the Good is
only something which ought to be.

3. The third aspect of worship or cultus is reconcilia-
tion. It has reference essentially only to the particular
faults of separate individuals, and is brought about by
means of sacrifice.

Here sacrifice is not intended simply to signify that
the offerer is symbolically renouncing his finitude, and
preserving his unity with God, but it signifies more
definitely the act of acknowledgment of the Lord, a
testifying that He is feared ; and it has the still further
signification of being an act whereby what of the finite
remains has been redeemed and ransomed. Man cannot
look on Nature as something which he can use according
to his own arbitrary desires ; he cannot lay hold of it
directly, but he must get whatever he wishes to have
throuo-h the mediation of something foreign to himself.
Everything is the Lord's, and must be bought back from


Him ; and thus it is that the tithe is ordained, and that
the first-born has to be redeemed.

The expiation for sins accordingly takes place in a
peculiar way, namely, by bringing in the idea that the
punishment which has been merited, the merited mani-
festation of the nullity of him who has lifted himself up in
sinfulness, can be transferred to what is offered in sacri-
fice. This is sacrifice. The individual makes it plain
that his standing before God has no worth. It is thus
that the idea arises that the due manifestation of the
sinner's nothingness is transferred to what is offered,
since God acknowledges the sacrifice, and in this way
gives the self a positive standing, or, in other words, a
standing in itself.

The externality which thus attaches to the sacrifice
arises from the fact that the expiation is thought of as
being punishment, and not as purification as such ; rather
it is looked on as being an injury done to the evil will in
this sense that the will is supposed to suffer damage.
Closely connected with this idea is the fact that it is
the blood specially which is offered up by being sprinkled
on the altar. For if it is life which is to be yielded up
as representing the highest of all earthly possessions, it
follows that something must be surrendered to God which
is really living, and the blood, in which the life of the
animal is supposed to be, is given back to the Lord. We
saw that amongst the Hindus the whole animal world
was held in honour. Here again it is deprived of this
honour, but the blood is still regarded as somethincr in-
violable and divine ; it is held in respect, and must not
be eaten by men. Man does not yet possess the feeling
of his concrete freedom which leads him to recrard life
simply as life, as something inferior and subordinate to
what is higher.


The Transition to the Stage which follows.

Speaking generally, we, as a matter of fact, find that
here we are in the region of free subjectivity, but still
the essential characteristic which belongs to free subjec-
tivity has not yet been fully carried right through the
totality of the religious consciousness in the Eeligion of
Sublimit)^ God was characterised for Thought as sub-
stantial Power, and as the Creator, but in this character
He is, to begin with, merely the Lord of His creatures.
Power is thus the cause which differentiates itself, but it
is something which merely puts forth its authority over,
exercises its lordship over, that in which it thus diflferen-
tiates itself.

A further stage of progress accordingly is reached, when
it is seen that this " Other" is something free — free from
external restraint, and God becomes the God of free men,
who, even while rendering Him obedience, are actually
free in their relation to Him. This standpoint, if we
look at it in an abstract way, contains within it the follow-
ing moments : God is a free, absolute Spirit, and mani-
fests Himself by setting His " Other " over against Him-
self. What is thus posited by Him is His image, for the
subject creates only itself, and that which it becomes
by self-determination is again nothing else than itself.
But in order that it may be really determined, or get a
specific nature as Spirit, it must negate this " Other," and
return to itself, for then only when it knows itself in the
" Other " is it free. But if God knows Himself in the
'■ Other," it follows that the " Other" has an actual inde-
pendent existence, is for itself, and knows itself to be free.

This represents the release of the " Other " as being
now something free and independent. Thus freedom is
found first of all in the subject, and God is still charac-
terised as Power, which is for itself, has real existence,
and releases the subject. The differentiation or further


cliaracterisation which is thus reached seems, in accor-
dance with what has been stated, to consist simply in
this, that tlie creatures are no longer merely in a state of
service, but rather find their freedom in the very act of
rendering service. This moment of the freedom of sub-
jects or persons for whom God is, and which is wanting
in the standpoint of the Religion of Sublimity which we
have been considering, we have already seen in a lower
stage of thought, in the sphere of the Eeligion of Nature,
in the Syrian religion, namely.

In the higher stage, to which we now pass, what in
the lower was represented in a natural immediate way
is transferred to the pure region of Spirit, and is as-
cribed to its inner mediation. In the religion of sorrow
or pain we saw that God loses Himself, that He dies,
and exists only by means of the negation of Himself.
This act of mediation is the moment which is again to
be taken up here. God dies, and from this death He
rises again. That is the negation of Himself which we,
on the one hand, conceive of as the " Other " of Himself,
as the world ; and He Himself dies, which means that in
this death He comes to Himself. In this way, however,
the " Other " is represented as freely existing for itself,
and accordingly the mediation and rising again belong to
the other side, the side of what has been created.

