Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

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

. (page 8 of 31)
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to come to itself out of its otherness and out of the
overcoming of this otherness, by the negation of the
negation. Spirit brings itself forth ; it passes through
the estrangement of itself. But since it is not as yet
posited as Spirit, this course of estrangement and return
is not as yet posited ideally, and as a moment or stage


of Spirit, but immediately, and therefore in the form of
what is natural.

This determination, as we have seen it, has acquired
a definite form in the religion of the Phoenicians and
in the religions of anterior Asia generally. In these
religions the Process which has been spoken of is con-
tained, and in the religion of the Phoenicians the succumb-
ing to death, the estrangement of the god from himself,
and his resurrection are brought into special prominence.
The popular conception regarding the Phoenix is well
known : it is a bird which burns itself, and from out of
its ashes there comes a young Phoenix in new vigour
and strength.

This estrangement, this otherness, defined as a natural
negation, is death, but death that is at the -same time
annulled, since out of it there issues a revival and re-
newal of life. It is the eternal nature of Spirit to die
to self, to render itself finite in Nature, and yet it is by
the annulling of its natural existence that it comes to
itself. The Phoenix is the well-known symbol of this.
What we have here is not the warfare of Good with
Evil, but a divine process which pertains to the nature
of God Himself, and is the process in one individual.
The more precise form in which this progressive process
definitely appears is represented by Adonis. This repre-
sentation has passed over to Egypt and Greece, and is
mentioned in the Bible, too, under the name of Thammus
(l^ari), Ezek. viii. 14, "And behold there sat women
weeping for Thammus." One of the principal festivals
of Adonis was celebrated in spring ; it was a service in
honour of the dead, a feast of mourning which lasted
several days. Por two whole days -Adonis was sought
for with lamentation ; the third day was a joyous festival,
when the god had risen again from the dead. The entire
festival has the character of a solemn feast of Nature,
which expires in winter and awakens again in spring.
Thus in one aspect this is a natural process, but looked


at in the other aspect it is to be taken symbolically
as a moment of God, as descriptive of the Absolute in

The myth of Adonis is associated even with Greek
mythology. According to the latter, Aphrodite was the
-mother of Adonis. She kept him as a child of tender
years concealed in a little chest, and took this to Ais.
Persephone, however, would not give back the child out of
the chest when the mother demanded it. Zeus decided
the dispute by ordering that each of the goddesses was
to keep Adonis for a third part of the year. The last
third was to be left to his own choice ; he preferred to
spend that time also with the universal mother and his
own, namely. Aphrodite. As regards its direct inter-
pretation, this myth, it is true, has reference to the seed
lying under the ground, and then springing up out of it.
The myth of Castor and Pollux, whose abode is alter-
nately in the nether world and upon the eartli, has
also reference to this. Its true meaning, however, is
not merely the alternation of Nature, but the transition
generally from life, from affirmative Being, to death, to
negation, and then again the rising up out of this nega-
tion — the absolute mediation which essentially belongs
to the notion or conception of Spirit.

Here therefore this moment of Spirit has become

3 . The Religion of Mystery.

The form which is peculiar to the religions of anterior
Asia is that of the mediation of Spirit with itself, in
which the natural element is still predominant ; the form
of transition where we start from the Other as represent-
ing what Nature in general is, and where the transition
does not yet appear as the coming of Spirit to itself.
The further stage at which we have now arrived is where
this transition shows itself as a coming of Spirit to itself,
yet not in such a way that this return is a reconciliation,


but rather that the strife, the struggle, is the object, as a
moment, however, of the Divinity itself.

This transition to spiritual religion contains, it is true,
concrete subjectivity within itself ; it is, however, the
free, imregulated play of this simple subjectivity ; it is
the development of it, yet a development which is still,
as it were, in a wild and effervescent state, and has not
as yet arrived at a state of tranquillity, at the true
spirituality which is essentially free.

As in India the parts of this development were seen
in an isolated state, so here the determinateness is in its
detached state, but in such wise that these elementary
powers of the Spiritual and the Natural are essentially
related to subjectivity, and so related that it is one single
subject which passes through these moments.

In the Indian religions, also, we had origination and
passing away, but not subjectivity, return into the One,
not One which itself passes through these forms and
differences, and in them and from out of them returns
into itself. It is this higher Power of subjectivity which,
when developed, lets the element of difference go out
of itself, but when enclosed within itself holds fast, or
rather overpowers the difference.

The one-sidedness of this form consists in the absence
of this pure unity of the Good, of the state of return, of
self-contained Being. This freedom which we have here
merely goes forth, merely impels itself forwards, but is
not as yet, so to speak, complete, perfect, is not as yet
such a beginning as would bring forth the end, the result.
It is, therefore, subjectivity in its reality, not as yet, how-
ever, in true, actual freedom, but in a state of fermenta-
tion going in and out of this reality.

