The problem of reformation and religion in the early Hegel’s philosophy of history and social philosophy (1795-1806


Imre Bártfai


Dr. Thomas Sören Hoffmann University of Hagen

Dr. Ferenc Simon, docent University of Szeged

„Little can we learn from past thinkers, if we make them our caricatures.” (Frederick. C. Beiser)

Introduction: Hegel’s protestant principle

The present dissertation tries to examine the beginnings of Hegel’s so called „protestant-principle”, placing it into historical and philosophical context. We are following the way on which Hegel’s view of religion advanced until the protestant principle appeared, as well as examining Hegel’s view of reformed religions, in the state, as they are apparent in the early writings. In order to understand the substance of this philosophical problem it is worth quoting a prominent disciple of Hegel himself:

„Hegel’s philosophy is protestant in its relation to religion. I call that form of religion protestant, which grounds the reconciliation between God and Man on conscience, based on the fact that the substance of human consiousness incorporates God’s consiousness, therefore the form of freedom.”

-so writes Karl Rosenkranz in his famous Hegel-biography, first published in 18441. Our work attempts to shed light on this very quote of Rosenkranz, because this is in accordance with Hegel’s own claims in Berlin. Not to mention that the emphasis on protestantism’s historical-philosophical importance-although in various enigmatic forms-was already present in Hegel’s Jena-period. Let us take a closer look first at Rosenkranz’s text, to bring out what we are really looking for here. After the above quoted sentences Rosenkranz states that religion, politics and philosophy should be separated, but in the sphere of the political, this is usually not the way things are. Hegel was attacked precisely because of his confessionally christian philosophy, by the catholic church, the „well-financed,

Rosenkranz: Hegels Leben, Vorrede XXXIII. My translation. If otherwise not indicated, I use all text of foreign language in my translation.

but spiritually poor” anglicans, the „hierarchical” pietists. Rosenkranz -in spite of all this-didn’t lose his faith (or more correctly, his theoretical conviction) in the protestantism of Hegel’s philosophy, since he claims that Hegel „confessed himself to be a protestant, and for protestantism will he carry the oriflamme of freedom with the self-recognition and self-will of the true.” After that the Rosenkranz’s preface moves into the realm of fearing the political and religious reaction, which threathens the German people and its „protestant substance”. He emphasizes though, that the protestant heroes of the German spirit provide ample guidance against anti-philosophy, fanatism, and political reaction. In my opinion nothing enlightens us more about the problem of Hegel’s protestantism, than the words of this prominent pupil. It’s not so much the explicit content that is telling, as the contexts that lie behind, and are probably hidden even for the author. The first point of interest is that statement,(which sems to be a common place) that Hegel’s philosophy has protestant roots. In the age of Rosenkranz this was disputed already by the left-wing hegelians2 (primarily because they attempted to turn him into an atheist spiritual icon3) and the leading ideologist of prussian politics, as well as Hegel’s opponents. The second point of interest is Rosenkranz’s explanation of protestantism: a kind of religion, which states that the human, finite consiousness mirrors the infinite divine consciousness, and this is the „form of freedom”. Thus Rosenkranz argues, that human freedom is grounded in a consciousness, which –though being finite- functions as a mirror of the eternal existence of God, just as in the Platonic theory things get their limited reality from an upper form of reality through the Platonic methexis. Subjectivity is finite, but it is connected to the infinite through its specific mode of existence, the motion of the process of selfrecognition. This is apparently a hegelian explanation of protestantism. Now comes the question: what was Hegel’s original view of protestantism, and how exactly did Hegel create it? Did he inherit it, form, or reshape it? Is it


For example, Bruno Bauer in his pamphlet „The trumpet of the last judgement over Hegel the atheist and antichrist”. (1841) 3 The humorous epos-parody of Engels the „Triumph of Faith” (1842) shows Hegel leading atheists against heaven, a good illustration and parody of the hegelian left’s view of Hegel.

genuinely religious or more like a historical construction? Jörg Dierken provides a clear answer in his article on Hegel’s protestant principle:4

„Among the protestant theologians in a narrower sense only Luther is interesting to Hegel; the systematization of reformed teachings, their way to orthodoxy, but even their change by neologism, rationalism, and the beginnings of historical criticism escape his attention, or become subjects of distancing criticism.”

