Sunday, 10 December 2017

Wilhelm Dilthey on the content of Hegel's "objective idealism"

Dilthey's Life of Schleiermacher (1870).
This post is a summary with extensive direct citations of Wilhelm Dilthey's interpretation of Hegel's religious views in his Frankfurt period, which Dilthey regarded as decisive for Hegel's later development.

The material comes from the final seventh section of the second of the two parts of Wilhelm Dilthey’s Die Jugendgeschichte Hegels [History of Hegel’s Youth (1905)]. I will include my interpretative comments and evaluation in a separate post as the length of a single post would be unwieldy. Briefly, Dilthey considers that Hegel’s system at this time has three parts:
  • “Mystical Pantheism” 
  • The History of Religion 
  • The Ideal
The standpoint of “mystical pantheism” provides the key to interpreting the history of religion, from which emerges the task of realizing the religious and political ideal that history reveals as yet unattained. Hence the three parts are not co-equal: the first determines the others. I focus on the key first part in the following summary and excerpts. After the introduction on the concept of "mystical pantheism", it has five main sections. The titles in square brackets are mine and indicate the subjects covered:
  • Life and Spirit
  • Evidences of Mystical Pantheism
  • The Influence of Schleiermacher's Discourses
  • Private Property, Public Worship and Sacrifice; Fichte's Subjective Religion
  • Religion, History and the Phenomenology of Spirit
In citations, “GS” refers to Dilthey’s Gesammelte Schriften [Collected Writings] and the following page numbers to the French edition of Jean-Christophe Merle in Leibniz et Hegel  (Paris: Cerf, 2002).


The New Vision of the World and the Beginnings of the System 

Dilthey sets out his intentions for this chapter: “We now have the task of discovering what vision of the world is at work in Hegel behind the fragments that have passed before us whose final goal was theological-historical in nature. This task is difficult, for one must relate different passages to each other that belong in very different places in the manuscripts.” (GS IV, 137; 243) [It also assumed that any unconflicted vision can be extracted from Hegel’s intellectual struggles up to this point. – SC] 

Since the writings arose in the context of interpretation of texts or religious concepts, they do not have the philosophical rigor of a systematic presentation. Even so, some essential traits of the Hegelian system emerge from them. Dilthey confines himself to this and abandons the task of identifying separate stages of this new vision. He says: “It is the nature of the thing that the theological fragments provide most of the materials for the three parts that the system contains, that is, mystical pantheism, the history of religion and the ideal, and that the political writings can be used only for the ideal.” (GS IV, 138; 244)

Mystical Pantheism

 We will look at the clearest expressions of mystical pantheism that are externally datable. This will allow us to establish the range of metaphysical ideas of the Frankfurt period. We will then look at some isolated earlier passages. Piety is the highest level at which the unity of things can be apprehended by the mind. Separation and finitude are suppressed, but also thereby retained. “All the metaphysical pronouncements contained in the whole extent of these theological fragments agree in this.” Dilthey writes:
“Hegel determines the character of all reality by the concept of life. Life is for him the relation of parts to the whole, under which the parts can neither exist not be thought as isolated from the whole. The character of life consists in this, that there is a manifold, but that it can only be and be understood in this connection as incorporation of parts in a whole.” (GS IV 138, 244)
It is for this reason that the concepts of whole and parts, of unity, separation, opposition and union dominate Hegel’s thought in this period. He thinks reality through the concepts of whole and part. The world as a whole is present to his mind. [He only expressed this logically at a later period, Dilthey remarks.] Dilthey says:
“In an original metaphysical head, what comes first is a certain way of apprehending [gewahren] which gives color and sound to what proceeds from it, and in the course of his development there arises logical consciousness, the foundation and systematic construction of what is contained in his way of seeing reality.” (GS IV 138-39; 244.45)
Such then are the concepts of transcendental philosophy. [There is a danger of irrationalism in this account of the origin of new ideas, if the function of subsequent criticism is seen as secondary to the initial effort of imagination. – SC]

Kant, Fichte and Schelling conceive the categories of unity and plurality, separation, whole and parts differently, but they all conceive them as forms of thought by which reality is comprehensible. [In later British idealism and personalism (Caird and Macmurray), the kinds of whole were usefully distinguished into organic and personal. – SC] Kant distinguished the categories of reality as a whole from those of understanding. From Hegel, they receive depth from their relation to lived experience and historical reflection. He found the history of religion comprehensible on the basis of metaphysical experience. Dilthey says:
“Now if, at the time, Hegel attained a historical acquaintance with certain sides of Christianity of which Schelling, Schleiermacher and the later Fichte had also conceived the importance in the same period, he received at the same time from this common inheritance in Christianity an important support for his metaphysics. On Hegel too the Gospel of John exercised the strongest influence.” (GS IV 139; 245)
By this reflection, Hegel began to appreciate the mystics. He copied passages from Eckart and Tauler. He found common ground with neo-Platonism. Church iconography, music and the writings of the mystics moved him. Separation [Trennung] was painful to him. [I wonder if there is a better translation here. In German, Trennung is also used for the break-up of romantic partners and other partings of the ways. – SC] Hegel said: “Separation is at hand in misery. We feel ourselves in it as objects and have to flee towards its determining cause. In happiness, this separation is overcome.” (GS IV 139; 245)

