Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 23 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 23 of 31)
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because of this these Tragedies are the immortal spiritual
productions of moral understanding and comprehension,
the eternal patterns or models of the moral Notion. Blind
destiny is something unsatisfying. In these Tragedies
justice is grasped by thought. The collision between
the two highest moral powers is set forth in a plastic
fashion in that supreme and absolute example of tragedy,
Antigone. In this case, family love, what is holy, what
belongs to the inner life and to inner feeling, and which
because of this is also called the law of the nether gods,
comes into collision with the law of the State. Creon is
not a tyrant, but really a moral power ; Creon is not in
the wrong ; he maintains that the law of the State, the
authority of government, is to be held in respect, and
that punishment follows the infraction of the law. Each
of these two sides realises only one of the moral powers,
and has only one of these as its content ; this is the
element of one-sidedness here, and the meaning of eternal
justice is shown in this, that both end in injustice just
because they are one-sided, though at the same time
both obtain justice too. Both are recognised as having
a value of their own in the untroubled course of morality.


Here they botli liave their own validity, but a validity
which is equalised. It is only the one-sidedness in their
claims which justice comes forward to oppose.

We liave another example of collision in the case of
CEdipus, for instance. He has slain his father, is appar-
ently guilty, but guilty because his moral power is one-
sided ; that is to say, he falls iato the commission of
his horrible deed unconsciously. He, however, is the mau
who has solved the riddle of the Sphinx; he is the man
distinguished for knowledge, and so a kind of balance is
introduced in the shape of a Kemesis. He, who is so
gifted in knowledge, is in the power of what is uncon-
scious, so that he falls into a guilt which is deep in
proportion to the height on which he stood. Here,
therefore, we have the opposition of the two powers,
that of consciousness and unconsciousness.

To mention still another case of collision. Hippolytus
becomes unfortunate because he pays honour to Diana
only, and despises Love, which accordingly revenges itself
on him. It is an absurdity to ascribe to Hippolytus
another amour, as is done in the French version of the
story by Eacine, for in that case what he suffers is no
punishment of Love with any pathos in it, but is merely
a certain misfortune arising from the fact that he is
enamoured of one maiden, and gives no heed to another
woman ; for though the latter is indeed his father's wife,
still the moral hindrance implied in this is obscured by
the love he has for Aricia. The real cause of his de-
struction is the injury he has done by his neglect of a
universal Power as such ; it is nothing moral, but is, on
the contrary, something particular and accidental.

The conclusion of this Tragedy is reconciliation,
rational necessity, the necessity which here begins to
mediate itself; it is justice which is in this way satis-
fied with the maxim, " There is nothin" which is not
Zeus," that is, eternal justice. Here there is an active
necessity, but it is oue which is completely moral ; the


misfortune endured is perfectly clear ; here there i=i
nothing blind and unconscious. To such clearness of
insight and of artistic presentation did Greece attain at
her highest stage of culture. Yet there remains here
somethinfT unsolved iu that the higher element does not
appear as the infinitely spiritual power ; we still have
here an unsatisfied sorrow arising from the fact that au
individual perishes.

The higher form of reconciliation would be that the
attitude of one-sidedness should be done away with in
the Subject, that the subject should have the conscious-
ness of his wronfj-doincr, and that he should in his own
heart put away his wrong-doing. To recognise this his
guilt, his one-sidedness, and to discard them, is not,
however, natural to this sphere of thought. This higher
point of view makes the outward punishment, namely,
natural death, superfluous. Beginnings, faint echoes of
this reconciliation, do undoubtedly make their appearance
here, but nevertheless this inward change or conversion
appears more as outward purification. A son of Minos
was slain in Athens, and its purification was thus
rendered necessary. This deed was declared to be
undone. It is Spirit which seeks to render what has
been done undone.

