Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

Excerpts from the Introduction:

“Man has found in the imaginary reality of heaven where he looked for a superman only the reflection of his own self.”

“The foundation of irreligious criticism is this: man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is indeed the self-consciousness and self-awareness of man who either has not yet attained to himself or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man, the state, society. This state, this society, produces religion’s inverted attitude toward the world because they are an inverted world themselves….It is the imaginary realization of the human essence, because the human essence possesses no true reality. Thus, the struggle against religion is indirectly the struggle against the world whose spiritual aroma is religion.”

“Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless circumstances. It is the opium of the people.”

“Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chains not so that man may bear chains without any imagination or comfort, but so that he may throw away the chains and pluck the living flowers.”

(Read the full introduction and the complete work online.)

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  1. Chuck March 8, 2013

    The first question seems to be a false distinction. Humans invent religions but the invention also shapes humans.

    Religion is humanity’s get out of jail for free card.

    Holiness as a guiding principle.

  2. Timothy G Reynolds March 8, 2013

    Humans invent religion in our search for meaning. I assume ants and dolphins would do the same if they experienced consciousness – or rather realized they were conscious. Of course, religion forms us, but all human constructs, born out of human minds, intend toward making a reality. A greater problem for me as a theologian is to encourage construction of religious “realities” that allow for growth, are hospitable and inclusive, and challenge society to evaluate or reevaluate itself.

  3. Will March 9, 2013

    Question 1- I agree with Chuck and Timothy. Religion is our reaching out for meaning, grasping for hope and answers. However futile the answers may be.

    Question 2- Dependent on the group of people and their mission, “Religion is many things to many of the people.” Both good and bad. There is no definable answer that would satisfy everyone’s experience.

    Question 3- The “imaginary flowers” are simply whatever we use to distract ourselves from reality at times. In order to throw away the chains and pluck the living flowers we must learn to recognize the illusions of reality that we and other people build. Once you recognize the illusions we then must accept that no one sees the world exactly the same. No one’s perspective is truly the “right” answer. Stick to the simple rules regarding other beings and go about your life. Leave the chains and hang ups behind.

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