He sees something of separation in transcendence. It is as if the concepts resound in the soul. In his history of religion, he values unity, but this only arises from what is separate. The pain of separation (of limit, of opposition) is a condition of its being overcome. This significance of pain is a new trait in Hegel of the history of philosophy since Leibniz. Thus he conceives the world and history in the totality of all psychic forces. Dilthey says: “This is perhaps the tendency most characteristic of Hegel amongst the modern thinkers.” (GS IV 140; 246)

Here too we see a new aspect of the relation of Hegel and Hölderlin. The first volume of Hyperion appeared in 1797. Hölderlin at this time did not know of Hegel’s manuscripts, for Hegel only arrived in Frankfurt in January 1797. [However, we don’t know the contents of Hegel’s letters to Hölderlin, as they have been lost. – SC] There are pantheist speculations in Hyperion. He sees the psychic depth of life in nature, heroes, artists and thinkers. There is unity amidst the manifold, love and beauty, but the divine as appearance is subject to the laws of succession and hence arise suffering and trial. “There is reconciliation in the midst of strife and all that is divided finds itself again.” (GS 140; 246) The ideas are similar. If Hegel did not influence Hölderlin, perhaps there was influence the other way around; or perhaps the two Swabians independently drew conclusions from their literary situation, i.e. an objective idealism. A comparison with Novalis would be interesting here.

Section One

[Life and Spirit]

 Two fragments are illustrative of Hegel's early notion of life: one is dated 14 September 1800 and the pagination shows it to be part of a larger work. This is a few months before he left Frankfurt and the same time as the reworking of the Positivity essay. Here Hegel begins from life, which is “infinitely manifold, of endless opposition and relation. As plurality, it is an endless plurality of organisms and individuals; as unity, it is an individual, organized separateness and a unified whole – nature.” (GS IV 141; 247) He then determines this life as spirit:
“One can call infinite life spirit, in opposition to abstract plurality, for spirit is the living accord of the plurality, as against a divided, dead, mere plurality [what Leibniz would call an aggregate – SC]. For spirit would then be the simple unity called law that is only thought, and not something living. Spirit is an animating law [one might say principle or dispensation for Gesetz – SC] in union with the manifold, which then comes alive.” (GS IV 141; 247)
What we see in this is both ( a) the relation of part and whole and ( b) the logical relation in which the unity of a manifold is taken as a universal, object of thought, law, and thus as a subordination of the particular to this universal or law. There is the concept of a living unity that is immanent to its parts and organizes them. [Contemporary biology and medicine sometimes employed this manner of thinking. It is also found in the scientific writings of Goethe. – SC] Parts become organs, and the totality “the endless whole [All] of life”. The “animating [belebenden] law is spirit. Dilthey comments:
“This important passage shows that from the outset Hegel determines the essence of spirit beginning from the logical category of the whole, of totality; it has as presupposition that the reunion of a manifold in a unity is the very essence of spirit, as it is experienced in the connections drawn by the individual mind, and which then, separated from lived experience and considered as a form of logical relation, constitutes everywhere the distinctive character of spirit. Thereby is spoken the fundamental idea of Hegel’s philosophy.” (GS IV 141; 247)
In his later thought, it is from this that the logical character of the world as a manifestation of spirit follows. The order of concepts is thus related back for him to a disposition of mind. Latterly, he conceived of Logic as a formal presentation of mind. The mind is presented in nature as otherness; in subjective mind as the inner heart; and in the community in an objective form. Yet the same set of relations can be discerned in each.

Hegel further distinguishes the concepts of life and nature from each other: Hegel says: “Nature is a situating [setzen] of life, for reflection has brought into life its concepts of relation and separation, of the individual, what is for itself, universal, connected, thereby also [the concepts] of the limited and unlimited, and made it into nature through this situating.” (GS 142; 248) In this passage, says Dilthey, reflection indicates a real process. Placing, opposition, reflection are a distinguishing of individual from universal.