In the Eumenides Orestes is acquitted by the Areo-
pagus ; here we have, on the one hand, the greatest
possible crime against filial piety, while on the other we
see that he did justice to his father, for he was not only
head of the family, but also of the State. In one action
he both committed a crime and at the same time acted
in accordance with perfect and essential necessity.
Acquittal just means that something is made undone,
made as though it had not happened.

In the case of CEdipus Coloneus reconciliation is
hinted at, and more particularly the Christian idea of
reconciliation. He is taken into favour by the gods, the
gods call him to themselves. In the present day we


demand more, since with us the idea of reconciliation is
of a higher Icind, and because we are conscious that this
conversion can occur in the inner life, whereby that whicli
is done can be rendered undone.

The man who is "converted" gives up his one-
sidedness ; lie has extirpated it himself in his will,
which was the permanent seat of the deed, the place of
its abode ; that is, he destroys the act in its root. It is
congenial to our way of feeling that tragedies should
have conclusions which have in them the element of

(6.) Worship as Service. — If the real point accordingly
is that subjectivity should consciously pronounce its
identity with the divine which confronts it, then both
parts must give up something of their determinateness.
God comes down from his throne of the universe and
delivers Himself up, and man must, in the act of
receiving the gift, accomplish the negation of subjective
self-consciousness — that is, he must acknowledge God or
take the gift with an acknowledgment of the essentiality
which is in it. The service of God is consequently a
reciprocal giving and receiving. Each side gives up
something of the particularity which separates it from
the other.

I. The outward relation of the two sides to one
another in its most extreme form is that God has in
Himself a natural element, and exists independently
relatively to self-consciousness in an immediate definite
fashion ; or, to put it otherwise, God has His existence in
an external, natural manifestation. In this relation the
service of God is on the one side an acknowledgment that
natural things are an Essence in themselves. On the
other side, the deity offers itself up, sacrifices itself in
the power of Xature in which it appears, and allows itself
to be taken possession of by self-consciousness.

If then the divine powers give themselves up as gifts
of Nature and graciously offer themselves for use, the


service in whicli man comes to have a consciousness of
unity witli his powers has the following signification : —

As for those fruits, those springs, which exist in
Xature, they allow tliemselves to be used and drawn
upon without hindrance, or to be laid hold of and used
as nourishment. These gifts fall freely into the lap of
man ; man eats the gifts, drinks the wine, and gets from
them invigoration and stimulus, and this invigoration in
which they are an element, is their worlc, the effect they
produce. In this relationship it is not a case of mere
reciprocal action, the melancholy, continuous, self-pro-
ducing uniformity of what is mechanical. On the
contrary, these gifts are rendered honourable because
man eats them and drinks of them ; for to what higher
honour can natural things attain than to appear as the
inspiring force of spiritual action ? Wine inspires, but it
is man who first exalts it to the rank of an inspiring
and power-giving agent. So far the relationship of bare
need disappears. In connection with the sense of need
man gives thanks to tlie gods for the receiving of the
gifts, and these needs presuppose a separation which it is
not in the power of man to do away with. Need, strictly
so called, first makes its appearance owing to property
and the retention of something by one will, but man does
not stand in such a relation of need to the gifts of
Nature ; on the contrary, they have to thank him that
they come to be something, that anything is made of
them ; without him they would rot and dry up and pass
away in uselessness.

The sacrifice which is connected with the enjoyment
of these natural gifts has not here the sense of the
offering up of what is inward or of the concrete fulness
of Spirit; on the contrary, it is just this very fulness
which is affirmed and enjoyed. Sacrifice in this case
can only signify that acknowledgment of the universal
Power which expresses the theoretical giving up of a
part of what is to be enjoyed, i.e., the acknowledgment


here is a useless and aimless kind of giving up, a
renunciation which is not practical and has not reference
to the self ; as, for example, the pouring out of a bowl of
wine. The sacrifice is itself at the same time the en-
joyment of the thing ; the wine is drunk, the meat is eaten,
and it is the power of Nature itself whose individual
existence and external form are offered up and destroyed.
Eating means sacrifice, and sacrifice just means eating.

