Updated: Jun 17
Leighton, J. A. “Hegel's Conception of God.” The Philosophical Review 5, no. 6 (1896): 601. https://doi.org/10.2307/2176135
God is thus at once the presupposition and the goal of all Hegel’s thinking. "A reason-derived knowledge of God the highest problem of philosophy. “God is for him the self-conditioning, self-centered totality of all that is, i.e., the ultimate unity. But philosophy must not remain standing with the bare assertion that God is the ultimate unity. It must specify this unity and exhibit it as a concrete system of differences. "Philosophy knows God essentially as concrete, spiritual, real universality, that is not grudging but communicates himself." The different parts of Hegel's sister expositions of different aspects of God's existence. Taken together they exhibit the development in that process of concretion or specification which it is the task of philosophy to show forth, as Hegel is always telling us.
Logic, the first part of the philosophy, is a criticism of the categories by which men interpret reality. Truth, for Hegel, is not the correspondence of thought with external reality. He has no interest in, and would condemn as utterly fruitless, the attempt to determine the objective validity of thought. Truth for him is " the agreement of a thought-content with itself," i.e., self-consistency. This definition must constantly be borne in mind, inasmuch as the entire work of the Logic consists in passing in review the ascending series of categories in the light of which men interpret reality. Each succeeding category is found inadequate, because it does not square at all points with the idea of self-consistency. Each category is merged in a higher one until the ultimate category of the 'Notion' is reached. Into this category all the lower categories are received, and by it they are fulfilled. The Logic is "an immanent criticism of categories."
Inasmuch as men have always used the highest categories of their thinking to interpret and give unity to their experience, logic may be regarded as the history of the different thoughtforms in which men have given expression to their conceptions of the ultimate reality God. "Logic is metaphysical theology, which considers the evolution of the idea of God in the ether of pure thought. “Hegel’s philosophy is preeminently philosophy based on experience. But experience means for him chiefly the experience of the race in thinking out the world problem. He seeks his material chiefly in the history of human thought. Categories are objective thoughts, i.e., thoughts regarded as objectively true, as universally valid. So, Hegel says: “Logic . . . therefore coincides with Metaphysics, the science of things set and held in thoughts thought accredited able to express the essential reality of things."
The Logic is a history of metaphysic. Its work is to bring to light the ground thoughts of metaphysic. It has been said" there is no evolution possible of a fact from a conception. “There is, however, a possible evolution in the conception of fact. The Hegelian Logic is, I take it, an attempt to trace the volution in the conception of the ultimate fact God. It is true that Hegel seems to think that the highest notion of comprehending itself. He says that the Logic sets forth the self-movement of the Absolute idea as the original Word or Self-expression. He believes that in the Logic he is tracing the actual course of God’s manifestation of Himself through human thought about Him. Hegel has no doubt that he has discovered, and is setting forth, the process by which the Absolute manifests itself in the appearances of our time and space world. The absolute method which is his method gets at the very heart of the object, he would say. The absolute method, being the immanent principle and soul of its object, develops the qualities of that object out of the object itself. This method Hegel unhesitatingly applied to the ultimate Object. The final category is the idea of God regarded in the light of pure thought. It is the Notion, or End. Hegel's 'Notion' corresponds to the Final Cause of Aristotle, in which are included both the efficient and the formal cause. In the End the Notion has entered on free existence and has a being of its own by means of the negation of immediate objectivity. The category of end takes up into itself mechanism anthemis as subordinate categories. The end is not merely blind causation like the efficient cause. In having a being of its own, end has properly subjectivity and is really self-consciousness abstractly considered. As subjective, end implies a matter external to itself on which it works. We have so far only external design. This is superseded in the notion of inner design, of reason immanent in the world. The true end is the unity of the subjective and objective. The end exists and is active in the world. It constitutes the world. Individual existences have their being only in the universal end. Good, the absolutely Good is eternally accomplishing itself in the world." The end as actual is the Idea. "The Idea may be called Reason (and this is the proper philosophical significance of 'reason'), subject-object, the unity of the ideal and the real, of the finite and the infinite, of soul and body, etc. The Idea is a process which is ever splitting itself into differences, but always preserves its relation to self. Hegel seeks to throw forth on the philosophical screen a vivid picture of the Absolute at work, weaving a world of men and things in the "loom of time." The first form of the Idea is life. Life is the Idea existing in the world as external and immediately given. From life we rise to cognition. Here the subjective Idea stands over against the objective world that is given. Ianthe process