Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 11k Being, being and nothing

Dillon wrote

One major problem which Plotinus inherited from previous Platonism was a contradiction between the Platonic-Pythagorean doctrine of the first principle as a radical unity – One, or a monad – and the belief, enunciated most notably by Aristotle (but going back to Anaxagoras) that the first principle was an intellect (nous), and specifically an intellect thinking itself1

Plotinus’ ‘solution’ (modified by Proclus, Cusanus and Hegel) was to make the One and intellect the first and second hypostases (the latter generated from the first – followed by the third, Soul, created by the second). Dillon continued

That the first principle was both a monad and an intellect was accepted already by Xenocrates in the Old Academy (Frs. 15, 16 Heinze) – though not, we may note, by his predecessor Speusippus – and became the accepted position in Middle Platonism, no contradiction being apparently observed between absolute unity and self-intellection.2

Hegel drew on this flexibility, maximising the philosophical and creative potential of his first principle by not only conflating Plotinus’ One with the first element Being in Proclus’ triad Being/Life/Intelligence in the second hypostasis Intellect, but also by overlying the Christian Trinity across that triad. The first principle could now, with a range of philosophical and religious meanings to use creatively, be known as One, Absolute, Mind, Being and God – forming the first element both in a single reality (Hegel’s ‘reason-world’) and in the stages in the unfolding of ‘reality’.3

For Plotinus the activity of Intellectual-Principle is thinking. It is the author of being and Plotinus equated Intellectual-Principle with it.4 Hegel began his Science of Logic and Encyclopaedia with this thinking, the first element in Proclus’ triad.5

Not only does Being think,6 that thinking, as Hegel indicated in a quote in Greek from the Metaphysics at the culmination and close of his Encyclopaedia, is divine, is God7 which Hegel described using the same expressions – ‘essential being’ and ‘absolute being’ – he had used when discussing the One in Plotinus’ philosophy (7.1).

Hegel’s God and Plotinus’ Intellectual-Principle are only truly what they potentially are having ‘emanated’ and returned, and in that process become fulfilled and complete.

Hegel wrote

in our thinking, our first thinking, God is only pure being, or even essence, the abstract absolute, but not God as absolute spirit, which alone is the true nature of God.8

and Plotinus expressed the result of the same Neoplatonic process thus

It is now Intellectual-Principle since it actually holds its object, and holds it by the act of intellection: before, it was no more than a tendance, an eye blank of impression: it was in motion towards the transcendental; now that it has attained, it has become Intellectual-Principle9

The divine activity of thinking requires an object to initiate that process and it finds that object by creating a distinction within itself

Intellect, to act at all, must inevitably comport difference with identity; otherwise it could not distinguish itself from its object by standing apart from it, nor could it ever be aware of the realm of things whose existence demands otherness, nor could there be so much as a duality.’10

Redding identifies that initial object

As the Logic is an investigation into the categorial structure of thought, its starting point will be the most immediate thought determination, that presupposed by all others: being, or das Sein.11

and thinking about that initial object is the basis of all further development

Being seems to be both immediate and simple, but it will show itself to be, in fact, only something in opposition to something else, nothing. The point seems to be that while the categories being and nothing seem both absolutely distinct and opposed…they appear identical as no criterion can be invoked which differentiates them. The only way out of this paradox is to posit a third category within which they can coexist as negated (Aufgehoben) moments. This category is becoming, which saves thinking from paralysis because it accommodates both concepts. Becoming contains being and nothing in the sense that when something becomes it passes, as it were, from nothingness to being.12

The dialectical cognition of God is underway, to which process negation is essential

There is…a technical, logical sense in which the second concept or form is the “opposite” or negation of—or is “not”—the first one—though, again, it need not be the “opposite” of the first one in a strict sense.13

Theorising the relationship between contradictories, between a concept and its other is fundamental to Neoplatonism. Proclus discussed being, non-being and the negation of being and Cusanus discussed both the relationship between creation, being and nothing and Being, being and not-being. (8.4.5)

Plotinus described the process whereby Intellectual-Principle comes to know its prior14 – the same process whereby divine Being comes to cognise itself in the Science of Logic

Thus the Intellectual-Principle, in the act of knowing the Transcendent, is a manifold. It knows the Transcendent in very essence but, with all its effort to grasp that prior as a pure unity, it goes forth amassing successive impressions, so that, to it, the object becomes multiple: thus in its outgoing to its object it is not (fully realised) Intellectual-Principle; it is an eye that has not yet seen; in its return it is an eye possessed of the multiplicity which it has itself conferred: it sought something of which it found the vague presentment within itself; it returned with something else, the manifold quality with which it has of its own act invested the simplex.

If it had not possessed a previous impression of the Transcendent it could never have grasped it, but this impression, originally of unity, becomes an impression of multiplicity; and the Intellectual-Principle in taking cognisance of that multiplicity knows the Transcendent and so is realised as an eye possessed of its vision.15



