Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 25 of 31)
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privilege of free self-consciousness, where evil is not merely
act, but is something fixed and settled, and has its seat
in the heart, in the guilty soul. The free soul can purify
itself from this evil. Faint resemblances of this inward
conversion do occur, but the general character of recon-
ciliation here is rather outward purification. With the
Greeks this too is something belonging to ancient times.
A couple of instances of this are well known in connec-
tion with the history of Athens. A son of Minos was
slain in Athens, and on account of this deed a purification
was undertaken, ^schylus relates that the Areopagus
acquitted Orestes ; the rock of Athena stood him in good
stead. The reconciliation here is regarded as something
outward, not as inward confession. The idea exjjressed
in CEdipus at Colonos savours of Christian thought ; in
it this old QEdipus, who slew his father and married his
mother, and who was banished along with his sons, is
raised to a place of honour among the gods ; the gods
call him to themselves. Other sacrifices belong still
more to the outward mode of reconciliation. This is the
case with the sacrifices to the dead, which are intended
to propitiate the Manes. Achilles, for example, slew a
number of Trojans on the grave of Patroclus, his inten-
tion being to restore the uniformity of destiny on both





In the Religion of Beauty empty necessity was the
ruling principle, aud in the Religion of Sublimity unity
in the form of abstract subjectivity. In the latter reli-


gion we find, besides unity, the infinitely limited real
end, and in the former again, besides necessity, we have
moral substantiality, the Eight, the present and real in
empirical self-consciousness. In the bosom of necessity
repose the many particular powers and partake of its
essentiality. Eepresented as individuals, they are spiritual
concrete subjects, and each represents a particular national
spirit. They are living spirits, as, for instance, Athene
is for Athens, Bacchus for Thebes, and they are also
family gods, though they are at the same time transfer-
able, because they are in their nature universal powers.
Consequently the objects also with which such gods take
to do are particular towns, states, and, speaking generally,
a mass of particular ends.

Thus this particularity when brought under a " One "
or Unity represents determinateness in its more definite
form. The next demand of thought is for the union of
that universality and of this particularity of these ends,
in such wise that abstract necessity has its emptiness
filled within itself with the particularity, with the end.

In the Eeligion of Sublimity, the end, when it took
on a realised form, was an isolated end shutting off one
particular family from others. A higher stage is accord-
ingly reached when this end is widened so as to corre-
spond to the compass of the Power, and when at the
same time this Power itself is further developed. The
particularity which is developed in detail as a divine
aristocracy, and together with this the real national spirit
in its various forms, which as an end comes to form part
of the essential character of the Divine and is preserved
within it, must get a place also within the unity. This
cannot, however, be the truly spiritual unity such as we
have in the Eeligion of Sublimity. The characteristics
of the :earlier stages are rather merely put back into a
relative totality in which, it is true, both the religions
which preceded lose their one-sidedness, but in which at
the same time each of the two principles is also perverted

VOL. ir. T


into its opposite. The Eeligion of Beauty loses tlie con-
crete individuality of its gods, as well as their independent
moral content or character. The gods are degraded to the
rank of means. The Eeligion of Sublimity again loses its
tendency to occupy itself with the One, the eternal, the
supernatural. Their union, however, is a step in advance
in this, that the single end and the particular ends are
broadened out so as to form a universal end. This end has
to be realised, and God is the Power which is to realise it.

Action in accordance with an end is a peculiarity not
only of Spirit but of life in general. It is the action of
the Idea, for it is an act of production which is no longer
a passing over into something other or different, whether
it is now characterised as other, or, as in the case of
necessity, as potentially the same, though in its outward
form, and as existing for others, it is an " other.'' In the
end, any content, as being what is primary, is indepen-
dent of the form which the transition takes, and of the
alteration which takes place, so that it maintains itself
within it. The impulse of this flower-like nature, which
may take on an external form under the influence of the
most manifold conditions, shows itself in the production
only of its own development, and only in the simple form
of the transition from subjectivity into objectivity. The
form which reveals itself in the result is that which was
formed before or pre-fornied in the germ.