Luther is indeed the only reformed theologian whom Hegel mentions. But is it Luther’s doctrine, which he considers to be in accordance with his own philosophy? If the answer is yes, then the behaviour which Rosenkranz exhibits isn’t really protestant in this sense, because -according to Luther-the christian man is „servant to all” even though spiritually „servant of none”. It’s obvious nowadays, that ’protestantism’ was for Luther not connected to any form of political activism. Christian man -as he stated- must be content with pagan overlordship, even slavery under pagan masters. 5 For only one purpose did he allow violence: to protect innocents.6 Luther thus appeared to be controversial, but his pendulum swings rather towards political passivity and rejection of violence. His views seem to be rather the opposite of Hegel, who described the state as the instrument of freedom, and warned against all forms of separating religion and politics. For Hegel freedom does not belong solely to the soul (isn’t just „inner freedom”) but does belong to politics too: freedom is essentially political. This view necessarily differs from Luther, and differs even from the more political, more radical Calvin. For Hegel actual freedom embodies itself in the institutions that, which intermediate the private life of the civil society and the general sphere of socialpolitical existence. The harmony of both is freedom. In Lutheran sense, though, ’freedom’ means a freedom of conscience, given by God to man, so that man could grasp God’s word self-sufficently, without the need of mediators, such as the catholic saints. Luther though hadn’t intended a christianity without any
4 5

Dierken: Hegels ’protestantisches prinzip’, in Hegel-Studien Bf. 38, 125. Marcuse: An essay on authority, in: Studies in critical philosophy, p.56-79., Skinner: Foundations of modern political thought, Volume II.: Reformation, p.12-19. 6 Mitchell: Protestant thought and republican spirit, p. 693.

church, he had a vision about christian man ultimately (but by the help of the church) acting as his own judge and priest in matters of faith. Luther would not be a christian, if he would mind too much this earthly business, instead of favouring faith above all, and the choiches that enable man to achieve salvation. This means, that clearly we have a problem with Hegel’s theological approach. (Or rather with the theological consequences of his philosophy.) We must again quote Dierken’s precise formulation:

„Luther’s interpetation of lordship, his christology, and his narrower theory of doctrine of grace are barely mentioned; he {Hegel}places the concept of free will on a specific mode in the reformation’s sphere of action, and whiteswashes its influence on the political world.”7 What Hegel seems to praise in the reformation, are a few things: the obliteration of the ascetic ideal, legitimization of loan interest, but already on Luther’s innovation of protestant interiority (Innerlichkeit) he remarks that „it led to petty pensiveness over subjective states of mind”8. Thus we must draw the conclusion: Hegel seems rather to praise achievements of reformation, which were reached in several centuries, and are fairly young sometimes, instead of the original Reformation. Yet, regardless of how selective his interpretation of reformation was, he was clearly aware that the original goals of the Reformation were not in accordance with these achievements he praises.9 Regarding the problem of the consecrated host (a chief theological dispute between catholics and protestants), Hegel showed himself to be a true protestant, taking an orthodox protestant stance, even more so, because he mocked the catholic doctrine, that the host becomes sacred after consecration, by pointing out that a mouse eating it may even produce sacred excrement.

Such remarks in ’épater le bourgeois’ fashion couldn’t have prevented Luther from excommunicating from the church someone; who stated that philosophy and religion are two separate ways to get hold of the same subject,11 (so that faith has no precedence over philosophy), who refrained from talking about the immortality of the soul, and who interprets God’s essence in terms which differ
7 8

Dierken, op. cit. p.126. In the discourses on the philosophy of history, quotes Dierken: op. cit. p. 126. 9 See Hegel’s speech at the tricentenary of the Augsburg Confession, in: Hegel: Political writings, p.190. 10 Berliner Schriften,p. 68. 11 SW Bd. 15a, p.191-193.

greatly from the sources given by faith, and moreover, even contradict them. The several centuries long reception of the Reformation should be -more critically than in the past- separated from the original reformers. The Reformation always had several factions, with differing opinions and vehemently disputing leaders, and its various new forms (like neologism, or pietism) brought new elements into its spiritual realm. Some of those new elements would be unacceptable for the intentions of original reformers. Seeing this, we must separate Hegel’s protestant principle more from the theology of the historical Luther, because we seem not to have enough proof to closely relate them to each other. We can just see how close they are by a comprehensive analysis of Hegel’s protestant principle and his views on protestantism. Now there appears to be some problems with Rosenkranz’s Hegel-inspired theory about reformation, even more so if we take into account that even Rosenkranz admitted that Hegel had many protestant enemies: the anglican church, the pietists. Both have been attributed by Rosenkranz with a negative connotation: the english churchmen are rich but empty-headed, the pietists are hierarchical. So far it’s fairly obvious that the catholic church had no reason to like Hegel (and that may reinforce the argument of Hegel’s protestantism), but it’s more curious that many protestants also attacked Hegel. Hegel –as everyone knows-was already in his lifetime in a serious debate with Schleiermacher about the exact substance of christian religion. It’s perhaps less known, that a young man, called Schubarth –whom Hegel helped to find a job-attacked Hegel’s philosophy of right in 1839, claiming that it is incompatible with the Prussian state’s „life and evolution-principle”.12 According to Schubarth, protestantism is the principle of personalness, and cannot be brought into harmony with an objectivist philosophical system, which engulfs subjectivity. Besides this, for Hegel the king just „puts the icing on the cake”, therefore Hegel is very much of a republican, unlike true protestant Prussians should be. Contemporaries, so it seems, weren’t so convinced about Hegel’s protestantism, whether in regards to philosophy or to religion. It’s therefore a justified question, if we ask what does Hegel’s protestant principle