1. Dillon, ‘Plotinus: an Introduction,’ The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., xcii
2. Ibid.
3. ‘Are Being, Life and Intelligence to be regarded as three aspects of a single reality or as three successive stages in the unfolding of the cosmos from the One? Proclus characteristically answers that both views are true: they are aspects, for each of them implies the others as cause or as consequent; they are successive, not coordinate, for each is predominant (though not to the exclusion of the others) at a certain stage of the process.’ Dodds’ commentary, Proclus, The Elements of Theology, op, cit., 254
4. ‘Intellectual-Principle is Being,’ Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., V.3.16; ‘Thus it is true that “Intellection and Being are identical”,’ Ibid., V.9.5; ‘The Being of Intellect…is activity, and there is nothing to which the activity is directed; so it is self-directed.’ Plotinus, Enneads, Trans., A.H.Armstrong, op. cit., vol. V, V.3.7
5. ‘the beginning…has the significance and form of abstract universality. …it is…thinking,’ Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 827
6. ‘the absolute Being is just this being that is thought,’ Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 371
7. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, op. cit., 315; translation from Aristotle, The Metaphysics xii, 7, 1072b, Trans. and Introduction by Hugh Lawson-Tancred, Penguin, London, 2004, 374: ‘And God also has life; for the activation of thought is a life, and He is that activation. His intrinsic activation is supreme, eternal life. Accordingly we assert that God is a supreme and eternal living being, so that to God belong life and continuous and eternal duration. For that is what God is.’; ‘God, far from being a Being, even the highest, is the Being,’ Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, op. cit., 164
8. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 527
9. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., V.3.11
10. Ibid., VI.7.39
11. Redding, Hegel’s Hermeneutics, op. cit., 145
12. Redding, ‘Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,’ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hegel/, op. cit.
13. Julie E. Maybee, ‘Hegel’s Dialectics,’ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophyhttp://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hegel-dialectics/
14. Neoplatonic theory is anything but hard and fast. Plotinus’ position regarding the One’s transcendence is an instance. Dillon wrote ‘(Although Plotinus) emphasises the transcendence and otherness of the One, its superiority to Being and Intellect, and its unknowability by any normal faculty of cognition…in a number of passages…he makes some attempt to explore what sort of apprehension the One might have of itself. For Plotinus, after all, the One is not really a negativity…,’ Dillon, ‘Plotinus: an Introduction,’ The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., , xciii-xciv. He then quoted from V.4.2: ‘The intellectual object (i.e. the One) is self-gathered, and is not deficient as the seeing and knowing principle (i.e. Intellect) must be – deficient, I mean, as needing an object – it is therefore no unconscious thing…it is, itself, that self-intellection which takes place in eternal repose, that is to say, in a mode other than that of the Intellectual-Principle.’ Ibid., xciv
15. Ibid., V.3.11

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 11j With what does the Science of Logic begin?

My contention is that for philosophical and creative reasons, Hegel conflated the Neoplatonic hypostases with Proclus’ triad Being, Life and Intelligence which Proclus ‘suspended’ from the first hypostasis, the One.

Hegel’s philosophical reasons were that this triad of triads gave him the greatest potential for the development of Neoplatonic dialectics and that, with one stroke, it enabled him to obviate the impossibility of the cognition of the One. Now the entirety of the Neoplatonic system was open to the full development of ‘reason’.

Hegel’s creative motives were that by conflating the hypostases with Proclus’ triad and overlying the Christian Trinity across and weaving it into his use of it, every aspect of the Neoplatonic system could be illustrated and made more metaphorically rich – divine ‘mind’ and divine Being were now interchangeable with the Neoplatonic One and Absolute, with the Christian God, Father, Son and Spirit.1 Hegel used God, Christ and Spirit to symbolise every stage in the process of emanation and return.

By further anchoring Neoplatonism in the world through the coming of Christ and the Christian Spirit to it, Hegel aimed to make this austere, mystical philosophy more relevant to those who were drawn to the cultus he believed necessary for his time. In arguing thus, he also protected his career.

Hegel described the broad flow of his Science of Logic in Neoplatonic terms

The essential requirement for the science of logic is not so much that the beginning be a pure immediacy, but rather that the whole of the science be within itself a circle in which the first is also the last and the last is also the first.2

Despite writing that it must begin without presuppositions, Hegel then appeared to emphatically contradict himself

God has the absolutely undisputed right that the beginning be made with him3

Magee wrote of this

Hegel believed that before Christianity appeared philosophy could not have presented absolute truth in a fully adequate form. This leaves us with a troubling question: how can one square this claim about philosophy’s dependence on religion with Hegel’s claim that his philosophy is ‘presuppositionless’?…the thought that thinks the Logic is the thought of modern man shaped by Christianity, and much else. …Spirit had to undergo its encounter with Christianity in order to know the whole.4

But what did Hegel have to say of this beginning of his Science of Logic? That it must be made in pure knowing, without distinction; that it must be an absolute, that

it cannot contain within itself any determination, any content; for any such would be a distinguishing and an inter-relationship of distinct moments…The beginning therefore is pure being. …it is not truly known5


that which constitutes the beginning, the beginning itself, is to be taken as something unanalysable, taken in its simple, unfilled immediacy, and therefore as being, as the completely empty being.6 (all my italics)

These descriptions are philosophical not religious7 and are applicable not to the Christian God but to Plotinus’ One when brought into Intellectual-Principle, into the first element of Proclus’ triad – Being – and made the equivalent of that Being. Of the One Plotinus wrote

It is precisely because there is nothing within the One that all things are from it8

and Henry

The One is the One and nothing else, and even to assert that it ‘is’ or that it is ‘One’ is false, since it is beyond being or essence. No ‘name’ can apply to it; it eludes all definition, all knowledge9

While Hegel did argue that Christianity is the religion of absolute spirit – volume III of his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion is sub-titled ‘The Consummate Religion’ – his philosophy identifies the God that has the right that the Science of Logic begins with him and the religious basis for the presentation of absolute truth in ‘a fully adequate form’ as Neoplatonic.10 What Magee considers a ‘troubling question’ was, for Hegel – as he correctly wrote – a philosophical requisite.