Thus this higher sense of sacrifice and the enjoyment
found in it attach themselves to all the actions of life ;
every occupation, every enjoyment of daily life is a
sacrifice. Worship is not renunciation, not the offering
up of a possession, of something belonging to oneself, but
is rather idealised, theoretical and artistic enjoyment.
Freedom and spirituality are spread over the entire daily
and immediate life of man, and worship is in short a
continuous poetry of life.

The worship of these gods is accordingly not to be
called service in the proper sense of the word, as some-
thing having reference to a foreign independent will from
whose chance decision is to be obtained what is desired.
On the contrary, the act of adoration itself already
implies a previous granting of sometliing, or, in other
words, it is itself enjoyment. It is, therefore, not a
question of calling a power back to oneself from its place
beyond what is here and now, nor of renouncing what,
on the subjective side of self-consciousness, constitutes
the separation, in order that man may be receptive of
the power. It is thus not a question of deprivation or
renunciation, or of the laying aside of something sub-
jective belonging to the individual, nor does the idea of
anguish, of self-tormenting, of self-torture come in here.
The worship of Bacchus or of Ceres is the possession, the
enjoyment of bread and wine, tlie consumption of these,
and is therefore itself the immediate granting of these
things. The Muse to which Homer appeals is in the
same way his genius, and so on.


The universal powers, however, in this case certainly
retire farther into the background again, so far as the
individual is concerned. The spring allows itself to be
drawn upon unhindered, and the sea allows itself to be
freely frequented, but it also rises in storm ; it and the
stars are not only not serviceable to man, but inspire
fear, and are a source of disaster. Nor is the Muse
always gracious to the poet either ; she goes away and
serves him badly, though, properly speaking, the poet
really appeals to her only when he is composing his
poem, and the appeal to and praise of the Muse is itself
Poetry. Even Athen-e — Spirit, God — is unfaithful to
herself. The Tyrians bound their Hercules with chains,
so that he should not desert their city, which represented
his reality and actual real existence ; and yet Tyre fell.
But such estrangement on the part of men from their
essentiality or embodiment of essential Being does not
lead to absolute division, not to that inward laceration of
heart which would compel men to draw down their deity,
so to speak, by the force of spirit to themselves in
worship, and with which the lapse into magic would be
connected. The individual cannot go on living in end-
less opposition to these particular powers, because as
particular ends they lose themselves in necessity, and are
themselves surrendered in this necessity.

Service hence consists in the fact that the universal
powers are given a place of honour on their own account
and are duly acknowledged. Thought grasps the essential,
substantial element of its concrete life, and hence is
neither sunk in a state of torpor in the empirical details
of life and dissipated amongst these, nor does it turn
from these merely to the abstract One, to the infinite
"Beyond." On the contrary, just because Spirit sets
before itself the true element, the Idea of its manifold
existence, it is, in the very act of acknowledging and
doing reverence to this universal, in the state of enjoy-
ment, and remains in the presence of its own nature.


This presence of Spirit in its essentialities is on the one
hand its truly valuable, thinking, theoretic relationship, and
on the other hand is that happiness, joyousness,and freedom
which is securely conscious of itself in this state, and is
here in presence of its self, or together with its own self.

2. Service as a certain relationship to the gods ou
their spiritual side does not mean either that man appro-
priates these powers for the first time, or that man for
the first time becomes conscious of his identity with
them. For this identity is already present, and man
finds these powers already realised in his consciousness.
The spiritual in a definite form, as right, morality, law,
or in the form of universal essential beings, such as
Love, Aphrodite, attains actual existence in individuals,
moral individuals, who know and love. They are the
will, the inclination, the passion of these individuals
themselves, their own willing, active, life. Consequently
what is left for worship to do is merely to acknowledge
these powers, to revere them, and together with this, to
raise the identity into ihe form of consciousness, and to
make it into theoretic objectivity.

