Hegel 1795 (Berne)

The Positivity of the Christian Religion

Written: in 1795 (aged 25) while a private tutor in Berne, Switzerland;
Source: Early Theological Writings, pp. 67-181, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971, excluding all notes;
Translated: by T. M. Knox, 1947;
First Published: Chicago University Press 1948;
Copyright: reproduced here under “Fair Use” provisions;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden, May 2007.

In this very early work, written before Hegel adopted his impenetrable writing style and when his concerns were political rather than philosophical, the meaning of his life’s work begins to be revealed. “Positivity” for Hegel meant given by authority, handed down and accepted as fact, as opposed to “Subjective,” by which he meant a religion which came from people’s hearts, because it grew out of how they lived. At this time, as throughout his life, Hegel idealised life in the ancient Greek polois, and he saw the whole period from the downfall of antiquity up to his own time, a period dominated by Christianity, as a period of despotism and unfreedom. This was because Christianity focussed on people's individual concerns, rather than the good of the whole community. One result of this was growing inequality. He hoped that the French Revolution would be a harbinger of a renewal of democratic ideals, reaffirming individuality within a genuinely republican ethos. [AB]

Part I. How Christianity became the Positive Religion of a Church
PART II. Materials for a Continuation of Part I
Part III: Revised form of Sections 1-4 of Part I


Tübingen Essay. On the Prospects for a Folk Religion (1793)


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