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The Young Hegel and Religion


Evangelia Sembou

This edited collection of essays aims to acquaint the reader with different aspects and readings of Hegel’s Early Theological Writings. These writings consist of five essays plus some unfinished manuscripts, unpublished by Hegel himself during his lifetime and compiled by Herman Nohl as Hegels Theologische Jugendschriften in 1907. This is the first such edited collection on these writings and will make an important contribution to Hegel scholarship.

The volume begins with an introduction on the intellectual background and an account of the Early Theological Writings. This is followed by a number of essays by both emerging and established scholars working in an international context. The essays offer a critical and/or interpretative approach to the aforesaid writings.

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1 “The Tübingen Fragment”: From Moral Philosophy to Normative Social Theory (Mikkel Flohr)


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1 “The Tübingen Fragment”: From Moral Philosophy to Normative Social Theory

The focus of this chapter is the young Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s engagement with Immanuel Kant’s practical philosophy and the complementary development of his own notion of “popular religion” (“Volksreligion”)1 as the vehicle of the moral cultivation of society in “The Tübingen Fragment”, written in 1793, the earliest of Hegel’s so-called “theological” youth writings. It will be shown that Hegel’s notion of a popular religion departed from Kant’s practical philosophy and was envisioned as the means of realizing practical reason in the sensible world. It will be argued that this project led Hegel to transcend the strict dualism underpinning Kant’s thought, which separates morality from the empirical world and society. Hegel’s notion of popular religion thus comes to function as both a continuation and a critique of Kant’s practical philosophy; and marks the transition from moral philosophy to normative social theory.2 ← 37 | 38 →

Hegel’s incomplete text bears the indelible marks of a young thinker reflecting on his studies and attempting to develop his own position, progressing in leaps and bounds, changing his position, crossing out lines etc. There is nothing to suggest that the author intended to publish the manuscript, not even bothering to provide the collection of pages with a title. However, this should not be taken to suggest that Hegel abandoned the text; he maintained erudite records from the age of fourteen and...

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