In this vein, Hegel says: “Life, as an infinity of living beings, or as an infinity of forms, is in this way as nature an infinite finitude, an unlimited limitation.” (GS IV 142; 248) Nature is not itself universal life, but a “life processed, fixed, be it in the worthiest way” by reflection. Infinite life has its expression and presentation in living beings. It is an organized whole, which embraces an unlimited plurality of living beings. Each living being is itself “an infinite plurality, because it is living.” (GS IV 142; 248)

The concept of individuality arises from separating a living part of infinite life from that infinite life, thinking it as “having its being only in union” and abstracting again from the separation of plurality in this part. The concept includes both connection and opposition to the infinitude of life. This applies to man as an individual. “He is only insofar as life as a whole is divided, insofar as he is a part and the rest of life is the other part; he is only insofar as he is no part and is not separated from life as a whole.” (GS IV 142-43; 248) Man is a representation of the whole of life.

This infinite life cannot be perfectly known. The basis of all knowledge is the relation between thinking life and nature, as given to our observation. However, this relation contains an insurmountable obstacle for thought, namely that between thought and infinite life. This is insurmountable because knowledge is based on the opposition of subject and object.  
The same contradiction exists in conceiving the totality of the world. This requires that life “be considered, not only as union, relation, but at the same time as opposition.” We place something in thought by excluding something else. If I think [of] relation, of the manifold as organ of universal life, then I exclude the opposition that is inherent to life. If I say that life is the connection of opposition and relation, I exclude non-connection. Hence we find this self-contradictory formula: “Life is the connection [Verbindung] of connection and non-connection.” (GS IV 143; 249) [Is there not a simple logical problem of self-reference that is soluble semantically, but to which ontological/metaphysical significance is being attributed? – SC] The inadequacy of reflection to infinitude is shown here when it “fixes” parts “as inert, static, fixed points, as individuals.” (GS IV 143; 249)

One only possesses infinite life if finite life raises itself to it. This happens in religion. To locate something is to operate an exclusion. It “contains an opposition, partly that of the not-thinking and partly that of the thinker and of what is thought.” This limit is only overcome within life. The finite is not only understanding, but also life itself. “Philosophy must make infinitude manifest in all finitude and require through reason the completion of the same.” (GS IV 143; 249)

Hegel thus wished to show explicitly what Schleiermacher had shown in another way, that Fichte’s philosophy has found no way to conceptualize infinite life. Fichte too remained in the opposition of subjective and objective. The confusion that consists in “adding to the limited that which limits it, this being known as a law, a restriction even, to seek anew the limiting factor and make the demand to continue this to infinity” (GS IV 144; 249) never attains the totality that lies beyond opposition. [No surprise, as that is as far as the mathematical analogy can take us. – SC] At this point the fragment ends.

Section Two

[Evidences of Mystical Pantheism: the Concepts of Life, Individuality, Love, Spirit and Reflection] 

We will now try to show how this metaphysics runs through the other theological fragments of this period. Only thus can we glimpse how the thought grows. We rely here on statements scattered through the exposition. Some we have already covered.

The fundamental concept of Hegel’s then philosophy is that of life. Each being is a manifestation of life. Hegel says: “Life is not different from life, because life is in its own Godhood.” (GS IV 144; 250) God is pure life, what persists in the transitory, is one in many and the cause of the transitory and the manifold. This comes from the Prologue to St John’s Gospel as Hegel interprets it, as we have seen. [This refers back to earlier in the book. – SC] Hegel sought the origin of the concept in the Self (as in Fichte and the early Schelling)). We call character what is universal in conscious actions. If we suppress determinacy, we arrive at the concept of pure life (for determinacy constitutes the individual. Dilthey comments: “Hereby it is said, in a Fichtean spirit, that we enter into the kingdom of the One through the Self.” (144; 250) The subject that feels itself determined, passive, in relation with the manifold and changeable does not get beyond the intuition of what predominates in the play of forces. When however, the spirit grasps what is changeless, the path to God is open to it.

Besides Hegel, Schleiermacher (in the Monologues) and Schopenhauer sought access to the world of metaphysics through the Self. Only this one passage in Hegel supports this, says Dilthey. Elsewhere in the manuscripts, he speaks of life, the unity and the manifold in it, without relating it back to the “pure Self”. 

