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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to savagery, to passion.

But it is the Dalailama above all who is the manifes-
tation of perfect and satisfied Being-within-itself. His
leading characteristics are repose and gentleness, with
which he combines insight and a thoroughly noble man-
ner of existence. Nations worship him, regarding him
in the fair light of one living in pure contemplation, the
absolute Eternal being present in him. If the Lama
has to direct his attention to eternal things, he is then
exclusively occupied with the beneficent office of bestow-
ing consolation and help ; his primary attribute is to
forget and to have mercy. That child which was in
Little Thibet when the English ambassador already men-
tioned arrived there, was, it is true, still being suckled,
but was a lively intelligent child, behaved with all pos-
sible dignity and propriety, and seemed already to have


a consciousness of his higher dignity. And the ambas-
sador could not sufficiently praise the regent for his
noble bearing and passionless repose. The preceding
Lama, too, had been a discerning, worthy, high-minded
man. That, however, an individual should have substance
concentrated in himself, and should outwardly display
this worthy and noble character, are two things which
are in close relation to each other.

In so far as the stillness of Being-within-itself is the
extinction of all that is particular, is nothingness, this
state of annihilation is the highest state for man, and
his destiny is to immerse himself in this non-existence,
eternal repose, in nothingness — in fact, in the substantial,
where all determinations cease, and there is no will, no
intelligence. By persistent immersion and meditation
within himself man is supposed to become like to this
principle, to come to be without passion, without inclina-
tion, without action, and to arrive at a condition in which
he desires nothing and does nothing.

There is no question here of virtue, vice, reconciliation,
immortality ; the holiness of a man consists in his uniting
himself in this extinction, in this silence, with God, with
nothingness, with the Absolute. The highest state con-
sists in the cessation of all bodily motion, of all movement
of the soul. When this level has been reached, there is
no descent to a lower grade, no further change, and man
has no migration to fear after death, for he is then
identical with God. Here, therefore, we have expressed
the theoretical moment that man is something substan-
tial, exists for himself. The practical element is that
he wills ; if he wills, then that which is is an object for
him which he alters, upon which he impresses his form.
The practical value of religious feeling is determined in
accordance with the content of that which is regarded
as the True. In this religion, however, this theoretical
element is still present, namely, that this unity, purity,
nothingness is absolutely independent in relation to con-


sciousness, that it is its nature not to act in opposition
to the objective, not to give it form, but to leave it to
itself, so that this stillness is produced in it. This is
the Absolute ; man has to make himself nothingness. The
value of man consists in this, that his self-consciousness
has an affirmative relation to that theoretical substan-
tiality. This is the opposite of that relation which, since
the object has no determination for it, is of a merely
negative nature, and for that very reason is onl')/ affir-
mative, as being a relation of the subject to its own
inwardness, which is the power to transmute all objec-
tivity into a negative, that is to say, is affirmative in its
" vanity " alone.

That still, gentle state of mind has, in the first place,
momentarily in worship the consciousness of such eternal
repose as essential divine Being, and this gives the tone
and character to the rest of life. But self-consciousness
is at liberty too to make its entire life a permanent state
of that stillness and contemplation without existence ; and
this actual withdrawal from the eternal conditions of the
needs and activities of life into the tranquil inner region,
and the consequent attainment of union with this theoreti-
cal substantiality, must be considered as the supreme con-
summation. Thus great religious associations take their
rise among these peoples, the members of which live in
community in repose of the spirit, and in tranquil con-
templation of the Eternal, without taking part in worldly
interests and occupations.

. If a man assumes this negative mental attitude, defends
himself not against what is external, but only against
himself, and unites himself with nothingness, rids him-
self of all consciousness, of all passion, he is then exalted
to the state which among Buddhists is called Nirvana.
In this condition man is without gravity, he has no
longer any weight, is not subject to disease, to old age,
to death ; he is looked upon as God Himself ; he has
become Buddha.


2. If by transplanting himself into this state of ab-
straction, this perfect solitude, this renunciation, nothing-
ness, a man attains to this, that he is undistinguishable
from God, eternal, identical with God, then the ideas of
immortality and transmigration of souls enter as an
essential element into the doctrines of Foe, of Buddha.
This standpoint is, strictly speaking, higher than that at
which the adherents of Tao are supposed to make them-
selves Shan, immortal.

While this is given out as the highest destiny of man,
namely, to make himself immortal by means of medita-
tion, by returning into himself, it is not at the same
time asserted that the soul in itself as such is persistent
and essential, that the spirit is immortal, but only that
man makes himself for the first time immortal by this
abstraction, this exaltation, that he ought, in fact, to make
himself such. The thought of immortality is involved in
the fact that man is a thinking being, that he is in his
freedom at home with himself ; thus he is absolutely
independent ; an " Other " cannot break in upon his free-
dom : he relates himself to himself alone ; an Other cannot
give itself valid worth within him.

