Philosophy of Religion
From Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, together with a work on the
Proofs of the Existence of God, by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, translated
from the German by the Rev. E B Speirs and J Burdon Sanderson.
Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
A. Religion & its pre-suppositions
B. Preliminary Questions
C. Division of Subject
It has appeared to me to be necessary to make religion by itself the object of philosophical consideration, and to add on this study of it, in the form of a special part, to philosophy as a whole. By way of introduction I shall, however, first of all (A) give some account of the severance or division of consciousness, which awakens the need our science has to satisfy, and describe the relation of this science to philosophy and religion, as also to the prevalent principles of the religious consciousness. Then, after I have (B) touched upon some preliminary questions which follow from those relations, I shall give (C) the division of the subject.
To begin with, it is necessary to recollect generally what object we have before us in the Philosophy of Religion, and what is our ordinary idea of religion. We know that in religion we withdraw ourselves from what is temporal, and that religion is for our consciousness that region in which all the enigmas of the world are solved, all the contradictions of deeper-reaching thought have their meaning unveiled, and where the voice of the heart's pain is silenced - the region of eternal truth, of eternal rest, of eternal peace. Speaking generally, it is through thought, concrete thought, or, to put it more definitely it is by reason of his being Spirit, that man is man; and from man as Spirit proceed all the many developments of the sciences and arts, the interests of political life, and all those conditions which have reference to mail's freedom and will. But all these manifold forms of human relations, activities, and pleasures, and all the ways in which these are intertwined; all that has worth and dignity for man, all wherein he seeks his happiness, his glory, and his pride, finds its ultimate centre in religion, in the thought, the consciousness, and the feeling of God. Thus God is the beginning of all things, and the end of all things. As all things proceed from this point, so all return back to it again. He is the centre which gives life and quickening to all things, and which animates and preserves in existence all the various forms of being. In religion man places himself in a relation to this centre, in which all other relations concentrate themselves, and in so doing he rises up to the highest level of consciousness and to the religion which is free from relation to what is other than itself, to something which is absolutely self-sufficient, the unconditioned, what is free, and is its own object and end.
Religion, as something which is occupied with this final object and end, is therefore absolutely free, and is its own end; for all other aims converge in this ultimate end, and in presence of it they vanish and cease to have value of their own. No other aim can hold its ground against this, and here alone all find their fulfilment.
In the relation where the spirit occupies itself with this end, it unburdens itself of all finiteness, and wills for itself final satisfaction and deliverance; for here the spirit relates itself no longer to something that is other than itself, and that is limited, but to the unlimited and infinite, and this is an infinite relation, a relation of freedom and no longer of dependence. Here its consciousness is absolutely free, and is indeed true consciousness, because it is consciousness of absolute truth. In its character as feeling, this condition of freedom is the sense of satisfaction which we call blessedness, while as activity it has nothing further to do than to manifest the honour of God and to reveal His glory, and in this attitude it is no longer with himself that man is concerned with his own interests or his empty pride - but with the absolute end. All the various peoples feel that it is in the religious consciousness they possess truth, and they have always regarded religion as constituting their true dignity and the Sabbath of their life. Whatever awakens in us doubt and fear, all sorrow, all care, all the limited interests of finite life, we leave behind on the shores of time; and as from the highest peak of a mountain, far away from all definite view of what is earthly, we look down calmly upon all the limitations of the landscape and of the world, so with the spiritual eye man, lifted out of the hard realities of this actual world, contemplates it as something having only the semblance of existence, which seen from this pure region bathed in the beams of the spiritual still, merely reflects back its shades of colour, its varied tints and lights, softened away into eternal rest. In this region of spirit flow the streams of forgetfulness from which Psyche drinks, and in which she drowns all sorrow, while the dark things of this life are softened away into a dream-like vision, and become transfigured until they are a mere framework for the brightness of the Eternal.
This image of the Absolute may have a more or less present vitality and certainty for the religions and devout mind, and be a present source of pleasure; or it may be represented as something longed and hoped for, far off, and in the future. Still it always remains a certainty, and its rays stream as something divine into this present temporal life, giving the consciousness of the active presence of truth, even amidst the anxieties which torment the soul here in this region of time. Faith recognises it in this last case he is inwardly occupied with it, and cannot free himself from it. As man, religion is essential to him, and is not a feeling foreign to his nature.
Yet the essential question is the relation of religion to his general theory of the universe, and it is with this that philosophical knowledge connects itself, and upon which it essentially works.
In this relation we have the source of the division which arises in opposition to the primary absolute tendency of the. spirit toward religion, and here, too, all the manifold forms of consciousness, and their most widely differing connections with the main interest of religion, have sprung up. Before the Philosophy of Religion can sum itself up in its own peculiar conception, it must work itself through all those ramifications of the interests of the time which have at present concentrated themselves in the widely-extended sphere of religion. At first the movement of the principles of the time has its place outside of philosophical study, but this movement pushes on to the point at which it comes into contact, strife, and antagonism with philosophy.
We shall consider this opposition and its solution when we have examined the opposition as it still maintains itself outside of philosophy, and have seen it develop until it reaches that completed state where it involves philosophical knowledge in itself.
A. Relation of the Philosophy of Religion to its Pre-suppositions
Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
A. The Relation of the Philosophy of Religion to its Presuppositions and to the Principles of the Time.
I. - The Severance of Religion from the Free, Worldly Consciousness.
a. In the relation in which religion, even in its immediacy, stands to the other forms of the consciousness of man, there already lie germs of division, since both sides are conceived of as in a condition of separation relatively to each other. In their simple relation they already constitute two kinds of pursuits, two different regions of consciousness, and we pass to and fro from the one to the other alternately only. Thus man has in his actual worldly life a number of working days during which he occupies himself with his own special interests, with worldly aims in general, and with the satisfaction of his needs; and then he has a Sunday, when he lays all this aside, collects his thoughts, and, released from absorption in finite occupations, lives to himself and to the higher nature which is in him, to his true essential being. But into this separateness of the two sides there directly enters a double modification.
(a.) Let us consider first of all the religion of the godly man; that is, of one who truly deserves to be so called. Faith is still presupposed as existing irrespective of, and without opposition to, anything else. To believe in God is thus in its simplicity, something different from that where a man, with reflection and with the consciousness that something else stands opposed to this faith, says, " I believe in God." Here the need of justification, of inference, of controversy, has already come in. Now that religion of the simple, godly man is not kept shut off and divided from the rest of his existence and life, but, on the contrary, it breathes its influence over all his feelings and actions, and his consciousness brings all the aims and objects of his worldly life into relation to God, as to its infinite and ultimate source. Every moment of his finite existence and activity, of his sorrow and joy, is lifted up by him out of his limited sphere, and by being thus lifted up produces in him the idea and sense of his eternal nature. The rest of his life, in like manner, is led under the conditions of confidence, of custom, of dutifulness, of habit; he is that which circumstances and nature have made him, and be takes his life, his circumstances, and rights as he receives everything, namely, as a lot or destiny which he does not understand. It is so. In regard to God, he either takes what is His and gives thanks, or else he offers it up to Him freely as a gift of free grace. The rest of his conscious life is thus subordinated, without reflection, to that higher region.
(b.) From the worldly side, however, the distinction involved in this relation develops until it becomes opposition. It is true that the development of this side does not seem to affect religion injuriously, and all action seems to limit itself strictly to that side in the matter. Judging from what is expressly acknowledged, religion is still looked upon as what is highest; but as a matter of fact it is not so, and starting from the worldly side, ruin and disunion creep over into religion. The development of this distinction may be generally designated as the maturing of the understanding and of human aims. While understanding awakens in human life and in science, and reflection has become independent, the will sets before itself absolute aims; for example, justice, the state, objects which are to have absolute worth, to be in and for themselves. Thus research recognises the laws, the constitution, the order, and the peculiar characteristics of natural things, and of the activities and productions of Spirit. Now these experiences and forms of knowledge, as well as the willing and actual carrying out of these aims, is a work of man, both of his understanding and will. In them he is in presence of what is his own. Although he sets out from what is, from what he finds, yet he is no longer merely one who knows, who has these rights; but what he makes out of that which is given in knowledge and in will is his affair, his work, and he has the consciousness that he has produced it. Therefore these productions constitute his glory and his pride, and provide for him an immense, an infinite wealth - that world of his intelligence, of his knowledge, of his external possession, of his rights and deeds.
Thus the spirit has entered into the condition of opposition - as yet, it is true, artlessly, and without at first knowing it - but the opposition comes to be a conscious one, for the spirit now moves between two sides, of which the distinction has actually developed itself. The one side is that in which the spirit knows itself to be its own, where it lives in its own aims and interests, and determines itself on its own authority as independent and self-sustaining. The other side is that where the spirit recognises a higher Power - absolute duties, duties without rights belonging to them, and what the spirit receives for the accomplishment of its duties is always regarded as grace alone. In the first instance it is the independence of the spirit which is the foundation, here its attitude is that of humility and dependence. Its religion is accordingly distinguished from what we have in that region of independence by this, that it restricts knowledge, science, to the worldly side, and leaves for the sphere of religion, feeling and faith.
(g.) Notwithstanding, that aspect of independence involves this also, that its action is conditioned, and knowledge and will must have experience of the fact that it is thus conditioned. Man demands his right; whether or not he actually gets it, is something independent of his efforts, and he is referred in the matter to an Other. In the act of knowledge he sets out from the organisation and order of nature, and this is something given. The content of his sciences is a material outside of him. Thus the two sides, that of independence and that of conditionality, enter into relation with each other, and this relation leads man to the avowal that everything is made by God - all things which constitute the content of his knowledge, which he takes possession of, and uses as means for his ends, as well as he himself, the spirit and the spiritual faculties of which he, as he says, makes use, in order to attain to that knowledge.
But this admission is cold and lifeless, because that which constitutes the vitality of this consciousness, in which it is "at home with itself," and is self-consciousness, this insight, this knowledge are wanting, in it. All that is determined comes, on the contrary, to be included in the sphere of knowledge, and of human, self-appointed aims, and here, too, it is only the activity belonging to self-consciousness which is present. Therefore that admission is unfruitful too, because it does not get beyond the abstract - universal, that is to say, it stops short at the thought that all is a work of God, and with regard to objects which are absolutely different (as, for example, the course of the stars and their laws, ants, or men), that relation continues for it fixed at one and the same point, namely this, that God has made all. Since this religious relation of particular objects is always expressed in the same monotonous manner, it would become tedious and burdensome if it were repeated in reference to each individual thing. Therefore the matter is settled with the one admission, that God has made everything, and this religious side is thereby satisfied once for all, and then in the progress of knowledge and the pursuit of aims nothing further is thought of the matter. It would accordingly appear that this admission is made simply and solely in order to get rid of the whole business, or perhaps it may be to get protection for the religious side as it were relatively to what is without. In short, such expressions may be used either in earnest or not.
Piety does not weary of lifting up its eyes to God on all and every occasion, although it may do so daily and hourly in the same manner. But as religious feeling, it really rests in singleness or single instances; it is in every moment wholly what it is, and is without reflection and the consciousness which compares experiences. It is here, on the contrary, where knowledge and self-determination are concerned, that this comparison, and the consciousness of that sameness, are essentially present, and then a general proposition is enunciated once for all. On the one side we have understanding playing its part, while over against it is the religions feeling of dependence.
b.Even piety is not exempt from the fate of falling into a state of division or dualism. On the contrary, division is already present in it implicitly, in that its actual content is only a manifold, accidental one. These two attitudes, namely, that of piety and of the understanding that compares, however different they seem to be, have this in common, that in them the relation of God to the other side of consciousness is undetermined and general. The second of these attitudes has indicated and pronounced this unhesitatingly in the expression already quoted, "God has created all."
(a.) The manner of looking at things, however, which is followed by the religious man, and whereby he gives a greater completeness to his reflection, consists in the contemplation of the constitution and arrangement of things according to the relations of ends, and similarly in the regarding all the circumstances of individual life, as well as the great events of history, as proceeding from Divine purposes, or else as directed and leading back to such. The universal divine relation is thus not adhered to here. On the contrary, this becomes a definite relation, and consequently a more strictly defined content is introduced - for the manifold materials are placed in relation to one another, and God is then considered as the one who brings about these relations. Animals and their surroundings are accordingly regarded as beings definitely regulated, in that they have food, nurture their young are provided with weapons as a defence against g' what is hurtful, stand the winter, and can protect themselves against enemies. In human life it is seen how man is led to happiness, whether it be eternal or temporal, by means of this or that apparent accident, or perhaps misfortune. In short, the action, the will of God, is contemplated here in definite dealings, conditions of nature, occurrences, and such-like.
But this content itself, these ends, representing thus a finite content, are accidental, are taken up only for the moment, and even directly disappear in an inconsistent and illogical fashion. If, for example, we admire the wisdom of God in nature because we see how animals are provided with weapons, partly to obtain their food and partly to protect them against enemies, yet it is presently seen in experience that these weapons are of no avail, and that those creatures which have been considered as ends are made use of by others as means.
It is therefore really progressive knowledge which has depreciated and supplanted this external contemplation of ends; that higher knowledge, namely, which, to begin with, at least demands consistency, and recognises ends of this kind, which are taken as Divine ends, as subordinate and finite - as something which proves itself in the very same experience and observation to be worthless, and not to be an object of the eternal, divine Will.
If that manner of looking at the matter be accepted, and if, at the same time, its inconsistency be disregarded, yet it still remains indefinite and superficial, for the very reason that all and every content - no matter what it be - may be included in it; for there is nothing, no arrangement of nature, no occurrence, which, regarded in some aspect or other, might not be shown to have some use. Religious feeling is, in short, here no Ionger present in its naive and experimental character. On the contrary, it proceeds from the universal thought of an end, of a good, and makes inferences, inasmuch as it subsumes present things under these universal thoughts. But this argumentation, this inferential process, brings the religious man into a condition of perplexity, because however much he may point to what serves a purpose, and is useful in this immediate world of natural things, he sees, in contrast to all this, just as much that does not serve a purpose, and is injurious. What is profitable to one person is detrimental to another, and therefore does not serve a purpose. The preservation of life and of the interests bound up with existence, which in the one case is promoted, is in the other case just as much endangered and put a stop to. Thus an implicit dualism or division is involved here, for in contradiction to God's eternal manner of operation, finite things are elevated to the rank of essential ends. The idea of God and of His manner of operation as universal and necessary is contradicted by this inconsistency, which is even destructive of that universal character.
Now if the religious man considers external ends and the externality of the whole matter in accordance with which these things are profitable for an Other, the natural determinateness, which is the point of departure, appears indeed to be only for an Other. But this, more closely considered, is its own relation, its own nature, the immanent nature of what is related, its necessity, in short. Thus it is that the actual transition to the other side, which was formerly designated as the moment of selfness, conies about for ordinary religious thought.
