DIALECTICAL CLASH OF THE HEGELIAN SCHOOL

John Daniel Morell (1846)

Hegel died in the full blush of his reputation, and before he had published half the views, which he had matured, beyond the walls of the lecture–room.¹ At his death seven of his most distinguished pupils combined, according to his own wish, to publish his lectures, collated at once from his own manuscripts, and from the notes they had themselves taken of them as orally delivered. The names of these seven are Marheineke, Schulz, Gans, von Henning, Hotho, Michelet, and Forster. Under their superintendence, an edition of his works has now been completed, which is regarded as the last and authoritative view of his whole system.² Not only, however, have Hegel’s pupils done justice to the memory of their master by the publication of his works and remains, but, forming themselves into a school, they have at once defended his doctrines against the numerous attacks which they have had to sustain, and applied them vigorously to the different branches of theology, law, history, and science. Amongst these Henning and Schulz³ have further elaborated his views on natural phiIosophy; Gans on jurisprudence;⁴ [478] Michelet, on morals;⁵ Weisse,⁶ Rotscher and Hotho, on aesthetics; and Werder, on logic;⁷ whilst in theology, a host of writers have sprung forth to wield the Hegelian weapons, and contend on every side for a religion of complete Rationalism.

It is in the department of theology, chiefly, that the great battle of Hegelianism has been, and is still being fought. Within the last ten years, indeed, philosophy and theology in Germany seem to have become almost synonymous; the transcendent importance of the great fundamental principles of man’s religious belief absorbing almost every other purely philosophical question. Incapable, however, of coming to a united understanding upon these topics, the Hegelian school has separated into three divisions, each regarding the nature of religious truth in a different point of view. To explain the variations of these three parties, we must observe, that there are two inward sources from which religious truth may be supposed to spring; the one is the direct intuition of our religious nature, excited either by faith or experience; the other is pure logical reasoning; and it is according to the predominance of one of these sources over the other, that Hegelianism takes its lower or its higher pantheistic signification.

To illustrate this point, let us take the subject of music. The knowledge of music may be possessed in two different ways. It may be known by virtue of a fine musical sensibility; or it may be known as a rigid science of time and intervals, quite independently of the aesthetic faculty. In the former case we should say, we understand music by virtue of our direct perception, or intuition of its nature and beauty; in the latter case, we know it as the development of scientific ideas. Now, just so is it with religion. There is such a thing as a religious sensibility, or a religious perception, which looks at once upon the object of the religious affections, and derives a kind of intuitive knowledge of them; but there is also, says the rationalist, a science of theology, in which the whole mass of our religious ideas are evolved by logical inference from fundamental and philosophical principles. Just in the same manner, then, as some might lay greater stress upon the musical sensibility, and others on the musical science, so also do some of the Hegelian philosophers appeal more to the religious intuition, [479] and others to the evolution of religious truth, by the logical idea.⁸

The first, and least rationalistic branch of the Hegelian school, is that which is represented by Goschel, Erdmann, Gabler, and Schaller. According to the view of these writers, our religious perception must be respected as well as the power we possess of drawing logical inferences. That it is possible to deduce rationally the whole sum and substance of theological truth, they freely admit, (otherwise they could not take their station among the rationalists) but in every case, they affirm, our religious consciousness must be consulted, to confirm and approve the inferences of our reason. Hence, on the ground of this consciousness, they assert the full personality of the Deity, and likewise defend historically the literal views given by the Scriptures of the person of Christ, as the God–man — the Mediator between the human and the Divine. These opinions, there is every reason to believe, very much accorded with those of Hegel himself, who ever professed his belief in the ordinary faith of the Lutheran Church.

There is, however, a considerable difference in the views even of this branch of the Hegelian school. Goschel is by far the least rationalistic of the whole; in fact, he goes almost as far as Hinrichs, in affirming, that our religious perceptions are the main thing, and that philosophy is only of use in illustrating and confirming them. Gabler, Erdmann, and Schaller are in a purer sense of the word Hegelians; but instead of rejecting the natural religious perceptions as untrustworthy, they accept them in their full significancy, but attempt to assimilate them, by the logical process, so as to assume the matter and form of their philosophy.⁹

