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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developed definite character must show itself in the
subject ; the definite ends of action are limited, defined,
are not determinateness in its totality. Determinate
character must, however, show itself in the subject in
its totality too ; developed subjectivity must be beheld


in it. The moments are not, however, the totality of
the form, but present themselves in the first place as a
sequence, as a course of life, as different states of the
subject. Not until later does the subject as absolute
Spiiit arrive at the stage at which its moments are
potential or implicit totality. Here the subject is still
formal, still limited as regards determinate character,
although Form in its entirety belongs to it, and thus
there is still this limitation, that the moments are de-
veloped into form as states only, and not each one for
itself as a totality ; and it is not eternal history which
is beheld in the subject as constituting the subject's
nature, but merely the history of states or conditions.
The first is the moment of affirmation, the second is
negation, the third is the return of negation into itself.

2. The second moment is the one which is of most
importance here. Negation shows itself as a certain
state of the subject ; it is its alienation, death, in fact.
'J"he third is restoration, return to sovereignty. Death is
the most immediate way in which negation shows itself
in the subject, in so far as the latter has merely natural
form generally, and also definitely existing human form.
Further, this negation has besides the further character-
istic that since what is here is not eternal history, is not
the subject in its totality, this death comes to individual
existence as it were by means of an Other, and from
without, by means of the evil principle.

Here we have God as subjectivity generally, and the
most important moment in it is that negation is not
found outside, but is already within the subject itself,
and the subject is essentially a return into itself, is self-
contained existence. Being which is at home with itself.
This self-contained condition includes the difference which
consists in positing and having an Other of itself — nega-
tion — but likewise, in returning into itself, being with
self, identical with itself in this return.

There is One subject ; the moment of the negative, in


SO far as it is posited as natural in the character of what
belongs to nature, is death. It is therefore the death of
the god, and this characteristic presents itself for the first
time here.

The negative element, this abstract expression, has
very many determinations — it is change, in fact ; change
also contains partial death. In the natural sphere this
negation shows itself as death ; thus negation is still in
the natural sphere, and not as yet purely in Spirit, in
the spiritual subject as such.

If it is in Spirit, this negation shows itself in the
human being itself, in Spirit itself as this determination,
namely, that its natural will is for it another will ; it
distinguishes itself in its essence, in its spiritual character
from its natural will. This natural will is here negation,
and man comes to himself, is free Spirit, in overcoming
this natural character, in having the natural particularity,
this Other of rationality reconciled with rationality, and
so being at home with himself, not outside of himself.

It is only by means of this movement, of this course
of thought, that such inner harmony, such reconciliation,
comes to exist. If the natural will shows itself as Evil,
then negation shows itself as something fotmd. Man, in
the act of raising himself to his true nature, finds this
natural determination to be something opposed to what is

A higher conception, however, is that negation is that
which is posited by Spirit. Thus God is Spirit, in that
He begets His Son, the Other, posits the Other of
Himself, yet in Him is still with Himself, and beholds
Himself, and is eternal love. Here the negation is like-
wise the transient or vanishing element. This negation in
God is therefore that definite essential moment. Here,
however, we have only the general idea of subjectivity,
subjectivity in the general sense. Thus it comes to pass
that the subject itself passes through these different
states as its own states, in such a way that this negation



is immaneat in it. Then this determination, in so far
as this negation appears as a natural state, enters as the
determination of death, and the god appears here in the
character of subjectivity in his eternal history, and shows
himself to be the absolute Affirmative, which itself dies
— the moment of negation. He becomes alienated from
himself, loses himself, but through this loss of himself
finds himself again, returns to himself.

In this religion, then, it is one and the same subject
which passes through these different determinations.
The negative, which we had in the form of the Evil One,
Ahriman, implying that negation does not belong to the
self of Ormazd, belongs here to the self of the god.

We have already had negation in the form of death
too. In Hindu mythology there are many incarnations ;
Vishnu especially is the history of the world, and is now
in the eleventh or twelfth incarnation. The Dalailama
in like manner dies ; Indra, too, the g"d of the natural
sphere dies, and there are others who die and come back

But this dying is different from the negativity which
is in question here, namely, death in so far as it pertains
to the subject. As regards this difference, all depends
on the logical determinations. In all religions analogies
may be found, such ideas as those of God becoming man
and of incarnations. The name Krishna has even been
put side by side with that of Christ. Such comparisons,
however, although the objects , compared have something
in conmion, some similar characteristic, are utterly super-
ficial. The essential thing on which all depends is the
fuller cliaracterisation of the distinction, which last is

Thus the thousandfold dying of Indra is of a different
kind from that above referred to. The Substance remains
one and the same ; it forsakes merely the particular
individual body of the one Lama, but has directly chosen
for itself another. This dying, therefore, this negation,


has nothing to do with Substance, it is not posited in
the Self, in the subject as such. The negation is not
an actual inner moment, an immanent determination of
Substance, and tlie latter has not the pain of death
within itself.

