Latest Issue

Vol. 21, No. 1 (Spring 2017)

Guest Editor: Martin Thibodeau

BRUCE GILBERT, Hegel and the Imperatives of Love [abstract]

Hegel argues in the Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion that the notion that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) well expresses the self-developing infinitude of being. As such, love expresses the unity of difference and is, therefore, the “representation” (Vorstellung) of reason (Vernunft). This requires, however, transcending the abstract notion of the perfect God that stands over and above finite reality. At the same time love has a subjective dimension, embodied not only in mutual recognition but in the experience of the highest forms of unity with otherness. This ultimately requires of the individual that he or she embrace the nothingness of his or her being and yet also engage responsibly in ethical life (Sittlichkeit).

TIMOTHY L. BROWNLEE, Two Models of Conscience and the Liberty of Conscience in Hegel’s Practical Philosophy [abstract]

Hegel presents significant accounts of “conscience” (Gewissen) at decisive moments both in the early Phenomenology of Spirit and the Philosophy of Right. In spite of some important similarities between these accounts, they present deeply different, perhaps even inconsistent, understandings of the nature and value of individual conscience. Roughly, on the Philosophy of Right account, conscience is fundamentally something inward and individualizing, requiring transformation if it is to be integrated into the social institutions and practices that constitute modern “ethical life.” By contrast, in the Phenomenology of Spirit, conscience is always already fundamentally social, entailing demands that individuals both realize their convictions in actions that are, in principle at least, available to others, and that they be able discursively to articulate, justify, and, in some cases, modify their convictions in relation to others. Drawing on this contrast between two understandings of the nature and value of conscience, I consider two models of the liberty of conscience. On the first model, the liberty of conscience fundamentally entails the need for the protection of an inward sphere over which institutions ought not to attempt to exercise coercive influence. On the second, the liberty of conscience entails acknowledging the discursive and social character of conscience, so that, while individuals should be entitled to a sort of moral autonomy, that autonomy entails an equal demand to be able to justify their convictions to others, and to respond reasonably to the claims that others make on them. I argue that Hegel’s concept of “spirit,” which suggests that selfhood is fundamentally a product of concrete relations among individuals, provides stronger support for the second model of the liberty of conscience.

ANDRÉ DUHAMEL, De la Schwärmerei au terrorisme religieux. Quelles ressources hégéliennes ? [abstract]

Les nouvelles formes de terrorisme nous laissent souvent en panne de vocabulaire politique et philosophique. Cet embarras n’est pas une première, si on le compare à celui des penseurs qui, depuis la Réforme jusqu’à Hegel, ont tenté de comprendre les violences politico-religieuses de leur époque. Dans cet article, nous entreprendrons de restituer l’examen critique que ces philosophes ont fait du vocabulaire de la Schwärmerei, de l’enthousiasme, du fanatisme et de la terreur, d’une part, pour en marquer l’ancrage dans les con-flits sociaux de leur temps, d’autre part, pour en souligner l’évolution parfois paradoxale. Nous serons ainsi conduits à souligner la modernisation de ce vocabulaire par Luther, sa naturalisation et sécularisation sous les Lumières anglaises et Kant, et enfin sa repolitisation par Hegel dans son analyse de la Terreur dans la Phénoménologie de l’esprit. Les ressources hégéliennes permettent de penser la violence terroriste comme une liberté du vide et une domination de l’abstraction, moment négatif et destructeur du de-venir de l’Esprit, et en tant que tels « antipolitiques ». Sa philosophie spéculative applique aussi ce diagnostic à l’Islam, et nous terminerons par quelques remarques critiques à cet égard.

PATRICIA CALTON, Hegel’s Spirit as a Defence of Civil Rights and Bulwark Against Extremism [abstract]