of cognition the subjective Idea starts out with faith in the rationality of the objective world and seeks to know it, i.e., to realize its own unity with the objective. But subjective Idea does not merely seek to know the objective world. It also seeks to realize its own ideals in the objective world. This is the effort of will toward the Good. The subjective never quite succeeds in bending the objective to its purposes, and it is forced to fall back on the faith " that the good is radically and really achieved in the world." This faith is the speculative or absolute Idea. Its object is the "Idea as such," and for it the objective is Idea. The Absolute Ideas the self-identity which contains the whole system of concrete things and persons as integral parts of itself. It is the absolutely good and absolutely true. It is not a mere abstract universal, but is rather the all-embracing, self-centered unit of things. The universal realizes itself by determining itself to be the absolute individual, the absolute subject. Every step that the Absolute Idea takes in going beyond itself is at the same time a reflection into itself, an enrichment of self. The greater extension brings the higher intension. The highest, most acute point in the development is pure Personality, which alone, through the absolute dialectic, which is its nature, grasps and holds all in itself. We have reached the notion of God. A confusion is liable to occur here because of Hegel’s use of the same phrase, the ‘Absolute Idea,' to represent both our thought and the object of that thought. This double use has led to the charge that Hegel attempted to construct the real world out of abstract thought. The double use is in a measure justifiable since the Absolute Idea as the ultimate existence is really the divine self-consciousness. From Hegel’s point of view, it is the divine in us that enables us to grasp the Idea. Hegel analyzes the notion of self-consciousness and puts it forward with courageous anthropomorphism as the ultimate explanation of the universe. He admits no dualism in the realm of consciousness. Underneath his double use of the word 'Idea' lies the assumption that thought can fathom the depths of the divine activity in the world. But his use of this phrase, 'the Absolute Idea' in the objective and subjective sense, gives some ground for asserting that Hegel reduced the divine life in the world to thought.
But the Idea is the reverse of abstract thought. It is the most concrete reality. I "As the beginning was the universal, so the result is the individual concrete subject." "The universal is only a moment in the Notion." The concrete Idea is not an abstraction. It is rather the complete reality. It is this individual and comprehensive character of the Absolute Idea which enables us to see that it is much more than mere thought. The Idea takes up into itself all the wealth of the subjective and the objective worlds. It holds together in one unity all the contradictions of human thought and passion. The Absolute Idea is not less but more than the rich and thronging world of human experience. It is all this because it is the one Absolute Individual. To forget this is to overlook what lies at the heart of Hegel's thinking.
Until the Idea is reached in the Logic, we have untrue categories. The Idea alone is true, i.e., adequate to the reality, because itself the most concrete reality. It is the unity of thinking and being, in which both are not merged in a higher existence, but thinking is regarded as the highest form of being, embracing all lower forms. The Idea is the realized. The realized Notion is the complete individual. The Notion is not. merely soul, but rather free subjective Notion that exists for itself and is therefore personality practical objective Notion, determined for itself, that as person is impenetrable atomic subjectivity. The highest point reached by the dialectic method is the richest and most concrete. It includes in itself all the other stages of the dialectic movement, and thus becomes pure subjectivity or personality.
In the Logic, the Philosophy of Nature, and the Philosophy of Spirit are presented the three stages of the dialectic movement of Hegel's philosophy. The Logic lays the groundwork in pure thought. The other works fill in the details. In the final stage we reach absolute personality or absolute spirit, which is the most concrete fact, for it includes all the other facts. The Absolute Spirit is the Whole and the True. It is the ultimate being upon which all finite being depends for its existence. It has been thought that Hegel, in making a passage from the Absolute Idea of the Logic to nature, attempted to construct the real world out of abstract thought. It seems to me that what he really tries to do is to preserve the absolute coherence of his system, by showing that the inner necessity of the Idea demands that the Idea be discovered in nature. The transition from Logic to Nature is essential to the dialectic movement of his thought. The starting point for interpreting the natural world is the Idea as end, concrete totality, subjectivity which includes objectivity. In its application to the spheres of nature and spirit the Idea seems to receive more concrete determinations than it receives in the Logic. Nevertheless, the Idea in its most concrete form as Absolute Spirit has been the presupposition throughout. In the Philosophy of Religion, God appears as spirit, and nature is his self-externalization. Although Hegel does not construct the world out of abstract thought, he does deprive it of independent existence. It is but an aspect of the life of the Absolute Spirit This brings us to the consideration of the nature of God as set forth in the Philosophy of Religion.
