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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in manifold existence ; but that which is all-important
is that in the Good, as self-determination, is contained
this absolute characteristic, namely, the connection of the
Good with the concrete world.

Subjectivity, particularity generally, is in this Substance,
in the One itself, which is the absolute subject. This
element, which belongs to the particular life, this deter-
minateness is at the same time posited in the -Absolute


itself, and in being so is an affirmative co-relation or
connection of the Absolute, of the good and true, of the
Infinite with that which is called the finite.

The affirmative connection in the earlier forms of
religion exists in part only in this pure absorption, in
which the subject says, " I am Brahma," but it is an
absolutely abstract connection, which only exists by
means of this stupefaction, this relinquishment of all
concrete actuality of Spirit, by means of negation. This
affirmative connection is merely, as it were, a simple
thread; for the rest, it is the abstract negative, this
sacrifice, this self-immolation ; that is to say, instead of
connection there is merely flight from the concrete.

But with this affirmative connection, where determi-
nate existence is taken up into universality, it is stated
that things themselves are good ; the Good is present
Substance in them, and that which is good is their life,
their affirmative Being. So far as they remain good,
they belong to this realm of the Good ; they are from the
very first received into favour ; it is not that a part only
are these twice-born, as in India. On the contrary, the
finite is composed of what is good, and is good. And,
indeed, good is taken in the proper sense, and is under-
stood with reference to an external end, an external
comparison. 'J'hafc is in accordance with an end which
is good for something, so that the end lies outside of the
object. Here, on the other hand, good is to be under-
stood as meaning that it is the Universal determined
within itself. Good is so determined within itself ; the
particular things are good, they serve their own purpose,
are adequate to themselves, not merely to an Other. The
Good is not for them a " Beyond," — Brahma again.

3. This Good, although it is indeed subjective itself,
is inherently determined as Good, and is commensurate
with substantial unity, with Universality itself, yet this
determination is itself still abstract. The Good is con-
crete within itself, and yet this determinate existence of


concrete Being is itself still abstract. In order that the
Good be not abstract, there must be the development of
form, the positing of the moments of the Notion. In
order to exist as rational Idea, to be known as Spirit, its
determinations, the negative element, the distinctions as
representing its powers must be posited, known, \>j means
of the thought in it.

The Good may be made use of in various ways, or, to
put it otherwise, human beings have good intentions.
Here the question presents itself, " What is good ? "
There is a demand for further definition and explanation
of the Good. Here we still have Good as abstract, as
something one-sided, and consequently as an absolute
antithesis to an Other, and this Other is Evil. In this
simple relation the negative is not as yet comprehended
within what rightly belongs to it.

We thus have two principles, the well-known Oriental
dualism — the realms of good and evil. This is the grand
opposition which has here reached this universal abstrac-
tion. In the varied character of the deities previously
referred to, there is undoubtedly manifoldness, difference ;
but the fact that this duality has become the universal
principle is quite another thing, for the difference con-
fronts itself as this dualism.

The Good is indeed the True, the Powerful, but is at
war with Evil in such a way that Evil stands over against
it as an absolute principle, and remains standing over
against it. The evil ought, it is true, to be overcome, to
be equated, but what ought to be is not. The ought-to-
be, the ideal, is a force which cannot realise itself ; it is a
certain weakness and impotence.

This dualism, understood as distinction or difference
in its entire universality, is the interest alike of religion
and philosophy, and it is, in fact, when put in terms of
Thought that this opposition acquires its universality.
At the present time dualism is a form of thought too ;
but when we speak of dualism, the forms referred to are


of a weak and slight kind. The modern antithesis of
finite and infinite is just that of Ahrinian and Ornaazd —
it is just the same Manicheism as we have here.

From the moment that we take the finite as indepen-
dent, so that the infinite and finite stand opposite to one
another in such a way that the infinite has no part with
the finite, and the finite cannot pass over to the infinite,
then that is the same thing as this dualism, only that
when we so conceive of the relation, we have not the in-
tention of forming, nor the heart to form a conception of
these opposites in accordance with their entire content.

