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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

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than the individual, that is, the direction of an external,
decisive, and definite sign. It is the inner free will
which, that it may not be mere free will, makes itself
objective, i.e., makes itself inalienably into what is other
than itself and accepts the external free will as liigher
than itself. It is, speaking generally, some power of
Nature, a natural phenomenon, which now decides. The
man, amazed at what he sees, finds in such a natural
phenomenon something relative to himself, because he
does not yet see in it any objective essential significance,
or, to put it otherwise, he does not see in Nature an
inherently perfect system of laws. The formal rational
element, the feeling and the belief in the identity of the
inward and outward, lies at the basis of his conception,
but the inward element of Nature, or the universal to
which it stands related, is not the connection of its laws ;
on the contrary, it is a human end, a human interest.

When, accordingly, any one wills anything, he demands,
in order actually to take his resolution, an external objec-
tive confirmation or assurance ; he asks that he should
know his resolution to be one which is a unity of the
subjective and objective, one which is assured and rati-
fied. And here this ratification is the unexpected, some-
thing which happens suddenly, a materially significant.



DEFINITE RELIGION 277

unconnected change in things, a flash in a clear sky, a
bird rising up in a wide uniform horizon, and which
brealfs in upon the indeterminateness of the inner irre-
solution. This is an appeal to what is inward, an appeal
to act suddenly, and to come to a determination within
the mind in a chance way without a knowledge of the
connection and grounds, for this is just the point at which
the grounds or reasons stop short, or at which they are
in fact absent.

The outward phenomenon which is nearest at hand
for the accomplishment of the end in view, namely, the
finding out of what is to determine action, is a sound, a
noise, a voice, o/acpi, whence Delphi has got the name
ofjLipaXo?, a supposition which is certainly more correct
than that which would find in it the other meaning of the
word, namely, the navel of the earth. In Dodona there
were three kinds of sounds — the sound produced by the
movement of the leaves in the sacred oak, the murmuring
of a spring, and the sound coming from a brazen vessel
struck by rods of brass moved by the wind. At Delos
the laurel rustled ; at Delphi the wind which blew on
the brazen tripod was the principal element. It was not
till later on that the Pythia had to be stupefied by vapours,
when in her raving she emitted words without any con-
nection, and which had first to be explained by the priest.
It was the priest, too, who interpreted dreams. In the
cave of Trophonius the inquirer saw visions, and these
were interpreted to him. In Achaia, as Pausanias relates,
there was a statue of Mars, and the question was spoken
into its ear, after which the questioner went away from
the market with his fingers in his ears. The first word
heard by him after his ears were opened was the answer,
which was then connected with the question by inter-
pretation. To the same class of signs belong also the
questioning of the entrails of sacrificial animals, the
signification of the flight of birds, and several other such
purely external rites. Animals were slaughtered in sacri-



278 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

fice till auspicious tokens were got. In the case of the
oracles, two things went to constitute the verdict — the out-
ward word and the explanation. With regard to the former,
the mind took up a receptive attitude, but with regard to
the latter, its attitude, as being the interpreter, was an
active one, for the outward element in itself was supposed
to be indeterminate. (At twv Sai/xovwv (pwvac avapOpoi
€i(riv.) But even as representing the concrete expression
of the decision of the god, the oracles have a double
meaning. Man acts in accordance with them while
taking the words in one of their aspects. The other
meaning, however, appears iu opposition to the first, and
so man comes into collision with the oracle. The oracles
just mean that man shows himself to be ignorant, and
shows that the god has knowledge ; as ignorant, man ac-
cepts the utterance of the god who has knowledge. He
consequently does not represent the knowledge of some-
thing revealed, but the absence of the knowledge of this.
He does not act with knowledge in accordance with the
revelation of the god, which, as being general, has no in-
herent determinate meaning, and thus, where there is a
possibility of two meanings, it must be ambiguous. The
oracle says, "Depart, and the enemy will be conquered."
Here both enemies are " the enemy." The revelation of
the divine is general, and must be general ; man interprets
it as one who is ignorant, he acts in accordance with it.
The action is his own, and thus he knows himself to be
responsible. The flight of birds, the rustling of oaks, are
general signs. To the definite question, the god, as repre-
senting the divine in general, gives a general answer, for
it is only what is general, and not the individual as such,
that is included in the end aimed at by the gods. The
general is, however, indeterminate, ambiguous, capable of
a double meaning, for it comprises both sides.