Hegel criticizes the theology of the Enlightenment very sharply, on the ground that it empties the thought of God of all content and makes Him a mere unknown being beyond the world. The task of philosophy, he says, is to know God. " Philosophy has the end to know the truth, to know God, for He is absolute truth, and in contrast to God and His explication, nothing else is worth the trouble of knowing." It knows “God essentially as concrete, spiritual, real Universality."
The Enlightenment does not get beyond the abstract categories of the understanding. The understanding makes distinctions, such as finite and infinite, absolute, and relative, and then lets these distinctions harden into oppositions. Hegel seeks to overcome this opposition from the standpoint of reason. When we look with the eye of reason, we perceive that the infinite includes the finite. God contains the world of nature and finite spirits as differences within himself God is to be conceived as the unity of all that is. Heist the universe, the "concrete totality." God is the absolutely necessary being in relation to whom contingent things have no being.
The nature of this being must be further determined. Today simply that God is the identity of all that is, is to make Him a mere universal, a substance. We must not rest satisfied with a bare identity. With a world of concrete differences on his hands, with finite nature and finite spirits before him, Hegel seeks for a definition of the Absolute which will allow it to take up all these differences into itself and still maintain its own unity. He finds the principle he seeks in self-consciousness or spirit. All things become moments of the divine self-consciousness, constituent elements of the Absolute Spirit. “God is spirit, the absolute spirit, the eternal, simple essential spirit that exists with itself." "It belongs to God to distinguish himself from himself, to be object to himself, but in this distinction to be absolutely identical with himself Spirit." Spirit is spirit only as manifesting itself. "Spirit that does not appear is not." " God is a living God who is real and active." "A God who does not manifest himself is an abstraction." It is the very nature of God to manifest himself. The finite worlds of nature and spirit are manifestations of him, and he is the concrete totality of these manifestations.
In immediate knowledge or faith, God is object for the finite spirit. For faith He is not a mere totality but rather a being to whom the finite spirit stands in relation. God appears as Object in the form of representation. It is the task of philosophy to exhibit in the form of reason that which exists in the common mind in the form of representation. Philosophy and common-sense correspond in content; they differ only in their manner of conceiving the same fact. Weave the conception of God as unity, as totality of the finite, as manifesting himself in the finite world. We have also the representation of him as objective to the finite spirit. These two views of God must be unified and exhibited as equally necessary aspects of God's being. This is done in a childlike pictorial fashion in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. “The Trinity is the determination of God as Spirit. Spirit without this determination is an empty word."
The three aspects of God's being are treated respectively under "the realm of the Father,” "the realm of the Son, "the realm of the Spirit." God is the absolute eternal Idea who exists under these aspects. The absolute Idea is, in the first place, God in and for himself, in his eternity, before the creation of the world, beyond the world. In the second place it is the creation of the world. This created world, this other being, divides itself into two parts, physical nature, and finite spirit. Created being at first appears as external to God, as having existence independent of Him. God reconciles it with himself, and we have, in the third place, the process of reconciliation. In this process the spirit, which as finite was cut off from the divine Spirit, returns to unity with the divine. The third aspect of God's being is the first enriched by union of the second with it. These three aspects are not external differences, but differentiations of one individual. The one spirit is regarded in these three forms or elements. Each element involves the other two. Any one element by itself is an abstraction and realizes its true being only through the other elements.
The first element is spaceless and timeless. It is God in his self-existence. It is the unity which preserves its oneness amidst change. In the second element or aspect, God enters the world of space and time, the world of nature and the human spirit. It is God's manifestation of himself in space and time. As manifesting himself in the world, God has a history; as eternal, he has none. The third element is the region of the reconciliation of the finite world to God. It is God as totality. In nature God is present only in an external fashion. Man rises to the consciousness of his unity with God and to the presence of the divine life in himself.3 In the third element we have God, nature, and man comprehended in their unity. God is seen to be the "concrete universal" which sets up a difference that is nevertheless " only ideal and is immediately abolished."