The finite when, in its further determination, it asserts
itself as finite over against the infinite, the Universal,
and in so doing declares itself opposed to the infinite, is ■
the Evil. We find accordingly that some stop short at
this standpoint, which is marked by an utter absence of
thought, and in accordance with which a valid existence
is allowed both to the finite and the infinite. But
God is only one principle, one power, and the finite,
and for that very reason Evil, has no true independent

But further. Good, by virtue of its universality, has
moreover a natural mode of determinate existence, a mode
of existence for an Other, namely, Light, which is pure
manifestation. As the Good, that which is self-identical
or commensurate with itself, is subjectivity in its pure
identity with itself in the spiritual sphere, so is Light
this abstract subjectivity in the sensuous sphere. Space
and time are the primary abstractions in the sphere of
externality or mutual exclusion, but the concrete phy-
sical element in its universality is Light. If, therefore,
the essentially Good, because of its abstract character,
comes to have the form of immediateness, and conse-
quently of naturalness (for immediateness is the natural),
then this immediate Goodness, which has not as yet
purified itself and raised itself to the form of absolute
spirituality, is Light. For Light is in the natural world


pure manifestatioB, determination of self by self, but in
an entirely simple, universal manner.

If Brahma had to be represented in a sensuous fashion,
he could only be represented as abstract space. Brahma
has not as yet, however, the force within himself to be
independently represented, but has as his realisation the
empirical consciousness of man.

The fact that the Good at •which we have arrived is
still supposed to have essentially a natural form, although
certainly it is nature in the pure form of Light, presents
a certain difficulty. But Nature cannot possibly be left
out by Spirit ; it essentially belongs to Spirit.

God, too, as inherently concrete, as pure Spirit, is at
the same time essentially Creator and Lord of nature.
Thus the Idea in its Notion, God in His essential Being
itself, must posit this reality, this external existence which
we call Nature. The moment of naturalness, therefore,
cannot be dispensed with, only it exists here as yet in an
abstract form — in this immediate unity with the Spiritual,
the Good, just because the Good is as yet this abstraction.

The Good contains determinateness within itself, and
in determinateness is the root of natural existence. We
say, " God creates the world." Creation is this subjec-
tivity to which determinateness in general pertains. It is
in this activity or subjectivity that the essential charac-
ter of nature lies, and indeed in the more definite relation
which implies that that nature is something created.
This does not, however, as yet exist here. What is pre-
sent here is abstract determinateness.

This determinateness has essentially the form of nature
generally, of Light, and of immediate unity with the
Good ; for the Immediate is itself just the Abstract, because
determinateness is merely this universal, undeveloped

Light, accordingly, has darkness standing over against
it. In Nature these two characteristics are separate from
one another in this fashion. This is the impotence of


nature, namely, that light and its negation lie side by
side, although, indeed, light is the power to drive away
darkness. This determination in God is itself as yet
that element of impotence which, because of its abstrac-
tion, is not as yet able to contain and endure the oppo-
sition, the contradiction within itself, but has the Evil
alongside of it. Light is the Good and the Good is
light ; this is the indivisible unity which we have here.

But light is in conflict with darkness, with evil, which
it is to overcome, though ideally only, for it does not
actually succeed in doing this.

Light is an infinite expansion, it is as rapid as Thought;
but in order that its manifestation be real, it must strike
upon something that is dark. Nothing is made manifest
by pure light ; only in this Other does definite manifesta-
tion make its appearance, and with this, Good appears in
opposition to Evil. This manifestation is a determining
but not as yet concrete development of determination ;
the concreteness of determination is therefore outside of
it, because of its abstraction it has its determination in
the Other. Without the opposition Spirit does not exist,
and in the development of Spirit the point of importance
is merely as to the position this opposition assumes rela-
tively to mediation and to the original unity.