The dualism of light and darkness begins to come to
unity here, and in such a way that this dark, this nega-
tive element, which, when intensified, even becomes evil,
is included within subjectivity itself. It is the essential
nature of subjectivity to unite opposite principles within


itself, to be the force or energy which is able to endure
this contradiction, and to dissolve it within itself.

Ormazd has always Ahiiman confronting him ; we also
find the idea, it is true, that Ahriman is at last overcome,
and Ormazd alone reigns ; but that is merely expressed
as something in the future, not as anything that belongs
to the present. God, Essence, Spirit, the True, must be
present, not transported in idea into the past or the
future. The Good — and this is the most immediate
demand — -must also be posited in actual fact as real
power in itself, and being conceived of as universal, must
thus be conceived of as real subjectivity.

What we have at the present standpoint is this unity
of subjectivity, and the fact that by means of these dis-
tinguished moments, affirmation passes through negation
itself, and ends with return into itself and reconciliation ;
in such a way, however, that the action of this subjec-
tivity is more the mere effervescence of it than the
subjectivity which has actually attained to itself com-
pletely, and already reached its consummation.

One single subject constitutes this difference, a some-
thing concrete in itself, one development. Thus this
subjectivity imports itself into developed powers, and so
unites them that they are set free. This subject has
a history, is the history of life, of Spirit, of movement
within itself, in which it breaks up into the differentia-
tion of tliese powers, and in differentiation this subject
converts itself into what is heterogeneous relatively to

Light does not become extinct, does not set, but here
it is one single subject, which alienates itself from itself,
is arrested in the negativity of itself, but reinstates itself
by its own act in and from out of this estrangement.
The result is the conception of free Spirit, not yet, how-
ever, as true ideality, but, to begin with, as merely the
impulse to bring the ideality into actual existence.

Here we have reached the ultimate determination of


natural religion in this sphere, and in fact the stage
which constitutes the transition to the religion of free
subjectivity. When we examine the stage of Parsiism,
we perceive it to be the resumption of the finite into the
essentially existent unity in which the Good determines
itself. This Good is, however, only implicitly concrete,
the determinateness is essentially simple, not as yet
determination made manifest; or, in other words, it is
still abstract subjectivity, and not as yet real subjectivity.
Accordingly, the next moment is, that outside of the realm
of the Good, Evil has been given a determinate character.
This determinateness is posited as simple, not developed ;
it is not regarded as determinateness, but merely as
universality, and therefore the development, the differ-
ence is not as yet present in it as differentiated ; what we
find rather is that one of the differentiated elements falls
outside of the Good. Things are good merely as lighted
up on their positive side only, not, however, on the side
of their particularity also. We now, in accordance with
the Notion, approach more nearly to the realm of real
actual subjectivity.

(a.) The characterisation or determination of the Notion
of this stage.

Material is not wanting for the determinations ; on
tfee contrary, even in this concrete region that material
presents itself with a determmate character. The differ-
ence lies merely in this, namely, whether the moments
of totality exist in a purely superficial, external form, or
whether they have their being in the inner and essential
element ; that is to say, whether they exist merely as
superficial, form and shape, or are posited, and thus
thought of as the determination of the content. It is
this that constitutes the enormous difference. In all
religions we meet with the mode of self-consciousness, to
a greater or less degree, and further with the predicates
of God, such as omnipotence, omniscience, &c. Among
the Hindus and Chinese we meet with sublime descrip-


tions of God, so that higher religions have no superiority
over them in this respect : these are so-called pure con-
ceptions of God (such, for example, as those in Priedrich
von Schlegel's " Weisheit der Indier"), and ave regarded
as survivals of the perfect original religion. In the
Eeligion of Light, too, we have already found that evil in
an individual form is everywhere done away with. Subjec-
tivity we have observed everywhere at the same time in
the concrete determination of self-consciousness. Even at
the stage of magic, the power of self-consciousness was
above Nature. What really constitutes the special diffi-
culty in the study of religion is that we have not to do
here, as in logic, with pure thought-determinations, nor
with existing ones, as in Nature, but with such as are not
wanting in the moment of self-consciousness, of finite
spirit in fact, since they have already run their course
through subjective and objective Spirit. For religion is
itself the self-consciousness of Spirit regarding its self,
and Spirit makes the different stages of self-consciousness
themselves, by which Spirit is developed into the object
of consciousness for itself. The content of the object is
God, the absolute Totality, and therefore the entire mani-
foldness of matter is never wanting. It is necessary, how-
ever, to seek more precisely for definite categories, which
form the differences of the religions. This difference is
especially sought for in the mode of working of the
Essence ; this last is everywhere, and yet is not ; it is
further made to turn on the question as to whether
there is or is not one God. This distinction is just as
little to be relied upon, for even in the Indian religion
there is to be found One God, and the difference then
merely consists in the mode in which the many divine
forms bind themselves together into unity. There are
several Englishmen who hold that the ancient Indian
religion contains the idea of tbe unity of God as a sun
or universal soul. But predicates of the understanding
such as these don't help us here.


