I just finished a class on 19th century German Idealism, and I was wondering what exactly people take issue with in Hegel. I realize that he was personally anti-Catholic, but as far as I can tell he seems much more amenable to Christianity than many other philosophers that I have read, and he seems to try and argue for idea of God against the Enlightenment. He defends the Ontological Argument for God against Kant’s criticism of it, and his entire argument that one’s thoughts can apprehend the truth of the objective world seems predicated on the fact that man is created in the image of God. Some of this may be the way my teacher presented it, as an attempt to overcome the false dilemma of reason vs. religion, and that Hegel’s thought was inverted by followers such as Feuerbach and Marx, who emphasized the material over the spiritual, where Hegel had done the opposite. So am I completerly off-base, or what is it in Hegel (and the German Idealist movement of which he was the fullest proponent) that leads people to think of him as atheistic and unacceptable for Catholicism?
(Bear in mind I have only read the Introduction to the Encyclopedia Logic and had about 10 hours of lectures on his philosophy, which is by no means a thorough study, so I fully admit how easily I could be wrong about this)

Hegel was heavily influenced by a German mystical tradition influenced by Joachim of Fiore; the Theologica Germanica and Meister Eckhart; through Luther through Jakob Bohme- he owes more to this mysticism, and his thought often seems like mysticism covered by a thin layer of rationality.

His spiritual dialect was a conflation of one aspect of Kant, embraces a pantheistic god/monist universe which loses all sense of meaning between life and death, making our actions meaningless and cannot account for differences in the universe. It becomes the old Greek problem: If there is something instead of nothing, why isn’t it all one big clump…

Think about it, when you say Marx and Feurbach “inverted” his dialect…when you do not separate the spiritual and material, and promote a monist viewpoint, how do you invert it? It’s the same thing. For Hegel the material is spiritual and it is simply a semantic argument to say that Marx flips that in any sort of fashion.

One of the issues with Hegel is his notion of the Absolute Spirit. Just what is our relationship to the Absolute Spirit?

Hegel says that human history is the history of the Absolute Spirit; in fact, the history of the entire universe is the history of the Absolute Spirit.

So just where do we fit in?

Is everything the action of the Absolute Spirit? Are we just clueless pawns?

Sometimes, Hegel seems to be reverting back to the notion of a single Agent Intellect.
This was a big controversy in the appropriation of Aristotle by the Arabs and later, by the medievals. We don’t think; it’s a single Agent Intellect that does the thinking in all of us.

Kierkegaard reacted strongly against Hegel. We are not part of the System. We are our own persons. We cannot be digested by the Absolute Spirit.

We must pay a lot of attention to Hegel nonetheless. Think of the Mystical Body of Christ. This sounds Hegelian but it isn’t. And consider the trials and tribulations of Teilhard de Chardin; many in the church thought he was too Hegelian.

Much philosophy in the 20th century would have been impossible without Hegel. Even though much of it is opposed to the aufhebung of Hegel (the idea of a final synthesis).

By the way, Heidegger asks a really good question: why did the Absolute Spirit fall into history in the first place?

The Catholic problem with Hegel is that he seems to reduce the transcendent to the immanent.

You could argue that Hegel is simply reiterating traditional Christian beliefs. For example, take the Incarnation. Man and God became united in the Incarnation. So too the Absolute
Spirit becomes Man during the course of history.

Yet Hegel’s appropriation of the Incarnation seems a bit problematic. When God becomes man, He seems to be completely absorbed into the human. Any hint of transcendence drops out - the “death of God” for Hegel seems to mean something entirely different than the traditional understanding of the crucifixion.

Traditional Christianity has always understood God to be outside the world, even though He entered the world (Jesus). This is a great mystery that cannot be explained through reason alone (contrary to Hegel). And God, when He does enter the world, does not supplant or “aufhebung” individual human persons.

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