Action in accordance with an end is closely allied to
the form of spiritual manifestation which we last con-
sidered ; but spiritual manifestation in that form is, to
begin with, only the superficial mode in which anything
having a definite nature and any spiritual determinate-
ness appears, apart from the existence of this determinate-
ness as such under the form or mode of the end or Idea.
The abstract characterisation and the basis of the religion
which went before were expressed by the idea of neces-
sity, and outside of it was the fulness of Nature, spiritual
and physical, which accordingly is broken up so as to


have defiaite quality and to exist in definite time ; while
the unity is in its own nature devoid of content, roots
itself within itself, and receives that serenity or joyousness
which at once raises it above its determinateness and
renders it indifferent towards it, only from the spiritual
form and from ideality. Necessity is freedom potentially
only, is not yet wisdom, and is devoid of an end. In it
we find freedom only in so far as we yield up the con-
tent of freedom. Anything that is necessary, doubtless,
represents something having a content, some occurrence
or other, condition and consequence, &c. ; but its con-
tent as such is something contingent. It may take this
particular form, or it may take some other form ; or, to
put it otherwise, necessity is just a formal mode of
existence, and its content consists merely in the fact that
it is, but suggests nothing of wliat it is. It consists only
in holding fast to this abstract form of existence.

Necessity, however, buries itself in the Notion. The
Notion, or freedom, is the truth of necessity. To grasp
anything in thought means that we conceive of it as a
moment of a connected whole, which in its character as
a connected whole has the element of difference in it, and
has thus a definite and substantial nature. The con-
nection between things which is expressed by cause and
effect is itself as yet a connection of necessity, i.e., it is
as yet formal. What is wanting in it is that a content
be posited as determined for itself, traversant ce cliange-
ment de cause en effect sans change, a content which passes
through the change of cause and effect without alteration.
In this case, in fact, the external relation and reality as
embodied in different forms are degraded to the condition
of means. In order to the carrying out of an end it is
necessary to have means, i.e., something external with
the power of producing effects, the essential mark of
which consists in its beinjj subordinate to the movement
of the end, which preserves itself in its movement,
and does away with its transitional character. In cause


and effect we have potentially the same content, but it
appears in the form of actual independent things which
mutually affect each other. The end, however, is this
content which is posited as identity with itself in con-
trast to the apparent difference between reality and the
form in which reality appears. Accordingly, in the case
of action carried out in accordance with an end, nothing
can come out of it which was not already there.

So far as the end is concerned, it is just in this that
the difference between the end and the reality is found.
The end maintains itself, mediates itself only with itself,
coincides only with itself, brings about the unity of itself
in the form of the unity of what is subjective with reality ;
but it does this through means. It is the power which is
above reality, the power which has at the same time a
primary content determined in and for itself, and this con-
tent is what is first and continues to be what is last. The
end is thus the necessity which has taken into itself the
external, particular content, and holds it fast as against
reality, which has a negative character and is degraded to
a means.

This unity of the content which ever dominates reality,
freeing itself from its power, and maintaining itself in
opposition to it, is accordingly present in life. The con-
tent, however, is not free in its own nature, free for
itself in the element of Thought; it has not been given a
higher form in the mode of its identity, it is not spiritual.
The same unity exists in the spiritually formed ideal ; but
inasmuch as it is represented as being present in a free
form and as beauty, it belongs to a higher stage than
what has life. The quality of this unity is, so far, to be
regarded, as an end, and what it produces is action in
accordance with an end. Its qualities, however, are not
represented under the mode of the end — e.g., Apollo and
Pallas do not set it before them as an end to produce
and extend science and poetry ; Ceres and the mystic
Bacchus do not make the production and the teaching of


laws an end. They take under their protection what con-
stitutes the laws, it is their special care; but here the
separation between end and reality does not exist. These
beings which have divine nature are those very powers
and activities themselves ; the Muse is herself the com-
position of poetry ; Athene herself is Athenian life — the
happiness and well-being of the city is not her end ;
but, on the contrary, these powers rule in as immanent a
way in the reality with which they are connected as the
laws act within the planets.

And further, as the gods in the stage of thought repre-
sented by beauty are in no sense means, they are just as
little ijiutually opposed as independent; rather, they them-
selves disappear in necessity. If they do at a time act
on their own account, they soon submit again and allow
themselves to be put in their right place. While, ac-
cordingly, in necessity one determination depends on
another, and the determinate character passes away, the
end is posited as identity with difference and. reality in
it, the unity which is determined in and for itself, and
which maintains itself in its determinate character as
against the determinate character of something else.

The Notion, accordingly, in so far as it is posited as
free in its own nature, or for self, is at first confronted
by reality, and this is characterised in reference to it as
negative. In the absolute ISTotion, the pure Idea, this
reality, this hostile element, melts away into unity, and
gets to be on a friendly footing with the Notion itself ;
it throws off its peculiar individual character, and is itself
freed from the position of being merely a means. It is
this which is the true conformity to an end in which is
posited the unity of the Notion, of God, of the Divine
Subject or person, with that in which the Notion realises
itself, namely, objectivity and realisation, and it is the
very nature of God Himself which realises itself in ob-
jectivity, and is thus identical with itself viewed under
the aspect of reality.