(c.) What came first in worship was religious senti-
ment ; then, secondly, we had worship as service, the
concrete relationship, where, however, negativity as such



DEFINITE RELIGION 279

has not yet appeared. The third form of the service
of God is the divine service of reconciliation. The gods
must be realised in the soul, in the subject, which is hypo-
thetically estranged, i.e., negatively determined relatively
to the divine, and in opposition to it. The agreement
cannot take place in the immediate way characteristic
of the foregoing form ; on the contrary, it demands a
mediation in which that must be sacrificed which was
formerly held to be fixed and independent. This nega-
tive element, which must be yielded up in order that the
estrangement and alienation of the two sides may be
removed, is of a twofold kind. In the first place, the
soul, in its character as the natural or untutored soul, is
negative relatively to Spirit ; the second negative element
is accordingly the positive-negative element, so to speak,
that is, any misfortune whatever, and more definitely, in
the third place, a moral misfortune or crime, the extreme
alienation of the subjective self-consciousness relatively
to the divine.

I. The soul in its natural state is not as it should
be ; it ought to be free Spirit, but the soul is Spirit only
through the abrogation of the natural will, of the desires.
This abrogation, this subjection of itself to what is moral,
and the habituation to this so that the moral or spiritual
becomes the second nature of the individual, is, above all,
the work of education and culture. The thought of this
reconstruction of man's nature must accordingly come
into consciousness at this standpoint, because it is the
standpoint of self-conscious freedom, and come into it in
such a way as to show that this change or conversion is
recognised as requisite. If this training and conversion
are represented as essential moments, and as essentially
livinii, we get the idea of a road which the soul has to
traverse, and as a consequence we get the idea of some
outward arrangement in which it is supplied with the
pictorial representation of this road. But if the course
followed by this conversion, this self-negation and dying



28o THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

to self, is to be set forth for perception or pictorial con-
templation as absolute and essential, it must be beheld in
the divine objects themselves. The 'need for this has,
as a matter of fact, been obviated by means of a process
which, in the pictorial representation of the world of the
gods, has been carried out in the following way.

It is a fact intimately connected with the adoration of
the many divinities, — which, however, just because they
are many are limited divine beings, — that there is also a
transition to the universality of the divine power. The
limited character of the gods itself leads directly to the
idea of a transcen<ience, a rising above them, and to
the attempt to unite them in one concrete picture, and
not merely in abstract necessity, for the latter is not
anything objective. As yet this transcendence cannot
here be the absolute inherently concrete subjectivity as
Spirit, but neither can it be the return to the pictorial
representation or perception of the power of the One and
to the negative service of the Lord. On the contrary,
the One which is the object for self-consciousness at this
standpoint is a unity which is in a concrete fashion
all-embracing ; it is universal ISTature as a whole, or,
a totality of gods, the content of the sensuous-spiritual
world united in a material fashion. Inasmuch as self-
consciousness cannot advance to infinite subjectivity,
which as Spirit would be inherently concrete, the per-
ception -or picturing of substantial unity is something
-already present so far as this stage is concerned and
preserved from the older religions. For the older ori-
ginal religions are the definite nature-reliqions, in which

DO O '

this Spinozism, namely, the immediate unity of the
spiritual and the natural, constitutes the foundation.
But further, the older form of religion, however much it
may be locally defined and limited in its outward repre-
sentation and in the mode in which it is conceived of,
is, before it reaches its developed form, still inherently
indefinite and general. Each local god in its deter-



DEFINITE RELIGION 281

mination of locality has at the same time the significance
of universality, and since this is firmly clung to as
against the splitting up and particularisation into char-
acters and individualities developed in the Eeligion of
Beauty, it is in vs-hat is rude and primitive, in what is
unbeautiful and uncultured, that the service of a deeper,
inner universal, maintains itself, a universal which is at
the same time not abstract thought, but which, on the con-
trary, retains in itself that external and contingent form.

