Monday, July 17, 2017

You cannot serve [both] God and Hegel

"This [one] text alone should have checked the blind dash of all those who hurl themselves into pretending to be at once Christians and Hegelians."

"Ce seul texte aurait dû retenir l’élan aveugle de tous ceux qui se précipitèrent à se pretender àla fois chrétiens et hégéliens."

     Jean-Luc Marion, "À partir de la Trinité," Revue internationale catholique Communio 40, no. 6 (novembre-décembre 2015):  25n5 (23-37).  The passage in question is Phenomenology of spirit Preface.19, in one online translation (I have not checked any of this, least of all the German, against a critical edition),
The life of God and divine intelligence, then, can, if we like, be spoken of as love disporting with itself; but this idea falls into edification, and even sinks into insipidity, if it lacks the seriousness, the suffering, the patience, and the labour of the negative. 
Das Leben Gottes und das göttliche Erkennen mag also wohl als ein Spielen der Liebe mit sich selbst ausgesprochen werden; diese Idee sinkt zur Erbaulichkeit und selbst zur Fadheit herab, wenn der Ernst, der Schmerz, die Geduld und Arbeit des Negativen darin fehlt.
Marion's point is that Hegel
  • blasphemously "denies [Christ] before men" (Mt 10:33 and parallels) by subordinating the agape that is "the greatest" because it loves "to the end" (Jn 13:1) to these other virtues;
  • ignores the "theoretical (namely historical) consequences" of this thesis; and
  • remains oblivious of the fact that he had already been refuted in advance by St. Paul, "who defines agape by assigning to it precisely the four terms that Hegel will want to attribute to negation (au négatif).  For agape "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor 13:7).  I.e., St. Paul explores more than anyone else in the world and even beyond the world "the seriousness (pisteuein), the suffering (umpomenein), the travail (stegein), and the patience (elpein)" of agape.  "It is a question here of edification to be sure, but the 'edification of the [body of] Christ through himself [(par lui-même)] in agape' (Eph 4:16), without any danger of sinking into insipidity, because nothing endures as much as agape".  Hegel can't see what it is almost impossible for the philosopher to see qua philosopher (26).
Cf. David Bentley Hart:
Hegel's logic cannot work that way, and the system is not something to be trifled with:  it is too well thought out, and one step toward it is complete capitulation.
"No shadow of turning:  on divine impassibility" (2002), in The hidden and the manifest:  essays in theology and metaphysics (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2017), 52 (45-69).

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