(b.) Religious feeling, accordingly, is forced to abandon its argumentative process; and now that a beginning has once been made with thought, and with the relations of thought, it becomes necessary, above all things to thought, to demand and to look for that which belongs to itself namely, first of all consistency and necessity, and to place itself in opposition to that standpoint of contingency. And with this, the principle of selfness at once develops itself completely. I," as simple, universal, as thought, am really relation since I am for myself, am self-consciousness, the relations too are to be for me. To the thoughts, ideas which I make my own, I give the character which I myself am. I am this simple point, and that which is for me I seek to apprehend in this unity.
Knowledge so far aims at that which is, and the necessity of it, and apprehends this in the relation of cause and effect, reason and result, power and manifestation; in the relation of the Universal, of the species and of the individual existing things which are included in the sphere of contingency. Knowledge, science, in this manner places the manifold material in mutual relation, takes away from it the contingency which it has through its immediacy, and while contemplating the relations which belong to the wealth of finite phenomena, encloses the world of finiteness in itself so as to form a system of the universe, of such a kind that knowledge requires nothing for this system outside of the system itself. For what a thing is, what it is in its essential determinate character, is disclosed when it is perceived and made the subject of observation. From the constitution of things, we proceed to their connections in which they stand in relation to all Other; not, however in an accidental, but in a determinate relation, and in which they point back to the original source from which they are a deduction. Thus we inquire after the reasons and causes of things; and the meaning of inquiry here is, that what is desired is to know the special causes. Thus it is no longer sufficient to speak of God as the cause of the lightning, or of the downfall of the Republican system of government in Rome, or of the French Revolution; here it is perceived that this cause is only an entirely general one, and does not yield the desired explanation. What we wish to know regarding a natural phenomenon, or regarding this or that law as effect or result, is, the reason as the reason of this particular phenomenon that is to say. not the reason which applies to all things, but only and exclusively to this definite thing. And thus the reason must be that of such special phenomena, and such reason or ground must be the most immediate, must be sought and laid hold of in the finite and must itself be a finite one. Therefore this knowledge does not go above or beyond the sphere of the finite, nor does it desire to do so, since it is able to apprehend all in its finite sphere, is conversant with everything, and knows its course of action. In this manner science forms a universe of knowledge, to which God is not necessary, which lies outside of religion, and has absolutely nothing to do with it. In this kingdom knowledge spreads itself out in its relations and connections, and in so doing has all determinate material and content on its side; and for the other side, the side of the infinite and the eternal, nothing whatever is left.
(g.) Thus both sides have developed themselves completely in their opposition, on the side of religion the heart is filled with what is Divine, but without freedom, or self-consciousness, and without consistency in regard to what is determinate, this latter having, on the contrary, the form of contingency. Consistent connection of what is determinate belongs to the side of knowledge, which is at home in the finite, and moves freely in the thought-determinations of the manifold connections of things, but can only create a system which is without absolute substantiality - without God. The religious side gets the absolute material and purpose, but only as something abstractly positive. Knowledge has taken possession of all finite material and drawn it into its territory, all determinate content has fallen to its share; but although it gives it a necessary connection, it is still unable to give it the absolute connection. Since finally science has taken possession of knowledge, and is the conscious ness of the necessity of the finite, religion has become devoid of knowledge, and has shrivelled up into simple feeling, into the contentless or empty elevation of the spiritual to the Eternal. It can, however, affirm nothing regarding the Eternal for all that could be regarded knowledge would be a drawing down of the Eternal into the sphere of the finite, and of finite connections of things.
Now when two aspects of thought, which are so developed in this way, enter into relation with one another, their attitude is one of mutual distrust. Religious feeling distrusts the finiteness which lies in knowledge, and it brings against science the charge of futility, because in it the subject clings to itself, is in itself, and the "I" as the knowing subject is independent in relation to all that is external. On the other hand, knowledge has a distrust of the totality in which feeling entrenches itself, and in which it confounds together all extension and development. It is afraid to lose its freedom should it comply with the demand of feeling and unconditionally recognise a truth which it does not definitely understand. And when religious feeling comes out of its universality, sets ends before itself, and passes over to the determinate, knowledge can see nothing but arbitrariness in this, and if it were to pass in a similar way to anything definite, would feel itself given over to mere contingency. When, accordingly, reflection is fully developed, and. has to pass over into the domain of religion, it is unable to hold out in that region, and becomes impatient with regard to all that peculiarly belongs to it.
c. Now that the opposition has arrived at this stage of development, where the one side, whenever it is approached by the other, invariably thrusts it away from it as an enemy, the necessity for an adjustment comes in, of such a kind that the infinite shall appear in the finite, and the finite in the infinite, and each no longer form a separate realm. This would be the reconciliation of religious, genuine simple feeling, with knowledge and intelligence. This reconciliation must correspond with the highest demands of knowledge, and of the Notion, for these can surrender nothing of their dignity. But just as little can anything of the absolute content be given up, and that content be brought down into the region of finiteness; and when face to face with it knowledge must give up its finite form. In the Christian religion, more than in other religions, the need of this reconciliation has of necessity come into prominence, for the following reasons: -
(a.) The Christian religion has its very beginning in absolute dualism. or division, and starts from that sense of suffering in which it rends the natural unity of the spirit asunder, and destroys natural peace. In it man appears as evil from his birth, and is thus in his innermost life in contradiction with himself, and the spirit, as it is driven back into itself, finds itself separated from the infinite, absolute Essence.
(b.) The Reconciliation, the need of which is here intensified to the uttermost degree, appears in the first place for Faith, but not in such a way as to allow of faith being of a merely ingenuous kind. For the spirit has left its natural simplicity behind, and entered upon an internal conflict; it is, as sinful, an Other in opposition to the truth; it is withdrawn, estranged from it. "I," in this condition of schism, am not the truth, and this is therefore given as an independent content of ordinary thought, and the truth is in the first instance put forward upon authority.
(g.) When, however, by this means I am transplanted into an intellectual world in which the nature of God, the characteristics and modes of action which below, to God, are presented to knowledge, and when the truth of these rests on the witness and assurance of others, yet I am at the same time referred into myself, for thought, knowledge, reason are in me, and in the feeling of sinfulness, and in reflection upon this, my freedom is plainly revealed to me. Rational. knowledge, therefore, is an essential element in the Christian religion itself.
In the Christian religion I am to retain my freedom or rather, in it I am to become free. In it the subject, the salvation of the soul, the redemption of the individual as an individual, and not only the species, is an essential end. This subjectivity, this selfness (not selfishness) is just the principle of rational knowledge itself.
Rational knowledge being thus a fundamental characteristic in the Christian religion, the latter gives development to its content, for the ideas regarding its general subject-matter are implicitly or in themselves thoughts, and must as such develop themselves. On the other hand, however, since the content is something, which exists essentially for the mind as forming ideas, it is distinct from unreflecting opinion and sense-knowledge, and as it were passes right beyond the distinction. In short, it has in relation to subjectivity the value of an absolute content existing in and for itself. The Christian religion therefore touches the antithesis between feeling and immediate perception on the one hand, and reflection and knowledge on the other. It contains rational knowledge as an essential element, and has supplied to this rational knowledge the occasion for developing itself to its full logical issue as Form and as a world of form, and has thus at the same time enabled it to place itself in opposition to this content as it appears in the shape of given truth. It is from this that the discord which characterises the thought of the present day arises. Hitherto we have considered the progressive growth of the antitheses only in the form in which they have not yet developed into actual philosophy, or in which they still stand outside of it. Therefore the questions which primarily come before us are these: 1. How does philosophy in general stand related to religion? 2. How does the Philosophy of Religion stand related to philosophy? and 3. What is the relation of the philosophical study of religion to positive religion
II. - The Position of the Philosophy of Religion Relatively to Philosophy and to Religion.
1. The Attitude of Philosophy to Religion generally
In saying above that philosophy makes religion the subject of consideration, and when further this consideration of it appears to be in the position of something which is different from its object, it would seem as if we are still occupying that attitude in which both sides remain mutually independent and separate. In taking up such an attitude in thus considering the subject, we should accordingly come out of that region of devotion and enjoyment which religion is, and the object and the consideration of it as the movement of thought would be as different as, for example, the geometrical figures in mathematics are from the mind which considers them. Such is only the relation, however, as it at first appears, when knowledge is still severed from the religious side, and is finite knowledge. On the contrary, when we look more closely, it becomes apparent that as a matter of fact the content, the need, and the interest of philosophy represent something which it has in common with religion.
The object of religion as well as of philosophy is eternal truth in its objectivity, God and nothing but God, and the explication of God. Philosophy is not a wisdom of the world, but is knowledge of what is not of the world - it is not knowledge which concerns external mass, or empirical existence and life, but is knowledge of that which is eternal, of what God is, and what flows out of His nature. For this His nature must reveal and develop itself. Philosophy, therefore, only unfolds itself when it unfolds religion, and in unfolding itself it unfolds religion. As thus occupied with eternal truth which exists on its own account, or is in and for itself, and, as in fact, a dealing on the part of the thinking spirit, and not of individual caprice and particular interest, with this object, it is the same kind of activity as religion is. The mind in so far as it thinks philosophically immerses itself with like living interest in this object, and renounces its particularity in that it permeates its object, in the same way, as religious consciousness does, for the latter also does not seek to have anything of its own, but desires only to immerse itself in this content.
Thus religion and philosophy come to be one. Philosophy is itself, in fact, worship; it is religion, for in the same way it renounces subjective notions and opinions in order to occupy itself with God. Philosophy is thus identical with religion, but the distinction is that it is so in a peculiar manlier, distinct from the manner of looking at things which is commonly called religion as such. What they have in common is, that they are religion; what distinguishes them from each other is merely the kind and manner of religion we find in each. It is in the peculiar way in which they both occupy themselves with God that the distinction comes out. It is just here, however, that the difficulties lie which appear so great, that it is even regarded as an impossibility that philosophy should be one with religion. Hence conies the suspicion with which philosophy is looked upon by theology, and the antagonistic attitude of religion and philosophy. In accordance with this antagonistic attitude (as theology considers it to be) philosophy seems to act injuriously, destructively, upon religion, robbing it of its sacred character, and the way in which it occupies itself with God seems to be absolutely different from religion. Here, then, is the same old opposition and contradiction which had already made its appearance among the Greeks. Among that free democratic people, the Athenians, philosophical writings were burnt, and Socrates was condemned to death; now, however, this opposition is held to be an acknowledged fact, more so than that unity of religion and philosophy just asserted.
Old though this opposition is, however, the combination of philosophy and religion is just as old. Already to the neo-Pythagoreans and neo-Platonists, who were as yet within the heathen world, the gods of the people were not cods of imagination, but had become gods of thought. That combination had a place, too, among the most eminent of the Fathers of the Church, who in their religious life took up an essentially intellectual attitude inasmuch as they set out from the presupposition that theology is religion together with conscious thought and comprehension. It is to their philosophical culture that the Christian Church is indebted for the first beginnings of a content of Christian doctrine.
This union of religion and philosophy was carried out to a still-greater extent in the Middle Ages. So little was it believed that the knowledge which seeks to comprehend is hurtful to faith, that it was even held to be essential to the further development of faith itself. It was by setting out from philosophy that those great men, Anselm and Abelard, further developed the essential characteristics of faith.
Knowledge in constructing its world for itself, without reference to religion, had only taken possession of the finite contents; but since it has developed into the true philosophy, it has the same content as religion. If we now look provisionally for the distinction between religion and philosophy as it presents itself in this unity or content, we find it takes the following form: -
a. A speculative philosophy is the consciousness of the Idea, so that everything is apprehended as Idea; the Idea, however, is the True in thought, and not in mere sensuous contemplation or in ordinary conception. The True in thought, to put it more precisely, means that it is something concrete, posited as divided in itself, and in such away, indeed, that the two sides of what is divided are opposed characteristics of thought, and the Idea must be conceived of as the unity of these. To think speculatively means to resolve anything real into its parts, and to oppose these to each other in such a way that the distinctions are. set in opposition in accordance with the characteristics of thought, and the object is apprehended as unity of the two.
In sense-perception or picture-thought we have the object before us as a whole, our reflection distinguishes, apprehends different sides, recognises the diversity in them, and severs them. In this act of distinguishing reflection does not keep firm hold of their unity. Sometimes it forgets the wholeness, sometimes the distinctions and if it has both before it, it yet separates the properties from the object, and so places both that that in which the two are one becomes a third, which is different from. the object and its properties. In the case of mechanical objects which appear in the region of externality, this relation may have a place, for the object is only the lifeless substratum for the distinctions, and the quality of oneness is the gathering together of external aggregates
In the true object, however, which is not merely an aggregate, an externally united multiplicity, the object is one, although it has characteristics which are distinguished from it, and it is speculative thought which first gets a grasp of the unity in this very antithesis as such. It is in fact the business of speculative thought to apprehend all objects of pure thought, of nature and of Spirit, in the form of thought, and thus as the unity of the difference.
b. Religion, then, is itself the standpoint of the consciousness of the True, which is in and for itself, and is consequently the stage of Spirit at which the speculative content generally is object for consciousness. Religion is not consciousness of this or that truth in individual objects, but of the absolute truth, of truth as the Universal, the All-comprehending outside of which there lies nothing at all. The content of its consciousness is further the Universally True, which exists on its own account or in and for itself, which determines itself, and is not determined from without. While the finite required an Other for its determinateness, the True has its determinateness, the limit, its end in itself; it is not limited through an Other, but the Other is found in itself. It is this speculative element which comes to consciousness in religion. Truth is, indeed, contained in every other sphere, but not the highest absolute truth, for this exists only in perfect universality of characterisation or determination, and in the fact of being determined in and for itself, which is not simple determinateness having reference to an Other, but contains the Other, the difference in its very self.
c. Religion is accordingly this speculative element in the form, as it were, of a state of consciousness, of which the aspects are not simple qualities of thought, but are concretely filled up. These moments can be no other than the moment of Thought, active universality, thought in operation, and reality as immediate, particular self-consciousness.
Now, while in philosophy the rigidity of these two sides loses itself through reconciliation in thought, be cause both sides are thoughts, and the one is not pure universal thought, and the other of an empirical and individual character, religion only arrives at the enjoyment of unity by lifting these two rigid extremes out of this state of severance, by rearranging them, and bringing them together again. But by thus stripping off the form of dualism from its extremes, rendering the opposition in the element of Universality fluid, and bringing it to reconciliation, religion remains always akin to thought, even in its form and movement; and philosophy, as simply active thought, and thought which unites opposed elements, has approached closely to religion. The contemplation of religion in thought has thus raised the determinate moments of religion to the rank of thoughts, and the question is how this contemplation of religion in thought is related generally to philosophy as forming an organic part in its system.