This older religion may, on account of its simplicity
and substantial intensity, be called deeper, purer, stronger,
more substantial, and its meaning may be termed a truer
one, bat its meaning is essentially enveloped in a kind of
haze, and is not developed into thought, that is, is not
developed into that clearness which marks the particular
gods in whom the day of Spirit has dawned, and which
have in consequence attained to character and spiritual
form. The service of this deeper and universal element
involves, however, in it, the opposition of this deeper and
universal element itself to the particular, limited, and
revealed powers. It is, regarded from one side, a return
from these to what is deeper, more inward, and so far
higher, the bringing back of the many scattered gods
into the unity of Nature, but it also involves the anti-
thesis which is expressed by saying that this deeper
element is as opposed to clear self-consciousness, to the
serenity of day and rationality, something dull and torpid,
unconscious, crude, and barbarous. The perception, or
pictorial contemplation, in this kind of worship, is accord-
ingly in one aspect the perception of the universal life of
Nature and of natural force, a return to inward substan-
tiality; but in another aspect it is equally the perception of
the process, of the transition from savagery to a state of
law, from barbarousness to morality, from mental torpor
to the clear growing certainty of self-consciousness, from
the Titanic to the Spiritual. It is consequently not a
god in his finished form who is beheld here, no abstract



282 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

doctrine is propounded ; on the contrary, the content of
perception is the conflict of what is original and primitive,
whicli is brought forth from its undeveloped state into
clearness, into form, into the dayligljt of consciousness.
This idea is already present in many exoteric and pic-
torial forms in mythology. The war of the gods and
the conquests of the Titans is just this divine issuing
forth of the spiritual from the overcoming of the rude
powers of ISTature.

It is here accordingly that the action of the subjective
side and its movement receive their deeper determina-
tion. Worship cannot here be merely serene enjoyment,
the enjoyment of present immediate unity with the
particular powers ; for since the divine passes out of its
particularity over to universality, and since self-conscious-
ness is reversed or inverted within itself, opposition is
consequently present, and the union starts from a separa-
tion greater than that presupposed by outward worship.
Worship here is rather the movement of an inward im-
pression made on the soul, an introduction to and initia-
tion into an essentiality which is for it foreign and
abstract, an entrance into disclosures which its ordinary
life and the worship grounded on that do not contain.
Just because the soul enters into this sphere the demand
is made that it should give up its natural Being and
essence. This worship is thus at the same time the puri-
fication of the soul, a path to this purification, and a
gradual progress towards it, the admission into the high
mystical Essence, and the attainment of a contemplation
in pictorial form of its secrets, which, however, have for
the initiated ceased to be secrets, and can only still
remain such in the sense that the pictures thus con-
templated, and this content, are not introduced into the
sphere of ordinary existence and consciousness, that is,
into the sphere of ordinary action and reflection. All
Athenian citizens were initiated into the Eleusinian
mysteries. A secret is thus essentially something known,



