What is Religion?
The primary task confronting the philosopher of religion is to identify the object of his study as clearly as he can. He must ask himself what exactly religion is and what are its constituent elements. This, in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, Hegel undertook to do with all the intellectual concentration characteristic of him, along with a maturity of judgment which prompted the work’s posthumous editor, Marheineke, to describe it as ‘the highest bloom’ of its author’s philosophy. Thus much of the first part of it is taken up with a searching discussion of the main features of the religious outlook, in which this is contrasted with every other area of human concern. It would of course be idle to deny that the way in which Hegel deals with the subject — in terms, that is, of the ever-evolving Idea — is determined by his own metaphysical principles; but so long as the fact is kept firmly in mind the reader can avoid the not infrequent mistake of assuming that the resulting treatment only misrepresents the issues. No account of so complex a matter as religion can be detached from presuppositions of one sort or another, and it is best to be able to locate their presence at the outset and deliberately allow for them.
KeywordsHuman Spirit Religious Language Human Concern Metaphysical Principle Religious Feeling
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