“Authenticity” and “Warranted Belief” in Hegel’s Dialectic of Religion

  • Darrel E. Christensen
  • J. N. Findlay


Three recent attempts directed toward the formalization of dialectical logic by the use of a system of symbolic notations have come to my attention.1 Each of these involves the use of variables which may be instantiated by terms, and each, I think, is inadequate on this and another account to Hegel’s Logic, the Notion.2 In cognizance of this and of certain difficulties which seem to be in the way of the understanding and use of the dialectical method, I shall have a two-fold purpose in what follows. I shall propose a strategy for evaluating dialectic for its adherence to certain of Hegel’s dialectical principles which I shall then apply to his dialectic of religion. This strategy, in brief, is to develop a twofold test to be applied to a dialectical exposition of what is purported to be the case, one test to determine what I shall call its “authenticity,” its adherence to formal properties of dialectic to be specified, and the other a material test for whether what is purported is warranted for belief. In the course of doing this, I shall hope to clarify what I see to be a central problem inherent in Hegel’s criteria for Truth, and to show how the strategy proposed, in part derived from Hegel and in part at least seemingly at odds with his position, may resolve this problem, or at least make it more manageable.


Jewish Religion Subjective Notion Dialectical Method Dialectical Treatment Dialectical Logic 
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  1. 1.
    Yvon Gauthier, “Logique Hégélienne et Formalisation,” Dialogue, Vol. VI, No. 2 (1967), pp. 151-65; Michael Kosok, “The Formalization of Hegel’s Dialectical Logic,” International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 4 (1966), pp. 596-631; and F. G. Asenjo, “Dialectic Logic,” Logique et Analyse, No. 4 (1965), pp. 321-6.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    “The logic,” “The dialectic of the logical Idea,” and “The Notion,” following Hegel, will herein have the same reference, although each will suggest a different emphasis. “The Notion” emphasizes the unity of the system of logic.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    “Truth comes only with the Notion …” Wallace, p.155.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Für sich est die absolute Idee, weil kein Übergehen noch Voraussetzen und überhaupt keine Bestimmtheit, welche nicht flüssig und durchsichtig wäre, in ihr ist, die reine Form der Begriffs, die ihren Inhalt als sich selbst anschaut. Sie ist sich Inhalt, in sofern sie das ideelle Unterscheiben ihrer selbst von sich, und das eine der Unterschiedenen die Identität mit sich ist, in der aber die Totalität der Form als das System der Inhaltsbestimmungen enthalten ist.” EdpW, pp. 408f. In translation, “Seeing that there is in it no transition, or presupposition, and in general no specific character other than what is fluid and transparent, the Absolute Idea is itself the pure form of the Notion, which contemplates its content as its own self. It is its own content, insofar as it ideally distinguishes itself from itself, and the one of the two things distinguished is a self-identity in which however is contained the totality of the form as the system of terms describing its content.” Wallace, p. 374. It may be noted that, from the perspective of the Notion regarded as inclusive, the Notion itself is not abstract in such a sense as to admit of a formalization that would stand as adequate apart from the concrete process in which it is exhibited. It is because Hegel’s logic is a logic of concepts, and concepts shaped by encounter with the lived world in which choices and discriminations must be made, it seems fair to say, that one can even come to have an intimation of what he means by the Notion. This logic is a formalization; the replacement of concepts by variables of which the concepts are then regarded as instantiations results in a further removal of the system from the ideal of the Notion beside which nothing can be set. In effect, then, Kosok’s formalization does not proceed in a manner differing from mine except for this important difference. In proposing a test for authenticity, I do not propose to be formalizing Hegel’s logic, but merely restating some necessary conditions of dialectic.Google Scholar
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    The fact that in the dialectic of Absolute Spirit the Notion as God the Father is transcendent and other to the world may be thought to be an exception. But when it is noted that God as Spirit here plays the mediating role between transcendence (God the Father) and Immanence (God the Son) which is assigned to the “Notion” conceived as dialectical method, it may be seen not to be an exception.Google Scholar