The second branch of the Hegelian school, at once the most numerous and influential, is represented mainly by Rosenkranz, Marheineke, Vatke, and Michelet. By these writers, the religious perceptions and feelings are only appealed to as a secondary source, by which we simply illustrate the results of logical thinking. Accordingly, the personality of God is taken by them in a far more general and pantheistic sense, as agreeing better with the nature of that dialectic process by which all theological, as well as other ideas, are developed. The doctrine, again, respecting Christ, his [480] union with human nature, and his redemption of the world, is taken from its plain historical meaning, and made to represent general ideas, such as the reunion of the fallen and separated will of man, with the infinite reason — the soul of the world; while the immortality of the mind is made to refer, not so much to the duration of our personality, as to the general perpetuity of thought, of which our minds are but individual movements.

With regard to the more individual shadings of this branch of the Hegelian school, Rosenkranz stands nearest to those before mentioned, forming, as it were, the transition point between the two. With him, it seems a matter of hesitation, whether he shall assume the religious perceptions to be unexceptionable valid, and then seek to reduce them to a philosophical form, or whether he shall give to his logical procedures a more independent permission to eliminate their own results. Next to Rosenkranz, comes the celebrated theologian Marheineke; while Vatke and Michelet assume a still more rationalistic position — one, namely, in which the results of faith and reason are absolutely identified, and the religious perceptions made one with the logical results.¹⁰

Up to this point, then, in the Hegelian school, religious consciousness and the deductions of reason had gone hand in hand, only with a varying preponderance of importance attached either to the one side or the other; but in the third and newest Hegelian party there is a complete breach formed between the two, it being formally declared that we have to follow the dictates of our reason, to whatever extent they may contradict the dictates of our religious perceptions and instincts. The representatives of this school are Strauss, Bruno, Bauer, Conradi, and Feuerbach. With them, pantheism attains the point at which it ever tends, that, namely, in which it becomes fully synonymous with atheism. In their system, no God is admitted to exist, out of and apart from the world; i.e., in the proper sense of the term, there is no God at all. With reference, moreover, to the New Testament, it is well known that these writers have rationalized upon it to the furthest possible extent, regarding the whole of the historical portion as a designed mythology, in which are conveyed to us great and immortal truths.

Thus, then, is the cycle of Hegelianism completed; and to make the best of these divisions, it is asserted by some, that the three branches above mentioned (usually termed the right hand, the centre, and the left), exhibit the threefold movement of the dialectic [481] process, and thus form in their combination the integrity of the whole school.¹¹

Since Hegel’s death, the conflict between the Hegelian school and their opponents, (especially with Schelling, and those who adhere to his doctrine) has gone on with unmitigated vigor, and even rancor. Up to the present hour, work after work is teeming from the press, in which the respective claims of these great absorbing systems are advocated; whilst on theological grounds they are both alike attacked by the more orthodox, with all the weapons of learning and eloquence.

To enter into this endless discussion would be altogether impracticable in the present sketch, and perhaps equally uninteresting to the majority of our readers. The general feeling amongst all, except those who are pledged almost to the very words of the master, is, that Hegelianism proper is on the wane. The idealistic movement found in it, its culminating point; that point is now passed, and a tendency is already manifesting itself in the general tone of philosophy, to come back to a more realistic system, in which matter and form shall not be confounded, or the divine personality denied, or the foundation of man’s immortality undermined.

Mournful as are the final results of the sweeping rationalism we have detailed, the works to which it has given rise have tended to throw light, perhaps to an unprecedented degree, upon many of the most important points connected with the philosophy of matter and of mind, of human nature, and human destiny; neither shall we have to regret the whole rationalistic movement, if the atmosphere of truth is cleared by the storm that sweeps across it — if errors are carried away in its course, and the great foundations of man’s belief left standing more visible and more certain than ever.

ENDNOTES

1. John Daniel Morell (1816–1891), Historical and Critical View of the Speculative Philosophy of Europe in the Nineteenth Century, 2nd edition, 1 volume edition, New York, Robert Carter, 1848, 477–481. [1846]

Christopher Richard Wade Dettling, editor, Dialectical Clash of the Hegelian School, By John Daniel Morell, MEDIUM, 2017.

See: John Daniel Morell, Historical and Critical View of the Speculative Philosophy of Europe in the Nineteenth Century, 2 vols., London, William Pickering, 1846.