We have in the Philosophy of Religion the fuller development of the Absolute Idea, with which the Logic culminates, expressed in terms of religious thinking. In neither work is God a mere category. It is plain that the Absolute Idea, which is the unity that returns to itself from difference, or, to express the same thought differently, the self that maintains itself amid change, is identical with God as unfolded in the Philosophy of Religion. God is the ground thought of Hegel’s system. But Hegel tells us that the Absolute Idea does not mean quite the same as God. The term ' God ' carries here the meaning that it has for finite spirits contemplating him. It refers to God as he is present in religious devotion. God is object to man's faith in the form of representation. Religion always presents God in the form of representation. As he exists in religion, God is wholly objective in relation to man, hence not the Absolute. The Absolute Ideas the comprehensive unity of God and man. Nevertheless, the Absolute Idea is God speculatively considered. As a mere object to man's thought, God would be a finite individual entering into relation with other finite individuals. His individual character would thus be defective. God is not merely objective to man. Man has his being in God. God is at once the source from which the finite individual springs, and the ground of the relation through which, in its dependence, the finite individua reaches out to, and realizes itself in, the absolute individual. Finite selves are true only because they belong to the infinite self. Therefore, metaphysically, God and the Absolute are one. We have seen above that God, metaphysically regarded, is the unity which differentiates itself into nature and man, and yet remains identical with itself. When manses himself and nature as contained in this unity and feels himself to be at one with the unity, he has reached absolute knowledge. He has attained the metaphysical determination of God. He lives in the kingdom of the spirit.
What is the relation of God as the central unity to his content, the world-process? God as self-related unity is not intime or in space, and yet the process of the world is an essential element of God's being. Hegel would say that the central unity and the world-process are both abstractions. Therefore, it is fruitless to talk about their relations. God is both. They seem to contradict each other, but this apparent contradiction a pulse of the divine life.
The meaning of the world-process is further developed in the Philosophy of History. " The destiny of the spiritual world, and since this is the substantial world, while the physical remains subordinate to it, or, in the language of speculation, has no truth as against the spiritual the final cause of the world at large we allege to be the consciousness of its own freedom on the part of the spirit and ipso facto the reality of that freedom. Freedom is the Idea of Spirit. In the development of the world this freedom is at first implicit and unactualized. All the struggles of nations and individuals are stepping-stones by which men rise to freedom. Men began with the belief that one man only was free, the king, and have risen to the belief that all men are free.
Hegel says that the spirit realizes itself in time and that the idea of spirit is the end of history. 'Spirit' is used here in the generic sense. The Absolute Spirit realizes itself in history, but as eternal; it is at every moment completely real. It does not wait until the end of time to attain fruition. History, Hegel says, is the theatre of the unceasing strife and reconciliation of the Absolute Spirit and the finite individual. The former continually overrules the purposes of men in order that they may realize their true destiny freedom. God is immanent in the world, directs the world's history towards the development of freedom. God himself does not develop. Men are the subjects of historical development. The divine Idea realizes its purpose in history through the realization of human freedom. The concrete individuals have a place, noting themselves, but as realizing the divine purpose. On the other hand, the divine Idea has no meaning apart from the concrete individuals in which it finds expression.
It has been doubted whether there is any place in Hegel’s system for individuals. It seems to me that the most insistent note in Hegel's writings is the emphasis on the concrete individual. He never wearies of attacking abstractions like ' being' and 'substance.' The movement of the Logic is towards the category of individuality. The Philosophy of History makes the freedom of the individual the goal of history. Hegel maintains that the moral, ethical, religious aspect of human individuals is an end in itself. This aspect in individuals is "inherently eternal and divine." But the individuality of the Logic is the absolute, all-comprehensive self. The freedom of the human individual exists only where individuality is recognized as having its real and positivistic in the divine being. The Philosophy of Religion is the presentation of an absolute individual, a unity in difference, a self-related systemin which infinite individuals are at home when they know themselves as dependent on the whole organism, which is God. To speak in concrete terms, in Hegel's thought man has no existence in himself. He is real only as he knows himself in God. To know himself so is man's true destiny. But, on the other hand, God exists only as he knows himself in man. To separate the finite and the infinite individual is to destroy both, according to Hegel. The finite individual is but a moment in the Absolute, but he is none the less essential to the life of the Absolute.