1. ‘it is the abstract God, the supreme being, the Father, who dies in the death of the Son, and who is, as it were, reborn as concrete, world-encompassing Spirit.’ Hodgson in Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, 53; ‘if pure being is to be considered as the unity into which knowing has collapsed at the extreme point of its union with the object, then knowing itself has vanished in that unity, (my italics)’ Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 73
2. ‘We begin with a knowing that cancels the distinction between subject and object – and we end with Absolute Idea, which is the unity of subjectivity and objectivity. …The end returns to the beginning, though the movement from beginning to end involves the self-specification of Absolute Knowing into the myriad forms of the Logic. The goal of the whole system (and, Hegel thinks, of reality itself) is implicit in the beginning and, in a way, known immediately: the sublation of subject and object.’ Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 113
3. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 75, 78. Schlitt wrote that ‘the entire Hegelian system begins in the Encyclopaedia with God.’ Schlitt, Hegel’s Trinitarian Claim: A Critical Reflection, op. cit., 36
4. Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 246-247
5. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 70-72
6. Ibid., 75; ’this emptiness is therefore simply as such the beginning of philosophy.’ Ibid., 78
7. Plant wrote that Hegel believed that a philosophical reinterpretation of religion would enable the achievement of community and argued that this is ambiguous, asking why religion would be needed by a community that had achieved the philosophical perspective. Plant, Hegel, An Introduction, op. cit., 196-197
8. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., V.2.1
9. Henry, ‘The Place of Plotinus in the History of Thought,’ op. cit., liii-liv
10. ‘while the object or content of religion is the absolute, religion itself does not entail absolute knowledge of the absolute: that is the role of philosophy. The representational forms of religious expression, even of the Christian religion, must be “sublated” (annulled and preserved) in philosophical concepts. …Whether religion as such is to be superseded by philosophy is another question…’ Hogdson in Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, 4

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Hegel on the dialectical relationship of cause and effect


…though the cause has an effect and is at the same time itself effect, and the effect not only has a cause but is also itself cause, yet the effect which the cause has, and the effect which the cause is, are different, as are also the cause which the effect has, and the cause which the effect is.

But now the outcome of the movement of the determinate causal relation is this, that the cause is not merely extinguished in the effect and with it the effect, too, as in formal causality, but that the cause in being extinguished becomes again in the effect, that the effect vanishes in the cause, but equally becomes again in it. Each of these determinations sublates itself in its positing, and posits itself in its sublating; what is present here is not an external transition of causality from one substrate to another; on the contrary, this becoming-other of causality is at the same time its own positing. Causality therefore presupposes its own self or conditions itself.

G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, Trans., A.V.Miller, Humanities Press, New York, 1976, 565-566



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

Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 11h The Science of Logic and Neoplatonism

The Science of Logic, rather than being as Magee thinks the core of Hegel’s philosophy1, is the point of overlap for the influence on it of the Neoplatonism of Plotinus and Proclus.

Reflecting the development in the Enneads through Intellectual-Principle to its highest point before the first hypostasis, its conclusion in its final category Absolute Idea is the furthest attainment of the course initiated in the Phenomenology with the rise of consciousness from ‘sense-certainty,’ itself echoing the rise of Plotinus’ soul from the sensory world, through Soul, to Intellectual-Principle.

Again, reflecting the influence of Proclus, the Science of Logic is also the first element in Hegel’s Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences (in order – the Science of Logic, the Philosophy of Nature and the Philosophy of Mind/Spirit).

Beginning with the act of thinking in the sphere of ‘absolute knowing,’ the process here has its completion not in Absolute Idea but in Hegel’s discussion of religion and philosophy in Absolute Spirit at the end of his Philosophy of Mind/Spirit 

The eternal Idea, in full fruition of its essence, eternally sets itself to work, engenders and enjoys itself as absolute Mind2.

As I have argued (11.3.7), the Encyclopaedia is not based on the Christian Trinity but on Proclus’ triad in the second hypostasis Intellect – Being/Life/Intelligence. In this, as I will argue in my discussion of the relations between Hegel and Cusanus, Hegel also followed the broad structure of the three books in Cusanus’ De docta ignorantia, the subjects of which are in turn God, the universe and Christ. Where Cusanus concluded the last book with a cultus of the Church, Plotinus concluded his system with a cultus of souls and Hegel his with a cultus of Spirit – each cultus one of individuals3.

Hegel criticised Plotinus’ hypostases, finding them inadequate for his dialectical interests4 but found in Proclus’ triad – a triad of triunities5 – the complexity, the potential, the ‘real trinity’ he sought (11.3.6). To creatively intensify this, again as I have argued and will return to, he introduced the errors that he made in his discussion of the philosophies of Plotinus and Proclus into his own philosophy by conflating the hypostases into Proclus’ triad (Chapter 7).

It is Hegel’s adherence to this triad and the degree to which he developed it that identifies him as the consummate Neoplatonist.