2. The Relation of the Philosophy of Religion to the System of Philosophy.
a. In philosophy, the Highest is called the Absolute, the Idea; it is superfluous to go further back here, and to mention that this Highest was in the Wolfian Philosophy called ens, Thing,; for that at once proclaims itself an abstraction, which corresponds very inadequately to our idea of God. In the more recent philosophy, the Absolute is not so complete an abstraction, but yet it has not on that account the same signification as is implied in the term, God. In order even to make the difference apparent, we must in the first place consider what the word signify itself signifies. When we ask, What does this or that signify we are asking about two kinds of things, and, in fact, about things which are opposed. In the first place, we call what we are thinking of, the meaning, the end or intention, the general thought of this or that expression, work of art, &c.; if we ask about its intrinsic character, it is essentially the thought that is in it of which we wish to have an idea. When we thus ask "What is God?" "What does the expression God signify?" it is the thought involved in it that we desire to know; the idea we possess already.
Accordingly, what is signified here is that we have got to specify the Notion, and thus it follows that the Notion is the signification; it is the Absolute, the nature of God as grasped by thought, the logical knowledge of this, to which we desire to attain. This, then, is the one signification of signification, and so far, that which we call the Absolute has a meaning identical with the expression God.
b. But we put the question again, in a second sense, according to which it is the opposite of this which is sought after. When we begin to occupy ourselves with pure thought-determinations, and not with outward ideas, it may be that the mind does not feel satisfied, is not at home, in these, and asks what this pure thought-determination signifies. For example, every one can understand for himself what is meant by the terms unity, objective, subjective, &c., and yet it may very well happen that the specific form of thought we call the unity of subjective and objective, the unity of real and ideal, is not understood. What is asked for in such a case is the meaning in the very opposite sense from that which was required before. Here it is an idea or a pictorial conception of the thought - determination which is demanded, an example of the content, which has as yet only been given in thought. If we find a thought content difficult to understand, the difficulty lies in this, that we possess no pictorial idea of it; it is by means of an example that it becomes clear to us, and that the mind first feels at home with itself in this content. When, accordingly, we start with the ordinary conception of God, the Philosophy of Religion has to consider its signification - this, namely, that God is the Idea, the Absolute, the Essential Reality which is grasped in thought and in the Notion, and this it has in common with logical philosophy; the logical Idea is God as He is in Himself. But it is just the nature of God that He should not be implicit or in Himself only. He is as essentially for Himself, the Absolute Spirit, not only the Being who keeps Himself within thought, but who also manifests Himself, and gives Himself objectivity.
c. Thus, in contemplating the Idea of God, in the Philosophy of Religion, we have at the same time to do with the manner of His manifestation or presentation to us; He simply makes Himself apparent, represents Himself to Himself. This is the aspect of the determinate being or existence of the Absolute. In the Philosophy of Religion we have thus the Absolute as object; not, however, merely in the form of thought, but also in the form of its manifestation. The universal Idea is thus to be conceived of with the purely concrete meaning of essentiality in general, and is to be regarded from the point of view of its activity in displaying itself, in appearing, in revealing itself. Popularly speaking, we say God is the Lord of the natural world and of the realm of Spirit. He is the absolute harmony of the two, and it is He who produces and carries on this harmony. Here neither thought and Notion nor their manifestation - determinate being or existence - are wanting. This aspect, thus represented by determinate being, is itself, however, to be grasped again in thought, since we are here in the region of philosophy. Philosophy to begin with contemplates the Absolute as logical. Idea, the Idea as it is in thought, under the aspect in which its content is constituted by the specific forms of thought. Further, philosophy exhibits the Absolute in its activity, in its creations. This is the manner in which the Absolute becomes actual or "for itself," becomes Spirit, and God is thus the result of philosophy. It becomes apparent, however, that this is not merely a result, but is something which eternally creates itself, and is that which precedes all else. The onesidedness of the result is abrogated and absorbed in the very result itself. Nature, finite Spirit, the world of consciousness, of intelligence, and of will, are embodiments of the divine Idea, but they are definite shapes, special modes of the appearance of the Idea, forms, in which the Idea has not yet penetrated to itself, so as to be absolute Spirit.
In the Philosophy of Religion, however, we do not contemplate the implicitly existing logical Idea merely, in its determinate character as pure thought, nor in those finite determinations where its mode of appearance is a finite one, but as it is in itself or implicitly in thought, and at the same time as it appears, manifests itself, and thus in infinite manifestation as Spirit, - which reflects itself in itself; for Spirit which does not appear, is not. In this characteristic of appearance finite appearance is also included - that is, the world of nature, and the world of finite spirit, - but Spirit is regarded as the power or force of these worlds, as producing them out of itself, and out of them producing itself.
This, then, is the position of the Philosophy of Religion in relation to the other parts of philosophy. Of the other parts, God is the result; here, this End is made the Beginning, and becomes our special Object, is the simply concrete Idea, with its infinite manifestations; and this characteristic concerns the content of the Philosophy of Religion. We look at this content, however, from the point of view of rational thought, and this concerns the form, and brings us to consider the position of the Philosophy of Religion with regard to religion as this latter appears in the shape of positive religion.
3. The Relation of the Philosophy of Religion to Positive Religion.
It is well known that the faith of the Church, more especially of the Protestant Church, has taken a fixed form as a system of doctrine. This content has been universally accepted as truth; and as the description of what God is, and of what man is in relation to God, it has been called the Creed, that is, in the subjective sense that which is believed, and objectively, what is to be known as content, in the Christian Church, and what God has revealed Himself to be. Now as universal established doctrine this content is partly laid down in the Apostolic Symbolum or Apostles' Creed, partly in later symbolical books. And moreover, in the Protestant Church the Bible has always been characterised as the essential foundation of doctrine.
a. Accordingly, in the apprehension and determination of the content of doctrine, the influence of reason, as "argumentation" has made itself felt. At first indeed, this was so much the case that the doctrinal content, and the Bible as its positive foundation, were to remain unquestioned, and thought was only to take up the thoughts of the Bible as Exegesis. But as a matter of fact understanding had previously established its opinions and its thoughts for itself, and then attention was directed towards observing how the words of Scripture could be explained in accordance with these. The words of the Bible are a statement of truth which is not systematic; they are Christianity as it appeared in the beginning; it is Spirit which grasps the content, which unfolds its meaning. This exegesis having thus taken counsel with reason, the result has been that a so-called Theology of Reason has now come into existence, which is put in opposition to that doctrinal system of the Church, partly by this theology itself, and partly by that doctrinal system to which it is opposed. At the same time, exegesis takes possession of the written word, interprets it, and pretends only to lay stress on the understanding of the word, and to desire to remain faithful to it.
But whether it be chiefly to save appearances, or whether it is really and in downright earnest that the Bible is made the foundation, it is inherent in the very nature of any explanation which interprets, that thought should have its part in it. Thought explicitly contains categories, principles, premises, which must make their influence felt in the work of interpretation. If interpretation be not mere explanation of words but explanation of the sense, the thoughts of the interpreter must necessarily be put into the words which constitute the foundation. Mere word-interpretation can only amount to this, that for one word another coextensive in meaning is substituted; but in the course of explanation further categories of thought are combined with it. For a development is advance to further thoughts. In appearance the sense is adhered to, but in reality further thoughts are developed. Commentaries on the Bible do not so much make us acquainted with the content of the Scriptures, as rather with the manner in which things were conceived in the age in which they were written. It is, indeed, the sense contained in the words which is supposed to be given. The giving of the sense means, however, the bringing forward of the sense into conscious ness, into the region of ideas; and these ideas, which get determinate character elsewhere, then assert their influence in the exposition of the sense supposed to be contained in the words. It is the case even in the presentation of a philosophical system which is already fully developed, as, for example, that of Plato or of Aristotle, that the presentation takes a different form, according to the definite kind of idea which those who undertake thus to expound it have already formed themselves. Accordingly, the most contradictory meanings have been exegetically demonstrated by means of Theology out of the Scriptures, and thus the so-called Holy Scriptures have been made into a nose of wax. All heresies have, in common with the Church, appealed to the Scriptures.
b. The Theology of Reason, which thus came into existence, did not, however, limit itself to being merely ail exegesis which kept to the Bible as its foundation, but in its character as free, rational knowledge assumed a certain relation to religion and its content generally. In this more general relation the dealing with the subject and the result can amount to nothing more than to the taking possession by such knowledge of all that, in religion, has a determinate character. For the doctrine concerning God goes on to that of the characteristics, the attributes, and the actions of God. Such knowledge takes possession of this determinate content, and would make it appear that it belongs to it. It, on the one hand, conceives of the Infinite in its own finite fashion, as something which has a determinate character, as an abstract infinite, and then on the other hand finds that all special attributes are inadequate to this Infinite. By such a mode of proceeding the religious content is annihilated, and the absolute object reduced to complete poverty. The finite and determinate which this knowledge has drawn into its territory, points indeed to a Beyond as existing for it, but even this Beyond is conceived of by it in a finite manner, as ail abstract, supreme Being possessing no character at all. Enlightenment" - which is that consummation of finite knowledge just described - intends to place God very high when it speaks of Him as the Infinite with regard to which all predicates are inadequate, and are unwarranted anthropomorphisms. In reality, however, it has, in conceiving God as the supreme Being, made Him hollow, empty, and poor.
c. If it should now seem as if the Philosophy of Religion rested on the same basis as this Theology of Reason, or Theology of Enlightenment, and was consequently in the same condition of opposition to the content, of religion, further reflection shows that this is merely an appearance of resemblance which vanishes directly it is examined into.
(a.) For God was conceived by that rationalistic way of looking at religion, which was only the abstract metaphysic of the understanding, as an abstraction which is empty ideality, and as against which the finite stands in an external fashion, and thus too from this point of view morals constituted, as a special science, the knowledge of that which was held to belong to the actual subject as regards general actions and conduct. The fact of the relation of man to God, which represents the one side, occupied a separate and independent position. Thinking reason, on the contrary, which is no longer abstract, but which sets out from the faith of man in the dignity of his spirit, and is actuated by the courage of truth and freedom, grasps the truth as something concrete as fullness of content, as Ideality, in which determinateness - the finite - is contained as a moment. Therefore, to thinking reason. God is not emptiness, but Spirit; and this characteristic of Spirit does not remain for it a word only, or a superficial characteristic; on the contrary, the nature of Spirit unfolds itself for rational thought, inasmuch as it apprehends God as essentially the Triune God. Thus God is conceived of as making Himself an object to Himself, and further, the object remains in this distinction in identity with God; in it God loves Himself. Without this characteristic of Trinity, God would not be Spirit, and Spirit would be an empty word. But if God be conceived as Spirit, then this conception includes the subjective side in itself or even develops itself so as to reach to that side, and the Philosophy of Religion, as the contemplation of religion by thought, binds together again the determinate content of religion in its entirety.
(b.) With regard, however, to that form of contemplation in thought, which adheres to the words of Holy Scripture, and asserts that it explains them by the aid of reason, it is only in appearance that the Philosophy of Religion stands on the same basis with it. For that kind of contemplation by its own sovereign power lays down its argumentations as the foundation of Christian doctrine; and although it still leaves the Biblical words standing, yet the particular meaning remains as the principal determination, and to this the assumed Biblical truth must subordinate itself. This argumentation accordingly retains its assumptions, and moves within the relations of the Understanding, which below, to Reflection, without subjecting these to criticism. But the Philosophy of Religion, as being rational knowledge, is opposed to the arbitrariness of this argumentative process, and is the Reason of the Universal, which presses forward to unity.
Philosophy is therefore very far removed from being on the common highway on which this Theology of Reason and this exegetical argumentative process move, the truth rather being that it is these tendencies chiefly which combat it, and seek to bring, it under suspicion. They protest against philosophy, but only in order to reserve to themselves the arbitrariness of their argumentative process. Philosophy is called something special and particular, although it is nothing else than rational, truly universal thought. Philosophy is regarded as a something ghostly, of which we know nothing and about which there is something uncanny; but this idea only shows that these rationalistic theologians find it more convenient to keep to their unregulated arbitrary reflections, to which philosophy attaches no validity. If, then, those theologians, who busy themselves with their argumentations in exegesis, and - appeal to the Bible in connection with all their notions, when they deny as against philosophy the possibility of knowledge, have brought matters to such a pass, and have so greatly depreciated the reputation of the Bible, that if the truth were as they say, and if according to the true explanation of the Bible no knowledge of the nature of God were possible, - the spirit would be compelled to look for another source in order to acquire such truth as should be substantial or full of content.
(g.) The Philosophy of Religion cannot, therefore, in the fashion of that metaphysic of the Understanding and exegesis of inferences, put itself in opposition to positive religion, and to such doctrine of the Church as has still preserved its content. On the contrary, it will become apparent that it stands infinitely nearer to positive doctrine than it seems at first sight to do. Indeed, the re-establishment of the doctrines of the Church, reduced to a minimum by the Understanding, is so truly the work of philosophy, that it is decried by that so-called Theology of Reason, which is merely a Theology of the Understanding, as a darkening of the mind, and this just because of the true content possessed by it. The fears of the Understanding, and its hatred of philosophy, arise from a feeling of apprehension, based on the fact that it perceives how philosophy carries back its reflecting process to its foundation, that is, to the affirmative in which it perishes, and yet that philosophy arrives at a content, and at a knowledge of the nature of God, after all content seemed to be already done away with. Every content appears to this negative tendency to be a darkening of the mind, its only desire being to continue in that nocturnal darkness which it calls enlightenment, and hence the rays of the light of knowledge must be necessarily regarded by it as hostile. It is sufficient here merely to observe regarding the supposed opposition of the Philosophy of Religion and positive religion, that there cannot be two kinds of reason and two kinds of Spirit; there cannot be a Divine reason and a human, there cannot be a Divine Spirit and a human, which are absolutely different. Human reason - the consciousness of one's being is indeed reason; it is the divine in man, and Spirit, in so far as it is the Spirit of God, is not a spirit beyond the stars, beyond the world. On the contrary, God is present, omnipresent, and exists as Spirit in all spirits. God is a living God, who is acting and working. Religion is a product of the Divine Spirit; it is not a discovery of man, but a work of divine operation and creation in him. The expression that God as reason rules the world, would be irrational if we did not assume that it has reference also to religion, and that the Divine Spirit works in the special character and form assumed by religion. But the development of reason as perfected in thought does not stand in opposition to this Spirit, and consequently it cannot be absolutely different from the work which the Divine Spirit has produced in religion. The more a man in thinking rationally lets the true thing or fact itself hold sway with him, renounces his particularity, acts as universal consciousness, while his reason does not seek its own in the sense of something special, the less will he as the embodiment of this reason, get into that condition of opposition; for it, namely, reason, is itself the essential fact or thing, the spirit, the Divine Spirit. The Church or the theologians may disdain this aid, or may take it amiss when their doctrine is made reasonable; they may even repel the exertions of philosophy with proud irony, though these are not directed in a hostile spirit against religion, but, on the contrary, seek to fathom its truth; and they may ridicule the " manufactured truth - but this scorn is no longer of any avail, and is, in fact, idle when once the need of true rational knowledge, and the sense of discord between it and religion, have been awakened. The intelligence has here its rights, which can in no way be longer denied to it., and the triumph of knowledge is the reconciliation of the opposition.