It has been asserted that in the consideration of the teleprocessed the finite world God as completed self-consciousness disappears, and that he appears only as subject of the historical development. It is true that, in the specific consideration of the time-process, which is one aspect of God, the aspect of him as eternally complete reality does not come forward prominently. Hegel would say that this abstraction is necessary for the purposes of exposition, but that it is not true. The truth is that eternity and the time-process belong together. God is not a mere subject of the historical development, yet the historical development is necessary to his selfhood. For God is the unity of all that is. The objection is made, however, that Hegel makes no passage from the notion of God as eternal, self-related unity to the facts of the finite world. Here, again, Hegel would answer that only the abstract understanding would ask for such a passage, and that the demand is fruitless. His system is an attempt to give unity to the facts of the time and space world. The facts by their incompleteness demand the unity, and they depend upon that unity for their existence. By his construction of the Trinity, Hegel seeks to provide a place for the facts of the finite world in his conception of God. The phrases drawn from the conception of the Trinity are used in a metaphorical way. The three spheres of Father, Son, and Spirit express the three moments in the relation of the eternal and the time-process. God as eternally complete is the eternal-in-itself, being-in-itself. But being-in-itself could never exist by itself. God must manifest himself in the finite world. The eternal must appear in the time-process. This is being for-self. But by itself being-for-self, that is, being which goes outside itself, is unreal. The eternal and the temporal must exist together. This existence together, being in and for self, the unity of the Father and the Son, of God and the World, exists in the realm of the Spirit. The Spirit is the sphere of reason, or, as we might put it, of constructive imagination that unites and holds together contradictions. In the Spirit we see God, nature, and ourselves in unity. The third element returns to the first. We recognize ourselves as contained in God.
The old puzzle of how to think together a permanent unity and the flux of Becoming is not solved by Hegel. To put the matter otherwise, he does not reconcile the imperfection of God as shown in the time-process with his perfection as a completed totality. He would say that such a reconciliation is unnecessary because each aspect implies the other. He holds firmly to both aspects of existence as equally present in experience. The experience of the real flux of events presses too insistently on the philosopher to permit of his taking refuge in merely static world. On the other hand, the instinct of thought, the thirst for completeness impels him to seek a unity. In what way shall he best express this unity that persists amidst change as the permanent law of change? How shall he conceive the perfect being without denying the progress of the imperfect world? In self-consciousness which is ever in movement but retains its self-identity, which proceeds outward and gathers the concrete details of the world into itself, which absorbs and assimilates what at first seems external to it, Hegel finds the principle which best enables him to adumbrate the nature of the totality of things God. He analyzes with keen insight the Self which, always reaching beyond itself and ever involved in contradictions, yet never loses itself and never succumbs to these contradictions. He applies the principle of selfhood to all the "tangled facts of experience."
Hegel's so-called followers of the Left have interpreted his conception of God as that of an impersonal Absolute which develops itself in the world-process, comes to consciousness first in man, and reaches perfection only in the greatest man. If the Logic only were in evidence, the interpretation might be justifiable. Such passages as: "Spirit, in so far as it is the Spirit of God, is not a Spirit beyond the stars," "God is present everywhere and, in all spirits,” have been interpreted in this way. What these passages actually testify to is a belief in God’s living presence in the world. To say that "man feels and knows God in himself” is not to say that God has nonconscious existence apart from this individual feeling. The passage which would give strongest support to the view taken by the Hegelians of the Left is perhaps this: "Religion is knowledge by the Divine Spirit of itself through the mediation of finite spirit." This statement is perfectly consistent with the idea of God as objective to every man. Finite spirit is an integral part of God's being. Man is God as 'other.' But God does not lose his identity in this difference. "Spirit is spirit for itself." "We say God produces eternally his son (the world). God distinguishes himself from himself, ... we must know well that God is this whole act. He is the beginning, the end, and the totality." Nevertheless, the process is nothing but a play of self-conservation, self-assertion. God can be said to be conscious of himself in the religious man since he is immanent in man, and in religion this divine immanence comes to consciousness. God knows himself in man only as man knows himself in God. The divine immanence is not a dead fixture, but a living spiritual process. Man is indeed essential to God's being. The Hegelians of the Left emphasize this aspect of the system and neglect entirely the aspect in which God is regarded as eternally completed self-consciousness.
