The Owl of Minerva

Volume 36, Issue 2, Spring/Summer 2005

Stephen Houlgate
Pages 131-152

Hegel, Desmond, and the Problem of God’s Transcendence

William Desmond maintains that preserving the difference between God and humanity means retaining the transcendent otherness of God. In this article, by contrast, I argue that Hegel is right to maintain that insisting on God’s transcendent otherness actually turns God into a finite divinity and so eliminates the very difference Desmond wishes to retain. The only way to preserve the genuine difference between God and humanity, therefore, is to give up the idea that God is a transcendent other and to understand him to be immanent in humanity itself. I argue that this Hegelian position is closer to the orthodox Christian understanding of God than Desmond allows.