Studia Philosophica

Volume 56, Issue 1/2, 2009

Břetislav Horyna
Pages 15-30

Hegel’s Statement “God is dead” with Respect to Kant’s and Fichte’s Philosophies

The proclamation of God’s death is commonly ascribed to Fridrich Nietzsche and the cultural nihilism of the turn of 19th and 20th centuries. The work on Hegel’s statement of God’s death shows that this is a much older cultural topos, appearing frequently in German (as well as British and French) literature, poetry and philosophy as early as in 18th century and especially in the era of Romanticism. The differences are not only temporal, but especially contextual; while late usage with Nietzschian cultural relativists generally has a diagnostic character, earlier occurrences of the statement relate to different cultural phenomena (old and modern mythology, modern poetry, revolutionary political and religious changes after the French Revolution of 1789, character of transcendental philosophy, and others). Hegel used this statement in his very early polemic with Kant’s and Fichte’s philosophies. He criticized both of them that in their philosophical subjectivism they were promoting the notion that God had died and man had assumed his position. This work shows some relatively little known dimensions of that polemic including the role played by F. H. Jacobi’s critical anti-Kantian position.