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The Proofs of God in Hegel's System Open Access


Other title
Teleological Proof
Cosmological Proof
Ontological Proof
Proofs of God
German Idealism
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Rodger, Charles P
Supervisor and department
Dudiak, Jeffrey (Philosophy)
Burch, Robert (Philosophy)
Morin, Marie-Eve (Philosophy)
Examining committee member and department
Merklinger, Philip (Philosophy
Burbidge, John (Philosophy)
Department of Philosophy

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In 1831, on the same day that Hegel at last committed himself to providing a revised edition of the Phenomenology of Spirit, he signed a contract to write what he must have suspected would be his final book, entitled Über das Dasein Gottes. Unfortunately, Hegel died only a few days later, leaving us with an incomplete manuscript of a lecture series on the topic of the proofs from 1929, in addition to his remarks on the issue (albeit not insubstantial) scattered throughout the rest of his works and lectures. The aim of the present dissertation is to provide a reconstructive account of Hegel’s conception of the proofs and their relation to his system as a whole. Heretofore, the majority of the literature on this topic has distorted Hegel’s account by focusing solely on the ontological proof and understanding Hegel’s objections to Kant’s critique of this proof as signaling his own endorsement of some variation of the ontological argument in its traditional sense (i.e., as a proof that God is or exists). Now, on the one hand, to approach Hegel's treatment of the proofs in this way is effectively to regard Hegel's standpoint as amounting to some sort of return to the standpoint of pre-Kantian dogmatic metaphysics. On the other hand, insofar as contemporary Hegel scholarship has sought to understand Hegel as a post-Kantian philosopher (rather than as a pre-critical dogmatic metaphysician), Hegel's treatment of the proofs has largely been ignored as a matter that Kant had already put to rest. Both approaches are contrary to the letter of Hegel: the one misrepresents him as returning to a dogmatic a priori rationalism; the other ignores the centrality of the proofs to which, pace Kant’s criticisms, Hegel was clearly committed. In contrast to both of these approaches, I attempt to demonstrate that and how the proofs are both central to Hegel’s system and yet that precisely in and through his treatment and appropriation not just of the ontological, but also of the cosmological and teleological proofs, Hegel is a thoroughly post-Kantian philosopher. This involves providing a detailed account of the correlation between the cosmological, teleological and ontological proofs and (a) Hegel’s Logic, (b) Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion, and (c) Hegel’s system as a whole as the syllogisms of Logic, Nature and Spirit. The aim in providing this account is to demonstrate that and how Hegel’s system as a whole not only escapes the charge of devolving into pre-Kantian dogmatic metaphysics, but also to show that as a thoroughly post-Kantian project it completes the project of philosophy itself as that has been traditionally conceived.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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