Hegel’s detailed analysis of subjective religion and his forceful rejection of the movement in his own political environment to deny civil liberties to Jewish citizens give us the conceptual tools to respond to our contemporary cases of religious extremism without violating the value of the autonomy and inherent worth of the thinking person that fanaticism tramples. This paper first addresses Hegel’s analysis of fanaticism, demonstrating that its rejection of the order of existing structures in favour of an abstract ideal entails the Hegelian concept of spirit. When spirit’s implications are explored, it is evident that immediate religious certainty has the potential to elevate its adherents to thinking consciousness and therefore have the potential to follow its internal dialectics to the point where its convictions correspond with the major ethical principles upheld by modern states. Given the political freedom to explore their own latent truths and inconsistencies, subjective, even fanatical, religious consciousness can strengthen the state by its independent verification of the ideals embodied in the political community. In the meantime, autonomous reflection should be encouraged through free religious expression, including of religious views that run counter to the objective order of the state. However, any destructive attacks on this order must be confronted and stopped. These principles allow us to respond to the current Syrian refugee crisis, the controversy regarding municipal bans on burkinis in France, and violent, religiously-inspired terrorist attacks with clarity and consistency.

MARIE-ANDRÉE RICARD, « L’homme en tant qu’homme » comme rempart contre le totalitarisme ou le fanatisme religieux ? [abstract]

L’objectif de cet article est de répondre à la question de savoir si la saisie d’un être humain en tant qu’être humain, un thème qui émerge au §270 de la Philosophie du droit, peut constituer un rempart contre les deux fanatismes que Hegel y évoque d’un seul tenant, à savoir l’exclusion de minorités religieuses par l’État ou, à l’inverse, le rejet des valeurs et des institutions éthiques auxquelles adhèrent la majorité pour des motifs religieux. J’y répondrai que oui, que l’être humain en sa valeur d’être humain peut constituer un tel rempart, à condition toutefois de dépasser la conception sociale de la normativité à laquelle tend la compréhension hégélienne de la vie éthique (Sittlichkeit), parce que cette conception pave la voie au totalitarisme, en ce qu’elle se rapproche d’une thèse situationniste.

LOUIS CARRÉ, L’État moderne est-il chrétien ou libéral ? [abstract]

Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde a dressé le constat d’un écart historique entre la conception hégélienne de l’État moderne comme « État chrétien » et la conception contemporaine de l’État libéral comme « neutre à l’égard des religions et des conceptions du monde ». D’après lui, Hegel aurait défendu la thèse selon laquelle l’État moderne trouve son « principe spirituel » dans le christianisme. L’auteur de l’article nuance cette interprétation en montrant, tout d’abord, que le processus de modernisation ne se réduit pas chez Hegel à une simple application au monde du principe chrétien. Il revient ensuite sur la manière originale dont le philosophe berlinois conçoit, à partir de l’évènement fondateur de la Réforme, les rapports entre politique et religion à l’époque moderne. C’est à partir de la figure de « l’État protestant » que Hegel peut affirmer à la fois la séparation de l’État et des Églises et l’identité spirituelle de l’État et d’une religion chrétienne « modernisée ».

ANDREW BUCHWALTER, Elements of Hegel’s Political Theology: Civic Republicanism, Social Justice, Constitutionalism, and Universal Human Rights [abstract]

This essay examines Hegel’s variegated understanding of the relationship of religion and politics, especially as articulated in his idea of state as a “secular deity” or “earthly divinity.” It does so by engaging and expanding upon themes explored by Ludwig Siep in his 2015 Der Staat als irdischer Gott: Genese und Relevanz einer He-gelschen Idee. Its focus is fourfold: 1) It affirms the special role played by a civil religion in sustaining and maintaining institutions of modern states. 2) It details the religious dimension of Hegel’s theory of the corporation to explicate an account of rights understood not just formally but with reference to substantive claims oriented to considerations of social justice. 3) It ascribes to Hegel a political theology rooted in the uniquely self-causative elements of his constitutional theory and directed to ongoing reflection by community members on the conditions of their commonality. 4) It asserts that Hegel’s notion of Weltgeist furnishes elements of a transnational account of human rights, yet one that both depends upon and entails proper development of Hegel’s notion of state as an earthly divinity.

