Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
   A German idealist philosopher, Hegel has had an influence on modern continental philosophy perhaps surpassed only by Kant. Hegel's early work was highly critical of traditional Christianity and expressed a longing for a return to natural religion such as he saw in the ancient Greeks. Beginning with his 1801 move to Jena, however, he began to focus on Kant's critical philosophy and to develop what would become Phenomenology of Spirit, a sprawling and eclectic description of the human race moving toward self-knowledge. At this point Hegel returned to Christianity as a repository for key concepts to express his philosophy, arguing that humanity can be thought of as a collective subject, which he called Geist (Spirit). This collective subject is coming to self-consciousness through the myriad individual conflicts of history, each of which is incorporated into the final resolution. Hegel termed the conclusion to this process of self-knowledge 'Absolute Spirit'. This process is explicated through the doctrine of the Trinity by seeing God beginning as pure consciousness. But consciousness requires an object, and so God creates the world, which is the object of divine consciousness. The relationship of God to the world is symbolised in the person of Jesus Christ. Then, when the world returns to God, the process is completed in Spirit and God becomes self-conscious. It is not clear whether Hegel's Trinitarian categories can be wholly collapsed into the immanence of secular history or whether they point to the emergence of a pantheistic divine transcendence. Karl Marx would opt for the former interpretation, thereby creating his philosophy of dialectical materialism. The latter interpretation of Hegel would have a great influence on Christian theology down to contemporary theologians like Wolfhart Pannenberg and Jürgen Moltmann.
   Further reading: Beiser 1993 and 2005; Desmond 2003; Fackenheim 1968; Hegel 1968-, 1977 and 1984; Houlgate 1998; Inwood, Michael 1983; MacIntyre 1972

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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  • Hegel,Georg Wilhelm Friedrich — He·gel (hāʹgəl), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1770 1831. German idealist philosopher who interpreted nature and human history and culture as expressions of a dialectical process in which Spirit, or Mind, realizes its full potentiality. His major… …   Universalium

  • Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich — born Aug. 27, 1770, Stuttgart, Württemberg died Nov. 14, 1831, Berlin German philosopher. After working as a tutor, he was headmaster of the gymnasium at Nürnberg (1808–16); he then taught principally at the University of Berlin (1818–31). His… …   Universalium

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  • Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich — (1770–1831)    Philosopher.    Hegel was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and was educated at the University of Tübingen. As a tutor in Switzerland, he wrote a life of Jesus Christ whom he saw as one who transcended both virtue and vice. He settled in …   Who’s Who in Christianity

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