The Proofs of God in Hegel's System

  • Author / Creator
    Rodger, Charles P
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.