MARTIN THIBODEAU, La « rose dans la croix du présent ». Réflexions sur le motif de la réconciliation chez Hegel [abstract]

Le motif de la réconciliation traverse toute l’œuvre de Hegel. En effet, de ses écrits théologiques de jeunesse, jusqu’à ses différents cours de la période de Berlin, en passant par la Phénoménologie de l’esprit et ses ouvrages systématiques de la maturité, Hegel a maintes fois évoqué ce motif, et ce, dans des contextes aussi divers que des analyses portant sur la logique, l’esthétique, la philosophie de l’histoire, l’histoire de la philosophie et, bien sûr, la religion et la politique. Pourtant, aussi nombreuses que soient les études qui, d’une façon ou d’une autre, s’intéressent à ce motif ou à ce thème, il reste, nous semble-t-il, qu’un peu moins d’attention a été portée au sens ou à la signification exacte que recouvre la notion ou le con-cept de réconciliation chez Hegel. C’est ce sens qui nous servira de fil conducteur dans ce qui suit. Ainsi, dans la première partie de notre présentation, nous nous emploierons à rendre compte de ce terme en montrant comment il est à comprendre en regard des no-tions clés de la logique hégélienne telles que celles de « sursomp-tion » (Aufhebung), « d’effectivité » (Wirklichkeit) et de vérité. En un deuxième temps, nous nous attacherons à démontrer en quel sens, Hegel, dans les Principes de la philosophie du droit et dans les Leçons sur la philosophie de la religion, pense les rapports entre la religion et la politique en termes de réconciliation et d’unité.

JEFFREY REID, Reason and Revelation: Absolute Agency and the Limits of Actuality [abstract]

Contemporary reluctance to consider any complicity between philosophy and religion has led to an inability to consider, in Hegel studies, how the revelatory agency of the Absolute necessarily complements the narrative of human reason. According to Hegel, reason alone can do no more than end in the endless limitations of actuality, in the infinite approximations of a moral summum bonum and in the ad infinitum strivings for concrete political freedom. Recognizing where revelatory agency occurs in Hegel’s Science allows us to recognize the Idea’s freedom in the worldly, human expressions of art, religion and philosophy, in their philosophical study within the state University. Without such recognition, both Left and Right fields of Hegel interpretation tend to evaluate the success (or failure) of his philosophy based on inflated, unrealistic expectations of what is meant by “actuality.”

Guest Editor: David Morris

LORRAINE CODE, The Tyranny of Certainty [abstract]

In this essay I explore some implications and effects of taken-for-granted expectations of achieved certainty as the only legitimate outcome of scientific and everyday inquiry. The analysis contrasts ubiquitous if often tacit expectations of certainty with a critique of how these very expectations can truncate productive engagement with matters ecological. The discussion focuses on the limited prospects of success in inquiry when certainty is the only putatively acceptable outcome, and it defends the value of situated quests for knowledge with their reliance on hermeneutic understandings of place and process as these involve real human knowers.

TED TOADVINE, Our Monstrous Futures: Global Sustainability and Eco-Eschatology [abstract]

Apocalyptic fictions abound in contemporary culture, multiplying end-of-the-world fantasies of environmental collapse. Meanwhile, efforts toward global sustainability extrapolate from deep-past trends to predict and manage deep-future scenarios. These narra-tives converge in “eco-eschatologies,” which work as phantasms that construct our identities, our understanding of the world, and our sense of responsibility in the present. I critique eco-eschatology’s reliance on an interpretation of deep time that treats every temporal moment as interchangeable and projects the future as a chronological extension of the past. This enacts what Jean-Luc Nancy calls the “catastrophe of equivalence” by domesticating the future and obscuring the incommensurability of what resists substi-tution, conversion, or exchange. By contrast, the renewal of our responsibility toward the future, without apocalypse or apotheosis, requires an intuition of deep time that respects the singular anachronicity of the present and refuses the framing of existence against a background of annihilation.

MATTHIAS FRITSCH, “La justice doit porter au-delà de la vie présente”: Derrida on Ethics Between Generations [abstract]

While it is generally accepted that deconstruction’s principal target is the “metaphysics of presence” and thus a presentist conception of time and being, it is less well known that Derrida connected the deconstruction of presence to an idea of justice that is from the beginning intergenerational, that is, concerned with the dead and the unborn. The first section of this paper re-inscribes the idea of “my life” or “our life” in Derrida’s concept of life as “living-on” to show that justice arises with a disjointed time that began before me and is already in the process of outstripping my life toward a future without me. In the second section, I sketch a concept of indirect intergenerational reciprocity in conversation with Derrida as well as with extant work on reciprocity in normative theory and economics. While Derrida’s ideas can be operationalized and fleshed out with the help of this other literature, the disjointed time pertaining to living-on permits new responses to some common objections to intergenerational reciprocity.