Date: 04 Jan 2014

God, Incarnation, and Metaphysics in Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion

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Abstract

In this article, I draw upon the ‘post-Kantian’ reading of Hegel to examine the consequences Hegel’s idea of God has on his metaphysics. In particular, I apply Hegel’s ‘recognition-theoretic’ approach to his theology. Within the context of this analysis, I focus especially on the incarnation and sacrifice of Christ. First, I argue that Hegel’s philosophy of religion employs a distinctive notion of sacrifice (kenotic sacrifice). Here, sacrifice is conceived as a giving up something of oneself to ‘make room’ for the other. Second, I argue that the idea of kenotic sacrifice plays a fundamental role in Hegel’s account of Christ. Third, I conclude by sketching some of the consequences of Hegel’s idea of a God who renounces his own divinity for an idealistically conceived metaphysics. My main thesis is that the notion of incarnation is conceived by Hegel as the expression of a spirit that advances only insofar as it is willing to withdraw and make room for the other. A kenotic reading of the Hegelian notion of the incarnation is also useful in terms of a clarification of the dispute between ‘left Hegelians’ and ‘right Hegelians’ concerning the status of the idea of God in Hegel’s philosophy.