If we compare this objectivity with our idea, we at
the same time lift the universal out of our immediate
consciousness and think it. We can also go on to raise
these universal powers into the sphere of the ideal and
give them spiritual form. But when it comes to offer-
ing prayer or bringing sacrifices to such creations, we
reach the' point at. which we abandon the material view
referred to. We cannot go so far as to give those
images, which yet are no mere fancies but real powers,
individual separate independence and asciibe personality
to them as over against ourselves. Our consciousness of
infinite subjectivity as something universal absorbs those
particular powers and reduces them to the level of beauti"-
ful pictures of fancy, whose substance and significance we
are indeed able to appreciate, but which cannot be held
by us to have true independence.


In Greek life, however, poetry, the thinking imagina-
tion, is itself the essential Service of God. Viewed from
one side, these powers split up ad infinitum, and, although
they constitute an exclusive circle, just because they are
particular powers they themselves come almost to have
the infinitude of the qualities belonging to them when
they are thought of as actually existing. What a number
of particular relations are comprised in Pallas, for in-
stance ! Viewed from the other side, again, we see that
it is the human, sensuous-spiritual form in which the
ideal is to be represented, and as a consequence of all
this, this representation is inexhaustible, and must ever
continue to go on and renew itself, for the religious sense
is itself this continuous transition from empirical exist-
ence to the ideal. There is here no fixed, spiritually
definite doctrinal system, no doctrine ; we have not truth
as such in the form of thought ; on the contrary, we see
the divine in this immanent connection with reality, and
hence always raising itself up anew and producing itself
in and out of this reality. If this active production is
brought to perfection by art, imagination has reached its
ultimate fixed form, so that the ideal is set up, and then
we find that there is a close connection between this and
the decay of religious life.

So long, however, as the productive force which char-
acterises this standpoint is fresh and active, the highest
form of the assimilation of the divine consists in this,
that the subject makes the god present through himself,
and makes the god manifest in his own self. Because in
this connection the recognised subjectivity of the god at
the same time remains on one side as a " Beyond," this
representation of the divine is at the same time the
acknowledgment and the adoration of his own substantial
essentiality. Thus, accordingly tlie divine is revered and
acknowledged when it is represented in festivals, games,
plays, songs — in art, in short. For any one is honoured
in so far as a lofty idea is formed of him, and in so far


too as this idea is made visible through action and is
allowed to appear outwardly in his conduct.

Now since the nation in the productions of art, in the
honour paid in songs and festivals, allows the idea of the
divine to appear in itself, it has its worship in itself,
i.e., it directly shows what is veallj its own excellence ; it
shows the best it has, that which it has been capable of
making itself. Men adorn themselves ; pageantry, dress,
adornment, dance, song, battle — all are connected with
the desire to show honour to tlie gods. Man shows his
spiritual and bodily ability and skill, his riches ; he
exhibits himself in all the glory of God, and thus enjoys
the manifestation of God in the individual himself. This
characterises festivals even yet. This general description
may suiJice to show that man allows the idea of the
gods to appear to him through himself,, and that he repre-
sents himself in the most splendid possible way, and thus
shows his reverential recognition of the gods. High
honour was ascribed to the victors in battle ; they were
the most honoured of the nation ; on festive occasions
they sat beside the Archons, and it even happened that
in their lifetime they were revered as gods, inasmuch as
they had given outward manifestation to the divine in
themselves through the skill which they had shown. In
this way individuals make the divine manifest in them-
selves. In practice individuals honour the gods, are moral
— that which is the will of the gods is what is moral — -
and thus they bring the divine into the sphere of actual
reality. The people o-f Athens, for example, who held
a procession at the festival of Pallas, represented the
presence of Athene, the spirit of the people, and this
people is the living spirit which represents and exhibits
in itself all the skill oi Athene and all that is done
by her.

