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Hypocrisy and the Highest Good: Hegel on Kant's Transition from Morality to Religion R. Z. FRIEDMAN SHORTON ARGUMENT,rich in ambiguity, Kant's contention that the moral facts of our experience require a religious framework is an important moment in the relationship of philosophical thought and religious belief. The most thorough and penetrating criticism of Kant's position is found in Hegel's "The Moral View of the World" in the PhenomerwlogyofSpirit.There Hegel argues that Kant's position is built on contradiction, not simply that it falls into contradiction but that it needs contradiction in its very foundation in order to present itself to itself as coherent, intelligible, and rational. Kant's insistence that morality requires religion is, in Hegel's view, an affirmation of contradiction in the name of reason. This situation forces consciousness into a posture of "insincere shuffling" (schwindelndenBewegung)for consciousness is "aware of its contradiction and shiftiness."' Unable tO escape from contradiction or from the need to include contradiction within it, and unable to get beyond its own certainty that morality is the highest task for man and his only vantage point on reality, moral consciousness ends in hypocrisy'----a moral affirmation of itself which denies what it knows, that it cannot make itself cogent and intelligible, that it bases itself on reason and yet insults reason by claiming that, rational or not, it is morally necessary and this takes precedence over all other considerations. ' G, W. F. Hegel, Phanomenok~g/e des Ge/su,, edited by Johannes Hoffmeister (Hamburg, t95~), 454- Hereafter referred to as Philnomenolog'.e_Phenomenologyof Spirit. translated by A. V. Miller (Oxford, 1977), 374. Hereafter referred to as Miller. 9 Ph~nomeno/og/e, 444, Miller, 383 . [5o3] 504 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 24:4 OCTOBER ~986 The commentators, for the most part, agree with Hegel's critique of Kant, although there is not general agreement that all of Hegel's arrows hit their marks. Walsh, for instance, defends Kant against Hegel's accusation that "the moral man cannot be in earnest with morality''s lest by realizing himself morally he cause morality to disappear, and Loewenberg introduces a helpful and critical discussion of Hegel's use of the term 'hypocrisy'? Lauer allows that "as a presentation" of Kant's position, Hegel's analysis "may be superficial" and as "a critique it may be unfair.''5 Lauer, however, like most of the commentators deals with Hegel's analysis not as a critique which itself merits critical attention but as a stage in Hegel's extended argument in the Phenomeno/ogy. In the Phenomenok~gyHegel attempts to demonstrate, among other things, that at various stages in its development to scientific and all-encompassing truth consciousness operates according to "Reason" which deals with reality by fracturing it into subject and objectma move which results in dualisms of various kinds, internal contradictions, and which results in a consciousness divided against itself. Kant figures large in this error, and Kantian reason, which is portrayed as dividing and fracturing, is unfavorablyjuxtaposed with Hegelian spirit which integrates and synthesizes. Most of the commentators see Hegel's treatment of Kant's position in this light. Hyppolite refers to an "unself-conscious dialectic" and a "fraudulent dualism,'~ while Norman refers to "divisions and antagonisms" which attend an "alienated consciousness.''7 Kainz also emphasizes the theme of a contradictory consciousness which cannot escape contradiction and hypocrisy,s At least one commentator, however, looks at Hegel's critique of Kant's Moral Point of View as an issue itself deserving of attention rather than simply as a stage in Hegel's vast argument. Jonathan Robinson, in Duty and Hypocrisy in Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind, takes a stand squarely behind Hegel's critique of Kant. In Robinson's view, Kant's moral religion is unconvincing , a demonstration, as Hegel would have it, of the failure rather than the success of Kant's whole enterprise in the sphere of practical reason, s W. H. Walsh, Hegelian Ethics(New York: MacMillan, St. Martin's Press, t9C>9), 33. 4 j. Loewenberg, Hegel'sPhenomenology:Dialogueson the Life of Mind (LaSalle, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Co., 1965), ~,7o--72. 5 Quentin Lauer, S...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 503-522
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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