1. ‘one may argue that the Logic is the core of Hegel’s philosophy,’ Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 244
2. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, op. cit., 315
3.God is a trinity (my italics) of Oneness, Equality-of-Oneness, and the Union thereof,’ Jasper Hopkins, Nicholas of Cusa On Learned Ignorance, A Translation and an Appraisal of De Docta Ignorantia, The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis, 1990, 1-50, 2; ‘DI began with a discussion of the Absolute Maximum, which was shown to be Absolute Oneness. From out of Oneness there arose a oneness in plurality, viz., the created universe, which was discussed in Book Two. Book Three then took as its theme the return of the creation to God through Christ. But in its return the creation is not re-enfolded in God, is not merged with Absolute Oneness, for each finite thing retains its individuality; rather, the creation is reunited to God.’ Ibid., 49; ‘We shall have to consider this idea, this content, in three spheres (my italics):/1. the idea in free universality, or the pure essence of God – the kingdom of the Father;/2. the inward diremption of the idea, held fast for a moment in its differentiation – the kingdom of the Son;/3. the reconciliation of this finite spirit with spirit that has being in and for itself – the kingdom of the Spirit.’ Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, 362. To repeat, my contention regarding Hegel is that his philosophy is not Christian but that he used the Christian Trinity to disguise (eagerly pandered to by ideologues, supremacists and academics), illustrate and ground his Neoplatonism.
4. ‘in his Enneads he frequently reiterates the same general views; we find plenty of adversions to the universal and no convincing progression through the whole, of the sort we have seen in the case of Aristotle. The logos or what is thought is not apart from nous; the nous is what is thought; it envisages only itself, as thinking…’ Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6, op. cit., vol. II, 337
5. Proclus wrote of ‘essence indeed in the first triad, intelligible life in the second, and intelligible intellect in the third. …essence is suspended from the first deity…life from the second, and intellect from the third.’ Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, op. cit., Bk. IV., Ch. III

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 11g The Phenomenology of Spirit and the Enneads

The Phenomenology of Spirit describes the experience of Soul in its epistemological ascent from sense-certainty – ‘the first and most primitive form of consciousness’1 – through what was for Plotinus the third hypostasis (All-Soul, Universal Soul, Soul of the All) to what was for him the second, Intellectual-Principle – the site of Hegel’s conflated ‘reason-world’. An ascent from the finite to an infinity of creativity, in itself though immeasurable but still an image of the infinity of the One and the Good, which infinity is addressed in the Logic as it details the ‘mind’ of God.2

As I have argued, the Phenomenology describes not a propaedeutic, a purificatory preparation3 for ‘proper’ philosophy, but the dialectical development of consciousness within an essential, philosophical stage of self-knowing in the Neoplatonic process of return to the source. In it, consciousness (Soul) both rises and goes within through a series of Neoplatonic ‘shapes’ to attain the point of ‘absolute knowing.’ Throughout, Spirit crafts itself, continuing that crafting in the Logic.

Having shaped our souls into Intellectual-Principle (Hegel’s ‘reason-world’), ‘we make over our souls in trust to it,’4 so that from there, our reason now ‘pure’ and active in the realm of unity-in-diversity, we may continue in the dialectical advance to the knowledge of God.

Plotinus believed that philosophy is for the few and that the development of consciousness to the attainment of the complete unity of subject and object requires great effort, the soul repeatedly falling back to the realm of sensory experience

The soul or mind reaching towards the formless finds itself incompetent to grasp where nothing bounds it or to take impression where the impinging reality is diffuse; in sheer dread of holding to nothingness, it slips away. The state is painful; often it seeks relief by retreating from all this vagueness to the region of sense, there to rest as on solid ground5

Anchoring the same thoughts in the world with a more complex prose poetry, Hegel set out the process through a sequence of metaphors themselves described metaphorically – the Stations of the Cross echoed in the tribulations of a pilgrim’s progress

because it has only phenomenal knowledge for its object…it can be regarded as the path of the natural consciousness which presses forward to true knowledge; or as the way of the Soul which journeys through the series of its own configurations as though they were the stations appointed for it by its own nature, so that it may purify itself for the life of the Spirit…The road can therefore be regarded as the pathway of doubt, or more precisely as the way of despair.6

On descent to the sensory world, Soul loses its knowledge of unity with the One, with God and recollection is the means for its recovery. For Hegel and the Neoplatonists, Soul’s recollection of whence it came is a timeless and partless activity (distinct from the understanding’s memory which is the retrieval of things that have been introduced – of time, part and space7) essential not only to that recovery but to speculative philosophy and the developmental progress of consciousness which Hegel begins in his Phenomenology. When we fail to recollect we inevitably return to the world of sense.8

Recollection conveys not only the thought of the higher realm but also the emotional condition in which that thought was experienced. Thus imagination is the core of recollection and dialectic

Recollection proceeds through metaphors, ingenuities, and images…To recollect is not to form a proposition, but to form an image9

Plotinus wrote that recollection resides in the imagination or ‘image-making faculty’ and that words can act as a bridge between what is to be recollected (‘the concept’) and the ‘image-making faculty.’ Foreshadowing Cusanus’ use of both metaphors and concepts, followed by Hegel, Plotinus held that the ‘verbal formula’ can exhibit the indivisible ‘mental’ conception as in a mirror

the verbal formula – the revealer, the bridge between the concept and the image-taking faculty – exhibits the concept as in a mirror; the apprehension by the image-taking faculty would thus constitute the enduring presence of the concept, would be our memory of it.10

The Phenomenology is built on this theorising.11

Rather than using these ‘metaphors, ingenuities and images’ as mere illustrations or even as a means of circumventing ‘the unsayable,’ Hegel, consistent with the other Neoplatonists, used them as essential elements to condition the thinking of the readers of his Phenomenology to a non-discursive way of reasoning, of grasping ‘reality.’12

the metaphors or images in the Phenomenology of Spirit are not just any metaphors but the metaphors of consciousness itself, those by which it accomplishes the turning…of its being (my italics) at any given moment. The Phenomenology of Spirit is a philosophical speech in which all the powers of language, its imagistic and its conceptual powers, are brought forth so that the reader may recollect.13