DEFINITE RELIGION 283

only not by all. Here, however, there is something
known by all, which is merely treated as secret, i.e.,
secret only to this extent, that it is not made the talk of
everyday life, just as we see in the case of Jews, who do
not name the name Jehovah, or, to take an opposite case,
just as in daily life there are things known to all but of
which no one speaks. But these pictures of the divine
were not mystical in the sense in which the public
doctrines of Christendom have been called mysteries.
Por in the case of the latter the mystical element is the
inward and speculative element. What had been seen by
the initiated had to remain secret.mainly because the Greeks
would not have been able to speak of it otherwise than in
myths, that is to saj', not without altering what was old.
But even in this worship, although it starts from a
definite opposition, joyousness or serenity still continues
to constitute the basis. The path of purification is tra-
versed indeed, but that does not represent the infinite
pain and doubt in which the abstract self-consciousness
isolates itself from itself in its abstract knowledge, and
because of this moves and pulsates merely within itself
when in this empty abstract form, is merely a kind of
inward trembling, and in this abstract certainty of itself
cannot absolutely reach iixed truth and objectivity, nor
come to have the feeling of these. On the contrary, it
is always on the basis of that unity that this traversing
of the path exists and has value as the actually com-
pleted purification of the soul, as absolution, and having
this original unconscious basis remains rather an external
process of the soul, since the latter does not go down into
the innermost depths of negativity as is the case where
subjectivity is completely developed and attains to infini-
tude. If terrors, frightful images, forms inspiring dread,
and such like, are already employed here, and if, on the
other hand, and in contrast to this dark side, bright and
brilliant representations, significant pictures full of splen-
dour are made use of to produce a deeper effect on the



2S4 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

iniud, the initiated is purified in the very process of pass-
ing through the experience of seeing these pictorial forms
and having these emotions.

These mystical perceptions or pictorial forms accord-
ingly correspond to those pictorial forms of the divine
life, the process of which is set forth in tragedy and
comedy. The fear, the sympathy, the grief represented
in tragedy, all those conditions in which self-conscious-
ness is carried away, and in which it shares, are just what
forms that process of purification which accomplishes
nil that should be accomplished. In the same way the
pictorial representations of comedy, and the giving up by
Spirit of its dignity, of its value, of its opinion of itself,
and even of its fundamental powers, this entire surrender
of all that belongs to self, is just this worship in which
the spirit, through this surrender of all that is finite,
enjoys and retains the indestructible certainty of itself.

In public worship even the main interest is not so
much the paying of honour to the gods as the enjoyment
of the divine. Since, however, in this worship of mys-
teries, the soul is on its own account elevated into an
end and is regarded in this condition of contrast as
abstract, independent, and, as it were, sundered from
the divine, the idea of the immortality of the soul neces-
sarily makes its appearance here. Tlie completed puri-
fication raises it above the temporal, fleeting, present
existence, and inasmuch as it is made permanently free,
the idea of the passing over of the individual as one dead
on his natural side, into an eternal life, is closely associ-
ated with this form of worship. The individual is made
a citizen of the essential, ideal kingdom, of the under
world, in which temporal reality is reduced to the con-
dition of a phantom world.

Since then the mysteries represent the return of the
Greek spirit to its first beginnings, the form of what
constitutes these is essentially symbolical, i.e., the signifi-
cation is something other than the outward representa^



DEFINITE RELIGION 285

tiou. The Greek gods themselves are not symbolical ;
tliey are what they represent, just as the conception of
a work of art means the giving expression to what is
meant, and does not mean that what is inward is some-
thing different from what is outwardly seen. Even if
the beginnings of the Greek god are to be traced back to
some such ancient symbolic representation, still what this
is actually made into has become the work of art which
perfectly expresses what it is intended to be. Many
liave sought, and especially Creuzer, to investigate the
historical origin of the Greek gods, and the siguification
which lies at the basis of their character. But if the god
is a subject for art, that alone is a good work of art which
exhibits him as what he actually is. In the religions of
nature this is a mystery, something inward, a symbol,
because the outward form does not actually reveal the
meaning which lies in this myster}', the idea rather being
that it is merely intended to reveal it. Osiris is a symbol
of tlie sun, and similarly Hercules and his twelve labours
have reference to the months ; thus he is a god of the
calendar, and no longer the modern Greek god. In the
mysteries, the content, the manifestation, is essentially
symbolical. The principal symbols had reference to
Ceres, Demeter, Bacchus, and the secrets connected with
these. As Ceres, who seeks her daughter, is in the lan-
guage of prose the seed that must die in order to retain its
true essence and to bring it into life, so, too, the seed and
the germination of the seed are in turn something sym-
bolical ; for, as in the Christian religion, they have the
higher signification of resurrection, or they can be taken
as meaning that the same holds good of Spirit, whose
true essence or potential nature can bear blossoms only
through the annulling of the natural will. Thus the
meaning changes about ; at one time this content signi-
fies, an idea, some process, and then again the idea,
the signification, may itself be the symbol for something
else. Osiris is the Nile which is dried up by Typhon, the



