Hegel's concept of religion
AbstractIn this dissertation I explore how Hegel conceives of the practice of religion. Religion for Hegel cannot be the relationship between humans and a transcendent being, since, as I argue, Hegel's God is not a being of the transcendent sort, but reason as Idea and spirit. Nor does Hegel primarily understand religion as feeling or immediate experience of the divine. According to Hegel, religion involves knowledge of the truth in the form of representation, and I discuss the truths that in his view are common to all religions, as well as the principle that he thinks guides the development of the various determinate religions that culminate in Christianity. But, first and foremost, religion for Hegel is cultus or practice in which a person overcomes her own particularity in a radical manner and identifies completely with the universal, objective standpoint. By overcoming her particularity, the person recognizes that her own interests lack absolute value, and she is willing to abandon them entirely for the sake of what the universal requires of her. The highest form of the cultus for Hegel is full participation in Sittlichkeit, or the social and cultural life of modern Protestant Europe. In the cultus, a person achieves freedom, the goal of religion and the highest value in Hegel's philosophy. I argue that freedom for Hegel is independence vis-à-vis the world in both an active and a passive sense. As active, freedom is the autonomy that a person possesses when she acts rationally or follows the ethical norms that are a necessary moment of being free. As passive, freedom is the independence that a person gains when she is no longer attached to her particular interests and is accepting of circumstances in which her desires are not met. But for Hegel the norms of freedom also allow and require that a person continue to engage fully in the world and actively pursue her own particular interests, since such activities play a necessary role in being free. In my.
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