Thus the Good in its universality has a natural form,
namely, this pure manifestation of nature. Light. The
Good is the universal deterininateness of things. Since
it is thus abstract subjectivity, the moment of parti-
cularity or singularity, the moment, the mode, by which
it is for Other, is itself as yet in sensuous perception
something externally present, which, however, may come
to be adequate to the content, for all particularity is
taken up into the Universal ; particularity of this more
precise kind, in accordance with which it is the mode of
perception, the mode of immediateness, is then capable
of seeming adequate to the content. Brahma, for example,
is merely abstract thought ; looked upon in a sensuous


way, he would, as has been already stated, correspond
merely with the perception of space, a sensuous univer-
sality of perception which is itself merely abstract. Here,
on the contrary, the substantial element is commensurate
with the form, and the latter is then physical univer-
sality — light, which has darkness over against it. Air,
breath, &c., are also determinations which are physical,
but they are not in this way the Ideal itself, are not
universal individuality, subjectivity. It is in light which
manifests itself that we have the moment of self-deter-
mination, of individuality, of subjectivity. Light appears
as light generally, as universal light, and then as nature
in a particular specific form ; nature in the form of
special objects reflected into itself as the essential element
of particular things.

Lig-ht must not here be understood as meaning the
sun. It may indeed be said that the sun is the most
prominent light, but it stands beyond and above us as
a particular body, as a special individual object. Ihe
Good, the light, on the contrary, has within itself the
root of subjectivity, but only the root ; accordingly, it is
not posited as thus individual, existing apart by itself ;
and thus light is to be taken as subjectivity, as the soul
of things.

(b.) This religion, as it actually exists.

This Eeligion of Light or of the immediate Good is
the religion of the ancient Parsis, founded by Zoroaster.
There still exist some communities who belong to this
religion in Bombay and on the shores of the Black Sea,
in the neighbourhood of Baku, where those naphtha springs
are specially frequent, in the accidental proximity of which
some have imagined they find an explanation of the fact
that the Parsis have chosen fire as an object of worship.
From Herodotus and other Greek authors we derive some
information regarding this religion, but it is only in later
times that a more accurate knowledge of it has been
arrived at by the discovery of the principal an-d funda-


meutal books (Zend-Avesta) of that people by the French-
man Anquetil du Perron : ^ these books are written in
the ancient Zend language, a sister language to Sanscrit.

Light, which is worshipped in this religion, is not a
symbol of the Good, an image or figure by which the
Good is represented ; it might, on the contrary, just as
well be said that the Good is the symbol of light.
Neither of the two is outward sign or symbol, but they
are directly identical.

Here among the Parsis worship makes its appearance.
Substantiality here exists for the subject in its particu-
larity: man as a particular form of the Good stands over
against the universal Good, over against light in its pure,
as yet undisturbed, manifestation, which the Good as
natural concrete existence is.

The Parsis have also been called fire-worshippers.
This designation is to a certain degree incorrect, for the
Parsis do not direct their worship to fire as devouring
material fire, but only to fire as light, which as the truth
of the material appears in an outward form.

The Good as an object, as something having a sen-
suous shape, which corresponds with the content which
is as yet abstract, is Light. It has essentially the
signification of the Good, the Pdghteous ; in human form
it is known as Ormazd, but this form is as yet a super-
ficial personification here. Personification exists, that is
to say, so long as the form as representing the content
is not as yet inherently developed subjectivity. Ormazd
is the Universal, which in an external form acquires subjec-
tivity ; he is light, and his kingdom is the realm of light.

The stars are lights appearing singly. "What appears
being something particular, natural, there at once springs
up a difference between that which appears and that

1 It was in 1754 that Anquetil du Perron saw a facsimile of four leaves
of the Oxford MS. of the VendedSd 94dah, and after years of heroic effort
and persevering toil, in 177 1 he published the first European translation of
the Zend-Avesta— Tr. S.


which is implicit, and what is implicit then becomes a
something Particular, a genius also. Just as universal
light is personified, so particular lights come to be perso-
nified too. Thus the stars are personified as genii; in
one aspect they are what appears, and then are personi-
fied as well ; they are not differentiated, however, into
light and into the Good ; on the contrary, it is the
collective unity which is personified : the stars are spirits
of Ormazd, of the universal light, and of the inherently
existing Good.

