Comment on “Absolute” and “Consummate” Religion
Kurt Meist’s stimulating paper provides a differentiated account of a complex issue which does much to illuminate some of the classical problems of Hegel interpretation by placing the philosopher’s thoughts on the “absolute” religion in the context of his intellectual development and delineating something of the overall intellectual background of that development. It is a recurrent topos of the critical literature surrounding Hegel of course that his philosophy has proved remarkably susceptible to the most contrary forms of interpretation. The debate over the “legitimate” interpretation of the Hegelian heritage has raged ever since Hegel’s death, and nowhere more virulently than in the field of religion with the right and left perpetually locked in unyielding combat like “hostile brothers” (Löwith). Although some were quick from the first to see the apologetic opportunities of enlisting this philosophy “in defence of the faith”, Heine could still speak of the master composing his music of atheism in such abstruse and obscure signs that no one would successfully decipher them. The notorious difficulties which have attended every attempt to reconstruct the authentic import of the “Hegelian middle”, as it has been called, ought perhaps to suggest that the problem lies deeply rooted in “the matter itself”, rather than simply or preeminently in deficient scholarship or inadequate knowledge of the relevant sources (though this is certainly not to deny the important questions of textual accuracy that surround the editorial politics of traditional Hegel research).
KeywordsReligious Thought Notorious Difficulty Transcendent Theism Divine Life Textual Accuracy
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