When such predicates are given to God, we do not by
the help of these determinations get a knowledge of Him
in His true nature. They are even predicates of finite
Nature, for it, too, is powerful, is wise. Taken as re-
presenting a knowledge of God, they would be extended
over finite matter through the All. In this way, how-
ever, the predicates lose their definite meaning and are
transient, like the Trimurti in Brahma. What is
essential is contained in the One, in what is substantial,
immanent ; it is essential determination, which is con-
ceived and known as such. These are not the predicates
of reflection, not external form, but Idea {Idee).

Thus we have already had the determination of sub-
jectivity, of self-determination, but merely in a super-
ficial form, and not yet as constructing the nature of
God. In the Religion of Light, this determination was
abstract universal personification, because in the Person
the absolute moments are not contained as developed
or* unfolded. Subjectivity is just abstract identity with
self, is Being-within-itself, which differentiates itself, but
which is likewise the negativity of this difference, which
latter maintains itself in the difference, does not let it
escape out of itself, retains its sway over it, is in it,
but in it independently, has the difference within it

I. If we consider this in relation to the next form,
subjectivity is this negativity which relates itself to
itself, and the negative is no longer outside of the Good,
but rather it must be contained, posited in the affirmative
relation to self, and thus is, in fact, no longer the Evil.
Therefore the negative. Evil, must now no longer exist
outside of the Good. It is just the essential nature of
Good to be Evil, whereby of course Evil no longer re-
mains Evil, but as Evil relating itself to itself, annuls
its evil character and constitutes itself into Good. Good
is that negative relation to itself as its other by which
it posits Evil, just as the latter is the movement which


posits its negation as negative, that is to say, which
annuls it. This douLle movement is subjectivity. This
is no longer that which Brahma is ; in Brahma these
differences merely vanish, or, in so far as the difference
is posited, it is found as an independent god outside of

The first and essentially universal form of subjectivity
is not the perfectly free, purely spiritual subjectivity, but
is still affected by Nature. It is thus, it is true, universal
Power, but power which merely exists implicitly, such as
we have hitherto met with. As subjectivity it is, on the
contrary, posited actual power, and is so conceived of
when it is taken as exclusive subjectivity.

The distinction lies between power which is implicit
and power so far as it is subjectivity. This last is
posited power, is posited as power existent in its own
right. "We have already had power under every form.
As a first fundamental determination it is a crude power
over what has a bare existence ; then it is the inner
element only, and the distinctions or differences appear
as self -sustained existences outside of it ; existences which
have, it is true, proceeded out of it, but which outside of
it are independent, and which would have vanished, in
so far as they were comprehended in it. Just as dis-
tinctions vanish in Brahma, in this abstraction, when
self-consciousness says, " I am Brahma," and from that
moment everything that is divine, all that is good, has
vanished in him, so the abstraction has no content, and
the latter, in so far as it is outside of it, moves unsteadily
about in a state of independence. In relation to parti-
cular existences, power is the active agent, the basis ;
but it remains the inner element merely, and acts in a
universal way only. That which universal power brings
forth, in so Jar as it is implicit, is also the Universal, the
Laws of Nature ; these belong to the power which is
potentially existent. This power acts ; it is implicit
.power, its working likewise is implicit, it acts uncon-


sciously, and existing things, sucli as sun, stars, sea,
rivers, men, animals, &c., appear as independent exis-
tences ; their inner element only is determined by the
power. Power can only show itself in this sphere as in
opposition to the laws of nature, and here, accordingly,
would be the place of miracles. But among the Hindus
there are no miracles, for they have no rational intelli-
gent Xature. Nature has no intelligent co-relation ;
everything is miraculous, and therefore there are no
miracles. These latter cannot exist until the God is
determined as Subject, and as Power which has indepen-
dent Being, and works in the manner characteristic of
subjectivity. Where potentially existent Power is repre-
sented as subject, it is of no consequence in what form
it appears ; accordingly it is represented in human beings,
in animals, &o. That vital force acts as immediate
power cannot in any case be denied, since as power
which is implicitly existent it works invisibly without
showing itself.

From this power actual power must be distinguished ;
the latter is subjectivity, and in it two principal charac-
teristics are to l^e observed.

The first is that the subject is identical with itself,
and at the same time posits definite distinct determina-
tions within itself. There is one subject of these dis-
tinctions ; they are the moments of one subject. The
Good is thus the universal self-determination which is
so entirely universal that it has the very same undiffe-
rentiated extent as Essence ; determination is, in fact, not
posited as determination. To subjectivity belongs self-
determination, and this means that the determinations
present themselves as a plurality of determinations; that
they have this reality in relation to the Notion, in con-
trast to the simple self-involved Being of subjectivity.
But at first these determinations are still enclosed within
subjectivity, are inner determinations.

