Volume 17, Issue 2, Fall 2013
Éthique, Politique et Subjectivité chez Michel Foucault
Hegel on Why Philosophy Takes Sides in Religion Conflict
Hegel famously identifies Protestant conscience and its corresponding state as reflecting the unity of ethical and religious principles, thereby bringing into actuality the truth of human spirit. However, he also reminds us that it is vital to free states that the Church remain divided, rather than unifying into one sect. Thus, he affirms a secular state above religious conflict, but explicitly takes sides in one such conflict, out of the interest philosophy has in the development of the Protestant nation-state. In this paper, I resolve this tension by articulating Hegel’s account of philosophy’s interest in historical movements in general, and of the historical relationship between religion and the state in particular. Focusing on his account of the contemporary struggle between Catholicism and Lutheranism,
I then develop an account of philosophy’s interest in religious conflict. I close with some schematic remarks on the ‘Hegelianism’ of some recent Catholic movements.