3. But man may be ever so certain of his immediate
identity with the essential powers, and may thoroughly
appropriate divinity to himself and rejoice in its presence

VOL. II. s


in him, and in the preseuce of himself in it; he may
continue to absorb those natural gods, and represent the
moral gods in morality and in the life of the State, or
he may in practice live a godly life and bring into view
the outward embodiment and manifestation of divinity in
festivals in his own subjectivity ; still there yet remains
for consciousness a " Beyond," that is to say, the entire
particular element in action and in the circumstances
and relations of the individual, and tlie connection of
these relations with God. Our belief that Providence in
its action reaches even to the individual, finds its con-
firmation in the fact that God has become man, and
this in the actual and temporal mode within which
consequently all particular individuality is comprehended,
for it is owing to this that subjectivity has received
the absolute moral justification by which it is sub-
jectivity of the infinite self-consciousness. In the beau-
tiful form given to the gods, in the images, stories, and
local representations connected with them, the element
of infinite individuality, of particularity in its most
extreme form, is doubtless directly contained and ex-
pressed, still it is a particularity which in one aspect of
it is one of the chief defects charged against the mytho-
logy of Homer and Hesiod, while in another aspect these
stories belong so specially to the gods represented that
they have no reference to other gods or to men, just as
amongst men each individual has his own particular
experiences, doings, circumstances, and history, which
belong wholly and entirely to his particular life. The
moment of subjectivity does not appear as infinite sub-
jectivity, it is not Spirit as such which is contemplated
in the objective forms given to the divine ; and wisdom
is what must constitute the fundamental characteristic of
the divine. This, as working in accordance with ends,
must be comprised within one infinite wisdom, within
one subjectivity. The truth that human things are
ruled over by the gods is thus no doubt involved in that


religion, but in an indeterminate, general sense, for it is
just the gods who are the ruling powers in all that
concerns man. The gods too are certainly just, but
justice, so far as it is one Power, is a titanic power and
pertains to the ancient gods. The beautiful gods have a
valid existence of their own in their particular forms
and come to be in collision, and these collisions are only
settled by equal honour being given to all — a method,
however, which certainly gives no immanent settlement.

From gods such as these, in whom the absolute return
into self has not made its appearance, the individual could
not look for absolute wisdom and ordered design in con-
nection with what happened to him in life. Man, how-
ever, still feels the need of having above his particular
acts and particular lot, an objective determining principle.
He does not possess this in the thought of divine wisdom
and Providence so as to be able to trust it in general, and
for the rest to depend upon his own formal knowledge and
will, and to await the absolute and entire consummation
of these, or else to seek some compensation for the loss
and failure of his particular interests and ends, or for his
misfortune, in an eternal end.

When the particular interests of man, his happiness or
misery, are concerned, we find that this outward element
in what happens still depends on whether a man does
this or that, goes to this or that other place. This is Ms
act, his decision, which he, however, in turn knows to
be contingent. As regards the circumstances wliich I
actually know, I can doubtless decide one way or other.
But besides these thus known to me, others may exist
through which the realisation of my end is completely
defeated. In connection with these actions I am thus
in the world of contingency. Within this sphere know-
ledge is accordingly contingent ; it has no relation to
what is ethical, and truly substantial, to the duties to
country, the State, and so on ; man cannot, however, get
to know this contin"ent element. The decision couse-


quently cannot so far have anything fixed about it, nor
he in any way grounded in the nature of things, but in
deciding I know at the same time that I am dependent
on what is otlier tlian myself, on what is unknown.
Now, since neitlier in the divine nor in the individual
is the moment of infinite subjectivity present, it does not
fall to the individual to take the final decision of himself,
to perform of himself the final act of will, for instance,
to give battle to-day, to marry, to travel ; for the man is
conscious that objectivity does not reside in this willing
of his, and that it is formal merely. To satisfy the long-
ing for this completion and to add on this objectivity, a
direction from without is required coming from one higher

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 23 of 31)