Hegel is sometimes criticized for using the word 'spirit ' without qualification "to designate both God and man." He used the word in this way because with him ' spirit' was the meeting point of the divine and the human. But 'spirit’ is no abstraction. Hegel was keenly conscious of the necessity of doing justice to the concrete detail with which the world confronts philosophy. His theory of the concrete universal, i.e., the individual, is an attempt to meet the difficulty. For Hegel the individual is the real, but there is only one real individual, namely, God. In the Philosophy of Religion God is describe in the realm of the Spirit as the complete unity which takes up the other two aspects into itself. This third realm is the Idea in its determination of individuality. Some critics think that the tendency of Hegel's thought is to make God an impersonal unity. Hegel's incessant naming of God as Idea lends color to this view. His vice is over-intellectualism. But an impersonal Absolute would leave no place for religion, and Hegel maintains in his system the reality of religion. He tells us that the Philosophy of Religion has the task to convert what is present pictorially to the mind of the common man into term of thought. He says that the opposition of believing and knowing is a false one. In believing or immediate knowing there is present in the form of feeling what is present in cognizing in the form of thought. In his lectures on the proofs for God's existence, he seeks, not to show that these proofs are adequate, but that they are means by which the human spirit elevates itself to God. He talks quite in the Pauline vein of "the witness of the spirito the spirit in man's knowing God. The relation of man to God is "the relation of spirit to spirit.” At the conclusion of the Philosophy of Religion he tells us that the " end of these lectures is to reconcile science and religion. “His designation of God as Idea is only the logical aspect of his theory of God. In his works dealing with the concrete world, God called the Absolute Spirit. We have seen that God is essentially individuality, and that Hegel regards personality as the richest and most concrete being, including all differences in itself. Hegel characterizes the Absolute Idea and Personality in similar terms. The Absolute Idea contains in itself as essential moments the facts of the finite world. But in the finite world finite spirits are the true realities over against material things. God is the Absolute Spirit, the supreme self in whom finite spirits live and move and have their being. If God is not personal as we know personality, it is because he is superoperon.
In brief, God, in Hegel's philosophy, is the universal self-consciousness which comprehends within itself all concrete differences, men and things. "God is a Spirit in his own concrete differences, of which every finite spirit is one. “Man, truly knows God when he sees nature and himself as manifestations of God and recognizes himself as the highest of these manifestations, capable of grasping in thought the whole of which he is a part.
Finally, what is to be said of this magnificent attempt to interpret the whole sphere of being in the light of a self-conscious principle of rationality. It must be said, I think, that the attempt fails to accomplish all that was aimed at. The aim of the system is to show that reality is rational through and through. But the contingent detail of experience proves too refractory for Hegel, and he is forced to admit that all the facts cannot be rationalized. In other words, his absolutism breaks down. The vice of this absolutism consists in the tendency to identify the ultimate reality with the time-process. The Hegelian system sought to reveal the warp and woof of the universe, and not merely to show us the pattern of that part of the fabric on which we are figures, but to lift the screen reveal the Great Weaver sitting at the loom. The fabric woven by Hegel is made up so entirely of intellectual threads that it fails to represent fairly our world with its complex constituents. The system is one-sidedly intellectualistic. Hege has marked some of the salient features of self-consciousness or personality. His terms ('in itself,' 'for itself’ 'in and for itself ') are abstract expressions for the ceaseless movement of the human soul, for our life with its cravings, its desires, and its satisfactions, which seem to follow one another in a never ending spiral movement. Our mental life is a ceaseless movement of outgoing to the object and return to self. But in this movement of the self it seems to me that conation (or willing) and not ideation (or thinking) is the fundamental factor. In his terminology at least, Hegel did violence to psychology by over looking the feeling and will aspects of the self. This oversight gives ground for the assumption that his philosophy is a system of mere logical idealism. Perhaps the same oversight is responsible for Hegel's absolutism. After all we are finite. What human thought assimilates is infinitesimal in comparison with the mass of refractory material that remains to be subdued. There may be forms and conditions of being of which we have never dreamt. It is useless and mischievous to assume that God exhausts his nature by his manifestations on our planet. We should hesitate before "transferring to God all the features of our own self-consciousness. "Hegel was too sure of the similarity of divine and human thought. We can trust the examination of our own self-consciousness to give us but dim suggestions of the nature of the universal self-consciousness.
Hegel's great quality as a philosopher is his faith in the rationality of the world. He stands as a splendid example, worthy to be followed by all who would ask questions of the universe. He inspires us with the confidence that such questions in some way will be answered. His highest philosophical achievement consists in his insight into the apparent contradictions of life. He sees clearly that we must hold conflicting views on ultimate questions without denying either view. Contradictions belong to the heart of things. This is a faith to live and work by. But it is the offspring of the whole man, rather than the product of the mere intellect. Hegel gives us the true standpoint from which to view human history, and then vitiates his work by assuming an air of finality and infallibility. We cannot, from the standpoint of scientific knowledge, make dogmatic statements with regard to what lies beyond the world of our experience. But Hegel's insight into the mysteries of the life of the spirit in the individual and the race propound and gives a permanent and fruitful point of view from which to appreciate and penetrate the inner meaning of human history and the individual life.