This likeness or equality with myself, " I," this self-
contained existence, this true Infinite, is accordingly
what, in the language peculiar to this point of view, is
immortal, is subject to no change ; it is itself the Un-
changeable, what is within itself alone, what moves itself
only within itself. " I," is not dead repose, but move-
ment — movement, however, which is not called change,
but is eternal rest, eternal transparency within itself.

Since God is known as the essential, is thought of in
His essentiality, and since Being- withiu-itself, and self-
contained Being or Being-with-itself is a true determina-
tion, so in relation to the subject this Being- within-itself,
this essentiality is known as its nature, the subject being
inherently spiritual. This essentiality attaches to the
soul, to the subject too ; it becomes known that the soul


is immortal, that its nature is to have a pure existence,
but not as yet to exist in the strict sense as this purity —
that is, not as yet to exist as spirituality. On the con-
trary, this essentiality still strictly implies that the mode
of existence continues to be sensuous immediacy, which,
however, is merely accidental.

Immortality, therefore, means that the soul which is
at home with itself or self-contained, as being something
essential, is at the same time existing. Essence without
existence is a mere abstraction ; essentiality, the Xotion,
must be thought of as existing. Thus realisation, too,
belongs to essentiality, but the form of the realisation
is still sensuous existence, sensuous immediacy. Kow
transmigration of souls means that the soul still persists
after death, but in another mode of existence, a sensuous
mode. The soul being still abstractly conceived of as
Being-within-itself, the form assumed is a matter of
indifference. The spirit is not known as concrete, is
only abstract essentiality, and thus determinate Being ;
the phenomenal appearance is merely the immediate
sensuous shape, which is contingent, and is human or
animal form. Human beings, animals, the whole world
of life, become the many-hued garment of colourless
individuality. Being-within-itself, the Eternal, has as
yet no content, and therefore, too, no standard for form.

The idea that man passes into such forms, is accordingly
united with the thought of morality, of desert. That is
to say, the relation of man to the principle, to nothingness,
implies that in order to be happy he must labour by means
of continuous speculation, meditation, musing upon him-
self, to become like to this principle, and the holiness of
man consists in uniting himself in this silence with God.
The loud voices of worldly life must become mute ; the
silence of the grave is the element of eternity and
holiness. In the cessation of all movement or motion of
the body, all movement of the soul, in this extinction of
oneself happiness consists. And when a man has reached


this stage of perfection, then there is no more change, his
soul has no longer to fear transmigration, for he is
identical with the god Foe. The soul is exalted into the
region of nothingness, and thus delivered from bondage
to external sensuous form.

In so far, however, as a man has not, by renunciation,
Ijy sinking into himself, attained to this felicity — though
this latter is indeed in him, for his spirit is this poten-
tiality — he is still in need of duration, and so of bodily
existence too, and in this way the idea of metempsychosis
takes its origin.

3. It is here, accordingly, that the aspects of power
and of magic combine with this idea, and the relicrion of
Being-within-itself runs out into the wildest superstition.
The theoretical relation, owing to the fact that it is,
properly speaking, inherently empty, is reversed and
changes into the practical one of magic. The mediation
of priests here comes in, and they represent at once the
Higher, and the power above the forms or shapes which
man assumes. The adherents of Foe are in this respect
superstitious to the utmost degree. They believe that
man passes into all possible forms, and that the priests
are those who, living in the supersensuous world, deter-
mine the form which the soul is to take on, and are
therefore able to keep it from assuming ill-omened
shapes. A missionary tells a story of a dying Chinese
who had sent for him, and complained that a Bonze
(these are the priests, those who know, to whom is known
what is happening in the other world) had told him that
just as he was now in the service of the Emperor, so
would he remain in it after death likewise; his soul
would pass into an imperial post-horse ; he must then
perform his duties faithfully, not kick, not bite, not
stumble, and content himself with a small amount of

The dogma of metempsychosis is also the point at
•which the simple worship of Being-within-itself transr.


forms itself into an idolatry of the most varied descrip-
tion. In this dogma v/e have the foundation and origin
of that infinite multitude of idols and images whieli are
everywhere worshipped where Foe holds sway. Four-
footed beasts, birds, creeping things, in a word, the lowest
forms of animal life, have temples and are worshipped,
because the god inhabits each one of them in his new
births, and any and every animal body may be inhabited
by the soul of man.



As regards its necessity, this transition is based upon
the fact that the truth which in the preceding stages
is potentially present as the foundation is here actually
brought forward and posited. In the Eeligion of Phan-
tasy and that of Being-within-itself, this subject, this
subjective self- consciousness, is identical, though in an
immediate manner, with that substantial unity which is
called Brahma or characterless nothingness. This One
is now conceived of as unity determined within itself, as
implicitly subjective unity, and at the same time as this
unity in its character as implicitly totality. If the unity
be inherently determined as subjective, it then contains
the principle of Spirituality in itself, and it is this prin-
ciple which unfolds itself in the religions which are based
upon this transition.

