The Human Shape of God: Religion in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

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Among philosophers of religion and theologians, debates over Hegel's interpretation of religion in the Phenomenology of Spirit have become the stuff of scholarly legend. Was Hegel a humanistic atheist? Or was he a serious Christian thinker? Both positions have been defended with vigilance in recent years. Now into this fray steps Professor Jamros to offer fresh insights and to argue that neither of these received views captures the thoughts of the philosophical theist who wrote the Phenomenology. Expounding Hegel's philosophical theism through a close and careful study of the texts dealing with religion, Jamros demonstrates that for Hegel divine essence is universal-essence and that the self-development of this essence into human existence describes God. In consequence, argues Jamros, the traditional left-wing interpretation of Hegel must be rejected, since the autonomy of divine essence in determining this self-development compels us to affirm God's existence. What's more, we realize that since God is the essence of earthly human existence, Hegel's vision of Christianity excludes divine personality and eschatology; we must reject the traditional right-wing interpretation as well. Jamros concludes that in the Phenomenology we discover a thinker who spurns Christian other-worldliness and who works assiduously to describe the nexus between God's being and human existence. This nexus ultimately is to be found not in revelation - for the idea of revelation suggests that God's being is something naturally inaccessible to the human intellect yearning for its discovery. Rather, we meet God in the very exercise of reason commended by our desire for assurance of God's being - for God isthe logical ground of all that can be thought.