Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 22 of 31)
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himself, of higher deeds and ends, the constituent element
of which is just the Infinite, the Universal. Thus man
is that absolute reflection into self which we have in the
conception of necessity. It properly belongs to physio-
logy to get a knowledge of the human organism, of the
human form as the only form truly adequate for Spirit,
but as yet it has accomplished little in this regard.
Aristotle long ago expressed the truth that it is only
the human organisation which is the form of the spiritual,
when he pointed it out as being the defect in the idea
of the transmigration of souls, that according to this theory
the bodily organisation of human beings was of a merely
accidental kind.

The individual actual man still essentially has, how-
ever, in his immediate existence the element of immediate
natural life, which makes its appearance as something
temporary and fleeting, as that which, has fallen away


from universality. In accordance witli this element of
finitude, there emerges a discordance or want of harmony
between that which man implicitly, in liis real nature is,
and what he actually is. The impress of simple necessity
is not stamped on all the features and parts of the in-
dividual man. Empirical individuality and the expression
of simple inwardness are mingled together, and the ideality
of the natural, freedom and universality are, owing to the
conditions of the merely natural life and because of a
number of natural needs which come into play, obscured.
Looked at from this point of view, from which an " Other "
appears in man, the appearance of the outward form does
not correspond with simple necessity, but the fact that
on his existence in all its shapes and parts the stamp of
universality, of simple necessity is impressed — which
Goethe appropriately called significance, as representing
the essential character of classic art — renders it necessary
that the form should be planned only in Spirit, should
be produced only out of it, and brought into existence
only by its mediation, that it should in short be ideal
and a work of art. This is something higher than a
natural product. We are, no doubt, in the habit of
saying that a natural product is the more excellent,
just because it is made by God, while a work of art is
made only by man, as if, forsooth, natural objects did
not also owe their existence to immediate natural finite
things, to seeds, air, water, light ; as if the power of God
lived only in Nature and not also in what is human, in
the realm of the spiritual. If the real truth is that
natural products only flourish under the conditions sup-
plied by what for them are external and contingent
circumstances, and under their influence, an influence
which comes from without, then in the work of art it is
the necessity which appears as the inward soul and as
the notion of externality. That is to say, necessity does
not here mean that objects are necessary in themselves
and have necessity as their predicate, but that necessity


is the subject, that which manifests itself in its pre-
dicate, in external existence.

If in this process the manifestation belongs to the
subjective side, so that God appears as something made
by man, still that is merely one moment. Por this
positing of God, the making of His existence dependent
on man, is, on the other hand, mediated by the abrogation
of the individual self, and thus it was possible for the
Greeks to see their god in tlie Zeus of Phidias. The
artist did not give them in an abstract way something
which was his own work, but presented to them the
appropriate and peculiar manifestation of the essential,
the outward form of actually existing necessity.

The form given to the god is thus the ideal form.
Previous to the time of the Greeks there was no true
ideality, nor was it possible for it to appear at any
subsequent time. The art of the Christian religion is
indeed beautiful, but ideality is not its ultimate principle.
We cannot get at the element of defect in the Greek
gods by saying that they are anthropopathic, a category of
hnitude under which we may put the immoral element,
as, for example, the stories of the amours of Zeus, which
may have their origin in older myths based on what is
as yet the natural way of looking at things. The main
defect is not that there is too much of the anthropopathic
in these gods, but that there is too little. The manifesta-
tion and the aspect of the definite existence of the divine
do not yet advance so far as immediate actuality, in the
form of a definite individual, that is, as this definite man.
The truest, most proper form is necessarily this, that the
absolute Spirit wliich exists for itself should advance to
the point at which it shows itself as individual empirical
self-consciousness. This characteristic, consisting thus
in advance to the sensuous definite individual, is not
yet present here. The form made by man in which the
divinity appears has, it is true, a material side, but this
has still such pliabiUty that it can be perfectly adapted


to the mauifested content. It is only when separation iu
God advances to its ultimate limit and appears as man,
as a particular euipirical self-consciousness, that this
sensuousness, this externality, is, so to speak, set free as
seusuousuess, that is to saj', the conditionateness of ex-
ternality and its want of suitability to express the Notion
actually come to light in the god. Here matter, the sen-
suous, has not yet this form. On the contrary, it keeps
true to its content. As the god, though spiritual, universal
power, issues out of Nature, he must have the natural as
the element of his embodiment, and it must be made
plain that it is just the natural which is the mode of the
expression of the divine. The god thus appears iu stone,
and the material is still held to be adequate to the e.x.-
pression of the god as god. It is only when the god
appears and reveals himself as a definite individual that
Spirit, the subjective knowledge of Spirit as Spirit, is seen
to be the true manifestation of God, and it is not till then
that sensuousness is set free, that is to say, it is iro
longer blended with the god, but shows itself to be in-
adequate as his form; the seusuousuess, the immediate
individuality, is nailed to the cross. In this process of
inversion, it is also shown, however, that this self-aliena-
tion, or self-emptying of God in the human form, is only
one side of the divine life, for this self-emptying, this mani-
festation, is taken back again in the One who then for the
first time becomes Spirit for thought and for the Church.
This single, existing, actual man is done away with and
taken up into something higher, and appears as a moment,
as one of the persons of God in God. Thus only is man
as a definite individual man truly in God, and thus the
manifestation of the divine is absolute, and its element
is Spirit itself. The Jewish idea that God essentially
.exists for thought alone, and the sensuousness of the
Greek form of beauty, are equally contained in this form
of the divine, and as being taken up into something
higher, are freed from the limitation attaching to them.


