New Studies in Hegel’s Philosophy

Steinkraus, W.E. ed. New Studies in Hegel’s Philosophy, New York, 1971.


Rational theology further claims to determine by thought the attributes of the divine nature, and theologians are again faced with the problem of knowing a transcendent being. Moses Maimonides declares that all predicates assigned to the Deity, wise, good, omnipotent, and so on, are equivocal or nominal and have no real meaning; for all predicates are drawn from the world of finite things.

This is negative theology, but theologians do require positive knowledge of God’s nature. Is this possible, if God as infinite is a transcendent inscrutable X, the negation of human predicates? Aquinas and many modern theologians meet the difficulty by predication by analogy; we may say that a predicate, a, is related to God as a is related to finite things, this predication leaving God in himself as transcendent, for we should distinguish between the meaning of a predicate, for example, wise, as applied to a finite or infinite object.

… This dilemma leads up to Hegel’s viewpoint. He holds that we have immediate knowledge of God as the Supreme Being, ground of subject and and objective world, as immanent to the world and in our thought, and that reflective thought can determine it. I think that we may at least agree that theology can hardly build on a basis of skepticism where transcendence is emphasized at the expense of immanence or on an opposition between faith and reason.