Here, for the first time, we have the death of the god
as something within himself, implying that the negation
is immanent in his essential nature, in his very self, and
it is precisely owing to this that this god is essentially
characterised as Subject. The nature of a subject is to
give itself this otherness within itself, and through nega-
tion of itself to return to itself, to produce itself.

This death appears at first as something undignified ;
we have the idea that it is the lot of the finite to pass
away, and in accordance with this idea death, in so far as it
is spoken of in connection with God, is only transferred to
Him as a determination out of the sphere of that finite
which is inadequate to Him. God does not in this way
get to be truly known, but rather is debased by the
determination of negation. Over against that assertion
of the presence of death in the divine stands the demand
that God should be conceived of as a supreme Being,
only identical with himself, and this conception is
reckoned as the highest and most honourable, so that
it is only at the end that Spirit reaches it. If God be
thus conceived as the Supreme Being, He is without
content, and this is the poorest possible ddea of Him, and
quite an antiquated one. The first step of the objective
attitude is the step to this abstraction, to Brahma, in
whom no negativity is contained. Good, light, is like-
wise this abstraction, which has the negative -only out-
side of itself as darkness. From this abstraction an
advance is already made here to the concrete idea of
God, and in this way the moment of negation enters, at
first in this peculiar or special mode as death, inasmuch
ns God is now beheld in human form. And thus the
moment of death is to be ranked high, as an essential


moment of God Himself — as immanent in Essence. To
self-determination belongs the moment of inner, not out-
ward negativity, as is already implied in the expression
" self-determination." The death which here comes into
prominence is not like the death of the Lama, of Buddha,
of Indra, and other Indian deities, whose negativity is an
external one, and approaches them as a power that is
external to them. It is a sign that there has been an
advance toward conscious spirituality, to knowledge of
freedom, to the knowledge of God. This moment of
negation is an absolutely true moment of God. Death,
then, is a peculiar special form, in which negation makes
its appearance in an outward shape. By reason of the
divine totality the moment of immediate form must
become recognised in the divine Idea, for to it there
must be nothing wanting.

Thus the moment of negation is immanent in the
divine Notion, because it essentially belongs to it in its
outward manifestation. In the other religions we have
seen that the essential nature of God is merely deter-
mined as abstract Being-within-itself, absolute substan-
tiality of Himself. There death is not thought of as
belonging to substance, but is regarded merely as exter-
nal form, in which the god shows himself. It is quite
otherwise when it is an event which happens to the god
himself, and not merely to the individual in whom he
presents himself. It is thus the essential nature of God
which comes into prominence here in this determination.

3. But now, further, we have in close connection
with this the idea that G-od restores himself, rises from
the dead. The immediate god is not God. Spirit is
alone what, as being free in itself, exists by its own act,
what posits itself. This contains the moment of nega-
tion. The negation of the negation is the return into
self, and Spirit is the eternal return into self. Here
then at this stage we come upon Reconciliation. Evil,
death, is represented as vanquished, God is consequently


once more reinstated, restored again, and as thus eternally
returning into himself is he Spirit.

(b.) The concrete idea belonging to this stage.

In this religion, as it actually exists in the religion of
the Egyptians, there occur an infinite variety of forms
or figures. But the soul or animating principle of the
Whole is what constitutes the chief characteristic, and it
is brought into prominence in the principal figure. This
is Osiris, who in the first place, it is true, has negation
opposed to him as external, as other than himself, as
Typhon. This external relation is not, however, perma-
nent in the sense of being only a strife such as that
carried on by Ormazd ; on the contrary, negation makes
its entrance into the subject itself.

The subject is slain, Osiris dies, but he is eternally
restored again, and he is thus posited in popular con-
ception as born a second time, this birth not having a
natural character, but being posited as something apart
from what is natural or sensuous. He is consequently
posited, defined as belonging to the realm of general
ideas, to the region of the Spiritual, which endures above
and beyond the finite, not to the natural sphere as such.

Osiris is the God of popular conception, the God con-
ceived of or mentally represented in accordance with his
inner character. Accordingly in the idea that he dies,
but is likewise restored, it is expressly declared that he
is present in the realm of general ideas as opposed to
mere natural being.

But he is not only conceived of in this way ; he be-
comes Jcnoivn too as such. That does not mean the same
thing. As represented in the form of idea, Osiris is
defined as the ruler in the realm of Amenthes ; as he is
lord of the living, so also is he lord of what no longer
continues in sensuous existence, but of the continuously
existing soul, which has severed itself from the body,
from what is sensuous, perishable. The kingdom of the
dead is the realm where natural being is overcome, the


realm of ideas or ordinary thouglit where -what is pre-
served is precisely that which has not natural existence.