Other features of life are taken up in the manuscripts. Fate or destiny [Schicksal] for example is the reaction of what lives to that which wounds it. Hegel says: “Fate is as incorruptible and limitless as life.” (GS IV 144; 250) Life is inherently divided, from which originate its individual modifications. Thus Hegel says: 
“What is [das Seiende] must be considered under two different aspects: once as one, in which there is no division or opposition, and once with the possibility of separation, of the infinite division of the one.” (GS IV 144-45; 250)
Thus unity contains multiplicity by way of division. Hegel says: “The manifold, the infinity of the real, is infinite division as real.” (GS IV 145; 250) From this flows the nature of each individual being in this manifold. Hegel says: “Each part outside of which the whole is found is at the same time a whole, a life; and this life again also, as something reflected, taking into consideration the division of the relation of subject and predicate, is still life.” (GS IV 145; 250) Hegel “finds ever new ways of saying that the individual is not to be considered as a particular substance, but rather is not separate from the life of the whole.” [GS IV 145; 250. “Substance” here has the significance of independent existence. – SC] “The limited individual, set in dead opposition, is at the same time a twig of the infinite tree of life.” Hegel says: “Only for objects that count as dead is the whole other than the parts; on the other hand for the living the part is the very same one as the whole.” (GS IV 145; 250-51) He often treats the relationship of the relation of universal and particular to that of whole and parts as the basis of our understanding of the world. Thus in the critique of [Kant’s] Doctrine of Virtue, he expounds how the first of these relations on its own tears reality apart without grasping its unity. It abstracts a rule from reality, then abandons life for the sake of the rule.

The feeling of what is alive is love. In this, the connectedness of life comes to expression. Hegel cites a phrase from [Rousseau’s educational novel] Julie: “The more I give, the more I have.” [Rousseau wrote: “Plus je désire, plus je possède.” The theme of getting back to an original human nature through a developmental account of its transformation is part of the influence of Rousseau on Hegel. – SC] Once, like Schleiermacher, Hegel treats the problem of shame or modesty, in which he sees an anger of love concerning individuality. Hegel says:
“Love is indignant over what is still separated, over property.” “In love, there is still that which is separate, but no longer as separate, but rather as unified; and the living feels the living. In love, the whole does not exist as the sum of many particular, separate things. In it, life finds itself, as a copy of itself and unity of the same. From undeveloped oneness, life through learning [Bildung] completes the circle to an accomplished unity.” (GS IV 145; 251) 
A similar formulation is found in the first fragment of Hölderlin’s Hyperion. As love is the consciousness of life, the reality of ethical life and the elimination of morality opposed to it, so does the true ethical life that comes to expression in love lie beyond the commandments of morality, the relations of culpability and punishment and the categories of domination and obedience. Instead, there are relations of life realized in community, wounds to this life and the reactions of fate and reconciliation that arise from them. Here too there is a similarity to Hölderlin’s Empedokles with its illustrations of heroism and its effects on the lives of others: unavoidable injury, fate and reconciliation through love. From these concepts shortly afterwards there arose the underlying reason for Hegel’s idea of the realization of ethical life in life as a whole. Under this scheme, we pass from:
  • Life, to 
  • Consciousness of life expressed as love, to 
  • An objective ethical life and its institutions.
Hegel said: “In each authentically free people, each is a part, but at the same time he is also the whole.” “Each individual bears the whole state within him.” (GS IV 146; 251) [It is this wholeness of the universal individual that is injured by the excessive division of labour under modern capitalism, according to Lukács. – SC]

Moreover, infinite life is defined in different passages as spirit, with which the principle of the nascent system reaches the light. Hegel finds this concept in St John’s Gospel. Hegel wrote:
“But Jewish learning, so poor in spiritual relations, constrained him to use a realistic language, objective relations,  for what is most spiritual and [that language] consequently sounds much harsher than if it were a matter of expressing feelings in an epistolary style. The kingdom of heaven, to enter the kingdom of heaven, I am the gate, I am the true food, who eats my body, etc. – in such associations with dry reality the spiritual is forced to expression, and nowhere more than here is it necessary to respond with the depths of one’s own spirit; nowhere is to less possible to learn, to absorb passively [what is meant], since this objective language of the spiritual, understood in the form of realistic concepts, shatters the mind.” (GS IV 146; 252)
Hegel thought it necessary to seek Jesus’ consciousness behind imperfect expressions. He focuses on the moments of unity and equality of the spiritual between Jesus, God and the person of faith. He underscores the moment of unity in spirit that makes union through religion possible. Hegel says:
“Since the divine is pure life, it must needs be that, if one speaks of it, what is spoken contains no opposition in it.” “for the effect of the divine is only a unification of minds; only spirit grasps and includes spirit within itself – expressions such as command, teach, learn, see, know, make, the will, enter into the kingdom of heaven, serve to express only relations of objectivity if the reception of something objective in the mind is concerned.” “Who separates himself from the divine, mocks nature and the spirit in her, has destroyed what is holy in himself.” (GS IV 146-47; 252)
The life of the universe can never be completely expressed by the understanding. Here it finds a limit to its reflections. Hegel says: “Reflection that analyses life can distinguish it into infinite and finite, and only the limitation, the finite considered for itself, provides the concept of man as opposed to the divine; outside reflection, in truth, this does not occur.” And: “Each expression about the divine in the form of reflection is absurd and to passively and dispiritedly accept what is thus expressed not only leaves the deepest spirit empty, but also destroys the intellect that receives it, to which it is contradiction.” (GS IV 147; 252) Dilthey comments:
“Thus the start of the Prologue of [the gospel of St.] John only expresses in the language of reflection relations between God, Logos, life, and may not be understood as a range of judgements whose predicates are universal concepts. One must translate these words back from the language of reflection into that of life to understand what is meant by them.” (GS IV 147; 252)
On the problem of the Trinity, Hegel tries to show that in the divine life everything is connection [Zusammenhang], as with the roots, trunk and leaves of a tree. One misses this spirit if one thinks of it as a matter of numbers designating particular objects, the objects being substances, individuals with distinct properties. Dilthey says:
“Starting from the doctrine of the dual nature of Jesus, Hegel shows how it is impossible for logical thought to respond to the requirement addressed to the intellect of “conceiving absolutely diverse substances and at the same time the absolute unity of these substances.”  But if one keeps this diversity of substances, while denying their unity, one certainly saves the intellect, “but if these substances remain in the absolute diversity of their essences, they make of the intellect, of absolute separation, of death, what is highest in the mind.”” (GS IV 147; 253)
Religious views and the units of the intellect are symbols for Hegel of the connectedness of divine life. In these fragments, Hegel uses the concept of development to describe “the way that leads the individual through culture, from the union that is not yet developed to the unification of what is separated.” Hegel wrote: “the completion of faith, the return to the Godhead from whom man is born, closes the circle of his development.” He then points to development as a property of life. Hegel says: “because love is unification of life, separation presupposes a development, the evolving many-facetedness of the same.” (GS IV 148; 253)