Further, in the Indian religion the One, the unity of
Brahma, and determinateness, the many Powers of the
Particular, this appearance of differences, stood in a rela-
tion to each other which implied that at one time the
differences were held to be independent, and at another
that they had disappeared and were submerged in unity.
The doniinant and universal characteristic was the altera.



nation of origination and passing away ; the alternation
of the annulling and absorption of the particular Powers
in the unity, and of procession out of unity. In the
Eeligion of Being-within-itself this alternation was indeed
brought to rest in so far as the particular differences fell
back into the unity of nothingness, but this unity was
empty and abstract, and the truth is, on the contrary,
the unity which is concrete within itself and is totality,
so that even that abstract unity, together with the ele -
ment of difference, enters into the true unity in which the
differences are posited as annulled, as ideal, negative, and
non-self-subsisting, but at the same time as preserved.

The unfolding of the moments of the Idea, the self-
differentiation of the thought of absolute Substance, was
therefore hitherto defective, in so far as the forms or
shapes lost themselves on the one hand in hard fixity,
while on the other it was merely by flight that unity
was reached, or to put it otherwise, the unity was merely
the disappearance of the differences. Now, however, the
reflection of nianifoldness into itself appears, implying
that Thought itself contains detei'mination within itself,
so that ic is self-determination, and determination has
only worth and substantive content in so far as it is
reflected into this unity. Together with this, the notion
of freedom, objectivity, is posited, and the divine Xotion
thus becomes the unity of the finite and infinite. The
Thought which only exists within itself, pure Substance,
is the Infinite, and the finite, in accordance with the
thought-determination, is the many gods ; while the unity
is negative unity, abstraction, which submerges the Many
in this One. But this last has gained nothing by this ;
it is undetermined as before, and the finite is only affirma-
tive outside of the Infinite, not within it, and hence so
soon as it is affirmative it is finitude which is devoid
of rationality. But now the finite, the determinate in
general is taken up into infinitude, the form is commen-
surate with the substance, the infinite form is identical


with the substance, which determines itself within itself,
and is not merely abstract Power.

The other .equally essential determination is that with
this the separation of the empirical self-consciousness
from the Absolute, from the content of the Highest, for
the first time takes place, that here for the first time
God attains true objectivity. At the former stages it is
the empirical self-consciousness immersed in itself which
is Brahma, this abstraction within self, or, in other words,
the Highest is present as a human being. Thus sub-
stantial unity is still inseparable from the subject, and
in so far as it is still something imperfect, is not as
yet in its very nature subjective unity ; it still has the
subject outside of it. The objectivity of the Absolute,
the consciousness of its independence in its own right, is
not present.

Here this breach between subjectivity and objectivity
takes place ibr the first time, and it is here that objec-
tivity for the first time properly deserves the name of
God ; and we have this objectivity of God here because
this content has determined itself by its own act to
be potentially concrete totality. The meaning of this
is that God is a Spirit, that God is the Spirit in all

When, as happens with special frequency at the present
day, we hear it said that subjective consciousness forms
a part of religion, the idea expressed is a correct one.
We have here the instinct that subjectivity belongs to
religion. But people have an idea that the spiritual can
exist as an empirical subject, which then as empirical
consciousness can have a natural thing for its God, and
this means that spirituality can come into consciousness
onl]/, and God, too, as a natural existence, can be an
object for this consciousness.

Thus, on the one side, we have God as a natural
existence ; but God is essentially Spirit, and this is the
absolute characteristic quality of religion in general, and


therefore the fundamental characteristic, the substantial
basis, in every form of religion. The natural thing is
presented in a human fashion, and also as personality,
as spirit, as consciousness ; but the deities of the Hindus
are still superficial personifications — the personification
by no means implies that the object, God, is known as
Spirit. It is these particular objects, the sun, a tree,
which are personified. The incarnations of the deities,
too, have their place here ; the particular objects have,
however, an independence, and because they are particu-
lar and natural objects the independence is only a ficti-
tious one.

But the Highest is Spirit, and it is from the empirical
subjective spirit in the first instance that this spiritual
determination and independence is derived, either where
it gets a definite shape, or where Brahma has his exist-
ence in and through immersion of the subject in itself.
Now, however, it is no longer the case that man is God
or God is man — that God exists merely in an empirico-
human mode ; on the contrary, God is truly objective in
His own nature, is in His very Being totality, concretely
determined in Himself, that is to say, known as being in
His real nature subjective, and thus is He for the first
time essentially an Object, and stands over against man
in general.