Typhon, Evil, is overcome, and likewise pain, and.
Osiiis is the judge in accordance with law and justice.
Evil is overcome, is condemned ; and with this the act
of judgment makes its first appearance, and does so as
what decides ; that is to say, Good has the power to
assert itself, and to annihilate the non-existent, the evil.

If We say Osiiis is a ruler of the dead, the dead are in
this case just such as are not held to be in the sensuous
natural sphere, but have independent continuous exist-
ence in a region beyond what is sensuous and natural.
Connected with this is the fact that the individual sub-
ject is known as continuous, as something withdrawn
from the region of the transitory, as something having
a. fixed, independent existence, something distinguished
from what is sensuous.

That is a thoroughly weighty saying of Herodotus re-
garding immortality, namely, that the Egyptians were
the first to declare that the soul of man is immortal. We
find this continued life, this metamorphosis in India and
China, but this, like the continued life of the individual,
the immortality of the Hindus, is itself merely some-
thing subordinate and unessential. What is with them
highest is not an affirmative permanent duration, but is
Nirvana, continuous existence in the state of annihilation
of the Affirmative, or only a semblance of affirmation,
the being identical with Brahma.

This identity, this union with Brahma, is at the same
time a melting away into this unity, which is, it is true,
seemingly affirmative, and yet is in itself utterly devoid
of determination and without differentiation. But what
we have here as a logical deduction is this : the highest
form of consciousness is subjectivity as such ; this is
totality, and is able to exist independently in itself ; it
is the idea of true independence or self- existence.

We call that independent or self- sustained which is


not in a condition of opposition, which rather overcomes
that opposition, does not contain a finite over against
itself, but has this opposition within itself, yet at the
same time has conquered there. This determination of
that subjectivity which is objective, which pertains to
the objective, namely, to God, is also the determination of
the subjective consciousness. This consciousness knows
itself as subject, as totality, true independent existence,
and consequently as immortal. With this knowledge the
higher destiny of man dawned upon consciousness.

This negation of the negation, namely, that death is
slain, that the evil principle is vanquished, is thus a
determination of supreme moment. Among the Parsis
that principle is not overcome, but the Good, Ormazd,
stands opposed to the Evil, Ahriman, and has not yet
arrived at this reflection. It is here in the Egyptian
religion that the vanquishing of the evil principle is for
the first time posited.

Herewith, accordingly, that determination comes in
which was mentioned above, and which we have already
recognised, namely, that this one who is born again, is
represented directly afterwards as having departed ; he
is ruler in the kingdom of Amenthes ; as he is Lord of
the living, so also is he Judge of the dead in accordance
with right and justice. Here for the first time right
and morality come in, in the determination of subjective
freedom ; both, on the contrary, are wanting in the God
of substantiality. So then there is a penalty or punish-
ment here, and the individual worth of man, which de-
termines itself in accordance with morality and right,
comes into prominence.

Around this Universal play an infinite number of
popular conceptions of deities. Osiris is only one of
these conceptions, and according to Herodotus is even
one of the latest ; but it is principally in the realm of
Amenthes as ruler of the dead, as Serapis, that he has
risen above all other gods as an object of supreme interest.


Herodotus, following the statements of the priests,
gives a series of Egyptian gods, and Osiris is to be found
here among the later ones. But the further development
of the religious consciousness takes place also within a
religion itself, and we have already seen in the Indian
religion that the worship of Vishnu and Siva is of later
date. In the sacred books of the Parsis Mithras is put
among the other Amshadspans, and stands on the same
level with them ; but Herodotus already gives prominence
to Mitliras, and at the time of the Eomans, when all
religions were brought to Eome, the worship of Mithras
was one of the principal religions, while the service of
Ormazd had not anything like the same importance.

Among the Egyptians, too, in the same manner Osiris
is said to be a deity of later date. It is well known
that in the time of the Eomans, Serapis, a special form
of Osiris, was the principal deity of the Egyptians, and
yet, although it was in later times that the idea of him
dawned upon the human mind, he is none the less the
deity in whom the totality of consciousness disclosed itself.

The antithesis contained in the Egyptian view accord-
ingly next loses its profound meaning and becomes a
superficial one. Typlion is physical evil and Osiris the
vitalising principle ; to the former belongs the barren
desert, and he is concei\'ed as the burning wind, the
scorching heat of the sun. Another antithesis is the
natural one of Osiris and Isis, the sun and the earth,
which is regarded as the principle of procreation generally.
Thus Osiris too dies, is vanquished by Typhon, and Isis
seeks everywhere for his bones : the god dies, here again
is this negation. The bones of Osiris are then buried;
he himself, however, has now become ruler of the kingdom
of the dead. Here we have the course of living nature,
a necessary cycle returning into itself. The same cycle
belongs also to the nature of Spirit, and the fate of
Osiris exhibits the expression of it. Here again the one
signifies the other.