He characterizes the kingdom of God by the fact that in it “all relations result, in a living manner, from the development of life.” He speaks of “modifications, levels of development” of the “consequences and developments of the original fate” of the Jews and at the beginning of the history of the Jews also of the “development of the human species.” However, in such expressions, which follow the usage of the Enlightenment, particularly Herder, there is no trace of a systematic understanding or evaluation of the concept of development. [“Development” here is all Entwicklung. – SC]

If we consider together the concepts by which Hegel thinks of the world as a whole, his originality lies, as with his concept of history, in his assembling and giving coherence [Zusammenhalten] to what has been achieved historically in his consciousness. His depth of spirit leads him to assimilate material without asserting his subjectivity or engaging in polemic. Dilthey says:
“No citation enables us to establish in what way Shaftesbury, Hemsterhuis and Herder acted on him, but the kinship with their ideas is apparent everywhere to whoever knows these authors; and particularly, Hegels mystical pantheism stands as much under Herder’s influence as does his intuitive sense of history.” (GS IV 148; 253-54)
The doctrine of an animating force at work in the world is combined in him with the clear concepts of a purposive whole drawn from Kant’s Critique of Judgement and the concept of a spiritual whole in Fichte and Schelling. Hölderlin and Schleiermacher, Hegel and Schelling, underwent these influences. According to Hölderlin, the activity of thought prepares ground for the embrace of the world in its infinitude in the enthusiasm of the artist. According to Schleiermacher, the knowledge of the universe is grounded in religion; such was also Hegel’s teaching.

Section Three

[The Influence of Schleiermacher’s Discourses.]

 Looking at the notes of September 1800 as a whole, we see that Hegel’s trajectory passed through the standpoint of Schleiermacher’s Discourses on Religion (1799). [It should be noted that Dilthey was also a major scholar of Schleiermacher, though in his last years he dwelt on Hegel. – SC] The subject apprehends the whole of reality through religion. This led Hegel to reconsider the essence of religion and deepen his idea of it. He agrees with Schleiermacher on the following:
  • There is no universal natural religion; 
  • Religion comes from the living nature of man, not from reason and understanding alone; 
  • We apprehend reality as a whole through religion; 
  • Religion cannot be resolved into psychological concepts, but is a living process of nature and the entrance to a higher life.
We cannot start with a universal, rational religion from which would flow “the diversity of the customs, habits and opinions of peoples and individuals.” Human nature never existed in its purity, but always expressed itself with endless modifications. This latter point Hegel justifies from his belief that the concept never attains the living nature of man. What looks contingent or superfluous proves to be living and necessary, natural and beautiful. For reason, religious ideas look excessive. Hegel shows this also by considering the history of religion. We may still find satisfaction in surrendering ourselves in trembling, renunciation and silence to an unknown. There may also be positive elements in religion from the outset, but all religion is natural in the sense that it comes from the living nature of man. Positivity grows from the fact that, born of a revolutionary time, it later needs institutions which use force or whose dogmas contradict accepted ideals. Dilthey says:
“It is in this sense that Schleiermacher denies, in his Discourses, the existence of a natural religion and sees in it only an empty universality, an abstraction that does not express fully the religious life of any individual and in which there is manifested only the aversion of the age towards what is beyond thinking.” (GS IV 149-50; 255)
Religion is to be conceived positively. It is a living process by which our lives are transformed, not something to be explained away in psychological terms. However, that said, the difference between the two also becomes apparent from this time. Hegel first expressed this in Faith and Knowledge: “Godly feeling, that feels the infinite through the finite, is only completed when reflection is added to it and pauses over it.” (GS IV 150; 255) Religion for Hegel is the living source of distinct thoughts on infinite life. In the 1800 notes, he says: “Religion is the elevation of man, not from the finite to the infinite, but from finite life to infinite life.” (GS IV 150; 255)