At this stage, in wliich the divine still requires the
sensuous for its essential representation, it appears as
a multiplicity of gods. In this multiplicity, it is true,
necessity presents itself as simple reflection into self, but
this simplicity is only form, for the matter in which it ex-
hibits itself is still immediacy, the element of Nature, not
the absolute matter, namely, Spirit. It is thus not Spirit
as Spirit that is here represented ; the truth rather being
that the spiritual existence goes ahead of the conscious-
ness of the content, for this latter is not yet itself Spirit.



This is here a very big subject. Worship essentially
means that the empirical consciousuess elevates itself,
and that man gives himself the consciousness and feeling
of the indwelling of the divine within him, and of his
unity with the divine. If the work of- art is the self-
revelation of God and the revelation of the productivity
of man as the positing of this revelation by the abrogation
of his particular knowledge and will, on the other hand,
the work of art equally involves the fact that God and
man are no longer beings alien to one another, but have
been taken up into a higher unity. The positing or
bringing out of what is implicit in the work of art is
here accordingly worship, and this latter is hence the
relationship whereby the external objectivity of God is,
relatively to subjective knowledge, abrogated, and the
identity of the two set forth. In this way the external
divine existence, as something divorced from existence
within the subjective spirit, is abrogated, and thus God is,
as it were, called to mind within the sphere of subjectivity.
The general character of this worship consists in this,
that the subject has an essentially affirmative relationship
to his god.


The moments of worship are as follows : (a.) Inner
feeling or subjective attitude. The gods are duly recog-
nised and revered ; they are the substantial powers, the
essential, real content of the natural and spiritual universe,
the Universal. These universal powers, as exempt from
contingency, are recognised by man just because he is
thinking consciousness. Thus the world no longer exists
for him in an external and contingent fashion, but in the
true mode. We thus hold in respect duty, justice,
knowledge, political life, life in the State, family relation-
ships. They represent what is true, the inner bond
. which holds the world together, the substantial element
in which the rest exists, the valid element, what alone
holds its ground against the contingency and indepen-
dence which act in opposition to it.

This content is the objective in the true sense, i.e.,
what is absolutely and essentially valid and true, not iu
the external objective sense, but within subjectivity also.
The substance of these powers is the moral element
peculiar to men, their morality, their actual and valid
power, their own substantiality and essentiality. The
Greek people are hence the most human people ; with
them everything human is affirmatively justified and
developed, and the element of measure is present in it.

This religion is essentially a religion of humanity, that
is, the concrete man, as regards what he actually is, as
regards his needs, inclinations, passions, and habits, as
regards his moral and political relations, and in reference
to all that has value in these and is essential, is in his
gods in presence of his own nature. Or, to put it other-
wise, his god has within him the very content composed
of the noble and the true, which is at the same time
that of concrete man. This humanity of the gods is
what was defective in the Greek view, but it is at the
same time its attractive element. In this religion there
is nothing incomprehensible, nothing which cannot be
understood ; there is no kind of content in the god which

VOL. II. li


is not known to man, or which he does not find and
know in himself. The confidence of a man in the "ods


is at the same time liis confidence in himself.

Pallas, who restrained the outbreak of wrath in the
case of Achilles, is his own prudence. Athene is the
town of Athens, and is also the spirit of this particular
Athenian people ; not an external spirit or protecting
spirit, but the spirit who is living, present, actually alive
in the people, a spirit immanent in the individual, and
who in her essential nature is represented as Pallas.

The Erinyes are not the Furies represented in an out-
ward way. On the contrary, they are meant to suggest
that it is man's own act and his consciousness which
torment and torture him, in so far as he knows this act
to be something evil in liimself. The Erinys is not
only an external Fury who pursues the matricide Orestes,
but suggests rather that it is the spirit of matricide
which brandishes its torch over him. The Erinyes are
the righteous ones, and just because of that they are the
well-disposed, the Eumenides. This is not a euphemism,
for they really are those who desire justice, and whoever
outrages it has the Eumenides within himself. They
represent what we call conscience.