To Osiris the other deities attach themselves; he is
the uniting point, and they are only single moments of
the totality which he represents. Thus Amnion is the
moment of the Sun, which characteristic also pertains
to Osiris. There are besides a great number of deities
which have been called the deities of the calendar,
because they have a relation to the natural revolutions
of the year. Particular periods of the year, like the
vernal equinox, the early summer, and the like, are
brought into prominence and personified in the deities
of the calendar.

Osiris, however, signifies what is spiritual, not only
what is natural ; he is a lawgiver, he instituted mar-
riage, taught agriculture and the arts. In these popular
conceptions are found historical allusions to ancient
kings : Osiris consequently contains historical features
too. In the same way the incarnations of Vishnu seem
to point to the conquest of Ceylon in the history of

Just as the special characteristics represented by
Mithras as being the most interesting were brought into
prominence, and the religion of the Parsis became the
worship of Mithras, so Osiris has become the central
point here ; not, however, in the immediate, but in the
spiritual and intellectual world.

What has been said implies that subjectivity exists at
first in the form of idea or ordinary thought here. We
have to do with a subject, with a spiritual being con-
ceived after a human fashion. This subject is not, how-
ever, a man in his immediate character, his existence not
being posited in the immediacy of human thought, but
in that of popular conception or ordinary thought.

It is a content which has moments, movement in it-
self, by means of which it is subjectivity, but is also in
the form, on the plane of spirituality, exalted above the
Natural. Thus the Idea (Idee) is posited in this region
of general conception, but is marked by the deficiency


consequent on its being merely a conception formed by
subjectivity, by subjectivity as resting on an abstract

The depths of the universal antithesis are not in it as
yet ; subjectivity is not yet grasped in its absolute univer-
sality and spiritual nature. Thus it is superficial, external

The content which is in idea or ordinary thought is
not bound to time ; it is posited in the region of Univer-
sality. The sensuous particularity which implies that
a thing exists at a definite time or in definite space is
stripped off. Everything, since it rests on a spiritual
basis, owing to the presence of general ideas, has univer-
sality, although very little of the sensuous is stripped
off — as, for example, in the idea of a house. The Univer-
sality is thus external Universality only, the possession
of certain common features.

That external Universality is still the predominating
principle here, is intimately connected with the fact that
the foundation, this idea of Universality, is not as yet
absolutely immersed in itself, is not as yet a filled up or
concrete basis in itself, which absorbs everything, and by
means of which natural tilings are posited idealh'.

In so far as this subjectivity is the Essence, it is
the universal basis, and the history which the subject is
becomes known at once as movement, life, as the history
of all things, of the immediate world. And so we have
the distinction which is implied in the fact that this
universal subjectivity is also the basis for the ISTatural.
It is the inner Universal, that which is the Substance of
the Natural.

We have, therefore, two elements here, the Natural
element and the inner Substance, and in this we have
what characterises symbolism. To natural Being a
foundation other than itself is attributed ; what is im-
mediate and sensuous acquires another substance. It is
no lon<Ter itself as immediate, but represents or means


sometliing Other than itself, which is its substance, its

Now in this abstract relation of things the history of
Osiris is the inner essential .history of the Natural too —
of the nature of Egypt. To this belong the sun, its
course in the heavens, the Nile, which fertilises and
which fluctuates. The history of Osiris is therefore the
history of the sun ; the sun goes onward till it reaches
its culminating point, then it returns ; its rays, its
strength, become feeble, but afterwards it begins to lift
itself up again — it is born anew.

Thus Osiris signifies the sun and the sun Osiris, the sun
being conceived of as this cycle. The year is considered
as the single subject, which in its own history runs its
course through these diverse states. In Osiris what
belongs to nature is conceived of as being a symbol of
the subject's history.

Thus Osiris is the Nile, which increases, renders
everything fruitful, overflows, and through the heat —
here the evil principle comes into play — becomes small
and impotent, then again recovers its strength. The
year, the sun, the Nile are conceived as this cycle which
returns into itself.

The special aspects of such a course are represented
as existing momentarily apart and in independence, as
a multitude of gods who indicate particular aspects or
moments of this cycle. Now, if it be said that the Nile
is the inner element, that the meaning of Osiris is the
sun, the Nile, and the other gods are calendar deities,
such a statement would not be withoiit truth. The one
is the kernel, the other what outwardly represents it,
the sign, the siguifier, by means of which this inner
element manifests itself externally. At the same time,
however, the course of the Nile is universal history, and
they may be taken as standing to each other in a reci-
procal relation, the one as the inner element and the
other as the form of representation or of apprehension.


"What really is that inner element is Osiris, the subject,

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 9 of 31)