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Tragedy in Hegel's Early Theological Writings

Peter Wake

Publication Year: 2014

Tragedy plays a central role in Hegel's early writings on theology and politics. Hegel’s overarching aim in these texts is to determine the kind of mythology that would best complement religious and political freedom in modernity. Peter Wake claims that, for Hegel at this early stage, ancient Greek tragedy provided the model for such a mythology and suggested a way to oppose the rigid hierarchies and authoritarianism that characterized Europe of his day. Wake follows Hegel as he develops his idea of the essence of Christianity and its relation to the distinctly tragic expression of beauty found in Greek mythology.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This work was conceived while I was a student in the Philosophy Department at DePaul University. I wish to acknowledge, first and foremost, David Krell for the inspiration he provided during these years. His seminars on Hölderlin and Greek tragedy were decisive in shaping this book on Hegel. I also extend my deep thanks...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction: Monotheism of Reason and the Heart,Polytheism of the Imagination and Art

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pp. 1-12

The following study addresses what I will call G. W. F. Hegel’s early theologico-political writings. It focuses primarily on a series of unpublished, fragmentary works that Hegel produced while living in Bern (1793–1796) and Frankfurt (1797–1800). I will, however, make no attempt to engage these early writings as if the later system...

Part 1: Positivity and the Concrete Idea of Freedom

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One. Positivity and Historical Reversal

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pp. 15-53

It is apparent from his earliest writings that, for Hegel, religions live and die. In his pre-Jena writings, the model for religious life is consistently the Volksreligion of ancient Greece. The sign of death is what he calls “positivity” (Positivität), and this characterizes the religion of Hegel’s own time. Most concretely, the “positive”...

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Two: On Expansion

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pp. 54-96

With these words of the resurrected Jesus, the disciples are given their vocation: “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God. And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs...

Part 2: The Spirit of Withdrawal

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Three: The Idea of Freedom as Independence

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pp. 99-135

With The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate fragments, Hegel begins again.1 He traverses much of the same terrain as he did in The Positivity of the Christian Religion, but now he does so in such a way that the full force of dialectic thinking becomes evident. As we will see, when the unity of Periclean Athens, as the historical...

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Four: Withdrawal and Exile

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pp. 136-168

In the time of fermentation that leads up to the Jewish revolt against Rome, there were those who were able to grasp the fate of the Jews but only in a partial manner—“men of commoner soul, though of strong passions” (W 1:317/SC 205). They lacked the inner vision that Hegel will later attribute to world-historical individuals...

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Five: Dialectic of Love

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pp. 169-202

The beauty found in the beautiful soul is attributed to the subject rather than the social “substance” as a whole. Indeed, it marks a rupture that opens the subjective sphere of interiority.1 For Hegel, the withdrawal characterizing this beauty of the soul is an essential aspect of the figure of Jesus, and the fate of the beautiful...

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Conclusion: Comedy, Subjectivity, and the Negative

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pp. 203-208

In the Phenomenology, “the revealed religion,” Christianity, is not a failed tragedy as is the case in The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate. By 1807, Christianity is presented as the fulfillment of the religious forms found in ancient Greece. What has happened in the interim? How do we explain this conversion, or inversion (Umkehrung...


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pp. 209-238


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pp. 239-248


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pp. 249-256

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780253012616
E-ISBN-10: 0253012619
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253012517

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion
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OCLC Number: 875291113
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Tragedy in Hegel's Early Theological Writings

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Subject Headings

  • Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831.
  • Tragic, The.
  • Christianity.
  • Philosophy, Modern.
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