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    “Die inhalte der Logik, die das Denken (nicht das Bewusstsein!) zu ihrem Elemente haben, sind also Gedachtheiten, Denkbestimmungen, ‘bestimmte Begriffe,’ die der Begriff oder das selbstische Wissen sich aus sich selber als Inhalt vergegeben hat. Die ‘reinen Bestimmtheiten’ des Denkens, wie etwa Sein, Wesen, Erkennen (Wahres), Tun (Gutes), sind dieserhalb in ihrer Inhaltlichkeit und Sachlichkeit im Gegensatz zu sinnlichen Gegenständen des Bewusstseins immer schon mit Selbstheit und Wissen durchtränkt, andernfalls wären es weder Denkbestimmungen, noch vermochten sie sich dialektisch aus sich selber ohne Eingreifen des zuschauenden Wissens zu entwickeln.” Bernhard Lakebrink, Hegels Logik und die Tradition der Selbstbestimmung (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1968), p. 109.Google Scholar
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    “Die Erhebung des Begriffs über das Leben ist, dass seine Realität die zur Allgemeinheit befreite Begriffsform ist. Durch dieses Urtheil ist die idee verdoppelt, in den subjectiven Begriff, dessen Realität er selbst, und in den objectiven, der als Leben ist.” WdL, II, “Die subjective Logik,” p. 255. The translation is from SL, II, p. 416.Google Scholar
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    “Es fangt deswegen in der That für die Methode keine neue Weise damit an, dass sich durch das erste ihrer Resultate ein inhalt bestimmt habe.…” WdL, II, p. 338.Google Scholar
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    “Die Vereinigung des Allgemeinen, an und für sich Seienden überhaupt, und des Einzelnen, des Subjektiven, dass sie allein die Wahrheit seh, diess ist speculativer Natur, und wird in dieser allgemeinen Form in der Logik abgehandelt. Aber im Gange der Weltgeschichte selbst, als noch im Fortschreiten begriffenen Gänge, ist der reine lesste Zweck der Geschichte noch nicht der inhalt des Bedürfnisses und Interesses, und indem dieses bewußtlos darüber ist, ist das Allgemeine dennoch in den besonderen Zwecken, und vollbringt sich durch dieselben.” VPG, pp. 32f. The translation is from LPH, p. 25. The most adequate explanation of Hegel’s position as it pertains to this matter, I believe, is contained in the account of the trinity in the dialectic of Absolute Spirit from which the above is taken. Here the Notion, transcendent and in itself, is God the Father, the Notion realizing itself in concrete reality is God the Son, and God as Spirit is the reconciliation and mediation of these. The dialectic of Absolute Spirit is exhibited identically, to the last sub-moment, so far as I have been able to determine, in VPG and VPR, although different interests are at work in the elaboration upon the dialectic in the two works.Google Scholar
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    Phen, p. 765. Here, Spirit is held to be the content of its own consciousness in the form of pure substance. Thought is descending into existence, or individuality. The middle term between these two is their synthesis, the consciousness of passing into otherness. The third stage is self-consciousness, realized in the return from this presentation and from this otherness.Google Scholar
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    “The Formalization of Hegel’s Dialectical Logic,” p. 262.Google Scholar
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    Consider, for example, Hegel on “Lordship and Bondage,” “Stoicism.” and “The Unhappy Consciousness,” and especially, in the latter, where “Dem Beußtsein kann daher nur des Grab seines Lebens zur Gegenwart kommen.” Phän, p. 160.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    More needs to be said here; I have intended no more than to justify a conclusion adequate to my present needs. Koyré’s analysis of “das Jetzt,” which has contributed to the understanding of some roots of existentialism in Hegel, will bear out the point. A. Koyré, Études d’Histoire de la Pensée Philosophique (Paris: Armand Colin, Cahiers des Annales, 1961), “Hegel à Jena,” pp. 135-73; see especially pp. 171f. Also, see, Bernhard Lakebrink, Hegels Logik und die Tradition der Selbstbestimmung, “Die Existentiale Ausdeutung von Hegel’s Logik,’ pp. 58-70, and “Die Schranke und das Sollen,” pp. 144-53.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 374. In the parallel but expanded account in WdL, Hegel notes, “Aus dieser Bestimmung des endlichen Erkennens erhellt unmittelbar, dass es ein Widerspruch ist, der sich selbst aufhebt; — der Widerspruch einer Wahrheit, die zugleich nicht Wahrheit sein soll; — eines Erkennens dessen, was ist, welches zugleich das Ding-an-sich nicht erkennt.” WdL, II, p. 268.Google Scholar
