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Hegel’s Criticism of the Enlightenment and Romanticism: The Problem of Content in Religion

(Hegel’s Criticism of the Enlightenment and Romanticism: The Problem of Content in Religion)
Filozofia, 2015, vol. 70, No 4, pp. 272-281.
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The long second part of Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, the “Determinate Religion,” constitutes his historical account of the religions of the world. The inordinate length of this section has caused many scholars to wonder why Hegel feels the need to give such a detailed analysis of the historical development of the different religions if his goal in the end is to make a case for the truth of Christianity. This has led to a degree of puzzlement about the “Determinate Religion” section. As a result, this section is not often treated in the secondary literature. Hegel developed his own approach to religion in large part in response to the views coming from the Enlightenment and Romanticism. He was highly critical of different aspects of these movements, which he saw as undermining the truth of religion. In the present article I wish to examine his critical intuitions vis-à-vis these views. My proposal is that by seeing Hegel’s philosophy of religion as a response to the main trends of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, we can understand why he felt that he needed to spend so much time with the different world religions.

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