This is a more substantial concept that Schleiermacher’s formulation. The practical consequence of the difference is also visible from this period. For Hegel, religion appears as an inner strength that unites the political community. Schleiermacher requires that beyond the state the same force be developed at an individual level.

According to Hegel’s notes of 1800, thought has a limit. It cannot transform into a unity the opposition inherent to reflection between subject and object, between finite and infinite. Hegel says:
“The opposition between what perceives and what is perceived, that is, the fact that they are subject and object, disappears in looking [Anschauung] itself. Their difference is only a possibility of separation. A man entirely absorbed in contemplation of the sun would have for essence only a feeling of light, a feeling that would be light.” (GS IV 150-51; 256)
[There are echoes of Condillac here, surely. – SC] Here Hegel approaches a philosophy located in an indifference [Indifferenz] of subjective and objective. The wish no longer to recognize the inconceivability of infinite life will lead Hegel to the point of view to which he was converted shortly after writing these notes, with the co-operation of Schelling.

Section Four

[Private Property, Public Worship and Sacrifice; Fichte’s Subjective Religion.]

 In his Speeches on Religion (1799), Schleiermacher had established what he considered the essence of religion and then given a kind of phenomenology of religious consciousness. There is another such phenomenology in Hegel’s 1800 notes and two further fragments also discuss this. In worship of the divine, the worshiper projects into the beyond the infinite life that is immanent in the worshiper. Hegel says: 
“If man places infinite life outside himself as the spirit of the whole, because he is himself something limited, if he at the same time places himself outside himself, that is to say outside the limited being, and if he raises himself to the living and unites himself to it in the most inward way, then he worships God.” (GS IV 151; 256)
This objectification of the infinite is continued in public worship (Kultus) according to the 1800 fragments. When the infinite is misplaced or projected [verlegt) in time and space, antinomies arise. What is eternal, [what] is always so, happens now and in a particular place. If in the public worship there is a “heightened religious gathering together”, it is also an important part of it that the clergy “keep for themselves a particular property”. Hegel says:
“With the permanent possession of things, man would not have fulfilled the condition of religion, namely to be free of absolute objectivity, to have raised himself above finite life. He would be unready to unite himself with infinite life because he was still holding something back for himself, was still under a dominant relation, still caught by some dependency. That is why he sacrifices only a part of his property, the necessity of which is his destiny, for his destiny is necessary and cannot be done away with. He destroys a part before God and delivers part of the rest to solidarity with friends, insofar as possible, along with the purposeless superfluity. It is only through the purposelessness of the sacrifice, by destruction for its own sake, that he makes good on his relation to the loss, which would otherwise be a particular sacrifice for a given purpose.” (GS IV 151-52; 257)
If “the divine service transcends the reflective or thinking contemplation of the objective God or rather mixes with subjectivity in living joy”, it has means to do so in song, movement, dance, sonorous speech and the arrangement of the participants. Most such services require a priest to conduct them.

Such expressions of piety seek religious unity, an overcoming of the opposition of objective and subjective. Unfortunate peoples never quite overcome this opposition. Hegel says that it: “is necessary that, the stronger the separation, the purer the self and [that] the object at the same time [be] higher than and more distant from man. It is equally necessary that the outward be as great and isolated as the inward too is great and isolated; and it is necessary lastly that man seems the more subjected where the outward is supposed as independent.” (GS IV 152; 257)

Religion that starts from the object leads us to fear God, who is sought above the heavens. Religion that starts from the subject: “places itself as pure self above the wreckage of this body and the light-giving suns, over the million-fold heavenly bodies and so many new solar systems that all are yours, your life-giving suns.” Hegel speaks here of Fichte’s religion, indicating both its greatness and its limits:
“This religion can be lofty, even fearfully so, but it cannot wear the beauty of humanity; and so the blessedness in which the self, opposed to everything, has everything at its feet, is a phenomenon of the time equivalent at root to that other phenomenon which consists in dependence on an absolutely foreign being that cannot become man and which – if it did so and entered into time – would remain an absolutely singular One even in this union, that is to say a mere absolute One, which is worthiest and most noble, even if the union in time became ignoble and demeaning.” (GS IV 152; 257)
[Fichte cannot rightly conceive the incarnation because of the limits he imposes on his thinking, Hegel seems to be saying. – SC] Thus he explains Fichte’s religion from the ethical greatness of his nature. He gives the same form of explanation with regard to entire peoples – the Greeks and the Jews first of all. He considers the aspirations of Schleiermacher. Already he has before his eyes the coming consciousness of infinite life that will be the metaphysical basis of a higher form of human existence. He here approaches the standpoint of Faith and Knowledge, the essay that he wrote shortly afterwards.