The second moment is that the subject is exclusive,


is negative relation of itself to itself, as power is, but in
relation to an Other. This Other is capable, too, of
appearing as independent, but it is involved in this that
the independence is only a semblance of independence,
or else it is of such a kind that its existence, its embodi-
ment, is merely a negative relatively to the power of
subjectivity, so that this last is what is dominant. Ab-
solute power does not hold sway; where there is the
exercise of ruling authority, the Other is swallowed up.
Here the latter abides, but obeys, serves as a means.

The unfolding of these moments has now to be further
considered. This process is of such a kind that it must
arrest itself within certain limits, and for this reason
especially, that we are as yet only in the transition to
subjectivity ; the latter does not appear in a free and
truthful form ; there is still an intermixture here of
substantial unity and subjectivity. On the one hand,
subjectivity does indeed unite everything; on the other
hand, however, since it is as yet immature, it leaves the
Other outside, and this intermixture has therefore the
defect of that with which it is still entangled, namely,
the religion of nature. In reference to the nature of
the form in which Spirit has its self-consciousness con-
cerning itself as the object of its consciousness, the stage
now before us presents itself as the transition from the
earlier forms to the higher stage of religion. Subjectivity
does not as yet exist on its own account or for itself, and
is consequently not yet free, but it is the middle point
between substance and free subjectivity. This stage is
therefore full of inconsistencies, and it is the problem of
subjectivity to purify itself. This is the stage of Mystery
or enigma.

In this fermenting process all the moments present
themselves. For this reason the consideration of this
standpoint of thought possesses especial interest, because
both stages, the preceding one of the religion of nature
and the following one of free subjectivity, appear here in


their principal moments, the two being not yet severed.
Accordingly there is here merely what is mysterious and
confused, and by means of the Notion alone can tlie clue
be obtained which indicates to which side such hetero-
geneous elements tend to come together, and to which of
the two sides the jsiincipal moments belong.

The God is still the inner nature here, implicit power,
and for that reason the form this power may wear is
accidental, is an arbitrary one. This merely implicitly
existent power may be invested with this or the other
human or animal form. The power is unconscious, active
intelligence, which is not spiritual. It is mere Idea, not
subjective Idea, however, but vitality void of conscious-
ness — in fact, life. This is not subjectivity, is not self, in
fact ; but if life is to be presented as outward form at
all, the form that lies nearest at hand for the purpose is
that of some living creature. Within life in general the
living, in fact, lies hidden ; what particular living creature,
what animal, what human being this may be is a matter
of indifference. We thus find zoolatry present at this
stage, and, indeed, in the greatest variety : in different
localities different animals are held in reverence or wor-

From the point of view of the Notion it is of more
importance that the subject is determined immanently
within itself, is in its reflection into itself, and this de-
termination is no longer the universal Good, though it
certainly is the Good, and thus has Evil over against it.
The next stage, however, is that actual subjectivity posits
differences in its determination, that differentiated Good
is posited here, an inner content ; and this content is of
a definite and not of a merely general or universal char-
acter. Not until differences can exist for me, not until
possibility of choice is present, and only to the extent in
which this is the case, is the subject an actual subject,
or, in other words, does freedom begin. In this way the
subject stands for the first time above particular ends, is


free from particularity, when the latter has not the range
of subjectivity itself, is no longer universal Good. It is
another thing when the Good is at the same time made
determinate, and is exalted into infinite wisdom. Here
a plurality of Good is determined, and thus subjectivity
occupies a position of superiority, and it appears as its
choice to desire one thing or the other; the subject is
posited as deciding, and it appears as the determining of
ends and of actions.

The God as substantial unity does not appear as acting ;
he annihilates, begets, is the basis of things, but does not
act. Brahma, for example, does not act ; independent
action is either merely imagined, or else pertains to the
changing incarnations. Yet it is only a limited end or
purpose which can come in here ; the subjectivity is
merely the primal subjectivity, of which the content
cannot as yet be infinite truth.

It is at this point, too, that the outward form is deter-
mined as human, and thus there is a transition of the
god from the animal to human form. In free subjectivity
the form which directly corresponds with such a con-
ception is the human one alone ; it is no longer life only,
but free determination in accordance with ends, therefore
the human character appears as the form, it may be a
particular subjectivity, a hero or an ancient king, &c.
Here where the particular ends make their appearance
as in the first form of subjectivity, the human form is
not of the indefinite kind represented by Ormazd. On
the contrary, specialised forms make their appearance,
which have special ends, and are characterised by an
element of locality. The principal moments coincide
with this. That is to say, to speak more precisely,

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 8 of 31)