John Daniel Morell, “Hegel,” Historical and Critical View of the Speculative Philosophy of Europe in the Nineteenth Century, 2nd edition, 1 volume edition, New York, Robert Carter, 1848, 456–477. [1846]

John Daniel Morell, “Kant,” Historical and Critical View of the Speculative Philosophy of Europe in the Nineteenth Century, 2nd edition, 1 volume edition, New York, Robert Carter, 1848, 153–177. [1846]

John Daniel Morell, “Kant As Sceptic,” Historical and Critical View of the Speculative Philosophy of Europe in the Nineteenth Century, 2nd edition, 1 volume edition, New York, Robert Carter, 1848, 550–552. [1846]

See also: “I proceeded to the University of Glasgow, and studied philosophy in the class–rooms which had been honored by the presence and enlightened by the genius of Reid and Smith … I attempted to read Kant’s ‘Critick of Pure Reason,’ and some few other Continental works; but they for the most part opened a region so entirely new, that I felt quite unable to compare their results as a whole with those of the Scottish metaphysicians. Desirous, however, of pursuing the subject still further, I repaired to Germany; I heard Brandis and Fichte expound German philosophy in their lecture rooms, and spent some months in reading the standard works of the great masters. The different systems, which were here contending for the preference, gradually became intelligible; but, alas! they stood alone — in complete isolation; to compare their method, their procedure, their aim, their results satisfactorily with those of our English and Scottish philosophy, appeared, as yet, almost impossible. To gain light, therefore, upon these points, I turned my attention to France; the name of eclecticism seemed too inviting to be turned away, as it often is, on the charge of syncretism or want of profundity; and my hopes were not altogether deceptive. I found, or thought that I found, in the writings of Cousin, and others of the modern eclectics, the germs of certain great principles, upon which a comparison of all the philosophical systems of the present age could be advantageously instituted, and saw, that such a comparison would be of very important service to one, who should be anxious to travel, as I had done, over the broad field of European metaphysics. How eagerly should I have welcomed such a directory myself, while I was toiling to get some clear light upon the conflicting systems of Germany; how highly should I have valued a simple and definite statement of the foundation principle of the different schools — how intensely rejoiced in a work which would show the relations of the one to the other! It was with a view, therefore, of supplying the want which I had myself felt, that I began the sketch which has now swelled into these two volumes.”
John Daniel Morell, “Preface to the First Edition,” Historical and Critical View of the Speculative Philosophy of Europe in the Nineteenth Century, 2nd edition, 1 volume edition, New York, 1848, v–vii, iv. [1846]

The English Kantio–Hegelianism is therefore at its very roots, largely an off–shoot of the French Kantio–Hegelianism of Victor Cousin? [Editor]

2. This edition consists of 17 vols., 8vo. Vol. i. contains the “Philosophical Treatises,” edited by Michelet: vol. ii. The “Phenomenologie,” by Schulz: vols, iii. iv. and v. contain the “Logik,” edited by von Henning: vols. vi. and vii, the “Encyclopedia of [Philosophical] Sciences,” by von Henning, (which contain the “Logik” in a much briefer and better form): vol. viii. “The Principles of the Philosophy of Right,” by Gans: vol. ix. “The Lectures on the Philosophy of History,” by Gans: vol. x. The “Lectures on AEsthetics.” (two first parts) by von Hotho: vols. xi. and xii. The “Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion,” by Marheineke: vols. xiii. xiv. and xv. The “Lectures on the History of Philosophy,” by Michelet: vols, xvi. and xvii. The “Miscellaneous Writings,” by Forster and Boumann; to which a “Life of Hegel” has since been added by Rosenkranz.

[See: “In general, the student notes written during or after Hegel’s classes should be used with caution … according to Leopold von Henning’s preface (pp. vi–vii) in his edition (1839) of the Encyclopädie of 1830, the editors of the Encyclopedia sometimes changed or completed the sentences in which the students had rendered Hegel’s classes.”
Adriaan Theodoor Basilius Peperzak, Modern Freedom: Hegel’s Legal, Moral, and Political Philosophy, Dordrecht, 2001, 27–29.

See also: “It may indeed be disconcerting that only today do we doubt — and not everyone does — that Hegel’s lectures … are actually reproduced authentically in the published edition … that did not become full–blown for more than a hundred and fifty years. We can hardly examine here all the reasons for this circumstance.”
Annemarie Gethmann–Siefert, “Introduction: The Shape and Influence of Hegel’s Aesthetics,Lectures on the Philosophy of Art: The Hotho Transcript of the 1823 Berlin Lectures, Robert F. Brown, editor and translator, Oxford, 2014, 32–46.