Although then, philosophy, as the Philosophy of Religion is so very different from those tendencies of the understanding, which are at bottom hostile to religion, and is in no way such a spectral thing as it has usually been represented to be, yet even at the present day we still see the belief in the absolute opposition between philosophy and religion made one of the shibboleths of the time. All those principles of the religious consciousness which have been developed at the present time, however widely distinguished their forms may be from one another, yet agree in this, that they are at enmity with philosophy, and endeavour at all hazards to prevent it from occupying itself with religion; and the work that now lies before us is to consider philosophy in its relation to these principles of the time. From this consideration of the subject we may confidently promise ourselves success, all the more that it will become apparent how, in presence of all that enmity which is shown to philosophy, from however many sides it way come - indeed, it comes from almost every side of consciousness in its present form - the time has nevertheless arrived when philosophy can, partly in an unprejudiced and partly in a favourable and successful manner, occupy itself with. religion. For the opposition takes one or other of those forms of the divided consciousness which we considered above. They occupy partly the standpoint of the metaphysic of the Understanding, for which God is emptiness, and content has vanished, partly the standpoint of feeling, which after the loss of absolute content has withdrawn itself into its empty subjectivity, but is in accord with that metaphysic in coming to the result that every characterisation is inadequate to the eternal content - for this indeed is only an abstraction. Or we may even see that the assertions of the opponents of philosophy contain nothing else than what philosophy itself contains as its principle, and as the foundation of its principle. This contradiction, namely, that the opponents of philosophy are the opponents of religion who have been overcome by it, and that they yet implicitly possess the principle of philosophical knowledge in their reflections, has its foundation in this, that they represent the historical element out of which philosophical thought in its complete shape has been formed.
III. - The Relation of the Philosophy of Religion to the Current Principles of the Religious Consciousness.
If at the present day philosophy be an object of enmity because it occupies itself with religion, this cannot really surprise us when we consider the general character of the time. Every one who attempts to take to do with the knowledge of God, and by the aid of thought to comprehend His nature, must be prepared to find, that either no attention will be paid to him, or that people will turn against him and combine to oppose him.
The more the knowledge of finite things has increased - and the increase is so great that the extension of the sciences has become almost boundless, and all regions of knowledge are enlarged to all extent which makes a comprehensive view impossible - so much the more has up sphere of the knowledge of God become contracted. There was a time when all knowledge was knowledge of God. Our own time, on the contrary, has the distinction of knowing, about all and everything, about au infinite number of subjects, but nothing at all of God. Formerly the mind found its supreme interest in knowing God, and searching into His nature. It had and it found no rest unless in thus occupying itself with God. When it could not satisfy this need it felt unhappy. The spiritual conflicts to which the knowledge of God gives rise in the inner life were the highest which the spirit knew and experienced in itself, and all other interests and knowledge were lightly esteemed. Our own time has put this need, with all its toils and conflicts, to silence; we have done with all this, and got rid of it. What Tacitus said of the ancient Germans, that they were securi adversus deos, we have once more become in regard to knowledge, securi adversus deum. It no longer gives our age any concern that it knows nothing of God; on the contrary, it is regarded as a mark of the highest intelligence to hold that such knowledge is not even possible. What is laid down by the Christian religion as the supreme, absolute commandment, "Ye shall know God" is regarded as a piece of folly. Christ says, "Be ye perfect, as My Father in heaven is perfect." This lofty demand is to the wisdom of our time an empty sound. It has made of God an infinite phantom, which is far from us, and in like manner has made human knowledge a futile phantom of finiteness, or a mirror upon which fall only shadows, only phenomena. How, then, are we any longer to respect the commandment, and grasp its meaning when it says to us, "Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect," since we know nothing of the Perfect One, and since our knowing and willing are confined solely and entirely to appearance, and the truth is to be and to remain absolutely and exclusively a something beyond the present? And what, we must further ask, what else would it be worth while to comprehend, if God is incomprehensible?
This standpoint must, judged by its content, be considered as the last stage of the degradation of man, in which at the same time he is, it is true, all the more arrogant inasmuch as he thinks he has proved to himself that this degradation is the highest possible state, and is his true destiny. Such a point of view is, indeed, directly opposed to the lofty nature of the Christian religion, for according to this we ought to know God, His nature, and His essential Being and to esteem this knowledge as something which is the highest of all. (The distinction as to whether this know, edge is brought to us by means of faith, authority, revelation, or reason, is here of no importance.) But although this is the case, and although this point of view has come to dispense both with the content which revelation gives of the Divine nature, and with what belongs to reason, yet it has not shrunk, after all its abject gropings, in that blind arrogance which is proper to it, from turning against philosophy. And yet it is philosophy which is the liberation of the spirit from that shameful degradation, and which has once more brought religion out of the stage of intense suffering which it had to experience when occupying the standpoint referred to. Even the theologians, who are on their own round in that region of vanity, have ventured to charge philosophy with its destructive tendency - theologians who have no longer anything left of that substantial element which could possibly be destroyed.
In order to repel these not merely groundless, but, what is more, frivolous and unprincipled objections, we need only observe cursorily how theologians have, on the contrary, done everything in their power to do away with what is definite in religion, in that they have (1) thrust dogmas into the background, or pronounced them. to be unimportant; or (2) consider them only as extraneous definitions given by others, and as mere phenomena of a past history. When we have reflected in this manner upon the aspect presented by the content, and have seen how this last is re-established by philosophy, and placed in safety from up devastations of theology, we shall (3) reflect upon the form of that standpoint, and shall see here how the tendency which, taking its departure from the form, is at enmity with philosophy, is so ignorant of what it is, that it does not even know that it contains in itself the very principle of philosophy.
1. Philosophy and the Prevalent Indifference to Definite Dogmas.
If, then, it be made a reproach to philosophy in its relation to religion that the content of the doctrine of revealed positive religion, and more expressly of the Christian religion, is depreciated by it, and that it subverts and destroys its dogmas, yet this hindrance is taken out of the way, and by the new theology itself, in fact. There are very few dogmas of the earlier system of Church confessions left which have any longer the importance formerly attributed to them, and in their place no other dogmas have been set up. It is easy to convince oneself, by considering what is the real value now attached to ecclesiastical dogmas, that into the religious world gene rally there has entered a widespread, almost universal, indifference towards what in earlier times were held to be essential doctrines of the faith. A few examples will prove this.
Christ still indeed continues to be made the central point of faith, as Mediator, Reconciler, and Redeemer; but what was known as the work of redemption has received a very prosaic and merely psychological signification, so that although the edifying words have been retained, the very thing that was essential in the old doctrine of the Church has been expunged.
"Great energy of character, steadfast adherence to conviction for the sake of which He regarded not His life" - these are the common categories through which Christ is brought down, not indeed to the plane of ordinary everyday life, but to that of human action in general and moral designs, and into a moral sphere into which even heathens like Socrates were capable of entering. Even though Christ be for many the central point of faith and devotion in the deeper sense, yet Christian life as a whole restricts itself to this devotional bent, and the weighty doctrines of the Trinity, of the resurrection of the body, as also the miracles in the Old and New Testaments, are neglected as matters of indifference, and have lost their importance. The divinity of Christ, dogma what is peculiar to the Christian religion is set aside, or else reduced to something of merely general nature. It is not only by "enlightenment" that Christianity has been thus treated, but even by pious theologians themselves. These latter join with the men of enlightenment in saying that the Trinity was brought into Christian doctrine by the Alexandrian school, by the neo-Platonists. But even if it must be conceded that the fathers of the Church studied Greek philosophy, it is in the first instance a matter of no importance whence that doctrine may have come; the only question is, whether it be essentially, inherently, true; but that is a point which is not examined into, and yet that doctrine is the key-note of the Christian religion.
If an opportunity was given to a large number of these theologians to lay their hand on their heart, and say whether they consider faith in the Trinity to be indispensably necessary to salvation, and whether they believe that the absence of such faith leads to damnation, there can be no doubt what the answer would be.
Even the words eternal happiness and eternal damnation are such as cannot be used in good society; such expressions are regarded as arrhta as words which one shrinks from uttering. Even although a man should not wish to deny these doctrines, he would, in case of his being directly appealed to, find it very difficult to express himself in ail affirmative way.
In the doctrinal teaching of these theologians, it will be found that dogmas have become very thin and shrunken, although they are talked about a great deal. If any one were to take a number of religious books, or collections of sermons, in which the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion are supposed to be set forth, and attempt to sift the greater part of those writings conscientiously in order to ascertain whether, in a large proportion of such literature, the fundamental doctrines of Christianity are to be found contained and stated in the orthodox sense, without ambiguity or evasion, the answer is again not a doubtful one.
It would appear that the theologians themselves, in accordance with the general training which most of them have received, only attribute that importance which they formerly assigned to the principle and doctrines of positive Christianity - when these were still regarded as such - to these doctrines when they are veiled in a misty indefiniteness. Thus if philosophy has always been regarded as the opponent of the doctrines of the Church, it cannot any longer be such, since these doctrines, which it seemed to threaten with destruction, are no longer regarded by general conviction as of importance. A great part of the danger which threatens philosophy from this side when she considers these dogmas in order to comprehend them ought to be thus taken away, and so philosophy can take up a more untrammelled attitude with regard to dogmas which have so much sunk in interest with theologians themselves.
2. The Historical Treatment of Dogmas.
The strongest indication, however, that the importance of these dogmas has declined, is to be perceived in the fact that they are treated principally in an historical manner, and are regarded in the light of convictions which belong to others, as matters of history, which do not go on in our own mind as such, and which do not concern the needs of our spirit. The real interest here is to find out how the matter stands so far as others are concerned, what part others have played, and centres in this accidental origin and appearance of doctrine. The question as to what is a man's own personal conviction only excites astonishment. The absolute manner of the origin of these doctrines out of the depths of Spirit, and thus the necessity, the truth, which they have for our spirits too, is shoved on one side by this historical treatment. It brings much zeal and erudition to bear on these doctrines it is not with their essential substance, however, that it is occupied, but with the externalities of the controversies about them, and with the passions which have gathered around this external mode of the origin of truth. Thus Theology is by her own act put in a low enough position. If the philosophical knowledge of religion is conceived of as something to be reached historically only, then we should have to regard the theologians who have brought it to this point as clerks in a mercantile house, who have only to keep an account of the wealth of strangers, who only act for others without obtaining any property for themselves. They do, indeed, receive salary, but their reward is only to serve, and to register that which is the property of others. Theology of this kind has no longer a place at all in the domain of thought; it has no longer to do with infinite thought in and for itself, but only with it as a finite fact, as opinion, ordinary thought, and so on. History occupies itself with truths which were truths - namely, for others, not with such as would come to be the possession of those who are occupied with them. With the true content, with the knowledge of God, such theologians have no concern. They know as little of God as a blind man sees of a painting, even though he handles the frame. They only know how a certain dogma was established by this or that council; what grounds those present at such a council had for establishing it, and how this or that opinion came to predominate. And in all this, it is indeed religion that is in question, and yet it is not religion itself which here comes under consideration. Much is told us of the history of the painter of the picture, and of the fate of the picture itself, what price it had at different times, into what hands it came, but we are never permitted to see anything of the picture itself.
It is essential in philosophy and religion, however, that the spirit should itself enter with supreme interest into ail inner relation, should not only occupy itself with a thing that is foreign to it, but should draw its content from that which is essential, and should regard itself as worthy of such knowledge. For here it is with the value of his own spirit that man is concerned, and he is not at liberty humbly to remain outside and to wander about at a distance.
3. Philosophy and Immediate Knowledge.
In consequence of the emptiness of the standpoint just considered, it might appear as if we only mentioned the reproaches which it casts upon philosophy in order to pronounce expressly against such a point of view, and that our aim, which we do not relinquish, is to do the opposite of that which it holds to be the highest of all aims - namely, to know God. Yet this standpoint has an aspect belonging to its form in which it must really have a rational interest for us, and regarded from this side, the recent attitude of theology is more favourable for philosophy. For with the thought that all objective determinateness has converged in the inwardness of subjectivity, the conviction is bound up that God gives revelation in an immediate way in man; that religion consists just in this, that man has immediate knowledge of God. This immediate knowing is called reason, and also faith, but in a sense other than that in which the Church takes faith.
All knowledge, all conviction, all piety, regarded from the point of view which we are considering, is based on the principle that in the spirit, as such, the consciousness of God exists immediately with the consciousness of its self.
a. This statement taken in a direct sense, and as not implying that any polemical attitude has been taken up to philosophy, passes for one which needs no proof, no confirmation. This universal idea, which is now matter of assumption, contains this essential principle - namely, that the highest, the religious content shows itself in the spirit itself, that Spirit manifests itself in Spirit, and in fact in this my spirit, that this faith has its source, its root in my deepest personal being, and that it is what is most peculiarly my own, and as such is inseparable from the consciousness of pure spirit.
Inasmuch as this knowledge exists immediately in myself, all external authority, all foreign attestation. is cast aside; what is to be of value to me must have its verification in my own spirit, and in order that I may believe I must have the witness of my spirit. It may indeed come to me from without, but any such external origin is a matter of indifference; if it is to be valid, this validity can only build itself up upon the foundation of all truth, in the witness of the Spirit.
This principle is the simple principle of philosophical knowledge itself, and philosophy is so far from rejecting it that it constitutes a fundamental characteristic in it itself. Thus it is to be regarded as a gain, a kind of happy circumstance, that fundamental principles of philosophy live even in general popular conceptions, and have become general assumptions, for in this way the philosophical principle may expect the more easily to obtain the general consent of the educated. As a result of this general disposition of the spirit of our time, philosophy has not only won a position which is externally favourable - with what is external it is never concerned, and least of all where it, and active interest in it, takes the form of an institution of the State - but is favoured inwardly, since its principle already lives in the minds and in the hearts of men as an assumption. For philosophy has this in common with the form of culture referred to, that reason is regarded as that part of the spirit in which God reveals himself to man.
b. But the principle of immediate knowledge does not rest satisfied with this simple determinateness, this natural and ingenuous content; it does not only express itself affirmatively, but takes up a directly polemical attitude to philosophical knowledge, and directs its attacks especially against the philosophical knowledge and comprehension of God. Not only does it teach that we are to believe and to know in an immediate manner, not only is it maintained that the consciousness of God is bound up with the consciousness of self, but that the relation to God is only an immediate one. The immediateness of the connection is taken as excluding the other characteristic of mediateness, and philosophy, because it is mediated knowledge, is said to be only a finite knowledge of that which is finite.