Considered thus, it seems as if the conception of God
Himself underwent no change, but that the change is only
in the aspect in which the " Other " is regarded. That it
is just here where freedom comes in, and that it is this
side, namely, that of the " Other," which is free, is to be
explained from the fact that in the finite, this otherness
of God dies away, and so the Divine appears again in the
finite in an actual way, or for itself. Thus what is of
the world is known as something which has the Divine
in it, and the Being-other or otherness which at first is
characterised only as negation, is again negated, and is
the negation of neiration within itself.


This is the kind of mediation which belongs to freedom'.
Freedom is not pure negation, it is not merely an act of
flight and surrender. Freedom of that sort is not yet the
true affirmative freedom, but is negative freedom only.
Ic is the negation of what is in a merely natural state in
so far as this itself exists as something negative, which
first gives the affirmative determination of freedom.
Since the " Other," namely, the world, finite conscious-
ness, with its servitude and contingent character, is
negated, it follows that in this act of mediation the deter-
mination of freedom is to be found. The elevation or
exaltation of Spirit is thus this particular elevation above
the state of mere naturalness, but it is an elevation in
which, if it is to become freedom, the subjective spirit
must also be free in its own nature, for itself. This
accordingly is at first seen only in the subject or indivi-
dual. " God is the God ol free men."

It is, however, equally true that any further determina-
tion or characterisation takes place quite as much within
the nature of God. God is Spirit, but He is Spirit in
any essential sense only in so far as He is known to be
the self-diremption of Himself, the producer of differen-
tiation within Himself, the eternal act of creation, and in
such a way that this creation of an " Other" is a return
to Himself, a return to the knowledge of Himself. It is
thus that God is a God of free men. Since it belongs to
the essential character of God Himself that He should
be in His very nature the " Other " of Himself, and that
this '■' Other '' is a determination or quality within His
own nature, so that He thereby returns to Himself and the
human element is reconciled to God, it follows that we thus
get the determination which is expressed by saying that
Humanity is itself in God. Thus man knows that what
is human is a moment of the Divine itself, and conse-
quently he stands in a free relation to God. For that to
which he stands related as to his own essential being has
the essential characteristics of humanity in itself, aud


tlius, on the one hand, man is related, as it were, to the
negation of his merely natural life, and, on the other
hand, to a God in whom tlie human element is itself
affirmative and an essential characteristic. Man thus, as
occupying such a relation to God, is free. What exists
in men as concrete individuals is represented as being
something divine and substantial, and man in all that
constitutes his essential nature, in all that has any value
for him, is present in what is Divine. Out of his pas-
sions, says one of the ancients, man has made his gods,
i.e., out of his spiritual powers.

In these powers self-consciousness has its essential
attributes for its object, and knows that in them it is free.
It is not, however, particular individual subjectivity which
has itself as its object in these essential characteristics,
and which is conscious that the well-being of its particular
nature is based on them. This is the case in the religion
of the One where it is only this immediate definite exist-
ence, this particular natural existence of the particular
subject or individual, which is the end, and where it is
the individual, and not his universality, which constitutes
what is essential ; and where, further, the servant has his
own selfish aims. Here, on the other hand, self-con-
sciousness has for its object its specific nature, its uni-
sality as manifested in the divine powers. Self-con-
sciousness is consequently raised above tlie need of
making any absolute claim to have its immediate indi-
viduality recognised, it is raised above the need of troub-
ling about this, and it finds its essential satisfaction in a
substantial objective Power. It is only the Moral, what
is universal and rational, which is held to be in and for
itself essential, and the freedom of self-consciousness
consists of the essentiality of its true nature and its
rationality. The sum and substance of the phase upon
which the religious spirit has now entered may be
expressed thus. God is in His own nature the mediation
which man expresses. Man recognises himself in God


and God and man say of each other — That is spirit of
my spirit. Man is Spirit just as God is Spirit. He has
also, it is true, finitude and the element of separation in
him, but in religion he discards his finitude since his
knowledge is the knowledge of himself in God.

We accordingly now pass to the Eeligion of Humanity
and Freedom. The first form of this religion, however,
is itself infected with the element of immediacy and
naturalness, and thus we shall see the Human existing
in God under what are still natural conditions. The
inward element, the Idea, is indeed potentially what is
true, but it has not yet been raised above the state of
nature, which is the first and immediate form of its
existence. The human element in God expresses His
finitude only, and thus this religion, so far as its basis is
concerned, belongs to the class of finite religions. It is,
however, a religion of spirituality, because the mediation
which, as separated and divided up into its moments,
constituted the foregoing transition stages, is now put
together so as to form a totality, and constitutes the
foundation of this religion.


This Religion of Beauty, as has been already indicated,
is seen in a definitely existing form in the religion of
the Greeks, which, both in its inner and outer aspects,
presents us with an infinite amount of inexhaustible
material, beside which, owing to its sympathetic attrac-
tiveness, its grace, and charm, one would fain linger.
Here, however, we cannot enter into details, but must
confine ourselves to the essential characteristics of its
notion or conception.

We must thus (A.) indicate the notion or conception of
this sphere of religious thought ; then (B.) consider the


outward form of the Divine in it ; and (C.) its form of
worship as the movement of self-consciousness in re-
lation to its essential powers.