At first, however, the end itself is as yet immediate,
formal ; its first determination consists in this that what
is thus determined in itself should, in reference to reality,
be for itself, should exist independently, and realise itself
in it as something offering resistance to it. It is thus
at first a finite end, and the relation between things ex-
pressed by it is a relation of the understanding, and the
religion which is founded on such a basis is a religion of
the understanding.

In the religion of the One we have already had an
end somewhat of this sort, and something which had a
close resemblance to this religion of the understanding.
The religion of the One is also a religion of the under-
standing in so far as this One maintains itself as end
as against reality of every kind, and the Jewish religion
is on this account the religion of the understanding in
its most rigid and lifeless form. This end consisting,
as it does, in the glorification of the name of God, is
formal, it has no absolutely definite character, but is only
abstract manifestation. The people of God, it is true,
represent a more definite end as an individual people ;
but this is a kind of end which it is wholly impossible
to form a conception of, and is an end only in the sense
in which the servant is an end for his Lord. It does
not represent the nature of God Himself; it is not His
end ; it is not divine determinateness.

When we say that God is the Power which works in
accordance with ends, and in accordance with the ends
of wisdom, we are speaking in a sense different from
that which at first attaches to this characterisation as
applied to the stage of the development of the Notion at
which we have arrived. What we mean is that those
ends are undoubtedly also limited, finite ends, but that
they are essentially ends of wisdom in general, and ends
of one wisdom, i.e., ends of the Good in and for itself,
ends which have reference to one supreme final end.
These ends are consequently subordinate simply to one


end, or aim. The limited ends and the wisdom iti them
are of a subordinate character.

Here, however, the limitation of the ends is the funda-
mental characteristic, and this has no higher one above it.

Eeligion of this sort is consequently in no sense a
religion of unity, but rather of multiplicity ; it is neither
one Power nor one wisdom, one Idea, which constitutes
the fundamental determination of the divine nature.

Thus the ends which constitute the content of those
forms of existence are definite ends, and these ends are
not to be sought for in Nature ; but, on the contrary, we
find that amongst the many forms of existence, and of
the relations between things, those that liave reference
to man are undoubtedly the really essential ones. What
is human is inherently possessed of thought, and man,
in pursuing his end, however unimportant it may be in
itself, as, for instance, in seeking nourishment, &c., has
the right of using up natural things and animal life
without further ado and to whatever extent he may
choose. Just for this very reason the ends are not to be
sought for as if they existed objectively in the gods and in
and for themselves. On the contrary, this religion, in so far
as it is a definite religion, owes its origin to human ends,
to human need or fortunate events and circumstances.

In the religion which went before this one, it was
necessity which was the universal, and wliich floated
above the particular.

This cannot be the case at the present stage ; for
in necessity finite ends disappear as in a higher form,
while here, on the contrary, they represent what gives
definite character to things and persists. At this stage
the universal represents rather the consent to or agree-
ment with particular ends, and, in fact, consent in genefal ;
for here the universal must remain undefined, because the
ends remain individual ends, and their universality is only
of the abstract sort, and is thus Happiness.

This happiness, however, is not to be distinguished


from necessity as belonging to the class of contingent
things, for in that case it would be the necessity itself,
in ^Yhich those very finite ends are merely contingent ; nor
is it foreordination in general, and the directing of finite
things in accordance with an end ; but, rather, it is happi-
ness with a definite content, with certain definite elements.

But a definite content, again, does not mean any
kind of random content in general. On the contrary,
although iD is finite and actually present, it must be
universal in its nature, and its existence must be justi-
fied on higher grounds — justified in and for itself. And
this end accordingly is the State.

The State, however, as representing this end is, to
begin with, only the abstract State — the union of men
held together by some bond, but in such a way that this
union is not yet in itself in the form of a rational
organisation, and it does not yet take this form because
God is not yet a rational organisation in Himself. Such
conformity to an end as there is, is external ; if it were
conceived of as existing inwardly, it would represent the
peculiar nature of God. Just because God is not yet
this concrete Idea, because He does not yet represent
in Himself the true fulness of Himself reached through
Himself, this end, namely, the State, is not yet a
rational totality in itself, and does not therefore deserve
the name State, but is merely a kind of dominion or
sovereignty, the union of individuals, of peoples, held
together by some bond under one Power. Since, too,
we have here the distinction between end and realisa-
tion, this end exists at first only in a subjective form,
and not as end which has been carried out, and the
realisation of it is represented by the acquiring of
sovereignty, the realisation of an end which is of an A
priori character, which, in the first instance, lays hold
of the peoples and carries itself out.