Recollection is self-recollection – an inner vision of the ‘truth’ we unconsciously possess, of our spiritual core, giving it expression in philosophy.14 Magee wrote that the Phenomenology ‘is a “recollection” of the different forms in which Spirit has displayed itself and continues to display itself’.15 He discussed Hegel’s use of the concept ‘recollection’ (Erinnerung) in the final section of the Phenomenology, ‘absolute knowing’

At one point (Hegel) hyphenates the German word as Er-Innerung, suggesting an interpretation of ‘recollection’ as a ‘going within’ of the subject (inner has the same meaning in German as in English, and Innerung has the sense of ‘innering’ or ‘inwardising’). The Phenomenology is, in fact, a recollection of Spirit’s development by Spirit itself. It is Spirit going within itself, recollecting itself, and writing its autobiography – not in the sense of a literal history, but instead the natural history of its manifestations16

Both the Enneads and the Phenomenology conclude with the cancellation of otherness and a withdrawal into self17 but where the conclusion of the Enneads is the end of the entire process addressed through the Enneads, from the sensory world to unity with the Supreme,18 that of the Phenomenology is only the degree of self-development, of spiritual unity necessary for the continuation of the process at a higher stage of consciousness, of being, in the Logic,19 indicated by the closing words – again, not of discursive reason but a poetic and religious image of infinite Neoplatonic vitalism

from the chalice of this realm of spirits

foams forth for Him his own infinitude20

They invoke the Logic. The Phenomenology of Spirit: theatre of the ‘mind’

The Phenomenology is a theatre of the ‘mind.’ Centre stage is the dramatis persona, ’consciousness.’ The readers are the audience. At the side of the stage Hegel stands at a lectern

pointing out to us aspects of the action, highlighting features we may have otherwise missed, directing our attention.21

As Redding wrote

Our ability to follow the progress of the character is dependent on our ability to empathise with his experience and ambition…But at the same time we retain the external point of view onto the character on stage. The doubleness of consciousness demanded of the dramatic persona of the Phenomenology is demanded of the spectator as well.22

He asks, in regard to this perspectival, recognitive unity-in-diversity

Might it be…that the review of the whole drama constitutes our anagnorisis? This, it seems to me, is something like what is supposed to happen here: there is meant to be some strong sense of recognition of the self on our, the readers’ part.23

The Phenomenology is a great work of art. Hegel employed a range of literary devices, particularly metaphor,24 to draw his readers in to his philosophical theatre and by putting all of us on centre stage through the development of his dramatis persona ‘consciousness,’ to convey his Neoplatonic philosophy. It is because of this, that it is so clearly a work of art, that academics cannot accept that it is philosophy at the highest level – that they believe, as Redding does, that ‘philosophy proper’ is to be found in the text that followed this, which completed what Hegel began in his Phenomenology – the rise of consciousness from the sensory world to the knowledge of God.



1. Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 166. It is necessary to begin with sense-certainty not only because sensory experience is the basis for contemplation: ‘when in seeing what is perceptible I understand that it exists from a higher power (since it is finite, and a finite thing cannot exist from itself; for how could what is finite have set its own limit?), then I can only regard as invisible and eternal [this] Power from which it exists.’ De Possest, 915, 3, it is also the basis of conceptualisation: ‘the power of the mind—a power that grasps things and is conceptual—cannot succeed in its operations unless it is stimulated by perceptible objects’ Idiota de Mente, 545, 77
2. The infinity of Intellectual-Principle is not that of the One: ‘This unity-in-diversity is the most perfect possible image of the absolute unity of the One, whom Intellect in its ordinary contemplation cannot apprehend as He is in His absolute simplicity. It represents His infinity as best it can in the plurality of Forms. Intellect is itself infinite in power (my italics) and immeasurable, because it has no extension and there is no external standard by which it could be measured, but finite (my italics) because it is a complete whole composed of an actually existing number (all that can possibly exist) of Forms, which are themselves definite, limited realities.’ Armstrong in Plotinus, Enneads, Trans., A.H.Armstrong, op. cit., vol. I, xxi. Thus the lines of Schiller’s Neoplatonic paean to infinite creativity that Hegel adapted to conclude the Phenomenology with are entirely apt, signalling Soul’s arrival at what was for Plotinus the second hypostasis.
3. ‘Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit represents, in the Hegelian system, an initial stage of purification in which the would-be philosopher is purged of false intellectual standpoints so that he might receive the true doctrine of Absolute Knowing,’ Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition, op.cit., 14. Magee argues that his interpretation of this aspect of the Phenomenology exemplifies Hegel’s Hermeticism.
4. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., VI.9.3
5. Ibid.
6. Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 49; ‘Hegel’s own philosophical point of view is shot through with Christian images, to such an extent that his system would be difficult to describe without making reference to these symbols.’ Plant, Hegel, An Introduction, op. cit., 133 
7. ‘Now a memory has to do with something brought into ken from without, something learned or something experienced; the Memory-Principle, therefore, cannot belong to such things as are immune from experience and from time.’ Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., IV.3.25
8. ‘When we forget we return to the world. We think in a present and when we do this, no self-knowing is possible. …We risk becoming merely a person again and not a philosopher.’ Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in The Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 75
9. Ibid., 3; ‘Without images, concepts become dry and abstract. Hegel’s own thinking is famously replete with images, metaphors, and analogies. …it is evident that thought continues to be fructified by the imagistic materials thrown up by representation,’ Hodgson, ‘Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion,’ op. cit., 239 
10. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., IV.3.30
11. In the Phenomenology Hegel employed the ‘verbal formula’ of development through metaphor, in the Logic, he used the ‘verbal formula’ of development through concepts. Cusanus, whose example Hegel followed and developed on and to whom Hegel was profoundly indebted, also used both.
12. ‘The vivid images and metaphors used by (Plotinus) apparently did not just act as illustrations of mental concepts, but served rather to attune the mind to nondiscursive modes of grasping reality.’ Chlup, Proclus, An Introduction, op. cit., 180; ‘This Becoming presents a slow-moving succession of Spirits, a gallery of images, each of which, endowed with all the riches of Spirit, moves thus slowly just because the Self has to penetrate and digest this entire wealth of its substance.’ Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 492; ‘all things are in us psychically, and through this we are naturally capable of knowing all things, by exciting the powers and the images of wholes which we contain.’ Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, op. cit., Bk. I, Ch. III 
13. Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in The Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 25; ‘(The author argues that) the philosophic meaning of this work depends as much on Hegel’s use of metaphor and image as it does on Hegel’s dialectical and discursive descriptions of various stages of consciousness.’ Ibid; Verene quoting Carl Vaught in The Quest for Wholeness: ‘the stages generated by Hegel’s philosophical quest for completeness can be regarded as a sequence of metaphors which are held together by analogical connections.’ Ibid., 118; ‘(Quentin Lauer argued that the most poetic of Hegel’s works is the Phenomenology of Spirit and) goes on to suggest that imagery, symbol, and metaphor are necessary not just for the comprehension of Hegel’s text (i.e. the Phenomenology) but for the comprehension of Hegel’s subject itself – the speculative understanding of history, reality, and spirit. I could not agree more.’ Ibid., xiii; Verene made excellent points with regard to Hegel’s use of irony ‘Hegel uses irony to exclude other positions. It is his principal weapon, for example, when he speaks against other doctrines of the absolute (“the night in which all cows are black”), or against phrenologists, or against ethical views (“the law of the heart and the frenzy of self-conceit’). He makes them into jokes. …Irony is a trope close to dialectic in that the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used. …In the end, irony as well as metaphor and recollection, is the key to Hegel’s system,’ Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in The Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 22, 31, 118 
14. ‘Vision of the Ideas through recollection is an inner vision…Plotinus is the ultimate inspiration for this focus on inner vision.’ Mark Cheetham, The Rhetoric of Purity: Essentialist Theory and the Advent of Abstract Painting, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, 5
15. Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 167
16. Ibid., 197
17. ‘(Spirit’s) withdrawal into itself, in which it abandons its outer existence and gives its existential shape over to recollection.’ Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 492
18. ‘This is the life of gods and of the godlike and blessed among men, liberation from the alien that besets us here, a life taking no pleasure in the things of earth, the passing of solitary to solitary.’ Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., VI.9.11
19. ‘In this knowing, then, Spirit has concluded the movement in which it has shaped itself, in so far as (my italics) this shaping was burdened with the difference of consciousness [i.e. of the latter from its object], a difference now overcome.’ Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 490
20. Ibid., 493; ‘Hegel ends his whole work (the Phenomenology) with an image, an image of the inability of the divine to bring its own creation and its own being to a point of rest.’ Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in The Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 7
21. Redding, Hegel’s Hermeneutics, op. cit., 80
22. Ibid., 82
23. Ibid., 134-135
24. ‘we have so little experience in taking metaphorical speech seriously as a carrier of philosophical meaning that we read right past it. …we have become so accustomed to the monotone hum of the abstract concept and the category, the fluorescent buzz of the argument, that we have lost track of the dimensions of philosophical language. We have forgotten its secrets and cannot recollect its manner of eating bread and drinking wine.’ Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in The Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 34-35

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 11f

11.3.11 The Phenomenology of Spirit and the Logic unite in the Enneads

Epitomising the centrality of ‘seeing’ to mysticism, Hegel believed that philosophy unites in a ‘simple spiritual vision’ raised to ‘self-conscious thought’ the visual immediacy and poetry of art with the ‘mental’ pictures of religion. As Lauer noted, what in Hegel’s view is of supreme interest and importance to the human spirit is expressed in art, religion and philosophy together, not in philosophy alone –

we are speaking of interrelation wherein none is all that it is without the others1

This coming together in a ‘simple spiritual vision’ embodying the three manifestations of Hegel’s Absolute Spirit – the artistically sensuous, the religiously pictorial and the union of them in the philosophically conceptual2 – was given expression by Plotinus in his resonant metaphor of a sculptor (quoted at 6.4) perfecting his soul by shaping it to become vision of the Good.3

The Phenomenology of Spirit and the Logic function as the two elements of a unit, detailing the process of this Neoplatonic shaping of consciousness, of ‘reason,’ of self.4 As I have previously argued, Hegel pulled apart the philosophical strands in the Enneads for detailed treatment in different texts – where the Phenomenology is a study of consciousness, the Logic is a metaphysics and an ontology – a study of Being and its product, being.

