Hegel’s Recasting of Theological Proofs

Robert R. Williams

in Tragedy, Recognition, and the Death of God

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656059
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744846 | DOI:
Hegel’s Recasting of Theological Proofs

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This chapter discusses Kant’s and Jacobi’s attack on the theological proofs that has so discredited the proofs that not even theologians bother with them any more. Hegel accepts Kant’s critique of the form of the proofs, but not as a critique of the substance. Hegel recasts that substance as the ascent of spirit to God, claiming that Kant failed to understand it. Hegel criticizes and reconstructs the traditional form of the proofs in his logic, including the cosmological and ontological, that as Henrich notes, is more radical than Kant’s and renews ontotheology. The defect of Anselm’s argument is its presupposition that perfection implies existence. Hegel reconstructs the ontological argument in his discussion of disjunctive syllogism and the transition to objectivity. Objectivity is both opposite to the subject and the realization of the subject. Hegel shows that the concept and being are both different and identical. Being is other than the concept but only as a determination of the concept. Thereby Hegel renews ontotheology through a dialectical correction and reconstruction of the ontological proof. Hegel’s reconstruction entails not a highest being, but absolute idealism. The latter implies God as absolute spirit, and God’s ethical aseity as I. A. Dorner saw.

Keywords: Kant; Jacobi; Henrich; Anselm; Dorner; cosmological proof; ontological proof; disjunctive syllogism; objectivity; objective idealism

Chapter.  20458 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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