Materialen, p.249-267.

protestantism, and Hegel’s connection with it, unproblematic.) Where is the origin of Hegel’s protestant theory and what limitations apply to this theory? Popular and philosophical consiousness rarely puts up this question, in its entirety. Nietzsche claimed to see near the cradle of German philosophy the protestant pastor (and his sinister shadow). Dilthey emphasized the „oldprotestant” moral values (altprotestantisch) of Hegel’s family.13 Georg Lasson even states that protestantism is the religion of german idealism. 14 Hegel himself was called „the protestant Thomas Aquinas” by Oswald Spengler.15 No question: classical German philosophy was strongly influenced by protestantism. After all, it was put forward by protestants, or people with protestant education. Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel were brought up in protestant families, culture, and society, and proceeded accordingly in philosophy, just as their readers and followers did. One result of this was that they had no need to criticise the overlordship of Rome over the local church, or the wealth of their priests and their social stance, because those things were not in that state, as in France. The French enlightenment spent a considerable effort on criticising christian ascetism, the celibacy of priests, and all problems thereof. Protestants had little problem with these, even though christian ethics was no way immune to criticism in the age of enlightenment. In a wider sense protestant culture influenced the everydays, and even the philosophy of these illustrious philosophers. Fichte almost became a preacher in the prussian army prepairing to move against Napoleon, Kant received a pietist upbringing, Hegel was educated primarily to be a protestant minister: protestantism belonged to the „Lebenswelt” of these authors as electricity or concrete highways belong to ours. It’s evident that in most cases in which they thought about christianity, it was the evangelical christian church they thought about, besides the Bible, of course. Yet we must keep in mind every time when we examine a philosophical position, that we can’t be (or shouldn’t be) satisfied with registering everyday influences or mere cultural factors. If we intend to point out religious connotations in philosophical theories, then first we must exactly analyse these connotations, whether they are conscious or unconscious. Also, we must trace
13 14

Dilthey: Jugendgeschichte Hegels, p.5. quotes: Tadeusz Guz: Zum Gottesbegriff G. W. F. Hegels, p.143. 15 Spengler: Untergangs des Abendlandes

the origin of religious influences in the context of the work, both historically and theoretically, since religious elements may be mere theorethical constructions, or cultural references transplanted from the spiritual surroundings. In Hegel we have a seemingly clear case, since Hegel himself apparently claimed protestant influences in his philosophy.16 In spite of this, placing these influences under a magnifying glass seems sometimes to be a task worthy of Hercules. The first reason of this is that Hegel’s early philosophical evolution shows us a considerable distancing from christianity under the influence of Rousseau’s antiquity- inspired spirit, and Kant’s „Vernunftreligion”.(Religion of reason.) In my opinion, the accurate research of the recent decades reinforces the picture, that the mature Hegel posessed a conscious, philosophical conception of protestantism, which is rather a continuation of Hegel’s problems than a radical break with them, but also means the denial of some of his early ideas. Hegel raises his culturally protestant background by no means into the height of a philosophical theory, which is apparent already by his younghood, in which he distanced himself from that protestant background, just like many of his contemporaries. Therefore it’s rather misleading and unfortunate, to label him as a „the protestant Thomas Aquinas”17 On the one hand his path to protestantism is a controversial way, on the other hand, his protestant principle is a philosophical idea for him. Under this term I mean a theoretical construct which does not apply sentiments or religious rhetorics (at least in great quantity) and uses little inherited cultural context. Indeed, if Hegel wanted to argue for protestantism, he had to argue for a philosophical idea of it, not for a religious faction, with which one identifies herself on partially personal, conventional grounds. Hegel thus couldn’t and in my opinion didn’t merely support his own church with his theories, rather he rediscovered its value according to philosophical ideas, and constructed an ideal protestantism. He approached religion from philosophy, rather than approaching philosophy from religion. In accordance with this, Adriaan Peperzak calls Hegel’s protestantism „faith in reason” and considers his protestant principle to be Hegel’s peculiar concept,