Thus this knowledge in its immediacy is to get no further than this, that we know that God is, but not what He is - the content, the filling up of the idea of God, is negated. By philosophical knowledge or cognition, we mean not only that we know that an object is, but also what it is; and that to know what it is, is not to know it to, the extent of possessing a certain know ledge, certainty, of what it is; but more than this, this knowledge must relate to its characteristics, to its content, and it must be complete and full and proved knowledge, in which the necessary connection of these characteristics is a matter of knowledge.
If we consider more closely what is involved in the assertion of immediate knowledge, it is seen to mean that the consciousness so relates itself to its content that it itself and this content - God - are inseparable. It is this relation, in fact - knowledge of God - and this inseparableness of consciousness from this content, which we call religion. Further, however, it is of the essence of this assertion that we are to limit ourselves to the consideration of religion as such, and to keep strictly to the consideration of the relation to God, and are not to proceed to the knowledge of God, that is, of the divine content - of what the divine content essentially is in itself.
In this sense it is slated, further, that we can only know our relation to God, not what God Himself is; and that it is only our relation to God which is embraced in what is generally called religion. Thus it happens that at the present time we only hear religion spoken of, and do not find that investigation is made regarding the nature of God, what He is in Himself, and how the nature of God must be determined. God, as God, is not even made an object of thought; knowledge does not trench upon that object, and does not exhibit distinct attributes in Him, so as to make it possible that He Himself should be conceived of as constituting the relation of these attributes, and as relation in Himself. God is not before us as an object of knowledge, but only our relation with God, our relation to Him; and while discussions of the nature of God have become fewer and fewer, it is now only required of a man that he should be religious, that he should abide by religion, and we are told that we are not to proceed further to get a knowledge of any divine content.
c. If, however, we bring out what is inherent in the principle of immediate knowing, that is, what is directly affirmed in it, we find it to be just this, that God is spoken of in relation to consciousness in such a way that this relation is something inseparable, or, in other words, that we must of necessity contemplate both. It implies, in the first place, the essential distinction which the conception of religion contains; on the one side, subjective consciousness, and on the other, God recognised as Object in Himself, or implicitly. At the same time, however, it is stated that there is an essential relation between the two, and that it is this inseparable relation of religion which is the real point, and not the notions which one may have concerning. God.
What is really contained in this position, and really constitutes its true kernel, is the philosophical Idea itself, only that this Idea is confined by immediate knowledge within limitations which are abolished by philosophy, and which are by it exhibited in their onesidedness and untruth. According to the philosophical conception, God is Spirit, is concrete; and if we inquire more closely what Spirit is, we find that the whole of religious doctrine consists in the development of the fundamental conception of Spirit. For the present, however, it may suffice to say that Spirit is essentially self-manifestation - its nature is to be for Spirit. Spirit is for Spirit, and not, be it observed, only in an external, accidental manner. On the contrary, Spirit is only Spirit in so far as it is for Spirit; this constitutes the conception or notion of Spirit itself. Or, to express it more theologically, God is essentially Spirit, so far as He is in His Church. It has been said that the world, the material universe, must have spectators, and must be for Spirit or mind; how much wore, then, must God be for Spirit.
We cannot, consequently, view the matter in a onesided way, and consider the subject merely according to its finiteness, to its contingent life, but inasmuch too as it has the infinite absolute object as its content. For if the Subject be considered by itself, it is considered within the limits of finite knowledge, of knowledge which concerns the finite. It is also maintained, on the other hand, that God, in like manner, must not be considered for Himself, for man only knows of God in relation to consciousness; and thus the unity and inseparability of the two determinations - of the knowledge of God and self-consciousness - even presupposes what is expressed in identity, and that dreaded identity itself is contained in it.
As a matter of fact, we thus find the fundamental conception which belongs to philosophy already existing as an universal element in the cultured thought of the present day. And here it becomes apparent, too, that philosophy does not stand above its age as if it were something absolutely different from the general character of the time, but that it is One Spirit which pervades both the actual world and philosophical thought, and that this last is only the true self-comprehension of what is actual. Or, in other words, it is one movement upon which both the age and its philosophy are borne, the distinction being only that the character of the time still appears to present itself as accidental, and is not rationally justified, and may thus even stand in an unreconciled, hostile attitude towards the truly essential content; while philosophy, as the justification of principles, is at the same time the universal peace-bringer and universal reconciliation. As the Lutheran Reformation carried faith back to the first centuries, so the principle of immediate knowledge has carried Christian knowledge back to the primary elements. If, however, this process at first causes the essential content to evaporate, yet it is philosophy which recognises this very principle of immediate knowledge as representing content, and as being such carries it forward to its true expansion within itself.
The want of sound sense which marks the arguments advanced against philosophy knows no bounds. The very opinions which are supposed by those who hold them to militate against philosophy, and to be in the sharpest antagonism to it, upon examination of their content exhibit essential agreement with that which they combat. Thus the result of the study of philosophy is that these walls of separation, which are supposed to divide absolutely, become transparent; and that when we go to up root of things we find that there is absolute accordance where it was believed that there was the greatest opposition.
B. Preliminary Questions
Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
B. Preliminary Questions.
Before we can proceed to the treatment of our subject itself, it appears to be indispensable to solve several preliminary questions, or rather to institute an investigation into these with the view of showing that the possibility of any such treatment of the subject, and of a rational knowledge of religion, is made dependent on the result of this investigation. It appears to be absolutely necessary to examine and to answer these questions, for this reason, that they have very specially engaged the interest of thinking men in our day, both in a philosophical and in a popular connection, and because they have to do with the principles upon which prevalent opinions regarding the religious content, or substantial element of religion, as also regarding the knowledge of it, are based.
If we omit such examination, it will at least be necessary to prove that this omission is not accidental, and that we possess the right to do this, since the essential element of any such examination is included in the science of philosophy itself, and all those questions can only find their solution there.
Here, therefore, we have only to look the hindrances in the face which the culture and opinion of the time, as hitherto considered, put in the way of our exercising the right to get an intellectual grasp of religion.
1. In the first place, it is not religion in general that we have before us, but positive religion, regarding which it is acknowledged that it is the gift of God, which rests on higher than human authority, and therefore appears to be outside the sphere of human reason, and to be elevated above it. The first hindrance in this connection is, that we should be called upon, before proceeding further, to verify the competence and capability of reason to deal with the truth and doctrine of a religion which is supposed to be withdrawn from the sphere of human reason. Rational or philosophical knowledge comes, however, and must of necessity come, into relation with positive religion. It has been said indeed, and is said still, that positive religion is "for itself," or stands on its own basis. We do not question its doctrines; we respect them, and hold them in honour; on the other side stands reason, thought, which seeks to grasp its object intellectually, and these two are supposed not to come into relation; reason is not to interfere with. these doctrines. Formerly, it was imagined that the freedom of philosophical investigation could be guarded in this way. It was then said, that it was a thing by itself, which was not to do any harm to positive religion, and its result, moreover, also was subordinated to the teaching of positive religion. We do not wish, however, to place the present investigation on this footing. It is a false idea that these two, faith and free. philosophical investigation, can subsist quietly side by side. There is no foundation for maintaining that faith in the content or essential element of positive religion can continue to exist, if reason has convinced itself of the opposite. The Church has, therefore, consistently and justly refused to allow that reason might stand in opposition to faith, and yet be placed under subjection to it. The human spirit in its inmost nature is not something so divided up that two contradictory elements might subsist together in it. If discord has arisen between intellectual insight and religion, and is not overcome in knowledge, it leads to despair, which comes in the place of reconciliation. This despair is reconciliation carried out in a one-sided manner. The one side is cast away, the other alone held fast; but a man cannot win true peace in this way. The one alternative is, for the divided spirit to reject the demands of the intellect and try to return to simple religious feeling. To this, however, the spirit can only attain by doing violence to itself, for the independence of consciousness demands satisfaction, and will not be thrust aside by force; and to renounce independent thought, is not within the power of the healthy mind. Religious feeling becomes yearning hypocrisy, and retains the moment of non-satisfaction. The other alternative is a one-sided attitude of indifference toward religion, which is either left unquestioned and let alone, or is ultimately attacked and opposed. That is the course followed by shallow spirits.
This, then, is the first preliminary question in virtue of which the right of reason to occupy itself with the doctrines of religion has to be proved.
2. In the sphere above referred to, it is only maintained that reason cannot apprehend the truth of the nature of God: the possibility of apprehending other truths is not denied to it; it is only the highest truth which is said to be beyond its knowledge. According to another position, however, it is entirely denied to reason to know truth at all. It is asserted that philosophical knowledge, when it deals with Spirit in its true essence, in and for itself, with life, with the infinite, only produces mistakes, and that reason must renounce all claim to grasp anything of the infinite in an affirmative manner the infinite is destroyed by thought, is brought down to the level of the finite. This result, in regard to reason, this negation of reason, is even said to be a result of rational knowledge itself. Thus it would be necessary first to examine reason itself in order to ascertain whether the capability of knowing God, and consequently the possibility of a philosophy of religion, is inherent in it.
3. It follows from this that the knowledge of God is Dot to be placed in the reason which seeks to comprehend its object, but that the consciousness of God springs only out of feeling; and that the relation of man to God lies within the sphere of feeling only, and is not to be brought over into thought. If God be excluded from the region of rational intelligence or insight, of necessary, substantial subjectivity, nothing indeed is left but to assign to Him the region of accidental subjectivity, that of feeling, and in this case it may well be a subject of wonder that objectivity is ascribed to God at all. In this respect, materialistic views, or by whatever other name you choose to designate them, empirical, historical, naturalistic, have been at least more consistent, in that they have taken Spirit and Thought for something - material, and imagine they have traced the matter back to sensations, even taking God to be a product of feeling, and denying to Him objectivity. The result has, in this case, been atheism. God would thus be an historical product of weakness, of fear, of joy, or of interested hopes, cupidity, and lust of power. What has its root only in my feelings, is only for me; it is mine, but not its own; it has no independent existence in and for itself. Therefore it appears to be necessary, before going further, to show that God is not rooted in feeling merely, is not merely my God. For this reason the older metaphysic has always demonstrated first of all that a God is, and not merely that there is a feeling of God, and thus the Philosophy of Religion too finds the demand made upon it to demonstrate God.
It might seem as if the other sciences had the advantage over philosophy, inasmuch as their material is already acknowledged, and they are exempted from the necessity of proving the existence of this material. To arithmetic the fact of numbers, to geometry that of space, to medicine that of human bodies and diseases, is granted from the very beginning, and it is not required of them to prove, for example, that space, bodies, diseases, exist. Philosophy, however, seems to labour under the disadvantage of being obliged, before beginning, to guarantee an existence to its objects; if it be granted without challenge that there is a world, yet no sooner does philosophy go on to assume the reality of the immaterial in general, of a Thought and Spirit free from what is material, and still more the reality of God, than it is at once taken to task. The object with which philosophy occupies itself is not, however, of such a character as to be something merely hypothetical, and it is not to be regarded as such. Were it so, philosophy, and especially the Philosophy of Religion, would have in the first place to verify its object for itself. It would have to direct its efforts toward showing it to be necessary that before it exist it prove that it is; it would have before its existence to prove its existence.
These, then, are the preliminary questions which it seems would have to be solved beforehand, as in their solution the very possibility of a Philosophy of Religion would lie. For, if such points of view be valid, then any Philosophy of Religion is absolutely impossible, since in order to prove its possibility these obstacles must in the first place be removed. So it appears at first sight. We nevertheless leave them on one side; and for what reason we do so will, so far as the principal points are concerned, be briefly explained, in order that this difficulty may be met.
The first demand is that reason' the faculty of knowledge, should be examined to begin with, before we advance to knowledge. Knowledge is thus conceived of as if it were to be got at by means of an instrument, with which the truth is to be laid hold of. When looked at more closely, however, the demand that this instrument should first be known is a clumsy one. Criticism of the faculty of knowledge is a position of the Kantian philosophy, and one which is general in the present time, and in the theology of the day. It was believed to be a great discovery, but as so often happens in the world, this belief proved to be self-deception. For it is commonly the case that when people have a notion which they consider to be a very clever one, it is in connection with it that they show themselves most foolish, and their satisfaction consists in having found a splendid outlet for their folly and ignorance. Indeed they are inexhaustible in finding such outlets when it is a question of keeping a good conscience in the face of their indolence, and of getting quit of the whole affair.
Reason is to be examined, but how? It is to be rationally examined, to be known; this is, however, only possible by means of rational thought; it is impossible in any other way, and consequently a demand is made which cancels itself. If we are not to begin philosophical. speculation without having attained rationally to a knowledge of reason, no beginning can be made at all, for in getting to know anything in the philosophical sense, we comprehend it rationally; we are, it seems, to give up attempting this, since the very thing we have to do is first of all to know reason. This is just the demand which was made by that Gascon who would not go into the water until he could swim. It is impossible to make any preliminary examination of rational activity without being rational.
Here in the Philosophy of Religion it is more especially God, reason in fact, that is the object; for God is essentially rational, rationality, which as Spirit is in and for itself. Now in speculating philosophically upon reason, we investigate knowledge, only we do it in such a way as to imply that we do not suppose we would want to complete this investigation beforehand outside of the object; on the contrary, the knowledge of reason is precisely the object with which we are concerned. It is of the very essence of Spirit to be for Spirit. That is just what Spirit is, and this consequently implies that finite spirit has been posited, and the relation of finite spirit, of finite reason to the divine, originates of itself within the Philosophy of Religion itself, and must be treated of there, and indeed in the very place where it first originates. It is this which constitutes the difference between a science and conjectures about a science; the latter are accidental; in so far, however, as they are thoughts, which relate to the matter itself, they must be included in its treatment, and they are in this case no longer mere chance bubbles of thought.
