Contact Courses Professional Study Aids Glossaries Key Links Purpose      

LOGOS


THE CRISIS AND CRITIQUE OF MODERNITY
G. W. F. HEGEL
(1770-1831)
 


G. W. F. HEGEL
 

A. Diagnosis of Modernity

Modernity is a spiritless age plagued by personal, social, political, religious and philosophical fragmentation, alienation, and conflict.

1. Social and Political Fragmentation:

                   ·        industrialization
                   ·        commercialization
                   ·        machinery of state
                   ·        economic competiveness
                   ·        class divisions
                   ·        specialization of cognitive spheres
                   ·        atomistic individualism

2. Religion and Self-alienation: Oppression of Objectivity

a) Subjective vs. objective religion: formalistic, ceremonial, dogmatic, codified aspects of objective religion religion divorced from subjective lives of believers superstitious adherence to purely external formalities subjective religion as alive, fully individuated, effective in the inwardness of one’s being, active in outward behavior

b) Folk religion vs. positive religion:

Folk religion: 3 fundamental feature

                   ·        Grounded on universal reason
                   ·        Whole person satisfied (imagination, heart, sensibility)
                   ·        All the needs of life are tied in with it

Positive religion: authoritarian, encountered as foreign, mechanistic subjection to abstract rules; sacrifice of intellect; heteronomy

Unhappy consciousness
: reified dualisms as unsurpassable oppositions rendering reunification impossible and self-alienation unavoidable (Jewish law/Christian love, man/nature, God/World, Creator/created, Master/mastered)

3. Reflective Philosophy of Subjectivity (“evil of the present time”)

                   ·        Reflection as analytical activity which establishes fixed antitheses resulting in isolated, discrete entities
                   ·        Understanding (Verstand) / Reason (Vernunft): Understanding: analytical, separating, divisive, alienating Reason: integrative, unitary, synthetic
                   ·        Estrangement, alienation, bifurcation: self/other, subject/object, finitude/infinity, reality/ideality, sensuous/supersensuous  

B. Proposed Solution

Spiritless fragmentation (bifurcation, alienation, disunity) of the present time requires unifying philosophical comprehension in order to mediate the full range of conflicts characteristic of the age.

                   ·        Sole interest of reason (Vernunft): reconciliation of fixed, absolute, rigid oppositions alienating human nature from itself and the world. Dialectical unity of union and nonunion, identity and difference, self and other
                   ·        Phenomenology of Spirit (1807): Stations of the Way: natural, ethical, and religious stages of selfhood ending in absolute knowledge (spirit that knows itself as spirit). The goal (telos) is to overcome spiritless alienation by means of the mediation of all opposites fragmenting the self. A select list of these oppositions include:

                                    subjectivity/objectivity
                                    reality/ideality
                                    actuality/possibility
                                    necessity/freedom
                                    particularity/universality
                                    individuality/social
                                    appearance/essence
                                    finitude/infinitude
                                    time/eternity
                                    humanity/divinity

 


CCRI Home