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    The quotation marks indicate a use of the term “Notion” likely to be interpreted equivocally. The Notion is for Hegel one and inclusive. “Objective Notion” then, for example, refers to this one and inclusive unity of form and content as in part explicitly and in part implicitly held to be the essential actuality of the world regarded as object and as distinct from mind, but which cannot be regarded as what it is held to be apart from the Notion. It cannot be regarded as what it is apart from its having been determined by the dialectic of the subject and the object spheres as implicitly complete and inclusive of both. The case with respect to the “subjective Notion” is similar. “Further, besides the differences between properties, the distinction between the Notion and its actualization emerges in concrete things. In Nature and in Spirit the Notion has an external representation, where its determinateness shows itself as dependent upon the external, as transitoriness and inadequacy. Thus, although the actual something shows in itself what it ought to be, it can equally show (according to the negative Notion-judgment) that its actuality corresponds to this Notion but imperfectly, or that it is bad.” SL, II, pp. 440f. For the original, see WdL, II. p. 286. In the case of the philosopher, here also the “Notion-form” is completely explicit at the point of beginning.Google Scholar
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    “Die Extreme bleiben verschiedene, weil Subjekt, Methode und Objekt nicht als der eine identische Begriff gesetzt sind. …” WdL, II, p. 321. The translation is from SL, II, p. 469.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    “Im wahrhaften Erkennen dagegen ist die Methode nicht nur eine Menge gewisser Bestimmungen, sondern das An-und Für-sich-Bestimmtsein des Begriffs, der die Mitte nur darum ist, weil er ebenso sehr die Bedeutung des Objektiven hat, das im Schlußatze daher nicht nur eine äussere Bestimmtheit durch die Methode erlangt, sondern in seiner Identität mit dem subjektiven Begriffe gesetzt ist.” WdL, II, pp. 332f. The translation is from SL, II, p. 469.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    “Die Methode ist daraus als der sich selbst wissende, sich als das Absolute, sowohl Subjektive als Objektive, zum Gegenstände habende Begriff, somit als das reine Entsprechen des Begriffs und seiner Realität, als eine Existenz, die er selbst ist, hervorgegangen.” WdL, II, pp. 332f. The translation is from SL, II, p. 468.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    “Wie der Begriff für sich betrachtet wurde, erschien er in seiner Unmittelbarkeit: die Reflexion oder der ihn betrachtende Begriff fiel in unser Wissen. Die Methode ist diese Wissen selbst, für das er nicht nur als Gegenstand, sondern als dessen eigenes, subjectives Thun ist, als das Instrument und Mittel der erkennenden Thätigkeit, von ihr unterschieden, aber als deren eigene Wesenheit.” WdL, II, p. 320. The translation is from SL, II, p. 469.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    WdL, II, p. 324. For a translation, see SL, II, p. 471Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    In discussing “beginnings” of dialectical developments “like Being, Essence, and Universality,” Hegel notes: “Now the determinateness which belongs to them is their immediate determinateness if they are taken for themselves, and is a determinateness as much as one which applies to any content; it therefore requires a derivation; and it is indifferent to the method whether it is taken as determinateness of form or of content” (Italics by the author). SL, Vol. II, pp. 481f. For the original, see WdL, II, p. 337. As Nicolin notes, so long as form and content are distinct, the result, for Hegel, has no more than the status of formal truth, something abstract. Freedom is the condition where form and content are commensurate and indistinguishable. Friedhelm Nicolin, Grundlinien einer Geistes wissenschaftlichen Pädogogik, Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwurde Genehmight von der Philosophischen Fakultät (Bonn, 1955), pp. 185f. Were the containment within the Notion of these discriminations (consistent with Hegel’s own principles) to be emphasized, however, the two-fold test I am to propose would appear less alien to Hegel’s philosophy than the above suggests.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    My choice of the term “warranted belief” for use in this context was influenced by its use in the writings and lectures of W. H. Werkmeister. W. H. Werkmeister, The Basis and Structure of Knowledge (New York: Harper and Brothers Co., 1948).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Where such a concept is held, its meaning lies precisely in that the Notion given in this moment of Truth in some sense includes all meaning, and I think it would be difficult to show such a concept meaningless.Google Scholar
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    This account might with some labor have been selectively drawn from Hegel’s statement of method in SL. It is based upon many sources, however, and most particularly by reflection on the dialectic of Absolute Spirit. While no short passage is to be found in these pages which, taken out of context, yields the sense of this account, it may, nonetheless, be drawn from VPR, Vol. I, “Die Eintheilung,” pp. 77-100.Google Scholar
