Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion by Bernard M. G. Reardon (auth.)

By Bernard M. G. Reardon (auth.)

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For although a Vorstellung really does yield us the universal it still cannot entirtly free itself from the limitations of sense. It is only in true thought that this is finally achieved. For of thinking at the highest level, such as 'lifts up the sensuous qualities of the content to the realm of universal thoughtdeterminations', Hegel uses the word Begriff, 'concept',, meaning literally a 'gripping together' into unity of the different components of a concrete idea. 1 8 Not surprisingly Hegel judges the record of historical events, vital as it is for a religion like Christianity, to belong only to the sphere of Vorstellungen, since the historical is 'a content which at first presents itself in a sensuous manner as a succession of actions or sensuous determinations following each other in time and contiguous moreover in space'.

The reality to which faith reaches out may be designated by the name 'God', or by expressions such as 'the Absolute' or 'the Universal in and for itself'; various terms may be used and which of them one selects does not greatly matter. To the believer this reality is wholly transcendent - apart from, above, beyond and outside time and space. For God in his infinity and eternity so completely surpasses all that we ourselves are that our attitude, when we consciously turn our thoughts towards him, can only be one of fear and trembling.

Hegel believes, another reason, namely 'an impatient wish to have before them as a mental picture that which is in the mind as a thought or concept'. In a word such persons cannot conceptualise, as the intellectual rigour of philosophy requires them to do. Religion, on the other hand, envisages the ultimate forms that can be expressed in the language of ordinary men; language in which feeling, imagination and rational understanding are variously compounded. This clearly is so with, for example, Christian doctrine, in which very much of what is said is analogical or figurative.

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