In other manuscripts that belong to this period (to judge by content), we highlight what pertains to the phenomenology of religious consciousness. He again starts from Fichte’s philosophy, its opposition of theoretical and practical self and its overcoming. Hegel says:
“The theoretical syntheses are all object-wholly-opposed-to-the-subject – practical activity cancels the object and is wholly subjective – only in love are we at one with the object; it does not prevail over us and is not prevailed over – this love, made the essential matter by imagination, is divinity; the divided man then feels fear and respect before it, that is a love in itself; to each his bad conscience gives consciousness of division and fear before it.” (GS IV 153; 258)
Where insurmountable obstacles to religious union are encountered, religious ideas of an appropriate kind arise in response, starting with that of immortality as a making whole of the incompleteness of our current condition. Hegel says: “Where the division between wish and reality is so great that real pain arises, unification is impossible, and if man has strength enough to be able to bear the division, he still sets himself against destiny without succumbing to it. If he does not have this strength, he places this unification in a future state and hopes that an object that is foreign to him will realize this union, since this state places nothing in his object that is not in him.” (GS IV 153; 258)

Hegel further explains the ideas of enemy divine beings, of punishment and fate. They arise from the pain of wishes separated from their realization. He says:
“Man surely places the cause of his suffering in an independent reality and attributes life to this reality, but since a union with pain is impossible, because it is a [state of] suffering, so too is unification with the cause of suffering, and he sets himself against it as a hostile being. If he had never enjoyed its favour, he would attribute a hostile and immutable nature to it. If he has known joy from this being, and if he has already loved it, he must think of its hostile intentions as only transitory, and if he is conscious of having committed some sin, he recognizes in his pain punishment inflicted by the hand of the divinity with whom he formerly had friendly relations. If he is conscious of his purity though, and has strength enough to be able to bear complete estrangement, so he sets himself against an unknown power in which there is nothing human, to destiny, without submitting himself or concluding a pact with it, which could only be a servitude, since it is a question of a being more powerful than he.” (GS IV 153-54; 258-59)
Hegel deduces man’s acceptance of miracles, revelations and divine apparitions from the fact that the actions of an infinite object surpass our cognitive powers. Dilthey comments: “In this context Hegel tried once again to determine the concept of positivity in religion.” (154; 259) Where we are together with what we cannot unify, there is positivity. In subject and predicate we pronounce over something whose certainty is grounded in a spiritual connection. Here unification, being and faith are necessarily related. Hegel says: “In positive religion, all unification must be something given. What is given, one does not possess before one receives it.” (GS IV 154; 259) Thus in positive religion, the subject is determined by a power that calls forth faith and limits action within broader or narrower bounds.

Section Five

[Religion, History and the Phenomenology of Spirit]

Dilthey begins: “We now look back on the collection of Hegel’s writings, insofar as the hidden process of the origin of his vision of the world can be read in them and seek therein the moments that carry over into Hegel’s later development.” (GS IV 154; 259)

At first, it all has an air of mystical pantheism: infinite life that realizes itself as spirit, inaccessible to the intellect but discernible through a contemplative religious elevation of the soul. If one thinks this as a system, it is similar to those of Plotinus, Nicolas of Cusa, Spinoza and Schopenhauer. What is new is that the world as a whole is constructed from the collection of mental faculties, or forms of apprehension. Hegel accepted Kant’s critical theory of knowledge as a refutation of a transcendent world. [This is not well put: it is the explanatory potential for experience of something wholly other and not implicit in or revealed in it that is being contested. – SC] His ideal of a new humanity is decisive here. Freedom and harmony of life demand that alienated spirit and relations of transcendence be converted into relations within the world: relations of equality, of participation of the finite in the infinite. The connectedness [Zusammenhang] of the world is to be sought within the world. Hegel thinks of the world as a system of connected relations – of subject and object, whole and part, separation and connection, finite and infinite. He recognizes spirit wherever these relations are found. This system of relations forms the structure of the world and is thus the object of our knowledge. The opposition of subject and object is subsumed in this. Here we are well on the way to the philosophy of identity that Schelling adopted in 1801, but which is also on the trajectory of Hegel’s thinking.