Spirit in making itself an object gives itself essentially the form of Appearance or Manifestation, as something which comes in a higher manner to the finite spirit; and it is essentially owing to this that the finite spirit arrives at a positive religion. Spirit becomes for itself or actual in the form of mental representation or idea in the form of the Other, and for that other for which it is, religion is produced as something positive. Thus, too, there is inherent in religion that characteristic of reason in virtue of which it involves knowledge, in virtue of which it is activity of comprehension and of thought. This standpoint of knowledge is included in religion, and so, too, is the standpoint of feeling". Feeling is the subjective element; that which belongs to me as this individual, and because of which it is to myself that I appeal. The standpoint of feeling, too, in so far as God gives Himself this ultimate individualisation of This One, of one who feels, has its place in the development of the conception of religion, because this feeling has in it a spiritual relation, has spirituality in it. The determination, too, that God is, is a determination which is essentially included in the consideration of religion.
Religion, however, speaking generally, is the ultimate and the highest sphere of human consciousness, whether it be opinion, will, idea, ordinary knowledge, or philosophical knowledge. It is the absolute result - it is the region into which man passes over., as into the domain of absolute truth.
By reason of this universal character of religion, consciousness must, when in this sphere, have already raised itself above all that is finite - above finite existence, conditions, ends, interests, as well as above finite thoughts, finite relations of all kinds. To be actually within the sphere of religion, it is necessary to have laid these aside.
Yet although even for the ordinary consciousness religion is the act of rising-up above the finite, it usually happens when philosophy in general, and especially the philosophy which deals with God, with religion, is attacked, that in support of this polemical attitude, finite thoughts, relations belonging, to limitation, categories and forms of the finite are brought forward to the disregard of this fundamental characteristic. Such forms of the finite are made points of departure from which to oppose philosophy, especially the highest philosophy, the Philosophy of Religion.
We shall only touch briefly upon this. Immediacy of knowledge - the fact of consciousness - is, for example, such a finite form; such finite categories are the antitheses of finite and infinite, subject and object. But these antitheses, finite or infinite, subject or object, are abstract forms, which are out of place in such an absolutely rich, concrete content as religion is. In Spirit, soul - that which has to do with religion - quite other qualities are present than finiteness, &c.; and on such qualities is based all that is essential in religion. These forms must indeed be employed, since they are moments of the essential relation which lies at the foundation of religion, but it is of primary importance that their nature should have been examined into and recognised long before. This logical knowledge, which comes first, must lie behind us when we have to deal with religion scientifically; such categories must have Ion, ago been done with. But the usual thing is to employ these as weapons against the Notion, the Idea; against rational knowledge. Those categories. are used entirely without criticism, in a quite artless way, just as if Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" did not exist, which at least attacked these forms, and after its own fashion reached the result that it is only phenomena which can be known by means of these categories. In religion it is not, however, with phenomena that we have to do, it is with an absolute content. But those who employ this argumentative kind of reasoning seem to think the Kantian philosophers have existed only to afford opportunity for the more unblushing use of those categories.
It is entirely out of place, it is indeed preposterous, to bring forward these categories such as immediacy, fact of consciousness, in opposition to philosophy, and to meet philosophy with the reply that the finite is different from the infinite, and the object from the subject, as if there were any one, any philosopher whatever, who did not know this, or had still to learn such trivialities. Yet people are not ashamed to parade triumphantly cleverness of this sort, as if they had made a new discovery.
We shall here remark only that such characteristics as finite and infinite, subject and object - and this is what always constitutes the foundation of that very knowing and overwise talk - are undoubtedly different, but are at the same time inseparable too. We have an example of this in physics, in the north and south pole of the magnet. It is often said " those characteristics are as different as heaven and earth." That is quite correct; they are absolutely different, but as is already suggested by the figure just mentioned, they are in separable. Earth cannot be shown without heaven, and vice versa.
It is difficult to enter into discussion with those who wage war on the Philosophy of Religion and think they have triumphed over it, for they tell us so bluntly that immediacy, after all, "is something quite different from mediation." At the same time they show an incredible ignorance, and a complete want of acquaintance with the forms and categories by means of which they make their attacks and pronounce a final judgment upon philosophy. They make their affirmations quite artlessly, with out having thought over these subjects, or having made any thorough observation of external nature and of the inner experience of their consciousness - of their minds - and of the manner in which these qualities present themselves there. Reality is not for them something present, but is something strange and unknown. The hostile language which they direct against philosophy is therefore mere scholastic pedantry - the chatter of the schools - which entangles itself in empty, unsubstantial categories, while in philosophy we are not in the so-called di school," but are in the world of reality; and in the wealth of its qualities we do not find a yoke under which we are in bondage, but have in them free movement. And then, those who attack and disparage philosophy are, owing to their finite style of thinking incapable of even grasping a philosophical proposition; and though they may perhaps repeat its words, they have given it a wrong meaning, for they have not grasped its infiniteness, but have introduced their finite conditions into it. Thus philosophy is indefatigable, so to speak, and im poses upon itself the great labour of carefully investigating what its opponents have to say. Indeed that is its necessary course, being in accordance with its conception, and it can only satisfy the inward impulse of its notion or conception by getting a knowledge both of itself and of what is opposed to it (verum index sui et falsi), but it ought to be able to expect as a recompense that the opposition should now, by way of a reciprocal service, relinquish its hostility, and calmly comprehend its essential nature. But that is certainly not the result in this case, and the magnanimity which desires to recognise in a friendly way the adversary, and which heaps coals of fire on his head, does not help philosophy in the least; for the adversary will not keep quiet, but persists in his attacks. When we perceive, however, that the antithesis vanishes like a phantom, and dissolves into mist, we shall at the same time only render to ourselves and to philosophical thought what is due, and shall not seek merely to carry our point as against the other. And indeed to convince that "other," to exert this personal influence upon him, is impossible, since he remains wedded to his limited categories.
The thinking spirit must have got beyond all these forms of Reflection; it must know their nature, the true relation involved in them, the infinite relation, that is to say, that in which their finiteness is done away with. Then it will become apparent, too, that immediate knowledge, like mediated knowledge, is entirely one-sided. What is true is their unity, an. immediate knowledge which is likewise mediated, something mediated which is likewise simple in itself, which is immediate reference to itself. Inasmuch as the one-sidedness is done away with by means of such combination, it is a condition of infiniteness. Here is union, in which the difference of those characteristics is done away with, [Aufgehoben] while they at the same time being preserved ideally have the higher destiny of serving as the pulse of vitality, the impulse, movement, unrest of the spiritual, as of the natural life.
Since it is with religion, with what is supreme and ultimate, that we are to be occupied in the following dissertation, we ought now to be in a position to assume that the futility of those relations has long ago been overcome. But at the same time, since we do not begin at the very beginning of the science, but are considering religion per se, regard must be also had when dealing with it to such relations of understanding as are wont to come principally under consideration in connection with it.
With this reference to the following dissertation itself, we shall now proceed to give the general survey, the synopsis or division of our science.
C. Division of the Subject
Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
C. Division of the Subject.
There can be but one method in all science, since the method is the self-unfolding Notion (Begriff) and nothing else, and this latter is only one.
In accordance, therefore, with the moments of the Notion, the exposition and development of religion will be presented in three parts. In the first place, the notion or conception of religion will be considered in its universal aspect; then, secondly, in its particular form as the self-dividing and self-differentiating, notion, that is, under the aspect of judgment, [Ur-theil = separation of subject from predicate] of limitation, of difference, and of finiteness; and thirdly, we shall consider the notion, which encloses itself within itself, the syllogism, or the return of the notion to itself out of the particularity in which it is unequal to itself, so that it arrives at equality with its form, and does away with its limitation. This is the rhythm, the pure eternal life of Spirit itself; and had it not this movement, it would be something dead. It is of the essential nature of Spirit to have itself as object, and thence arises its manifestation. But here Spirit is to begin with in the relation of objectivity, and in this relation it is something finite. The third stage is reached when it is object to itself in such a way that it reconciles itself with itself in the object, is "with itself," and in being so has attained its freedom. For freedom means to be self-contain ed, or at home with oneself.
But this rhythm, within which our science as a whole, and the entire development of the Notion moves, reappears in each of the three moments specified, since each of these is potentially totality in its determinateness, until this totality is made explicit as such in the final moment. Therefore, when the Notion first appears in the form of Universality, then in the form of Particularity, and lastly, in the form of Singularity, or when the movement of our science as a whole is that in which the Notion becomes judgment, and completes itself in the syllogism, in every sphere of this movement the same development of the moments will show itself, only that in the first sphere it is held together within the determinate character of universality, in the second sphere within that of particularity, where it exhibits the moments independently, and it is only on arriving at the sphere of individuality that it returns to the real syllogism, which mediates itself in the totality of determinations.
Such, then, is the division of the subject, representing the movement, nature, and action of Spirit itself, of which we, so to speak, are only spectators. It is necessitated by the Notion; the necessity of the progression has, however, to present, explicate, prove itself in the development itself. The division, the different parts and content of which we shall now indicate in a more definite way, is therefore simply historical.
I. - The General Notion [Begriff] Or Conception of Religion.
What comes first is the notion in its universal aspect, what follows in the second place is the determinateness of the notion, the notion in its definite forms; these are indissolubly united with the notion itself, for in the philosophical mode of treatment it is not the case that the Universal, the Notion, is put into prominence, to do it honour, as it were. There are indeed notions or conceptions of Right and of Nature which are general definitions, and which are given a prominent place, and as to which there is to tell the truth room for doubt.
These are not, however, taken seriously, and so we feel that it is not these that are of importance, but the particular content itself, the particular subjects. What is in this connection called the notion, has no further influence upon this content beyond pointing out in a general way what is the ground upon which we stand in dealing with these subjects, and preventing the introduction of content from any other sphere. The content, for. example, magnetism, electricity, answers to the subject-matter itself, [Sache] the notion to the formal element. The conception or notion which is placed in the foreground (as, for example, that of Right) may, however, in connection with such a mode of Considering the subject, become a mere name for the most abstract, uncertain content.
For the philosophical way of looking at things, too, the notion occupies the first place, but here the notion is the content itself, the absolute subject-matter, the substance, as in the case of the germ, out of which the whole tree develops itself. All specifications or determinations are contained in this, the whole nature of the tree, the kind of sap it has, the way in which the branches grow; but in a spiritual manner, and not pre-formed so that a microscope could reveal its boughs, its leaves, in miniature. It is thus that the notion contains the whole nature of the object, and knowledge itself is nothing else than the development of the notion, of that which is implicitly contained in the notion, and has not yet come into existence, has not been unfolded, displayed. Thus we begin with the notion or conception of religion.
I. - The Moment of Universality.
In the notion or conception of religion the purely universal, again, does indeed take the first place; that is, the moment of thought in, its complete universality.
It is not this or that that is thought, but Thought thinks itself. The object is the Universal, which, as active, is Thought. As the act of rising-up to the True, religion is a departing from sensuous, finite objects. If this beg comes merely an advance to all " Other)" it is the false progressive process ad infinitum, and is that kind of talk which does not act out of the bit. Thought, however, is a rising up from the limited to the absolutely Universal, and religion is only through thought, and in thought. God is not the highest emotion, but the highest Thought. Although He is lowered down to popular conception, yet the content of this conception belongs to the realm of thought. The opinion that thought is injurious to religion, and that the more thought is abandoned the more secure the position of religion is, is the maddest error of our time. This misunderstanding originates in a fundamental misconception of the higher spiritual relations. Thus in regard to Right, good-will for itself (or as an independent motive) is taken as something which stands in contrast to intelligence, and men are given the more credit for true good-will the less they think. Right and morality, on the contrary, consist in this alone, that I am a thinking being; that is to say, in the fact that I do not look upon my freedom as that of my empirical personality, which belongs to me as this individual, and in which I might subjugate my neighbour by means of stratagem or force, but in my regarding freedom as something that has its being in and for itself, or exists on its own account, that is, as something Universal.
If we now say that religion has the moment of thought in its complete Universality in itself, and that the Unlimited Universal is supreme absolute Thought, we do not as yet make the distinction here between subjective and objective Thought. The Universal is object, and is thought pure and simple, but not as yet thought developed and made determinate in itself. All distinctions are as yet absent, and exist potentially only. In this ether of thought all that is finite has passed away, everything has disappeared, while at the same time everything is included in it. But this element of the Universal has not as yet taken those more explicit forms. Out of this liquid element, and in this transparency, nothing has as yet fashioned itself into distinct shape.
Sow the further advance consists in this, that this Universal determines itself for itself, and this self-determination constitutes the development of the Idea of God. In the sphere of Universality the Idea itself is, to begin with, the material of determination, and the progress is revealed in divine figures, but as yet the second element - form - is retained in the divine Idea, which is still in its substantiality, and under the character of eternity it remains in the bosom of the Universal.
2. The Moment of Particularity, or the Sphere of Differentiation.
The particularisation, therefore, which is as yet retained in the sphere of the Universal, when it actually manifests itself outwardly as such, constitutes the Other as against the extreme of Universality, and this other extreme is consciousness in its individuality as such. It is the subject in its immediacy, and with its needs, conditions, sins - in fact, in its wholly empirical, temporal character.
In religion, I am myself the relation of the two sides as thus determined. I who think, who am that which lifts myself up, the active Universal, and Ego, the immediate subject, are one and the same "I" And further, the relation of these two sides which are so sharply opposed - the absolutely finite consciousness and being on the one hand, and the infinite on the other - exists in religion for me. In thinking I lift myself up to the Absolute above all that is finite, and am infinite consciousness, while I am at the same time finite consciousness, and indeed am such in accordance with my whole empirical character. Both sides, as well as their relation, exist for me. Both sides seek each other, and both flee from each other. At one time, for example, I accentuate my empirical, finite consciousness, and place myself in opposition to infiniteness ; at another I exclude myself from myself, condemn myself, and give the preponderance to the infinite consciousness. The middle term contains nothing else than. the characteristics of both the extremes. They are not pillars of Hercules, which confront each other sharply. I am, and it is in myself and for myself that this conflict and this conciliation take place. In myself, I as infinite am against or in contrast with myself as finite, and as finite consciousness I stand over against my thought as infinite. I am the feeling, the perception, the idea alike of this unity and this conflict, and am what holds together the conflicting elements, the effort put forth in this act of holding together, and represent the labour of heart and soul to obtain the mastery over this opposition.
I am thus the relation of these two sides, which are not abstract determinations, as " finite and infinite." On the contrary, each is itself totality. Each of the two extremes is itself "I," what relates them ; and the holding together, the relating is itself this which is at once in conflict with itself, and brings itself to unity in the conflict, Or, to put it differently, I am the conflict, for the conflict is just this antagonism, which is not any indifference of the two as different, but is their being bound together. I am not one of those taking part in the strife, but I am both the combatants, and am the strife itself. I am the fire and the water which touch each other, and am the contact and union of what flies apart, and this very contact itself is this double, essentially conflicting relation, as the relation of what is now separated, severed, and now reconciled and in unity with itself.
