Hegel and the Philosophy of Religion

Christensen, Darrel, Ed., Hegel and the Philosophy of Religion, The Hague, 1970.


This back and forth movement of the mind between the abstract and empty notion of a thing – in the above example, a chair – and those characteristics or attributes drawn from immediate experience by which the concept of that thing is to be cumulatively determined, is an instance of what Hegel regarded as the mediation of thought. The reader of Hegel’s Phenomenology will have no difficulty in recognizing this as an example of the dialectic of the thing and its attributes. There is little to distinguish Hegel’s account of this operation of the mind from that of Aristotle and others except (1) a greater emphasis upon the form of the process by which it is accomplished and, perhaps more importantly, (2) his attempt to see the form of this process as one which has something in common with, and as somehow in continuity with many other operations of the mind at many levels. While it is almost universally agreed today that Hegel’s attempt to exhibit an identity of form in all of the operations of the mind was neither completed or altogether successful in so far as it was completed, I know of no one, with the possible exception of Kaufmann, who would argue that Hegel is to be understood apart from his having made the attempt to display such an identity of form to figure prominently in his work. This being the case, it will be well to consider another example of mediation before making further observations.