The Phenomenology of Spirit: Religion

At the end of the chapter on the moral worldview, we saw a final conflict reminiscent of the original conflict that inaugurated self-consciousness; two self-consciousness each convinced they held the moral high ground, a conflict that could only be reconciled via acts of forgiveness.  As we shall see, this community of forgiveness is necessarily a religious one, and it marks the final transition to absolute spirit.

Religion has two aspects: cultic rituals and faith.  The rituals are the actual practices, while faith is the “theory” underlying these acts.  Hegel argues that religion is essentially about an attempted reconciliation between the particular and the universal; to see how this works, we will be retracing our steps through the entirety of the Phenomenology.

The conflict between the particular and the universal has taken several forms.  It was born in the initial master/slave conflict, but first took recognizable form in the ethical world, in which the universal was expressed in the dread of the underworld.  Antigone forced the appearance of something like individual conscience into this world, and the universal was transformed into reasonable culture.  Culture soon found that the new form of individuality was entirely unruly, and gave way to modern conscience, which eventually necessitated acts of forgiveness.

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