In the CEdipus at Colonos, CEdipus says to his son,
"The Eumenides of the father will pursue thee." Eros,
love, is in the same way not merely the objective, the
god, but is also as power the subjective feeling of man.
Anacreon, for instance, describes a combat with Eros.
" I also," he says, " will now love ; long ago Eros bade
me love, but I would not follow his command. Then
Eros attacked me. Armed with breastplate and lance, I
withstood him. Eros missed, but after that he forced his
way into my heart." " But," thus he concludes, " what is.
the use of bow and arrow ? the combat is within me." In
thus recognising the power of the god, and in this re-
verential attitude, the subject is absolutely within the
sphere of his own nature. The gods are his own emotions.


Tlie knowledge the subject has of the gods is not a know-
ledge of tliem merely as abstractions away beyond the
sphere of reality. On the contrary, it is a knowledge
which includes the knowledge of the concrete subjectivity
of man himself as something essential, for the gods are
likewise within him. Here we have not that negative
relation, where the relation of the subject to what is
above it, even if it is the highest form of relation, is
merely the sacrifice, the negation of its consciousness.
The powers here are friendly and gracious to men, they
dwell in man's own breast ; man gives them reality, and
knows their reality to be at the same time his own. The
breath of freedom pervades this whole world, and con-
stitutes the fundamental principle for this attitude of

But the consciousness of the infinite subjectivity of man
is still wanting, the consciousness that moral relations and
absolute right attach to man as such, that man, just be-
cause he is self-consciousness, possesses in thisformal infini-
tude the rights as well as the duties of the human race.
Freedom, morality, is the substantial element in man,
and to know this as the substantial element, and to posit
in it his own substantiality, is what constitutes the value
and the dignity of man. But it is the formal subjec-
tivity, self-consciousness as such, the inherently infinite
individuality, and not the merely natural and immediate
individuality, which contains the possibility of that value,
i.e., the real possibility, and the one on account of which
the individual himself has infinite rights. Now, because
in the natural morality of the untutored man the infini-
tude of formal subjectivity is not recognised, man as such
does not attain to that absolute value according to which
he has worth in and for himself, whatever be his inward
qualifications, whether born in this or the other place,
whether rich or poor, whether belonging to this people
or to that. Freedom and morality have still a special,
particular form, and the essential right of man is still


affected by what is contingent, so that it is essentially at
this stage that slavery is found to exist. It is still a
matter of accident whether a man is a citizen of this
particular State or not, whether he is free or is not free.
And because, further, the infinite opposition is not yet
present, and because the absolute reflection of self-con-
sciousness into itself, that climax of subjectivity, is still
wanting, morality as individual conviction and rational
insight is not yet developed.

Nevertheless, in morality, individuality is in a general
sense taken up into universal substantiality, and thus there
here enters in — if at first only as a faint semblance, and
not yet as the absolute demand of Spirit — the idea of
the eternal nature of the subjective, individual spirit, the
idea of immortality. The demand for the immortality
of the soul could not make its appearance at any of the
earlier stages already considered, either in the religion of
Nature or in the religion of the One. In the former, the
immediate unity of the spiritual and the natural is the
fundamental idea, and Spirit is not yet self-conscious, or
for itself. In the latter. Spirit is, it is true, self-conscious
and exists for itself, but it is still unrealised ; its freedom
is still abstract, and its Being is still a natural form of
existence, the possession of a particular land and its wel-
fare. But that is not Being as the determinate existence
of Spirit within itself ; it does not yet imply full satisfac-
tion in the spiritual. The duration is only the duration
of the race, of the family, of natural universality, in short.
But here self-consciousness is complete and realised in
itself; it is spiritual. Subjectivity is taken up into uni-
versal essentiality and is thus known as essentially Idea ;
and here we meet with the conception of immortality.
But this consciousness becomes more definite when mora-
lity appears on the scene ; self-consciousness goes down
into itself, and hence it will recognise that only as good,
true, and right which it finds to be in harmony with itself
and its thought. With Socrates and Plato accordingly


the question of the immortality of the soul is the one
expressly raised, while before their day this idea was
considered more as a merely general one, and as one
which had not absolute value in and for itself.

As infinite subjectivity, the absolute point of the unity
of the Notion, is still wanting to self-consciousness, it is
still wanting also to its essentialities, to what represents
for it real existence. This unity is found within that
which we have come to know as its necessity ; but this
lies outside the circle of the particular, substantial, essen-
tial beings. The particular essential beings, like man as
such, have no absolute justification, for any justification
they have they possess only as a moment of necessity,
and as rooted in this absolute unity which is reflected
into itself. They are many, though of divine nature,
and this their scattered and manifold character is at the
same time a limitation, so that divine nature is not attri-
buted to them in any really serious sense. Above the
many substantial essential beings there floats the ultimate
unity of absolute form — necessity, and self-consciousness,
which is in relation to the gods, is at the same time freed
by this necessity from them, so that their divinity is at
one time taken in a serious sense and at another in an
opposite sense.