These stars are called the Amshaspands, and Ormazd,
who is universal light, is also one of the Amshaspands.
The realm of Ormazd is the realm of light, and there are
seven Amshaspands in it. These might perhaps suggest
the planets, but they are not further characterised in
the Zend-Avesta, and in none of the prayeis, not even
in those directed to them individually, are they more
particularly specified. The lights are the companions of
Ormazd, and reign with him. The Persian State itself,
too, similarly with this realm of light, is described as the
kingdom of righteousness and of the Good. The king,
too, was surrounded by seven magnates, who formed his
council, and were thought of as representatives of the
Amshaspands, in the same way as the kiug was conceived
to be the representative of Ormazd. The Amshaspands
govern, changing place day by day, in the realm of light
with Ormazd ; consequently what is posited here is merely
a superficial distinction of time.

To the Good or the kingdom of light belongs all that
has life ; that which in all beings is good is Ormazd ;
lie is the life-giving element through thought, word, and
deed. Here we still have Pantheism in so far as the
Good, light, substance, is in everything; all happiness,
blessing, felicity meet together in it ; whatever exists as
loving, happy, strong, and the like, that is Ormazd. He
bestows the light on all beings, upon trees as upon noble
men, upon animals as upon the Amshaspands.


The sun and the planets are the first chief spirits or
deities, a heavenly people, pure and great, shielding all,
beneficent to all, shedding benediction upon all — being
rulers by turns over the world of light. The whole
world is Ormazd in all its stages and varied existence,
and in this kingdom of light all is good. To light
belongs everything, all that lives, all essential being,
all spiritual existence, the action, the growth of finite
things, all is light, is Ormazd. In this is not merely
sensuous life, life in general, but strength, spirit, soul,
blessedness. In the fact that a man, a tree, an animal
lives and rejoices in existence, possesses an affirmative
nature, is something noble, in this consists their glory,
their light, and this it is which is the sum and essence of
the substantial nature of every individual existence.

The manifestation of light is worshipped, and in con-
nection with this the element of locality has a value
for the Parsi. Advantage is taken, for example, of the
plains upon which naphtha wells abound. Light is
burnt upon the altars ; it is not a symbol, but is rather
the presence of the ineffable, of the Good. All that is
good in the world is thus reverenced, loved, worshipped,
for it is esteemed as the son, the begotten of Ormazd, in
which he loves himself, pleases himself. In like manner
hymns of praise are addressed to all pure spirits of man-
kind. These are called Fravashis} and are either beings
still in the body and still existing, or dead beings, and
thus Zoroaster's Fravashi is entreated to watch over them.
In the same way animals are worshipped, because they
have life, light in them. In worshipping these, the genii,
spirits, the affirmative element of living nature, is brought
into prominence and reverenced as the ideals of the par-
ticular kinds of things, as universal subjective forms,
which represent the Divine in a finite way. Animals
are, as already stated, objects of worship, but the ideal

'■ The word which Hegel uses is Ferver, but he evidently means


is the heavenly bull, which, among the Hindus, is the
symbol of procreation, and stands beside Siva. Among
fires, it is the sun tliat is specially worshipped ; among
mountains, too, there is a similar ideal — Alborg, the
mountain of mountains. Thus in the Parsi's view of
things there exists an active present world of the Good,
ideals which are not beyond this world, but are in exist-
ence, are present in actual things.

