Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 11i The Science of Logic is a theology

Logic for Hegel is the ‘scientific,’ systematic exposition of the ‘formal structure,’ the infinite ‘mind’ of God

logic is to be understood as the system of pure reason, as the realm of pure thought. This realm is truth as it is without veil and in its own absolute nature. It can therefore be said that this content is the exposition of God as he is in his eternal essence before the creation of nature and a finite mind.1

Plotinus wrote of this ‘system of pure reason’ and ‘realm of pure thought and truth’

(in the Intellectual Cosmos, dialectic) pastures the Soul in the ‘Meadows of Truth’: it employs the Platonic division to the discernment of the Ideal-Forms, of the Authentic-Existence, and of the First-Kinds (or Categories of Being): it establishes, in the light of Intellection, the affiliations of all that issues from the Firsts, until it has traversed the entire Intellectual Realm…it leaves to another science all that coil of premisses and conclusions called the art of reasoning2

The truth of logic is God alone, the relationship between religion and philosophy having a long history

Already for the Neopythagoreans and Neoplatonists, still situated within the pagan world, the folk deities were not deities of phantasy but had become deities of thought.3

Not only is the Logic, consistent with Neoplatonic philosophy, both an ontology and a metaphysics –

an account of what it means to be…(and) simultaneously an account of the highest or most complete individual being4

– as the exposition of God, again consistent with Neoplatonic philosophy, it is also a theology. Schlitt, who described Hegel’s logic as ‘speculative theology’5 wrote

In his 1829 lectures on the proofs for the existence of God, Hegel spoke of logic as metaphysical theology in so far as logic consisted in the elevation of finite thought determinations to the infinite. ‘Logic is to that extent, metaphysical theology, which treats of the evolution of the Idea of God in the ether of pure thought…’6

Jaeschke and Magee both refer to Hegel’s logic as a theology.7 Jaeschke importantly noted the potential for a ‘more detailed interpretation of the Science of Logic as speculative theology’8 and Magee, in identifying the philosophical strands in the Logic unknowingly identified the elements of Proclus’ triad – Being, Life and Intelligence

The Logic is simultaneously an account of the formal structure of God (the self-knowing Idea), the soul or mind (the living embodiment of Idea), and the Cosmos (the whole whose every part is an approximation to the being of Idea). It is thus at one and the same time a theology, rational psychology and cosmology.9



1. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 50
2. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., I.3.4. The note added ‘This puts Aristotelian and Stoic logic in its place. These logical systems deal with words and propositions and their relationships, and are thus merely preliminary to Platonic dialectic, which deals with the structure of reality.’ Of Hegel’s ‘structure of reality,’ Schlitt wrote ‘When (Hegel) spoke of “logic,” he meant the immanent and consistent self-positing and self-determining movement of pure thought,’ Schlitt, Divine Subjectivity: Understanding Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., 136
3. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, vol. I, op. cit., 152; ‘In ordinary moods of mind there is a long way from logic to religion. But almost every page of what Hegel has called Logic is witness to the belief in their ultimate identity.’ Bibliographical Notice in Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, op. cit., xlii
4. Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 148; ‘Hegel himself did not hesitate to speak of categorical determinations of pure thought as metaphysical definitions of God. “Being itself and the special sub-categories of it which follow, as well as those of logic in general, may be looked upon as definitions of the Absolute, or metaphysical definitions of God …For a metaphysical definition of God is the expression of his nature in thoughts as such; and logic embraces all thoughts so long as they continue in the thought form.” (Logic #85)’ Dale M. Schlitt, Hegel’s Trinitarian Claim: A Critical Reflection, E.J.Brill, Leiden, 1984, 37
5. Ibid., 34
6. Ibid., 32
7. ‘(Hegel’s Science of Logic) is not solely a logic in the sense of an ontology but just as much a metaphysical theology.’ Walter Jaeschke, Reason in Religion: The Foundations of Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion, Trans., J. Michael Stewart and Peter C. Hodgson, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1990, 22
8. Ibid., 22
9. Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 133

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s