But the metaphor of ‘shaping’ sustains both – from the development of the ‘shapes’ of consciousness  in the former to that of the ‘shapes’ of the categories in the latter, culminating in that of Absolute Idea, ‘defined’ by the entirety of the argument in the Logic.5

The Neoplatonic process of return to unity is begun in the Phenomenology with the rise from sense-certainty, and the development within the stage covered by the Phenomenology concludes with ‘absolute knowing’. This movement is the equivalent of Soul’s return to the level of the second hypostasis Intellectual-Principle – a higher level of being than that of the third hypostasis, Soul (All-Soul, Universal Soul, Soul of the All).6

The Logic then takes over, detailing the development within what was for Plotinus Intellectual-Principle, the realm of unity-in-multiplicity, which development concludes with the attainment of Absolute Idea – the unity of subjectivity and objectivity.7

Negation drives the process, giving us in turn the development both in the processes of consciousness in the Phenomenology and in the processes of the ‘mind’ of God in the Logic. ‘Crises’ in the former become ‘inadequacies’ in the latter. Where ‘events’ unfold dialectically in the attempt to make the content determinate in the Phenomenology (determinations of consciousness), concepts unfold likewise dialectically in the Logic (determinations of logic).8 ‘Shapes’ gain more precise definition.

As the Phenomenology gives us the ‘lived content’ of ‘reality’ through a series of metaphors, the Logic gives us the ‘formal structure’ of that ‘reality’. First, reason as consciousness in the Phenomenology rises to an initial unity of subject and object – ‘absolute knowing’ – now as ‘pure reason’ in the Logic it engages with a multiplicity in that unity, with all that is. Soul having attained ‘absolute knowing’ becomes the activity of ‘pure knowing’ in the pursuit of unity.

Based on recollection, the enmeshed philosophical strands in the guided ascent to the philosopher’s God that is the Enneads was reproduced, expanded on and very substantially developed by Hegel in two parts – the Phenomenology followed by the Logic.9 Self-knowing, incomplete in the former becomes perfect in the latter. For Plotinus and Hegel, just as Soul is the principle of Life, Divine Mind is the principle of Idea.10



1. Lauer, ‘Hegel as Poet’ op. cit., 12
2. ‘This science is the unity of Art and Religion. Whereas the vision-method of Art, external in point of form, is but subjective production and shivers the substantial content into many separate shapes, and whereas Religion, with its separation into parts, opens it out in mental picture, and mediates what is thus opened out; Philosophy not merely keeps them together to make a totality, but even unifies them into the simple spiritual vision, and then in that raises them to self-conscious thought. Such consciousness is thus the intelligible unity (cognised by thought) of art and religion, in which the diverse elements in the content are cognised as necessary, and this necessary as free.’ Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, op. cit., 302
3. Cusanus wrote ‘suppose that a slab of wax were conceived of as being in-formed with a mind. In that case, the mind existing within the wax would configure the wax to every shape presented to that mind—even as the mind of an artisan endeavours to do now, when mind is applied from outside the object.’ Nicholas of Cusa, Idiota de mente (‘The Layman on Mind’), op. cit., 557, 101
4. ‘we must strike for those Firsts, rising from things of sense which are the lasts. …we must ascend to the Principle within ourselves; from many, we must become one…We shape ourselves into Intellectual-Principle; we make over our soul in trust to Intellectual-Principle and set it firmly in That; thus what That sees the soul will waken to see: it is through the Intellectual-Principle that we have this vision of The Unity’ Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., VI.9.3
5. Hegel employed the Neoplatonic metaphor of ‘shape’ in both his Phenomenology and Logic, in which he applied it to his overarching category ‘Absolute Idea’: ‘the absolute Idea alone is being, imperishable life, self-knowing truth, and is all truth. It is the sole subject matter and content of philosophy. Since it contains all determinateness within it, and its essential nature is to return to itself through its self-determination or particularisation, it has various shapes, and the business of philosophy is to cognise it in these. (my italics) Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 824
6. ‘First, consciousness has to enter into itself, it has to become concrete, become what it is in itself; hence it starts from immediacy, and through the sublation of this immediacy it elevates itself to thinking. This means that its true nature is to abandon its immediacy, to treat it as a state in which it ought not to be’ Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, 201-202
7. ‘For the soul when looking at things posterior to herself, beholds the shadows and images of beings, but when she converts herself to herself she evolves her own essence, and the reasons which she contains. And at first indeed, she only as it were beholds herself; but when she penetrates more profoundly into the knowledge of herself, she finds in herself both intellect, and the orders of beings. When however, she proceeds into her interior recesses, and into the adytum as it were of the soul, she perceives with her eye closed, the genus of the Gods, and the unities of beings. For all things are in us psychically, and through this we are naturally capable of knowing all things, by exciting the powers and the images of wholes which we contain.’ Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, op. cit., Bk. I, Ch. III; ‘For whereas reason descends unto the senses, the senses return unto reason. And in this regard notice the stages-of-return: the senses return unto reason; reason returns unto intelligence; intelligence returns unto God, where Beginning and Consummation exist in perfect reciprocity,’ Nicholas of Cusa, De coniecturis (‘On Speculations’), op. cit., 36, 180
8. ’Just the same dialectic that we have first seen operative among shapes of consciousness in the Phenomenology and among categories or thought-determinations in the Logic can be observed,’ Redding, ‘Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, op. cit.; ‘The soul…a traveller, re-ascends through the power of dialectic’ Henry, ‘The Place of Plotinus in the History of Thought,’ op. cit., li; ’dialectic analysis…orders the soul and prepares it for the influx of intellective light from above. In this way, the structures of being that dialectic has traced discursively may come alive within us and be transformed into one complex vision of intelligible reality.’ Chlup, Proclus, An Introduction, op. cit., 160-161
9. To think that the Logic, with Hegel’s claim of its rigorous conceptual reason is where he does ‘proper’ philosophy is erroneous and is the ideological, academic position. ‘The Phenomenology of Spirit was conceived as an introduction or propaedeutic to the tripartite system of Logic-Nature-Spirit.’ Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 244-245; ‘absolute knowing is the standpoint to which Hegel has hoped to bring the reader in this complex work. This is the standpoint of science, the standpoint from which philosophy proper (my italics) commences, and it commences in Hegel’s next book, the Science of Logic.’ Redding, ‘Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, op. cit. To recognise that the Phenomenology and the Logic form a developmental whole is the philosophical position – but to hold that would first require acknowledging Hegel’s Neoplatonism.
10. ‘As in Soul (principle of Life) so in Divine Mind (principle of Idea) there is this infinitude of recurring generative powers; the Beings there are unfailing.’ Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., V.7.3

