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The Owl of Minerva

Volume 52, Issue 1/2, 2021
Book Discussion: "Hegel's Interpretation of the Religions of the World"

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1. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2

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2. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2
Peter C. Hodgson

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This is the first major study of Hegel’s treatment of the world religious in many years. It has much to commend it. The author possesses a mastery of the sources used by Hegel; he shows the pivotal position of “Determinate Religion” in Hegel’s philosophy of religion; he discusses the rise of Orientalism in the nineteenth century; and he demonstrates the connection between “the logic of the gods,” human self-recognition, and the slow progression of freedom in culture and history. My primary criticism is that Stewart does not utilize the resources provided by the critical edition of the Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion prepared by W. Jaeschke in the 1980s (even though he provides references to the Jaeschke edition). Stewart is interested in the composite picture rather than in how Hegel arranges, modifies, and experiments with the materials available to him in each of his four series of lectures. His picture is essentially the one provided by the old edition of 1840 and for this reason leaves much to be desired.

3. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2
Allen Speight

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Jon Stewart’s recent book offers an opportunity to re-explore one of the richest areas of Hegel’s cultural research during the Berlin period, the wide-ranging study of world religions developed in the second part of his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. While this treatment of world religious traditions has often been taken as out-of-date and narrowly Eurocentric, there are, as Stewart suggests, important contributions within Hegel’s developing work on pre-classical and Asian religions that remain of interest to contemporary philosophers of religion, art and history. This paper (1) compares the changes Hegel makes in the Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion to those in the Aesthetics lectures belonging to the same period; and (2) examines in particular how Hegel’s view of the relation between Athens and Jerusalem changed with developing knowledge of Egyptian and other near Eastern cultures.

4. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2
Dale M. Schlitt

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With his important, history-contextualizing study, Jon Stewart has drawn renewed attention to Hegel’s often neglected philosophical interpretation of determinate religion. He focuses on Hegel’s philosophical reading of distinct historical religions, in which Hegel brings them together in serial fashion. In so doing, Hegel proposes a unique philosophy of determinate religion which constitutes an essential element in his philosophical argument in favor of the consummate religion, historically instantiated in Christianity. Stewart’s study is, in effect, an invitation to look again at Hegel’s monumental effort to comprehend religion in its varied historical realizations. The present article proposes to respond to this invitation in a preliminary and modest way. We note various claims Hegel makes regarding his philosophy of determinate religion and then identify a number of challenges arising from these claims. Against this background of claims and challenges, we conclude with an appreciation of Stewart’s work. The appreciation proceeds in four steps: first, a recall of what Stewart intends to do, the focus he adopts, and the theses he argues; second, a review of his emphasis on Hegel’s contexts and sources; third, several remarks on his reading of Hegel on determinate religion; fourth, a reflection on important contributions Stewart makes to the present and future study of Hegel on determinate religion.

5. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2
Francis X. Clooney, SJ

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This essay carefully examines the debate between Hegel and Wilhelm von Humboldt about the meaning of the Bhagavad Gîtâ, and more specifically about several verses in Gîtâ 6 regarding the radical emptying and purification of the mind. My aim is to propose a new and wider conversation, not possible in Hegel’s time but necessary in ours, between European scholars and peer Indian intellectuals in traditions familiar with the Gîtâ for centuries before any European knew of it at all. To exemplify this new work, I attend to the reading of the same Gîtâ 6 passage by the famed philosopher and theologian Madhusûdana Sarasvatî (ca. 1540–1640). In this way, the European inquiry into the status of Indian thought and religion ceases to be an exclusively European endeavor, becoming instead a beneficial and mutually corrective crosscultural and interreligious conversation about texts and history, philosophy and theology.

6. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2
Philip T. Grier

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The governing theme in Hegel’s account of the history of religions is the gradual emergence and separation of spirit from nature, culminating in the “infinite” transcendence of spirit over nature. Within the story of spirit itself, however, a more subtle and complex problem arises: the possible transcendence of infinite over finite spirit, of divine over human nature. Hegel firmly insisted that divine and human nature are one, a unity, thereby apparently ruling out the possibility of a transcendence of one over the other. And yet, it is not easy to dismiss the notion that infinite (divine) spirit must nevertheless in some respects transcend finite (human) spirit. The remainder of the essay attempts to tease apart several aspects of this problem, exploring possible senses of ‘transcendence’ (of infinite over finite spirit) that might be maintained, without violating Hegel’s central and profound theological claim.

7. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2
Curtis L. Thompson

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The second volume of Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion emphasizes the pulsating particularities that distinguish the religions of history from one another. This volume discloses Hegel’s philosophical theology to be an open system whose concepts, as Jon Stewart points out, are no mere abstractions but principles concretely instantiated in the real world. This article first reviews key analytical notions used in investigating religions, with the notion of freedom being the most important. Next are examined two models of the God-world relation that have gained significant attention in the secondary literature on Hegel: pantheism, which affirms God as the substantial power in all things, and panentheism, which affirms all things as being in God. The essay’s final portion turns to a third model of the God-world relation, pantransentheism, which affirms that all things are being transformed in God. There I offer a very abbreviated gesture towards a Hegelian pantransentheism.

8. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2
Kevin Thompson

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According to Hegel, the determinations of the absolute are conceptual properties that identify what the absolute is, and are related through logical entailments. The shapes of the absolute are historical configurations that religion takes as it appears in the domain of contingent existence. This essay claims that Stewart’s interpretation does not observe this distinction, and as a result transforms the determinations of the absolute into projections of a people’s self-understanding. I argue that Hegel himself takes a history of religions to be a logically necessary sequence in which the determinations of the absolute are articulated and proved, rather than a history of the cultural forms that the divine happens to have taken in the movement of human history. I examine as a test case the proper place of Islam in Hegel’s schema of determinate religions in order to show how Stewart’s conflation of determinations and shapes affects the possibility of determinate world-religions arising after what Hegel takes to be the consummate religion, Christianity.

9. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2
Daniel Conway

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This essay situates Jon Stewart’s Hegel’s Interpretation of the Religions of the World and Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion in the genre of philo­sophical anthropology, wherein corresponding conceptions of the human and the divine are studied in tandem and the reciprocal relationship between them is revealed. In this context, the essay shows how Hegel’s interpretation of religion—viz. as a trans-cultural vehicle of human maturation—can make a significant contribution to our thinking about globalization, the pursuit of reciprocal recognition, and the future of Christianity. I conclude my essay by demonstrating that Stewart’s interpretation positions us to understand that Hegel not only accommodates, but also authorizes, the articulations of religious exemplarity advanced by two of his greatest critics: Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche.

10. The Owl of Minerva: Volume > 52 > Issue: 1/2
Jon Stewart

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