The return to the thought that God appears as man,
as God-man, we shall find later on ; but it is here that
this objectivity of God has its beginning.

Now if the Universal be conceived as determination
of self within self, then it comes into opposition with
■what is Other than itself, and represents strife with the
Other of itself. In the religion of Power there is no
opposition, no strife, for the accidental has no value for

Power now determining itself by its own act, has not,
indeed, these determinations as something finite. On the
.contrary, what is determined exists in its complete and


independent truth. By means of this, God is determined
as the Good ; goodness is not laid down as a predicate
here, but He is simply the Good. In what has no
determinate character there is neither good nor evil.
The Good, on the other hand, is here the Universal, but
with one purpose or end — a determinate character, which
is commensurate with the universality in which it is.

To begin with, however, the self-determination of self
is at this stage exclusive. Thus the Good comes into
relation with what is Other, the Evil, and this relation is
strife — dualism. Eeconciliation, here a becoming or
something that, ought-to-be only, is not as yet thought of
as in and pertaining to this Goodness itself.

Here it is at once posited as a necessary consequence
that the strife comes to be known as a characteristic of
Substance itself. The Negative is posited in Spirit itself,
and this is compared with its affirmation, so that this
comparison is present in felt experience, and constitutes
pain, death. And here, finally, the strife, which dies
away, is the wrestling of Spirit to come to itself, to
attain to freedom.

From these fundamental determinations the following
divisions of this transition stage result : —

1. The first determination is that of the Persian
religion. Here the actual Being of the Good is still of a
superficial kind, consequently it has a natural form, but
a natural existence which is formless — Light.

2. The form of religion in which strife, pain, death
itself actually appear in the Essence — the Syrian religion.

3. The struggling out of the strife, the going onward
to the true destiny of free spirituality, the overcoming of
evil, complete transition to the religion of fiee spirituality
— the Egyptian religion.

Speaking generally, however, the characteristic com-
mon to these three forms of religion is the resumption
of wild, unrestrained totality into concrete unity. This
giddy whirl, in which the determinations of unity are


precipitated into externality and contingency, where out
of unity, as out of Brahma, this wild notionless world of
deities proceeds, and where the development, because it
is not proportionate to the unity, breaks up into con-
fusion — this state, devoid of anything to give it steadfast-
ness, has now passed away.

This resumption into substantial unity, which is in-
herently subjective, has, however, two forms. The first
form of resumption is that seen in the religion of the
Parsees, and it takes place in a pure, simple manner.
The other is the fermenting process, seen in the Syrian
and Egyptian religions, where the fermentation of totality
mediates itself into unity, and unity comes into existence
in the strife of its elements.

I. The Religion of the Good or of Light.

(a.) Its notion or conception.

I. The resumption is as yet the pure simple one, but
for that reason it is also abstract. God is known as the
absolutely existent, which is determined within itself.

Here the determinate character is not an empirical,
manifold one, but is just what is pure, universal, what is
equal to itself ; a determination of Substance, by which it
ceases to be Substance, and begins to be subject. This
unity, as self-determining, has a content, and that this con-
tent is what is determined by imity, and is in conformity
with it, is the universal content, is what is called Good
or the True ; for those are only forms which belong to
the further distinctions of knowing and willing, which
in the highest form of subjectivity are but one truth,
particularisations of this One truth.

The fact that this Universal is determined by the
self-determination of Spirit, and by Spirit and for Spirit,
is the side upon which it is Truth. In proportion as it
is posited by Spirit, is a self-determination commensurate
with its unity, is its own self-determination by which it


remains true to itself in its universality, and in conse-
quence of which no other determinations present them-
selves unless that unity itself, is it the Good. It is there-
fore the true content which has objectivity, the Good,
which is the same as the True. This Good is at the same
time self-determination of the One, of absolute Substance,
and in being such it directly remains absolute Power —
the Good as absolute Power, Such is the determination
of the content.

2. It is just in this determination of the Absolute, and
in the fact that it is self-determination and the Good, in
which even concrete life is able to behold its affirmative
root, and to become conscious of itself in a true manner,
that there lies the connection with the concrete, with the
world, with concrete empirical life generally. Out of
this Power all things proceed. We had this determina-
tion of the Absolute in the foregoing forms, where it
implied that this mode of self-determination, as a mode of
determination, contains abstract determination, is not self-
determination, what has returned into itself, what remains
in identity, the True and Good in the universal sense,
but is the act of determination generally. Power, as
such, is neither good nor wise ; it has no end in view,
but is merely determined as Being and jSTot-being ; it is
characterised by wildness, by modes of acting savouring
of madness in fact. For this reason Power is intrinsi-
cally what is without determination.

This moment of I'ower is also present, but as some-
thing subordinated. Thus it is concrete life, the world

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 6 of 31)