The philosophies of history of Herder and Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Johann Gottfried Herder unwittingly contributed to the political strands of Marxism and Fascism, respectively, but also to the gently progressing secularisation of Christian values that pervades the contemporary age. While Herder conceived of God traditionally, as a transcendent Being, he also sowed the seeds for Hegel’s philosophy in which God is realised immanently through the development of man’s full capacities for reason. Since Hegel also posits that the end is implicit in the beginning, his scheme cannot hold without the kind of necessity that comes from a Godly (transcendent) source. At the same time, Hegel’s philosophy of history as revealed in The Phenomenology of Spirit and Herder’s Another Philosophy of History contain remarkable similarities that show how Herder’s and Hegel’s quest to reconcile the earthly and the finite with the infinite and the eternal led to the secularisation of philosophy and the beginning of the modern cultural ethos. The reader should see how Herder struggled to reconcile the many competing viewpoints of his age with his awareness that these viewpoints were limited, and how Hegel subsequently attempted to address this conundrum, along with the fundamental philosophical and theological question (left unresolved by Herder) of how man can have free will under God. The reader should realise how God’s immanence in man, partially accorded by Herder, and more substantially accorded by Hegel, leads eventually to the secular perspective of modern times, with both its negative, totalitarian and extreme manifestations, and its positive, pseudo-Christian and mildly socialist outcomes.
God in history, immanence, phenomenology, transcendence, relativism, laicisation, secularisation, revelation, christianity, faith and history, faith and politics
Master of Arts (M.A.)