This religion has, speaking generally, the character of
absolute joyousness ; self-consciousness is free in relation
to its essential beings, because they are its own, though
at the same time it is not chained to them, since absolute
necessity floats above them too, and they go back into it,
just as consciousness with its particular ends and needs
also sinks itself in it.

The feeling accordingly of subjective self-consciousness
in relation to necessity is this sense of repose which abides
in the region of calm, in this freedom, which is, however,
still an abstract freedom. It is so far an escape, a flight,
but it is at the same time freedom, inasmuch as man is
not overcome, weighed down by outward misfortune.


Whoever has this consciousness of independence may be
indeed outwardly worsted, but he is not conquered or

Necessity has its own sphere ; it has reference only to
the particular element of individuality in so far as a
collision of spiritual powers is possible, and the indivi-
duals are affected by necessity and are brought into sub-
jection to it. Those individuals are in a special way in
subjection to necessity and have a tragic interest attach-
ing to them, who raise themselves above the ordinary
moral conditions, and who seek to accomplish some-
thing special for themselves. This is the case with
the heroes who through their own acts of will are sepa-
rated from others ; they have interests which go beyond
the ordinary peaceful circumstances in which the govern-
ment and action of God proceed. They are those who
will and act in a special way of their own ; they stand
above the Chorus, above the calm, steady, harmonious,
ordinary moral course of life. This last is exempt from
the influence of destiny, restricts itself to the ordinary
sphere of life, and rouses none of the moral powers against
it. The Chorus, the people, viewed in one aspect, has
its particular side too ; it is subject to the common lot of
mortals, namely, to die, to suffer misfortune and such-like,
but an issue of this kind is the common lot of mortal
men, and represents the course of justice relatively to the
finite. That the individual should suffer some accidental
misfortune, that he should die, is something which belongs
to the order of things.

In Homer, Achilles weeps over his early death, and
his horse weeps over it too. That would be regarded in
our day as a silly thing for a poet to mention. But
Homer could attribute to his hero this foreknowledge,
for it cannot alter anything in his life and actions ; it
simply is so for him, and otherwise he is what he is.
The thought can indeed make him sad, but only momen-
tarily ; things are so, but this disturbs him no further ;


lie may indeed be sad, but he cannot be vexed or annoyed.
Vexation is the sentiment of the modern world ; the feel-
ing of vexation or annoyance presupposes an end, a de-
mand on the part of modern freewill, which considers
itself warranted and justified in indulging this feeling if
any such end should not be realised. Thus the modern
man easily gets into the mood in which he loses heart
with regard to everything else, and does not even seek to
reach other things he might quite well have made his
aim if otherwise unsuccessful All else that belongs to
his nature and destiny he abandons, and in order to
revenge himself destroys his own courage, his power
of action, all those ends of destiny to which he might
otherwise have quite well attained. This is vexation ; it
could not possibly have formed part of the character of
the Greeks or of the ancients, the truth being that their
grief regarding what is necessary is of a purely simple
kind. The Greeks did not set before themselves any end
as absolute, as essential, any end the attainment of which
ought to be warranted ; their grief is therefore a grief of
resignation. It is simple sorrow, simple grief, which has
for this reason the element of serenity in it. 'No absolute
end is lost for the individual ; here, too, he continues to
be at home with himself, he can renounce that which is
not realised. It is so ; and this means that he has with-
drawn himself into abstraction, and has not set his own
Being in opposition to what is. The liberation here is
the identity of the subjective will with that which is;
the subject is free, but only in an abstract fashion.

The heroes, as was remarked, bring about an alteration
in the course of simple necessity, in this way, namely,
that an element of division comes in, and the higher,
really interesting element of division, so far as Spirit is
concerned, is that it is the moral powers themselves which
appear as divided and as coming into collision.

The removal of this state of collision consists in this,
that the moral powers which are in collision, in virtue


of their one-sidedness, divest themselves of the one-sided-
ness attaching to the assertion of independent validity,
and this discarding of the one-sidedness reveals itself out-
wardly in the fact that the individuals wlio have aimed
at the realisation in themselves of a single separate moral
power, perish.

Fate is what is devoid of thought, of the Notion, some-
thing in which justice and injustice disappear in abstrac-
tion ; in tragedy, on the other hand, destiny moves within
a certain sphere of moral justice. We find this truth
expressed in the noblest form in the Tragedies of Sopho-
cles. Fate and necessity are both referred to there. The
destiny of individuals is represented as something incom-
prehensible, but necessity is not a blind justice ; on the
contrary, it is recognised as the true justice. And just

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 22 of 31)