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

NASA: humanity’s present concepts are susceptible to being supplanted by greater truths

From the NASA page: ‘even though this illustration has appeared in numerous places over the past 100 years, the actual artist remains unknown. Furthermore, the work has no accepted name…The illustration, first appearing in a book by Camille Flammarion in 1888, is used frequently to show that humanity’s present concepts are susceptible to being supplanted by greater truths.’

From the NASA page: ‘even though this illustration has appeared in numerous places over the past 100 years, the actual artist remains unknown. Furthermore, the work has no accepted name…The illustration, first appearing in a book by Camille Flammarion in 1888, is used frequently to show that humanity’s present concepts are susceptible to being supplanted by greater truths.’


‘Let us then apprehend in our thought this visible universe, with each of its parts remaining what it is without confusion, gathering all of them together into one as far as we can, so that when any one part appears first, for instance the outside heavenly sphere, the imagination of the sun and, with it, the other heavenly bodies follows immediately, and the earth and sea and all the living creatures are seen, as they could in fact all be seen inside a transparent sphere. Let there be, then, in the soul a shining imagination of a sphere, having everything within it, either moving or standing still, or some things moving and others standing still. Keep this, and apprehend in your mind another, taking away the mass: take away also the places, and the mental picture of matter in yourself, and do not try to apprehend another sphere smaller in mass than the original one, but calling on the god who made that of which you have the mental picture, pray him to come. And may he come, bringing his own universe with him, with all the gods within him, he who is one and all, and each god is all the gods coming together into one; they are different in their powers, but by that one manifold power they are all one; or rather, the one god is all; for he does not fail if all become what he is; they are all together and each one again apart in a position without separation, possessing no perceptible shape – for if they did, one would be in one place and one in another, and each would no longer be all in himself…nor is each whole like a power cut up which is as large as the measure of its parts. But this, the [intelligible] All, is universal power, extending to infinity and powerful to infinity; and that god is so great that his parts have become infinite…’

Plotinus, Enneads, V.8.9



Two mystics advocate flight from the world

The Keyhole in the Carina Nebula

The Keyhole in the Carina Nebula

‘This is the life of gods and of the godlike and blessed among men, liberation from the alien that besets us here, a life taking no pleasure in the things of earth, the passing of solitary to solitary.’

Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), Trans., Stephen MacKenna, Penguin, London, 1991, VI.9.11, 549


‘periods must occur in which the spirit of nobler natures is forced to flee from the present into ideal regions, and to find in them that reconciliation with itself which it can no longer enjoy in an internally divided reality…Thought is then impelled to become thinking reason’

G.W.F.Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Introduction: Reason in History, Trans., H.B.Nisbet, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984, 143


‘Philosophy, then, is the reconciliation of the decay that thought has initiated, a reconciliation taking place in an ideal world, one into which thought takes flight when the earthly world no longer satisfies it.’

G.W.F.Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6 Volume I: Introduction and Oriental Philosophy, Together With the Introductions from the Other Series of These Lectures, Trans., Robert F.Brown and J.M.Stewart, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2009, 68

Close-up of the Bubble Nebula

Close-up of the Bubble Nebula

‘(When a people’s) best times are past and decay sets in…satisfaction resides then in the ideal realm. Spirit flees from the present and seeks a locus that is not present-day existence but instead a world apart from it, and that is the locus of thought. These are the times when we see philosophy come on the scene for a people.’

Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6 Volume I: Introduction and Oriental Philosophy, Together With the Introductions from the Other Series of These Lectures, Trans., Robert F. Brown and J.M. Stewart, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2009, 272-3


‘Instead of allowing reason and religion to contradict themselves, we must resolve the discord in the manner appropriate to us – namely, reconciliation in the form of philosophy. How the present day is to solve its problems must be left up to it. In philosophy itself the resolution is only partial. These lectures have attempted to offer guidance to this end.

Religion must take refuge in philosophy. For the theologians of the present day, the world is a passing away into subjective reflection because it has as its form merely the externality of contingent occurrence. But philosophy, as we have said, is also partial: it forms an isolated order of priests – a sanctuary – who are untroubled about how it goes with the world, who need not mix with it, and whose work is to preserve this possession of truth. How things turn out in the world is not our affair.’

G.W.F.Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, Vol. III, Ed., Peter C.Hodgson, Trans., R.F.Brown, P.C.Hodgson, J.M.Stewart, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2007, 161-162


Images: top/bottom

From the chalice of this realm of spirits

Dark Dunes on Mars (Horizontally Compressed)

Dark Dunes on Mars (Horizontally Compressed)

from the chalice of this realm of spirits

foams forth for Him his own infinitude.