The Religious Dimension in Hegel’s Thought

Fackenheim, Emil L. The Religious Dimension in Hegel’s Thought. Bloomington and London, 1967


Hegelian “science” is marked by an unprecedented presumptuousness. The Encyclopedia [of Philosophic Sciences] is no mere conceptual philosophical system inclusive of other conceptual philosophical systems and related to Reality as its external object. Reality itself is included in the system, and what grasps and includes it are no ordinary concepts. The same presumptuousness is in evidence in the Phenomenology, and indeed, is there unmistakable even for the most careless of readers. For until one reaches the last ten pages of the more than 500-page work, one searches in vain for direct confrontations of the Hegelian with alternative philosophies. The individuals who are handed the ladder to the Hegelian philosophic standpoint include the percipient of sensuous objects, the slave in fear of his master, the scientist engaged in the rational conquest of nature, the French revolutionary, and religious believers of various kinds. They do not include philosophers. But where else could one find a philosophic thought which in all seriousness labored to encompass and supersede, not merely alternative types of philosophic thought but also nonphilosophic human life? For that Hegel is serious in this labor is beyond all doubt. Marx’s attempt to turn the Hegelian philosophy from its head to its feet may or may not be a valid piece of philosophic criticism. But it is Hegel – not Marx – who first recognizes the prima facie absurdity of his own demand that “natural consciousness… walk for a change on its head.”