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    This, in keeping with the fact that this is to be a purely formal test.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kosok defines dialectical opposites as “positive contraries which become negative subcontraries upon their mutual implication in a non-identity relation.” I find this definition commensurate with the dialectic here considered, although Kosok’s elaboration of it goes beyond what may be found exemplified here (see paragraph following), rendering this an unsuitable test case of whether it may be found exemplified in Hegel’s dialectic. This definition may seem at first to be incompatible with the fact that, characteristically, the opposition between dialectical opposites is an apparent opposition only. The seeing through the apparent opposition is of course reflected in a more inclusive concept. But how, it may be asked, may an opposition which was only apparent be a logical relation of contrariety? The objection, however, fails to take account of the fact that determined identities are not being considered here, but the process by which an identity is established from something in question. That which is negatively referred to, (−e), is not a determined identity, nor is (e) in relation to (−e) a determined identity. Its indeterminacy is precisely what is under consideration. A determined identity results from the apprehension that each is a boundary condition of the other, and that either, to be thought at all, must be thought of in this way. To regard them as contraries so long as each is conceived as negatively present for the other seems intuitively correct, following Kosok, as long as the presence of an undetermined content is not reflected in the formula. It seems to me, however, that an undetermined content would need to be (positively) reflected in the formula for the latter to be adequate to the test of authenticity I have proposed. The reconception of Kosok’s “negative presence” as “a negatively designated presence of a necessary but undertermined content,” however, might serve. See “The Formalization of Hegel’s Dialectical Logic,” pp. 608f.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hegel, with his desire to justify the identity of being and thought, viewed dialectically related concepts as related by inclusion in the way that a chair is in a room, which is in a building, which is in a block, which is in a city, which is in a county, etc. The essential meaning of each of a series of dialectically related concepts is contained in the next along with (what is at least implicit in the meaning of the next, the more inclusive, concept) the discrimination between what was encompassed in the old meaning and what is added to form the new. Observing the meanings shared between various clusters of terms (representative of concepts), and supposing that the simplest explanation of this might lie in related points of origin, he contrived to revisit the scenes of the derivations.Google Scholar
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    See df. of dialectic, p. 232.Google Scholar
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    It will be noted that in this truncated account, I have omitted mention of the hallmark of Hegelian dialectic, the dialectic of subject and object. While the subjective “Notion” has been bracketed, this is not the main reason for this omission. I have preferred to regard this as a particular dialectical exposition (even though from Hegel’s perspective it is the whole of it) rather than as an aspect of method. Although it undeniably belongs to method as Hegel understands method, the bracketing procedure herein employed would be less easily maintained without compromise by regarding it as method. Since my purpose here is not to extend dialectical logic as a “formal” system as we think of a formal system in logic today, the exposition of criteria for authenticity has been kept brief.Google Scholar
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    Phen, pp. 149-52.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 162-5.Google Scholar
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    For a list of terms so related by inclusion, see the “Table of Categories” in SL, Vol. I, inside back cover.Google Scholar
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    The analysis reported on here appears in part and in altered form, owing to a difference in intent and context, in a doctoral dissertation completed at the School of Philosophy of the University of Southern California in 1965. Darrel E. Christensen, “Some Implications for the Doctrine of God of Hegel’s Concept of Thought as Mediation,” (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms, Inc., 65-9969), pp. 92-110, hereafter referred to as Thought as Mediation. My analysis is based upon Philipp Marheineke’s 1840 edition, sometimes referred to as the second edition, following as it does the edition hastily compiled shortly following Hegel’s death and published in 1832. VPR, II. In editing this work, Marheineke incorporated into it several important papers found amongst Hegel’s MSS in which his ideas were developed more fully than in sketches previously used. The only English translation of the work is LPR.Google Scholar