As this quality of external utility or action in accord-
ance with an end is different from the moral substan-



tiality of Greek life, and from the identity of tlie divine
Powers and their external existence, so, too, this sove-
reignty, this universal monarchy, this end is to be distin-
guished from that of the Mohammedan religion. In this
latter, sovereignty over the vrorld is also the end sought
after ; but what is to exercise sovereignty is the One of
Thought, the One of the Israelitish religion. Or when,
as in the Christian religion, it is said that God wills that
all men should come to a consciousness of the truth, the
nature of the end is spiritual. Each individual is thought
of as a thinking being, as spiritual, free, and actually pre-
.sent in the end, it possesses in him a central point, it is
not any kind of external end, and the subject embraces
within himself the entire extent of the end. Here, on
the contrary, it is still empirical, a sovereignty of the
world which embraces it in an external way. The end
which exists in this sovereignty is one which lies outside
of the individual, and the more it is realised the more
external does it become, so that the individual is brought
into subjection simply to this end, and serves it.

The union of universal power and universal indivi-
duality is, to begin with, implicitly contained here, but
it is, so to speak, only a crude union, devoid of Spirit.
The power is not wisdom, its reality is not a divine end
in and for itself. It is not the One who derives his
fulness from himself ; this fulness is not conceived of
as existing in the realm of thought ; the power is worldly
power, worldliness merely as sovereignty, and power in
this aspect is virtually irrational. In presence of the
power all that is particular accordingly crumbles away,
because it is not taken up into it in a rational way,
and it takes on the form of self-seeking on the part of
the individual, of satisfaction in an ungodly way in par-
ticular interests. The sovereignty is outside of reason,
and stands coldly, selfishly, on the one side, just as the
individual does on the other.

This is the general conception of this religion. The


demand for what is highest is implicitly stated in it,
namely, the union of what has pure Being in itself and
of particular ends ; but the union here is of the ungodly,
undivine, crude sort just described.



It is customary to take in a superficial way the Eoman
religion along with the Greek religion ; but the spirit of.
the one is essentially different from that of the other.
Even if they possess certain outward forms in common,
still these occupy quite a different place in the religion
we are dealing with ; and the religions as a whole, and the
religious sentiment connected with them, are essentially
different, as is indeed already evident from an external,
superficial, and empirical examination of them.

It is allowed in a general way that the State, tlie
constitution of a State, the political destiny of any people,
depends on its religion, that this is the basis, the sub-
stance of its actual spiritual life and the foundation of
what we call its politics. The Greek and Roman spirit,
culture, and character are, however, wholly and essentially
different, and this fact must of itself bring us to the dif-
ference in the religions which form the substance of these.

The divine Beings belonging to this circle of thought
are practical and not theoretical gods ; prosaic, not poeti-
cal ; although, as we shall presently see, this stage is
the richest of all in the constantly new discovery and
production of gods.

I. So far as regards abstract religious sentiment and
spiritual tendencies, the earnestness of the Eomans is
what first calls for remark. Where one end exists, and
that an essentially solid one which has to be realised, the
understanding referred to comes into play, and along with


it the earnestness which clings firmly to this end, in
opposition to a great deal else which is present in feeling
or in external circumstances.

In the religion which comes before this one, the
religion of abstract necessity and of particular individual
beings who are beautiful and divine, it is freedom which
constitutes the fundamental character of the gods and
which gives to them their joyousness and bliss. They are
not exclusively attached to any single form of existence,
but are essential powers, and represent at the same time
the irony which governs all that they seek to do ; what is
particular and empirical has no importance for them.

The joyousness of the Greek religion, which is the
fundamental trait of the sentiment pervading it, is based
on the circumstance that although an end certainly exists
and is regarded with reverence, as holy, still there is pre-
sent at the same time this freedom from the end, and
it is directly based on the fact that the Greek gods are
many in number. Each Greek god has more or less
substantial attributes, moral substantiality ; but just be-
cause there are many particular attributes, consciousness
or Spirit is something above and beyond this manifold
element, and exists outside of its particular forms. It
abandons what is characterised as substantial and which
can also be considered as end, and is itself the irony
referred to.

The ideal beauty of these gods, and their universal
character itself, is something higher than their particular
character ; thus Mars can find pleasure in peace as well as
in war. They are gods of fancy existing for the moment,
without consistency, now appearing on their own account,
independently, and now returning again to Olympus.

Where, on the contrary, one principle, one supreme
principle and one higher end exist, there can be no room
for this joyousness or serenity.

Further, the Greek god is a concrete individuality, and
each of these many particular individuals has itself again


many different characteristics witliin it ; there is here a^
rich individuality wliich must necessarily possess and give
evidence of the existence in it of the element of contra-
diction, just because the two opposite elements in it have

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 25 of 31)