Everything that is alive is held in reverence as Good,
but only the good, the light in it, not its particular
form, its finite transitory mode of existence. There is
a separation between the substantial element and what
belongs to the perishable. A distinction is posited in
man too ; a something higher is distinguished from the
immediate corporeal, natural, temporal, insignificant char-
acter of his external Being, of his existence. This is re-
presented by the Genii, Fravashis. Among trees, there
is one which is specially marked off — E6m, the tree from
which flow the waters of immortality. Thus the State
is the manifestation of the substantial, of the realm of
light, the prince being the manifestation of the supreme
light, while the officials are the representatives of the
Spirits of Ormazd. The above distinction is, however,
a surface one ; the absolute one is that between Good
and Evil.

It may be also mentioned that one among the helpers
of Ormazd is Mitra, the fji-eo-lrris, mediator. It is curious
that Herodotus, even in his time, makes special mention
of this Mitra ; yet in the religion of the Parsis, the
characteristic of mediation, reconciliation does not seem
as yet to have become prominent. It was not until a
later period that the worship of Mithras was more gener-
ally developed in its complete form, as the human spirit
had become more strongly conscious of the need of
reconciliation, and as that need had become keener and
more definite.

Among the Eomans in Christian times Mithras-worship,



was very widely spread, and so late as the Middle Ages"
we meet with a secret Mithras-worship ostensibly con-
nected with the order of the Knights-Templars. Mithras
thrusting the knife into the neck of the ox is a figura-
tive representation belonging essentially to tlie cult of
]\Iithras, of which examples have been frequently found
in Europe.

(c."* Worship.

The worship belonging to this religion results directly
from the essential character of the religion. The purpose'
of it is to glorify Ormazd in his creation, and the adora-
tion of the Good in everything is its beginning and end.
The prayers are of a simple and uniform character, with-
out any special shades of meaning. The principal feature
of the cultus is that man is to keep himself pure as
regards his inner and outer life, and is to maintain and
diffuse the same purity everywhere. The entire life of
the Parsi is to be this worship ; it is not something
isolated, as among the Hindus. It is the duty of the
Parsi everywhere to promote life, to render it fruitful
and keep it gladsome ; to practise good in word and
deed in all places ; to further all that is good among
mankind, as well as to benefit men themselves ; to exca-
vate canals, plant trees, give shelter to wanderers, build
waste places, feed the hungry, irrigate the ground, which,
from another point of view, is itself subject and genms.

Such is this one-sidedness of abstraction.

2. The St/rian Beligion, or the Religion of Pain.

We have just been considering the ideas of strife and
of victory over evil. We have now to consider, as re-
presenting the next moment or stage, that strife as Pain.
" Strife as pain" seems a superficial expression ; it im-
plies, however, that the strife is no longer an external
opposition only, but is in a single subject, and within
that subject's own feeling of itself. The strife is, accord-


ingly, the objectifying of pain. Pain is, however, in
general terms tlie course or process of finitude, and, from
a subjective point of view, brolvenness of heart. This
process or course of finitude, of pain, strife, victory, is a
moment or stage in the nature of Spirit, and it cannot
be absent in the spliere under consideration, in which
power continuously determines itself toward spiritual
freedom. The loss of one's own self, the contradiction
between self-contained Being and its " Other," a contra-
diction which annuls itself by absorption into infinite
unity — for here we can think of true infinitude only — the
annulling of the opposition, these are the essential deter-
minations in the Idea of Spirit which now make their
appearance. It is true that we are now conscious of the
development of the Idea, of its course as well as of
its moments or stages, whose totality constitutes Spirit.
This totality, however, is not as yet posited, but obtains
expression in moments which in this sphere present them-
selves successively.

The content not being as yet posited in free Spirit,
since the moments are not as yet gathered together into
subjective unity, it exists in an immediate mode, and is
thrown out into the form of Nature ; it is represented by
means of a natural progressive process, which, however,
is essentially conceived of as symbolical, and consequently
is not merely a progressive process in external nature,
but is an universal progressive process as contrasted with
the point of view which we have hitherto occupied, and
from which not Spirit but abstract Power is seen to be
what rules. The next element in the Idea is the moment
or stage of conflict. It is the essential nature of Spirit

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 7 of 31)