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    In the case of terms representative of the actual world, I should suppose that, strictly speaking, it would not be possible to complete such a proof.Google Scholar
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    The treatment of two of these will be relegated to footnote 46.Google Scholar
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    Terms of the dialectic will be italicized in the foregoing accounts.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    It may be argued that this conclusion is of trivial importance; nevertheless, this phase of Hegel’s dialectic seems to present a crucial case for testing a prescription for dialectic with Hegel’s actual exposition of it. His weaker sense of Widerspruch may be lost sight of elsewhere, with all sorts of resultant muddles. By the use of the analogy of a sailing ship tacking against the wind, McTaggart reflected this weaker sense of “opposition” which is made evident in this phase of the dialectic, and which I think is the sense which Hegel with more or less consistency intended throughout his dialectic. John McTaggart, Ellis McTaggart, Studies in Hegelian Dialectic (Cambridge: University Press, 1922), pp. 144f. In any case, the weaker sense of opposition is commensurate with the proposed criteria for authenticity, which is not intended to require a dramatic sense of opposition between terms, which would necessarily be conditioned by their existential meanings.Google Scholar
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    VPR, I, pp. 75f.Google Scholar
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    Two other “minor” deviations which deserve mention occur within what is clearly proposed as a dialectical development of the sacraments within Absolute Religion. VPR, II, pp. 388ff. One of these is constituted by the fact that it is not made explicit that the second moment is determined by the first. This (probably accidental) lack of explicitness is evident in two other instances within the dialectic being considered, both of which, like the case of the second moment of the dialectic of the Lord’s Supper, are submoments several orders of subsumption removed from the primary triad of religion. The other irregularity is in the third moment of the dialectic of the sacraments. According to this conception, God is present only in memory and His presence is thus merely immediate and subjective. Here, Hegel holds that the truth has been lowered to the prose of the enlightenment. The mediation of the representation of God as outer and of the inwardness of faith, which, were the form of the dialectic followed out, would constitute the third moment, is apparently conceived as taking place in the second. Curiously enough, the third moment, exemplified by the Reformed doctrine, is found inferior to the second moment, exemplified by the Lutheran doctrine. The concept of the third doctrine is not inclusive of the meaning of the second. Thus although the possibility of its being warranted for belief on historical grounds is not thereby ruled out, the account is dialectically unauthentic, since the criteria proposed for authentic dialectic do not permit what might be called regression in a dialectical account. The irregularity here is similar in type to that exhibited in the religion of untility, shortly to be considered. The dialectic of the sacraments is several orders of subsumption removed from the primary triad of the dialectic of religion. If one regards triads within the dialectic which are subsumed under other triads at successively “lower” levels as belonging to successively more detailed expositions of religion, then the deletion of this phase would not materially affect the dialectic as a whole. It would be notable only to a person with a special interest in the dialectical development within which it is immediately subsumed. The case is otherwise with respect to the religion of utility, to which I shall give more detailed consideration. Owing to the position of this religion within the dialectic, the want of conformity here is of greater interest and its analysis more instructive.Google Scholar
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    VPR, II. For the metaphysical concept of the religion of spiritual individuality, see pp. 10-41. The third moment, the religion of utility, is presented on pp. 156-190.Google Scholar
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    It is difficult to find any reason within the dialectic for granting to Roman religion as here conceived a status other than that of a particular form of Greek religion. Hegel’s reason for doing so, along with the reason for the non-dialectical development of the religion of utility, may lie in the historical prominence of the Roman state and its status for him as a model of the modern national state. Holding, as he does, that the state is the highest concrete embodiment of Spirit, and that religion is the foundation of the state, he seems to accord to Roman religion a status which he failed to justify by the dialectic.Google Scholar