Hegel also related the system of relations of the world as a whole, that also constitutes the transcendental self, to history, already in this period. This led him to conceive the world as a whole from the standpoint of development. There is no indication of him applying the idea of development to nature at this time though. Dilthey writes:
“All constructions that deduce his system from the immanent progression of the idea of development are completely erroneous. Even within the field of the historical world in which everything is nevertheless gathered into the developmental history of spirit, nowhere is any systematic use made of this concept.” (GS IV 155; 260)
Hegel seeks process in history, which leads him to the problem of making higher forms from the material of the lower. That is added to the other problems of conceiving the world as a whole. This led to Hegel’s logic, for if the logic of the understanding cannot resolve this problem, there is need of a higher logic. Dilthey writes:
“From the historical viewpoint, this logic rests in the first place on his study of Kant. Its structure is conditioned by Kant’s delimitation of the three fields of objective perception (Anschauung), understanding and reason, according to the form of relations of apprehension that exist in them. His goal is conditioned by the attempt made in the Critique of the Faculty of Judgement to resolve the task given in the Critique of Pure Reason of making the world as a whole thinkable by means of the concept of an immanent end.” (GS IV 155-56; 260-61)  
His use of Kantian materials is then structured by the contrast of understanding and reason. Hegel distinguished First Philosophy into Logic and Metaphysics. [Hegel maintained this distinction into the years at Jena. However, The Science of Logic (1812-16) obfuscates it through identifying transcendental logic and metaphysics. – SC]  In the first [i.e. Logic], he started from finite knowledge, or reflection. Then he showed how reason surpassed this and thus turned to metaphysics. His dictations from Nuremberg [i.e. the Philosophical Propaedeutic, – SC] show this same distinction. This shows the importance of the ideas of the time, “meagre as the indications in the theological fragments about his then mystical pantheism are.” (GS IV 156; 261) Dilthey writes:
“If one gathers together, from the most inclusive historical viewpoint, what connects the systematic ideas [Ideen] of this period with the future system, we find Hegel’s struggle against the dominance of the Enlightenment, his consciousness of the higher content of life, the most powerful historical perception, of stronger ideals as the new spiritual powers that had then developed and that could not be subjected to the point of view of the understanding. It is mysticism – an ever recurrent form with him to refrain from making use of the understanding, but that is linked in Hegel to the construction of a system of concepts by which finally the reigning spirit must undertake to fulfill the task of knowledge of the world. (GS IV 156; 261) 
Hegel became a metaphysician at this time as a result of laborious work. He had abandoned the strict philosophical method of Kant’s analysis of knowledge. Starting from the metaphysical level he had reached by his study of critical idealism, he discerned a higher logic at work at the core of philosophy. In abandoning the properly analytic method, he had lost the means of resolving the problem [of a “higher logic”, presumably. – SC] As metaphysics now rested on the lived whole of spirit, he had new perspectives on historical life open to him though. The idea of process, i.e. of variability under laws, was part of this metaphysics. There was an inner unity that related together for Hegel the elements of:
  • the historical situation 
  • lived experience 
  • metaphysics.
The historical world around him offered a spectacle that he had followed closely: the ceaseless changes in the French state and their consequences for other states, those of Germany in particular. It was the greatest experience of a historical process that a thinker had ever had. With his metaphysics, he plumbed the depths of this history. New historical categories began to register with him. He applied a dialectical method to study what was happening. The benefit of this for him was principally a deeper understanding of the inward side of history. Dilthey says:
“The most important and certain benefit that he gained from his work during this period consisted in a deepening of the inwardness of the historical world that far surpassed all previous historiography. The very fact that Hegel entered into this historical world starting from religious piety was decisive for his major contribution to European scholarship. He stands alongside Niebuhr, whose political genius and historical criticism created the first history of a body politic, as the founder of the inwardness of the human spirit.” (GS IV 157; 262)
In addition, Hegel shared with Hölderlin a rare sense of the unity and connection running through experience. From this was born the consciousness that not only this or that achievement was passed from age to age, but that the whole spiritual constitution carries over to the next age. From the reserves of a spirit whose energies had never been dispersed in the world came the energy to relive the past in all its division, suffering, longing and happiness. Dilthey concludes: “What he acquired at this time of concrete understanding of historical reality forms the foundations of his Phenomenology of Spirit, often determining even the very words used in this most powerful of his writings.” (GS IV 157; 262) 

[Dilthey’s published work does not deal with the Jena period that intervened between his Frankfurt period and the Phenomenology, but he aims to go beyond pure biography to shed light on Hegel’s publicly accessible works. The social significance of religion is supported by sociological thinkers including Comte, Durkheim and Weber. Although Hegel’s engagement with religion is in earnest, as Lukács conceded, the theological content of his own faith at this time is questionable. I will give a more thorough elucidation and evaluation in a subsequent post. – SC]