The corpse of faith and reason: Hegel's early critique of the philosophy of subjectivity

Kipton Eugene Jensen, Marquette University


The conflict between faith and reason gave place to an astonishing number of varied and often ingenious reconciliations prior to Hegel's remark (in Glauben und Wissen) that "the time had finally come to give philosophy the shape it had always been trying to reach, a shape in which the old conflicts of religion on the one hand and the sciences on the other are suspended once and for all." Indeed, Hegel goes so far as to say that the greatest achievement of his era had rendered that conflict "as extreme as possible." The philosophies of Kant, Jacobi, and Fichte express completely the principle of subjectivity and in so doing not only demonstrate the undesirable consequences of such a position, but also open up the possibility of their own supersession. A genuinely philosophical reconciliation is sharply contrasted with what Hegel considered the truce of the times, namely--a "peace that hovers triumphantly over the corpse of faith and reason, uniting them as the child of both, has as little of reason in it as it has of authentic faith." Though Hegel's reconciliation is no great secret, it still seems largely misunderstood. This misunderstanding can in large part be corrected by carefully attending to the wide range of philosophical questions, both theoretical and practical, to which Hegel's thought is directed. Without patiently attending to this inherited set of questions and suggested solutions, the answer itself must appear monstrously difficult, if not utterly unintelligible. In skimming over the questions to get the answer, we have lost all bearing for judging its merit. With this goal in mind, i.e. carefully attending to the nature of the difficulty, I show how Hegel developed his theory of negation (or dialectic) against the backdrop of the reflective philosophies of subjectivity, survey the dialectical somersaults to which Hegel draws our attention in Glauben und Wissen, rehearse what I consider the distinctively Hegelian version of the speculative enterprise, explain the Hegelian reconciliation, and discuss the extent to which the later system is essentially all here in Glauben und Wissen.

Recommended Citation

Jensen, Kipton Eugene, "The corpse of faith and reason: Hegel's early critique of the philosophy of subjectivity" (1996). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9634270.