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    Thought as Mediation, pp. 110-18.Google Scholar
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    “Während daher in der Notwendigkeit [sic] eine Bestimmung von der andern abhängig ist und die Bestimmtheit untergeht, so ist der Zweck, als identität unterschiedener, wirklicher gesetzt, die an und für sich bestimmte Einheit, die sich gegen andere Bestimmtheit in ihrer Bestimmtheit erhält.” VPR, II, p. 160. The translation is from LPR, II, p. 293.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    This is generally in keeping with Hegel’s declared intention. LPH, p. 9.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    If for the Notion we substitute dialectical method, then it is the posited determination mentioned in the latter part of the following which the proposed test for warranted belief may be seen to supplement. “In the syllogism in which now the subjective idea combines with objectivity, the first premise is that same form of immediate seizure and relation of the Notion to the Object that we saw in the End-relation. The determining activity of the Notion upon the object is an immediate communication; it spreads itself upon the Object unresisted. Here the Notion remains in its pure self-identity; but this its immediate introreflection equally has the determination of objective immediacy; that which for it is its own determination is equally a Being, for it is the first negation of the presupposition. The posited determination consequently counts equally as a presupposition which is merely found or as the taking up of something which is given, wherein the activity of the Notion itself is rather said to consist in this, that it is negative as against itself, restraining itself in face of the given and making itself passive, so that the given may be able to show itself as it is in itself and not as determined by the subject.” SL, II, pp. 427f. See WdL, II, pp. 269f for the original. Note that the posited determination here mentioned counts merely as a presupposition and as one merely found where there is an openness to something given. Thus we find here reflected the perspective prescribed herein by the bracketing procedure previously mentioned.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Vernunft, as herein used being understood to be the Notion, the following will pertain. “The only thought which philosophy brings with it to the contemplation of history, is the simple conception of Reason [Vernunft]; that Reason is the Sovereign of the World; that the history of the world, therefore, presents us with a rational [vernünftig] process. This conviction and intuition is a hypothesis in the domain of history as such. In that of Philosophy it is no hypothesis.” LPH, p. 9. For the original, see VPG, pp. 12f. I do not propose to take up here to what degree Hegel’s expectations respecting the underlying identity of phenomenological and historical processes (presented as realized in the Notion) was justified.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    This is in keeping with my intention to render a dialectical account falsifiable without presupposing what Hegel held to be the result of his Phänomenologie, the Notion in its radical inclusiveness.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Kosok has gone some way in developing the relationship between Goedel’s proof and the more inclusive principle within dialectical logic of which, I think, it may fairly be regarded as a particularization. “The Formalization of Hegel’s Dialectical Logic,” especially pp. 615-21. I called attention to this matter in “The False Moment in Hegel’s Dialectic of Religion” (unpublished), submitted to the Journal of the History of Philosophy in 1965.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Where the apprehension of a causal connection in its novelty is in question or the apprehension of causality as such, the ultimate appeal must, I suspect, be a subjective ground of which account cannot be taken here or without unbracketing the subjective “Notion” or some such notion. Important to the perspective where the brackets are retained is that correspondence tests are admitted with clear consistency.Google Scholar
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    Hegel allowed, it should be noted, that the various religions contain more than those traits of which he provided an historical account, noting that essential moments of the Notion show themselves (cumulatively) at every stage of the development of the religious consciousness. VPR, I, p. 92 or LPR, I, pp. 76f.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    See my discussion of “aufgehoben” in “Nelson and Hegel on the Philosophy of History,” Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. XXV, No. 3 (1964), pp. 439-444. See pp. 443f.Google Scholar

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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1970

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  • Darrel E. Christensen
  • J. N. Findlay

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