2S6 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

fire-world, and is again brought into existence ; but he is
also a symbol of the sun, a universal life-giving power
of iSTature. Osiris finally is also a spiritual figure, and
in this case the Nile and the sun are in turn symbols of
the spiritual. Such symbols are naturally mysterious.
The inward element is not clear as yet ; it exists first as
meaning, signification, which has not yet attained to true
outward representation. The outward form does not per-
fectly express the content, so that the latter remains in
a partially expressed shape at the basis of the whole
without coming forth into existence. Hence it came
about that the mysteries could not give to the self-con-
sciousness of the Greeks true reconciliation. Socrates
was declared by the oracle to be the wisest of the Greeks,
and to him is to be traced the real revolution which
took place in the Greek self-consciousness. This pivot,
so to speak, of self-consciousness was not, however, him-
self initiated into the mysteries ; they stand far below
what he brought into the consciousness of the thinking
world. All this has to do with the first form of recon-
ciliation.

2. The other negative element is misfortune in general,
sickness, dearth, or any other mishaps. This negative
element is explained by the prophets, and brought into
connection with some guilty act or trausgression. A
negative of this kind first appears in the physical world
in the shape, for example, of an unfavourable wind. The
physical condition is then explained as having a spiritual
connection, and as involving in itself the ill-will and
wrath of the gods — that ill-will and wrath which are
brought upon men by some crime and by some offence
against the divine. Or it may be that lightning, thunder,
an earthquake, the appearance of snakes, and such-like
are interpreted to mean something negative which essen-
tially attaches to a spiritual and moral Power. In this
case the injury has to be done away with through sacrifice,
and in such a way tliat he who has shown himself arro-



DEFINITE RELIGION 287

gant by committing the crime, imposes a forfeiture ori
himself, for arrogance is an injury done to a spiritual
higher Power, to which accordingly humility has to sacri-
fice something in order to propitiate it and restore the
equilibrium. In the case of the Greeks this idea seems
rather to belong to primitive times. When the Greeks
wished to depart from Aulis, and unfavourable winds
held them back, Calchas interpreted the storm to be
the wrath of Poseidon, who demands the daughter of
Agamemnon as a sacrifice. Agamemnon is ready to give
her up to the god. Diana saves the girl. In the Qf^di-
pus Tyrannus of Sophocles a certain disease is sent by
means of which the deed of the parricide is disclosed.
In later times such ideas no longer make their appear-
ance. During the pestilence in the Peloponnesian war
we hear nothing of the worship of the gods ; no sacri-
fice was made during this war; we meet only with predic-
tions of its conclusion. The appeal to the oracle implies
that such a sacrifice has become antiquated. That is to
say, if counsel is asked of the oracle, the result is viewed
as determined by the god himself. Thus the result came
to be regarded as something which has to happen, as a
matter of necessity, a matter of fixed destiny, in connec-
tion with which no reconciliation could have a place,
which could not be averted and could not be remedied.

3. The final form of reconciliation implies that tlie
negative is really a crime, and is so regarded and declared
to be such ; not a crime which is only perceived to be
such by the help of the explanation given through some
misfortune. An individual, a state, a people commits a
crime ; from the human point of view the punishment
is the propitiation for the crime either in the form of
punishment or in the cruder form of revenge. The free
spirit has the self-consciousness of its majesty, whereby
it has to make what has happened as if it had not hap-
pened, and to do this within itself. An outward act of
pardon is something different, but that what has hap-



288 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

pened can within the mind itself come to be what has
not happened, is something which belongs to the 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 24 of 31)