As representing the forms of the relation of the two extremes, we shall make ourselves acquainted with (1) Feeling; (2) Sense-perception [Anschauung]; (3) Idea [Vorstellung], or ordinary thought.
Before entering upon this subject, it will be necessary to get a knowledge of the entire sphere of these relations in its necessity, in so far as it contains, as elevation of the finite consciousness to the Absolute, the forms of religious consciousness. In investigating this necessity of religion, we are obliged to conceive religion as posited through what is other than itself.
In this mediation indeed, when it opens for us the way into the sphere of those forms of consciousness, religion will present itself already as a result which at once does away with itself as a result; consequently it will present itself as the primary thing, through which all is mediated, and on which all else depends. We shall thus see in what is mediated the counter-impact, the reciprocal action of the movement and of necessity, which both goes forwards and pushes backwards. But this mediation of necessity is now to be posited within religion itself too, so that in fact the relation and the essential connection of the two sides, which are comprised in the religious spirit, may be known as necessary.
The forms of feeling, of sense-perception, and of idea or mental representation, as they necessarily proceed one out of the other, are now forced of themselves into that sphere in which the inward mediation of their moments proves itself to be necessary, that is to say, into the sphere of thought in which religious consciousness will get a grasp of itself in its notion. These two mediations of necessity, therefore, of which one leads to religion and the other takes place within religious consciousness itself, comprise the forms of religious consciousness as it appears as feeling, sense-perception, and idea or ordinary thought.
3. The Annulling of the Differentiation, or Worship (Cultus).
The movement in the preceding, sphere is just that of the notion of God, of the Idea, in becoming objective to itself. We have this movement before us in the language of ordinary thought, in the expression "God is a Spirit." Spirit is not something having a single existence, but is Spirit only in being objective to itself, and in beholding itself in the "Other," as itself. The highest characteristic of Spirit is self-consciousness, which includes this objectivity in itself. God, as Idea, is subjective for what is objective, and is objective for what is subjective. When the moment of subjectivity defines itself further, so that the distinction is made between God as Object and the knowing spirit, the subjective side defines itself in this distinction as that which belongs to the side of finiteness, and the two stand at first so contrasted, that the separation constitutes the antithesis of finiteness and infiniteness. This infinitude, however, being still encumbered with this opposition, is not the true infinitude; to the subjective side, which exists for itself, the absolute object remains still an Other, and the relation in which it stands to it is not self-consciousness. Such an attitude, however, also involves the relation which is expressed by saying, that the finite knows itself as a nullity in its state of separation, and knows its object as the Absolute, as its Substance. And here the first attitude toward the absolute object is that of fear; for individuality knows itself as in regard to the absolute object only as accidental, or as something which is transient and vanishing. But this standpoint of separation is not the true relation. On the contrary, it is what knows itself to be a nullity, and, therefore, something which is to be done away with and absorbed and its attitude is not merely a negative one, but is in itself, or implicitly, positive. The subject recognises the absolute substance, in which it has to annul or lose itself, as being at the same time its essence, its substance, in which, therefore, self-consciousness is inherently contained. It is this unity, reconciliation, restoration of the subject and of its self-consciousness, the positive feeling of possessing a share in, of partaking in this Absolute, and making unity with it actually one's own - this abolition of the dualism, which constitutes the sphere of worship. Worship comprises this entire inward and outward action, which has this restoration to unity as its object. Tile expression "worship" is usually taken merely in the limited sense in which it is understood to mean only outward public acts, and the inward action of the heart does not get so much prominence. We, however, shall conceive of worship as that action which includes both inwardness and outward manifestation, and which in fact produces restoration of unity with the Absolute, and in so doing is also essentially an inward conversion of the spirit and soul. Thus Christian worship does not only include the sacraments and the acts and duties pertaining to the Church, but it also includes the so-called "way of salvation" as a matter of absolutely inward history, and as a series of actions on the part of the inner life - in fact, a movement which goes forward in the soul, and has its right place there.
But we shall always find these two sides, that of self-consciousness, that is, of worship, and that of consciousness or of idea, corresponding with each other at every stage of religion. According as the content of the notion or conception of God or consciousness is determined, so too is the attitude of the subject to Him; or to put it otherwise, so too is self-consciousness in worship determined. The one moment is always a reflection or copy of the other, the one points to the other. Both modes, of which the one holds fast to objective consciousness only, and the other to pure self-consciousness, are one-sided, and each brings about its own abrogation.
It was, therefore, a one-sided view if the natural theology of former times looked upon God as' Object of consciousness only. Such a mode of contemplating the Idea of God, although the words " Spirit " or " Person might be made use of, could never in reality get beyond the idea of an Essence. It was inconsistent, for if actually carried out it must have led to the other, the subjective side, that of self-consciousness.
It is just as one-sided to conceive of religion as something subjective only, thus in fact making the subjective aspect the only one. So regarded, worship is absolutely bald and empty; its action is a movement which makes no advance, its attitude toward God a relation to a nullity, an aiming at nothing. But even this merely subjective action has inconsistency inherent in it, and must of necessity annul itself. For if the subjective side also is to be in any way determined or qualified, it is involved too in the very conception of Spirit, that it is consciousness, and that its determinate character becomes object to it. The richer the feeling, the more fully determined or specialised it is, the richer must the object be for it too. And further, the absoluteness of that feeling which is supposed to be substantial, would, in accordance with its very nature, require to get itself free from its subjectivity; for the substantial character which is supposed to belong to it, is specially directed against the accidental element of opinion and of inclination, is in fact something permanent and fixed in and for itself, independent of our feeling or experience. It is the Objective, what exists in and for itself. If this substantial element remains shut up in the heart only, it is not recognised as the something higher than ourselves, and God Himself becomes something merely subjective, while the efforts of subjectivity remain at the most, as it were a drawing of lines into empty space. For the recognition of a something higher than ourselves, which is capable too of being described, this recognition of One who is undefined, and these lines which are to be drawn in accordance with such recognition, possess no support, no connecting element, derived from what is objective, and are and remain merely our act, our lines, something subjective and the finite never attains to a true real renunciation of itself; while Spirit ought, on the contrary, in worship to liberate itself from its finiteness, and to feel and know itself in God. In the absence of that which is self-existent and commands our obedience, all worship shrinks up into subjectivity. Worship is essentially made up of dealings with and enjoyment of a something higher than ourselves, and includes assurances, evidences, and confirmation of the existence of this higher Being; but such definite dealings, such actual enjoying and assurances can have no place if the objective, obligatory moment be wanting to them, and worship would, in fact, be annihilated if the subjective side were taken to be the whole. The possibility of getting out of the subjective heart into action would thus be as much precluded as the possibility of consciousness attaining to objective knowledge. The one is connected in the closest manner with the other. What a man believes he has to do in relation to God, corresponds with the idea which he has formed of God. His consciousness of self answers to his consciousness, and conversely he cannot believe himself to have any definite duties toward God if he neither have nor suppose himself to have any definite idea of Him as an Object. Not until religion is really relation, and contains the distinction involved in consciousness, does worship attain to a definite form as the lifting up into a higher unity of the severed elements, and become a vital process. This movement of worship does not, however, confine itself to the inner life alone in which consciousness frees itself from its finiteness, is the consciousness of its essence, and the subject as knowing itself in God has penetrated into the foundation of its life. But this its infinite life now develops towards what is outside too, for the worldly life which the subject leads has that substantial consciousness as its basis, and the way and manner in which the subject defines its ends depends on the consciousness of its essential truth. It is in connection with this side that religion reflects itself into worldly or secular life, and that knowledge of the world shows itself. This going out into the actual world is essential to religion, and in this transition religion appears as morality in relation to the State and to the entire life of the State. According, as the religion of nations is constituted, so also is their morality and their government. The shape taken by these latter depends entirely on whether the conception of the freedom of Spirit which a people has reached is a limited one, or on whether the nation has the true consciousness of freedom.
The more definite characteristics of worship will be seen to be the moment of presupposed unity, the sphere of separation, and the freedom which re-establishes itself in the separation.
a. Worship is thus, in fact, the eternal process by which the subject posits itself as identical with its essential being.
This process of the cancelling of the dualism seems to belong to the subjective side only, but it is posited in the object of consciousness too. Through worship, unity is attained; what is not originally united, however, cannot be posited or made explicit as such. This unity, which appears as the act, the result of worship, must be recognised, too, as existing in and for itself. For what is object for consciousness is the Absolute, and its essential characteristic is that it is unity of its absoluteness with particularity. This unity is therefore in the object itself; for example, in the Christian conception of the Incarnation of God.
This self-existent unity, or, put more definitely, the human form, God's becoming man, is in fact an essential moment of religion, and must necessarily appear in the definition of its object. In the Christian religion this characteristic is completely developed, but it occurs, too, in inferior religions. even if the only sign of it is that the infinite is seen in unity with the finite in such a way that it appears as this particular Being, as a definite immediate existence in stars or animals. Further, too, it must be observed here that it is only momentarily that God assumes a human or other form of existence, that He becomes externally manifest, or inwardly reveals Himself in a dream, or as an inward voice.
This is the moment of presupposed or hypothetical unity, which is essentially involved in the conception of God, and in such a way that the object of consciousness (God) exhibits the entire conception of religion in its content, and is itself totality. The moments of the conception of religion thus present themselves here in the character of unification. Each of the aspects or sides of the true Idea is itself the same totality which the whole is. The specific characteristics of content in the two sides are consequently not different in themselves, but only in their form. The absolute object therefore determines itself for consciousness as totality which is in unity with itself.
b. This totality now presents itself in the form of separation and of finiteness, which, as representing the other side, stands over against that totality which is in unity with itself. The moments of the content of the entire conception are here posited as separating themselves from one another, as differentiated, and consequently as abstract. The first moment on this side of differentiation is that of potentiality, the moment of Being which is in identity with itself, of formlessness, of objectivity, in fact. This is matter as representing what is indifferent or undifferentiated, as existence of which all parts are of equal value. Form may be introduced into it, but it remains still in a condition of abstract being for self. We then call it the World, which in relation to God appears partly as His garment, vesture, form, or as something in contrast with Himself.
Over against this moment of undifferentiated potential Being there now stands Being-for-self, the Negative in general, Form. This negative now appears, in its at first indeterminate form, as the negative element in the world, while the latter is the positive element, what subsists. The negativity which is opposed to this subsisting element, to this feeling of self, to this definite being, to this established existence, is Evil. In contrast to God, to this reconciled unity of Being-in-itself and Being-for-itself, appears the element of distinction or difference. We have on the one hand the world as positively and independently existing, and on the other destruction and contradiction in the world; and here the questions suggest themselves, which pertain to all religions based on a more or less developed consciousness, as to how evil is to be reconciled with the absolute unity of God, and wherein lies the origin of evil. This negative, in the first place, appears as the evil in the world, but it recalls itself into identity with itself, in which it is the Being-for-self of self-consciousness - finite Spirit.
This negative which recalls itself into itself is now once more a something positive, because it relates itself simply to itself. As evil, it appears as involved in positive existence. But the negativity which is present for itself and independently, and not in another which is regarded as having independent existence of its own, the negativity which reflects itself into itself, the inward, infinite negativity which is object to itself, is just the "Ego." In this self-consciousness, and in its own inner movement, finiteness definitely appears, and self-contradiction is thus incident in it. Thus there is an element of disturbance in it, evil makes its appearance in it, and thus is evil of the will.
c. I, however, who am free can abstract from everything; it is this negativity and isolation which constitutes my essential being. Evil is not the whole of the subject. On the contrary, this latter has in it also unity with itself, which constitutes the positive side (goodness) and the absoluteness, the infinitude of consciousness of self. It is this ability to abstract from all that is immediate, from all that is external, - which constitutes the essential moment of the isolation or seclusion of Spirit. This isolation is exempted from the temporariness, change and vicissitude of this world, from evil and from disunion, and is represented as the absoluteness of consciousness of self in the thought of the immortality of the soul. At first the prominent element in this thought is continued existence in time; this exemption from the dominion and from the vicissitudes of change is represented, however, as essentially and originally belonging to Spirit, and not as being brought about secondarily by means of reconciliation. And thus advance is made to the further determination that the Spirit's consciousness of self is an eternal, absolute moment in that eternal life in which it is lifted up far above time, above this abstraction of change, and above the reality of change, above dualism, when it is taken up into the unity and reconciliation which is presupposed as originally present in the object of consciousness.
II. - Of Judgment, or Definite Religion.
If in the first part we have considered religion in its notion or conception, the simple conception of religion, the character of the content, the Universal, it is now necessary to leave this sphere of Universality and go on to treat of determinateness in religion.
The notion as such is not as yet unfolded; the determinate qualities, the moments are contained in it, but are not as yet openly displayed, and have not received the right distinction or difference which belongs to them. It is only by means of the judgment (i.e., the act of differentiation) that they receive this. It is when God, the Notion, performs the act of judgment, and the category of determinateness enters, that we first come to have existing religion, which is at the same time definitely existing religion.
The course followed in passing from the abstract to the concrete is based upon our method, upon the notion, and not on the fact that much special content is present. There is a complete distinction between this and our point of view. Spirit, to which belongs Being which is absolute and supreme, is, exists only as activity; that is to say, in so far as it posits itself, is actual or for itself, and produces itself. But in this its activity it has the power of knowing, and only as it thus knows is it that which it is. It is thus essential to religion not only to exist in its notion, but also to be the consciousness of that which the notion is, and the material in which the notion as the plan, so to speak, realises itself, which it makes its own, which it moulds in accordance with itself, is human consciousness. So too, Right, for example, only is when it exists in the spirit, when it takes possession of the wills of men, and they know of it as the determination of their wills. And it is in this way that the Idea first realises itself, having before only been posited as the form of the notion.
Spirit, in short, is not immediate; natural things are immediate, and remain in this condition of immediate Being. The Being of Spirit is not thus immediate, but is, exists only as producing itself, as making itself for itself by means of negation as Subject; otherwise it would be substance only. And this coming to itself on the part of Spirit is movement, activity, and mediation of itself with itself.
A stone is immediate, it is complete. Wherever there is life, however, this activity is already to be found. Thus the first form of the existence of plants is the feeble existence of the germ, and out of this it has to develop itself and to produce itself. Finally the plant epitomises itself when it has unfolded itself in the seed; this beginning of the plant is also its ultimate product. In like manner man is at first a child, and as belonging to Nature he describes this round in order to beget another.
In plants there are two kinds of individual forms this germ which begins, is different from the one which is the completion of its life, and in which this evolution reaches maturity. But it is the very nature of Spirit, just because it is living, to be at first only potential, to be in its notion or conception, then to come forward into existence, to unfold, produce itself, become mature, bringing forth the notion of itself, that which it implicitly is, so that what it is in itself or implicitly ma v be its notion actually or for itself. The child is not as yet a reasonable person; it has capacities only, it is at first reason, Spirit, potentially only. It is by means of education and development that it becomes Spirit.