The fundamental characteristic here is subjectivity as
the self-determining Power. This subjectivity and wise
power we have already met with under the form of the
One who is as yet undetermined within Himself, and
whose end, as it appears in the sphere of reality, is
accordingly the most limited possible. The next stage,
now, is that this subjectivity, this wise power or power-
ful wisdom, particularises itself within itself. This stage,
just in consequence of this, is, on the one hand, the
lowering of universality, of abstract unity and infinite
power, to a condition of limitation within a circle of par-
ticularity, though, on the other hand, again, it at the same
time involves the elevation of the limited individuality
of the real end as against universality. In the region of
the particular, what shows itself here is both of these
movements, and this accordingly is the general charac-
teristic of this stage. "We have next to consider the fact
that from one point of view, the determinate notion, the
content of the self -determining Power, which is a particular
content owing to its being in the element of subjectivity,
makes itself subjective within itself. There actually are
particular ends ; they make themselves subjective, to begin
with, on their own account, and so we get a definite
sphere composed of a number of particular divine subjects.
Subjectivity, as end, is self-determination, and hence it
has particularisation in it — particularisation, in fact, as
such, in the form of a world of concretely existing differ-
ences which exist as so many divine forms. Subjectivity
in the Eeligion of Sublimity has already a definite end,

VOL. II. p


uamely, the family, the nation. But this end is only
realised in so far as the service of the Lord is not
neglected. Through this latter requirement, which
implies the abrogation of the subjective spirit so far as
the determinate end is concerned, this end becomes a
universal one. Thus if, on the one hand, through the
breaking up of the one subjectivity into a multiplicity of
ends, subjectivity is lovi^ered to the condition of particu-
larity, on the other hand, the particularity is set over
against universality, and these differences in this way
here become divine, universal differences. This particu-
larity of the ends is thus the coming together of the
abstract universality and the individuality of the end —
their happy mean. This particularity thus constitutes
the content of universal subjectivity, and in so far as it
is posited in this element it gives itself a subjective form
as a subject. With this we enter upon a really ethical
stage, for when we have the Divine penetrating the
determinate relations of Spirit in an actual form, deter-
mining itself in accordance with the substantial unity,
we have what is ethical. And at the same time the real
freedom of subjectivity also comes into existence, for the
definite content is something which the finite self-con-
sciousness has in common with its God. Its God ceases
to be a " Beyond," and has a definite content which on
its determinate side is elevated to essentiality, and through
the abolition and absorption of the immediate indivi-
duality or singleness has become an essentially existing

As regards the constituent element as sucli, the con-
tent that is, the substantial principle, as has been shown
in the context, is just rationality, the freedom of Spirit,
essential freedom. This freedom is not caprice, and
must be clearly distinguished from itj it is essential,
substantial freedom, the freedom which in its determina-
tions determines itself. Since freedom, as self-deter-
mining, is the principle or basis of this relation, what we


have here is concrete rationality which contains essenti-
ally moral principles.

That freedom is just this, namely, the desiring or
willing of nothing except itself, the desiring of nothing
else than freedom, and that this is the true moral element
from which moral determinations spring, or, in other
words, that the formal element of self-determination
changes round into the content, is a thought which cannot
here be further followed up.

While morality constitutes the essential basis, still
what comes first is morality in its immediacy. It is the
rationality above referred to as absolutely universal or
general, and thus still in its impersonal or substantial
form. The rationality is not yet one subject, and has
not yet left the virgin unity in which it is morality, and
raised itself to the unity of the subject, or, in other words,
has not plunged into itself.

Absolute necessity and the spiritual human embodi-
ment are still separate. Determinateness, it is true, is
posited in a general way, but this determinateness is, on
the one hand, abstract, and on the other is left free to
take on determinateness in manifold shapes, and is not
yet taken back into that unity. That it should ever
be so taken back would be due to the circumstance that
the determinateness has developed into an infinite oppo-
sition or antithesis — as in the Eeligion of Sublimity — •
and has gone on increasing till it became infinite ; for
it is only when it has reached this extreme that it
becomes at the same time capable of attaining to unity
in itself. The entire circle of the gods, as these take
on a definite form, must itself be taken up into and placed
within the sphere of necessity as in a pantheon. But
it is only capable of this, and is only worthy of attaining
this, when its manifoldness and diversity become general-
ised into simple difference. ISTot till this happens is it
adequate to that element, and so immediately identical
in itself The different spirits must be conceived of as


Spirit in such a way that Spirit is made to stand out
distinctly as representing their essentially universal

2. Because the unity of necessity is not yet carried
back to the ultimate point of infinite subjectivity, the
spiritual and essentially moral determinations appear as
disconnected or lying outside of one another ; the content
is the fullest possible, but its constituent parts are dis-

Ethics in general must be distinguished from morality
and ethics as the Greeks understood them ; and by ethics
in general is meant the subjectivity of ethics, that sub-

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 19 of 31)