See also: “Kant’s philosophy is a high one … the march of God in the world, that is what the state is.”
Eduard Gans, “Additions to The Philosophy of Right,” Great Books of the Western World: Hegel, vol. 46, Thomas Malcolm Knox, translator & Robert Maynard Hutchins, editor in chief, Chicago, 1960, 129–141.

See finally: “Modern irrationalism, in order to validate pseudo–Hegelianism and anti–Hegelianism, squares the Lecture Notes and the great works published by Hegel in his lifetime. Pseudo–Hegelianism and anti–Hegelianism thus squares both Kant and Hegel in order to prove the speculative logical and dialectical system of the genuine Hegel’s philosophical science of Absolute Idealism is flawed. Irrationalism thus perverts the history of philosophy and modern Europe … Pseudo–Hegelianism and anti–Hegelianism is therefore the political and economic mask of modern European Raison d’État. One drawback will never be remedied in Hegel philology: The Lecture Notes are not authoritative and are therefore useless in the exact determination of the ultimate worth of genuine Hegelianism … In the 20th century upwards of 500 million human beings were slaughtered in the contagion of modern political and economic satanism, more than in all the periods of history combined: Many hundreds of millions more were utterly ruined and destroyed by the most barbaric slavery ever recorded in the world. This is the ultimate verdict of exact historiography and universal history. From whence comes the disease of modern unreason?
Christopher Richard Wade Dettling, Americanism: The New Hegelian Orthodoxy, Third Edition, Archive.org, 2016, 6–9. Editor]

3. “Grundriss der Physiologie,” von C.H. Schulz.

4. “Das Erbrecht in Weltgeschichtlicher Entwickelung,” “System des Romischen Civilrechts.” “Ruckblicke auf Personen und Zustande,” &c.

5. “System der Philosophischen Moral,” (1828).

6. “Sytem der AEsthetick als Wissenschaft von der Idee der SchonXXXit.”

7. “Logikals Commentar und Erganzung zu Hegels Wissenschaft der Logik,” (Berlin, 1841).

8. The affirmation of one or the other of these elements as supreme, forms the twofold distinction of philosophers, which has become so celebrated in Germany, under the titles of Denkphilosophen and Glaubensphilosophen.

9. They seek, says Michelet, “Das Glaubensresultat durch den dialektischen Process zu verdauen, und ihr eine berechtigte Stelle im Systeme anzuweisen,” — Entwickelungsgeschichte, p. 313.

10. See Michelet’s “Entwickelungsgeschichte,” (1843) Lecture 15.

11. We may take the following passage from Michelet’s summer course of 1842, as a summary of the whole view here given of the present position of the Hegelian school:—

“The unfolded totality of the Hegelian school may be pictured in a brief compend. With the pseudo–Hegelians (Fichte, jun., Weisse, Branis &c.,) perception under the form of faith or experience, is the sole source of positive religious truth. On the extreme right of the Hegelian school, perception, (as with Hinrichs) is the absolute criterion of the results found by means of logical thinking; while Goschel gives it still a decisive voice in all religious affairs. Schaller, Erdmann, and Gabler, who form the pure right side, allow to religious perception a consultative vote, which however, like a good ruler with his subjects, they never leave unrespected. Rosenkranz, who ushers in the centre, proceeds for the most part in accordance with the voice of perception, but in some cases rejects it. In Marheineke, the perception is the witness, who can only speak respecting the fact, while the question of law or right can only be decided by speculative thinking. On the left of the centre, (that taken by Vatke, Snellmann and Michelet) the perception is a true–hearted servant, who must subject herself obediently to reason as mistress. Strauss, on the left side, makes her a slave, while with Feuerbach and Bauer she appears verily as a paria.

[See: “It is asserted by some, that the three branches above mentioned (usually termed the right hand, the centre, and the left), exhibit the threefold movement of the dialectic process.”
John Daniel Morell, Historical and Critical View of the Speculative Philosophy of Europe in the Nineteenth Century, 2nd edition, 1 volume edition, New York, 1848, 480–481. [1846] Editor]