This, then, is what is called self-determination entering into existence, being " for other," bringing one's moments into distinction, and unfolding one's self. These distinctions are no other than the characteristics which the notion itself implicitly contains.
The development of these distinctions, and the course of the tendencies which result from them, are the way by which Spirit comes to itself; it is itself, however, the goal. The absolute end, which is that Spirit should know itself, comprehend itself, should become object to itself as it is in itself, arrive at perfect knowledge of itself, first appears as its true Being. Now this process, followed by self-producing Spirit, this path taken by it, includes distinct moments; but the path is not as yet the goal, and Spirit does not reach the goal without having traversed the path; it is not originally at the goal; even what is most perfect must traverse the path to the goal in order to attain it. Spirit, in these halting places of its progress, is not as yet perfect; its knowledge, its consciousness regarding itself, is not what is true, and it is not as yet revealed to itself. Spirit being essentially this activity of self-production, it follows that there are stages of its consciousness, but its consciousness of itself is always in proportion only to the stage which has been reached. Now these stages supply us with definite relig ion; here religion is consciousness of the universal Spirit, which is not as yet fully developed as absolute; this consciousness of Spirit at each stage is definite consciousness of itself, it is the path of the education of Spirit. We have therefore to consider the definite forms of religion. These, as being stages on the road followed by Spirit, are imperfect.
The different forms or specific kinds of religion are, in one aspect, moments of religion in general, or of perfected religion. They have, however, an independent aspect too, for in them religion has developed itself in time, and historically.
Religion, in so far as it is definite, and has not as yet completed the circle of its determinateness - so far that is as it is finite religion, and exists as finite - is historical religion, or a particular form of religion. Its principal moments, and also the manner in which they exist historically, being exhibited in the progress of religion from stage to stage, and in its development, there thus arises a series of forms of religion, or a history of religion. That which is determined by means of the Notion must of necessity have existed, and the religions, as they have followed upon one another, have not arisen accidentally. It is Spirit which rules inner life, and to see only, chance here, after the fashion of the historical school, is absurd.
The essential moments of the notion or conception of religion show themselves and make their appearance at ever y stage in which religion exists at all. It is only because the moments are not as yet posited in the totality of the notion, that any difference between it and its true form arises. These definite religions are not indeed our religion, yet they are included in ours as essential, although as subordinate moments, which cannot miss having in them absolute truth. Therefore in them we have not to do with what is foreign to us, but with what is our own, and the knowledge that such is the case is the reconciliation of the true religion with the false. Thus the moments of the notion or conception of religion appear on lower stages of development, though as yet in the shape of anticipations or presentiments, as natural flowers and creations of fancy which have, so to speak, blossomed forth by chance. What determines the characteristics of these stages, however, through their entire history, is the determinateness of the notion itself, which can at no stage be absent. The thought of the Incarnation, for example, pervades every religion. Such general conceptions make their presence felt too in other spheres of Spirit. What is substantial in moral relations, as, for example, property, marriage, protection of the sovereign and of the State, and the ultimate decision which rests with subjectivity regarding that which is to be done for the whole, all this is to be found in an uneducated society as well as in the perfect state; only the definite form of this substantial element differs according to the degree of culture which such a society has reached. What is here of special importance, however, is that the notion should also become actually known in its totality, and in exact accordance with the degree in which this knowledge is present, is the stage at which the religious spirit is, higher or lower, richer or poorer. Spirit may have something in its possession without having a developed consciousness of it. It actually has the immediate, proper nature of Spirit, has a physical, organic nature, but it does not know that nature in its essential character and truth, and has only an approximate, general idea of it. Men live in the State, they are themselves the life, activity, actuality of the State, 'but the positing, the becoming conscious of what the State is, does not on that account take place, and yet the perfected State just means that everything which is potentially in it, that is to say, in its notion or conception should be developed, posited, and made into rights and duties, into law. In like manner the moments of the notion or conception are actually present in the definite religions, in mental pictures, feelings, or immediate imagery; but the consciousness of these moments is not as yet evolved, or, in other words, they have not as yet been elevated to the point at which they are the determination of the absolute object, and God is not as yet actually represented under these determinations of the totality of the conception of religion. It is undoubtedly true that the definite religions of the various peoples often enough exhibit the most distorted, confused, and abortive ideas of the divine Being, and likewise of duties and relations as expressed in worship. But we must not treat the matter so lightly, and conceive of it in so superficial a manner, as to reject these ideas and these rites as superstition, error, and deceit, or only trace back their origin to pious feeling, and thus value them as merely representing some sort of religious feeling without caring how they may chance to be constituted. The mere collection and elaboration of the external and visible elements cannot satisfy us either. On the contrary, something higher is necessary, namely, to recognise the meaning, the truth, and the connection with truth; in short, to get to know what is rational in them They are human beings who have hit upon such religions, therefore there must be reason in them, and amidst all that is accidental in them a higher necessity. We must do them this justice, for what is human, rational in them, is our own too, although it exists in our higher consciousness as a moment only. To get a grasp of the history of religions in this sense, means to reconcile ourselves even with. what is horrible, dreadful, or absurd in them, and to justify it. We are on no account to regard it as right or true, as it presents itself in its purely immediate form - there is no question of doing this - but we are at least to recognise its beginning, the source from which in it has originated as being in human nature. Such is the reconciliation with this entire sphere, the reconciliation which completes itself in the notion. Religions, as they follow upon one another, are determined by means of the notion. Their nature and succession are not determined from without; on the contrary, they are determined by the nature of Spirit which has entered into the world to bring itself to consciousness of itself. Since we look at these definite religions in accordance with the notion, this is a purely philosophical study of what actually is or exists. Philosophy indeed treats of nothing which is not and does not concern itself with what is so powerless as not even to have the energy to force itself into existence.
Now in development as such, in so far as it has not as yet reached its goal, the moments of the notion are still in a state of separation or mutual exclusion, so that the reality has not as yet come to be equal to the notion or conception. The finite religions are the appearance in history of these moments. In order to grasp these in their truth, it is necessary to consider them under two aspects; on the one hand, we have to consider how God is known, how He is characterised; and on the other, how the subject at, the same time knows itself. For the two aspects the objective and subjective have but one foundation for their further determination, and but one specific character pervades them both. The idea which a man has of God corresponds with. that which he has of himself, of his freedom. Knowing himself in God, he at the same time knows his imperishable life in God; He knows of the truth of his Being, and therefore the idea of the immortality of the soul here enters as an essential moment into the history of religion. The ideas of God and of immortality have a necessary relation to each other; when a man knows truly about God, he knows truly about himself too: the two sides correspond with each other. At first God is something quite undetermined; but in the course of the development of the human mind, the consciousness of that which God is gradually forms and matures itself, losing more and more of its initial indefiniteness, and with this the development of true self-consciousness advances also. The Proofs of the Existence of God fall to be included also within the sphere of this progressive development, it being their aim to set forth the necessary elevation of the spirit to God. For the diversity of the characteristics which in this process of elevation are attributed to God, is fixed by the diversity of the points of departure, and this diversity again has its foundation in the nature of the historical stage of actual self-consciousness which has been reached. The different forms which this elevation of the spirit takes will always indicate the metaphysical spirit of the period in question, for this corresponds with the prevalent idea of God and the sphere of worship. If we now attempt to indicate in a more precise way the divisions of this stage of definite religion, we find that what is of primary importance here is the manner of the divine manifestation. God is manifestation, not in a general sense merely, but as being Spirit He determines Himself as appearing to Himself; that is to say, He is not Object in the general sense, but is Object to Himself.
1. As for manifestation generally, or abstract manifestation, it is Nature in General. Manifestation is Being for Other, an externalisation of things mutually distinct, and not vet reflected and one, in fact, which is immediate into itself. This logical determination is taken here in its concrete sense as the natural world. What is for an " Other," exists for this very reason in a sensuous form. The thought, which is for another thought, which, as having Being, is to be posited as distinct, that is to say, as something which exists as an independent subject in reference to the other, is only capable of being communicated by the one to the other through the sensuous medium of sign or speech, in fact, by bodily means.
But since God exists essentially only as appearing to Himself, that abstract attitude of man to nature does not belong to religion; on the contrary, in religion nature is only a moment of the Divine, and therefore must, as it exists for the religious consciousness, have also the characteristic note of the spiritual mode of existence in it. It thus does not remain in its pure, natural element, but receives the characteristic quality of the Divine which dwells in it. It cannot be said of any religion that in it men have worshipped the sun, the sea, or nature; when they worship these objects, the latter no longer have for the worshippers the prosaic character which they have for ourselves. Even while these objects are for them divine, they still, it is true, remain natural; but when they become objects of religion, they at once assume a spiritual aspect. The contemplation of the sun, the stars, &c., as individual natural phenomena, is outside the sphere of religion. The so-called prosaic manner of looking at nature, as the latter exists for consciousness when regarding it through the understanding, betokens a separation which comes later; its presence is consequent on much deeper and more thorough-going reflection. Not till the spirit or mind has posited itself independently for itself, and as free from nature, does the latter appear to it as an Other, as something external.
The first mode of manifestation then, in the form of Nature namely, has the subjectivity, the spiritual nature of God as its centre in a general sense only, and consequently these two determinations have not as yet come into relation through reflection. When this takes place, it constitutes the second mode of manifestation.
2. In Himself or potentially God is Spirit; this is our notion or conception of Him. But for this very reason He must be posited too as Spirit, and this means that the manner of His manifestation must be itself a spiritual one, and consequently the negation of the natural. And for this it is necessary that His determinateness, the Idea on the side of reality, be equal to the conception; and the relation of reality to the divine conception is complete when Spirit exists as Spirit; that is to say, when both the conception and reality exist as this Spirit. To begin with, however, we see that the form of nature constitutes that determinateness of the conception of God, or the aspect of reality belonging to the Idea. The emergence of the spiritual element of subjectivity out of nature, accordingly appears at first merely as a conflict between the two sides, which are still entangled with one another in that conflict. Therefore this stage of definite religion too remains in the sphere of what is natural, and in fact constitutes, in common with the preceding one, the stage of the Religion of Nature.
3. It is actually within the definite religions as they succeed each other that Spirit in its movement attempts to make the determinateness correspond with the notion or conception, but this determinateness appears here as still abstract, or, to put it otherwise, the notion appears as still the finite notion. These attempts, in which the principle of the preceding stages, namely, Essence, or essential Being, strives to grasp itself together into infinite inwardness are: 1. the Jewish religion; 2. the Greek; 3. the Roman. The God of the Jews is Oneness or soleness, which as such continues to be abstract unity, and is not as yet concrete in itself. This God is indeed God in the Spirit, but does not exist as yet as Spirit. He is something not presented to sense, an abstraction of Thought, which has not as yet that fullness in itself which constitutes it Spirit. The freedom which the notion seeks to reach through self-development in the Greek religion, still lives under the sway of up sceptre of necessity of Essence; and the notion as it appears in and seeks to win its independence in the Roman religion is still limited, since it is related to an external world which stands opposite to it, in which it is only to be objective, and is, therefore, external adaptation to an end, or external utility.
These are the principal specific forms which here present themselves as the modes of the Reality of Spirit. As determinate they are inadequate to the notion or conception of Spirit, and are finite in character, and this infinitude, namely, that there is one God, this abstract affirmation, is finite also. This determination of the manifestation of God in consciousness as pure ideality of the One, as abolition of the manifold character of external manifestation, might perhaps be contrasted, as being that which is true, with the religion of nature, but it is really only one form of determinateness as against the totality of the notion of Spirit. It corresponds with this totality just as little as its opposite does. These definite relations are not in fact as yet the true religion, and in them God is not as yet known in His true nature, since there is wanting to them the absolute content of Spirit.
III. - Revealed Religion.
Manifestation, development, and determination or specification do not go on ad infinitum, and do not cease accidentally. True progress consists rather in this, that this reflexion of the notion into itself stops short, inasmuch as it really returns into itself. Thus manifestation is itself infinite in nature; the content is in accordance with the conception of Spirit, and the manifestation is, like Spirit, in and for itself. The notion or conception of religion has in religion become objective to itself. Spirit, which is in and for itself, has now no longer individual forms, determinations of itself, before it, as it unfolds itself. It knows itself no longer as Spirit in any definite form or limitation, but has now overcome those limitations, this finiteness, and is actually, what it is potentially. This knowledge of Spirit for itself or actually, as it is in itself or potentially, is the being in-and-for-itself of Spirit as exercising knowledge, the perfect, absolute religion, in which it is revealed what Spirit, what God is; this is the Christian religion.
That Spirit, as it does in all else, must in religion also run through its natural course, is necessarily bound up with the conception of Spirit. Spirit is only Spirit when it exists for itself as the negation of all finite forms, as this absolute ideality.
I form ideas, I have perceptions, and here there is a certain definite content, as, for instance, this house, and so on. They are my perceptions, they present themselves to me I could not, however, present them to myself if I did not grasp this particular content in myself, and if I had not posited it in a simple, ideal manner in myself. Ideality means that this definite external existence, these conditions of space, of time, and matter, this separateness of parts, is done away with in something higher; in that I know this external existence, these forms of it are not ideas which are mutually exclusive, but are comprehended, grasped together in me in a simple manner.
Spirit is knowledge; but in order that knowledge should exist, it is necessary that the content of that which it knows should have attained to this ideal form, and should in this way have been negated. What Spirit is must in that way have become its own, it must have described this circle; and these forms, differences, determinations, finite qualities, must have existed in order that it should make them its own.
This represents both the way and the goal - that Spirit should have attained to its own notion or conception, to that which it implicitly is, and in this way only, the way which has been indicated in its abstract moments, does it attain it. Revealed religion is manifested religion, because in it God has become wholly manifest. Here all is proportionate to the notion; there is no longer anything secret in God. Here, then, is the consciousness of the developed conception of Spirit, of reconciliation, not in beauty, in joyousness, but in the Spirit. Revealed religion, which was hitherto still veiled, and did not exist in its truth, came at its own time. This was not a chance time, dependent on some one's liking, or caprice, but determined on in the essential, eternal counsel of God; that is, in the eternal reason, wisdom of God; it is the notion of the reality or fact itself, the divine notion, the notion of God Himself, which determines itself to enter on this development, and has set its goal before it.
This course thus followed by religion is the true theodicy; it exhibits all products of Spirit, every form of its self-knowledge, as necessary, because Spirit is something living, working, and its impulse is to press on through the series of its manifestations towards the consciousness of itself as embracing all truth.