The most characteristical claims of Hegel regarding the protestant nature of his philosophy are: The introduction of the Philosophy of right, where Hegel writes that the „more mature Spirit” follows Luther in the subjective understanding of truth „to be liberated in the present”, and Hegel’s letter to Schulze in 1826. (Hegel:Berliner Schriften,p. 68.) 17 Thomas Aquinas was a deeply religious catholic, who tried to bring his scholastic philosophy into harmony with the doctrines of church. Hegel-contrary to him- left his protestant background emotionally and theoretically already as a young man, and he was way more suspicious regarding the validity of his religious faith.

which greatly differs from a Luther, who was rather hostile to philosophy in general, and Aristotle in peculiar.18 Hegel himself wrote in his letter to Tholuck that philosophy reinforced his lutheran faith even more.19 Walter Jaeschke speaks about Hegel’s „political protestantism”, reinforced specially against the rising catholic reaction in the 1820’s.20 Hegel in an another letter, written to Niethammer, identifies protestanism as a form of education. Of course, after having brought his philosophy in harmony with Christianity –which he considered to be an important spiritual driving force in history-he could easily confess to be religious, moreover, he could have sincere religious feelings. About this he wrote very much, and we have no right and no reason to call his sentiment’s validity in question. Yet we must not forget that in regard to the origins of his philosophy such confessions and sentiments tell us nothing that is valuable. Also, we must remember that since this religiousness was preceeded by philosophy, we must understand the preceeding philosophical theory first. Having a philosophically formed religion, a religion of philosophers, instead of that of simple believers, wasn’t Hegel’s own invention. It was indeed much common in the age of enlightenment, and thereafter, when in romanticism religion’s value in politics and culture was reconsidered, but still the enlightenment criticism wasn’t fully erased. And what is more, philosophy was just needed to turn religion into a form of culture, and a form of history, justifying its existence in a historical way. Pure faith (something like a Biblical faith of a puritan) without any philosophy was always a rarity, and it’s doubtful we can impute such a religion even to Luther, or to highly educated persons like Melanchthon or Jean Calvin. We cannot attempt here to analyse the protestant-principle of the mature Hegel in Berlin, just to expose as much details as we need for the hermenutical intentions of this present thesis. What matters here is, that prominent researchers and the general opinion of Hegel-research consider Hegel’s protestant principle to be a politically inspired theoretical construct, instead of being a cultural background, or merely personal sentiment, woven into philosophy.21 Therefore, the real question is not the origin, but the goal of this

„Faith in reason is Hegel’s religion.” This is a faith in the idea that „the entire truth of Christianity can be comprehended by a philosophy, whose basis is found in reason alone” Peperzaak: Modern freedom, p.634. 19 Briefe, IV/2 61. 20 Jaeschke: Hegel-Handbuch, p.395-397. 21 Naturally, there are authors who hold Hegel to be the embodiement of philosophical lutheranism, like Tadeusz Guz, a polish catholic philosopher. We will briefly examine the views of Guz later in this foreword.

theory, and the exact details of its components and their evolution. For example, opinions differ about just how political Hegel’s idea of protestantism is, or when and why it became stronger and more expressed in his works. If we manage to fully comprehend that Hegel’s „protestantism” was a philosophy, it’s now easier to see why his opposition, and why a fight could break out between his opponents and his followers just around his protestantism and philosophy of religion, while they could had found many other things to focus on instead. But his views on religion and protestantism were key questions of the time, and the local, Prussian politics. Hegel very consiously never separated religion from politics, but stressed their connection to each other just adding fuel to the fire. Schleiermacher Many of his late works in Berlin, -the fierce disputes with for examplejust show that he thought religion, and

protestantism to be key grounds of the battle to be fought for political ideas, and eventually for philosophical ideas as well. It makes sense that people like Schubarth attacked him there, where he seemed to be the weakest in the current political arena. Also the attacker’s zeal: if protestantism is indeed the key component of the prussian state, the „Prussian Being”, then any false idea thereof might be dangerous. The problem of religion was well connected to Hegel’s theoretical presuppisitions as well to his political views, thus forming a good focal point for critics. If Hegel had in fact been indeed some generally recognized, nay, official philosopher of protestantism (the united reformed churches of Prussia) and the prussian state, this would be utterly incomprehensible. But regardless of the clear historical proof that he had not been anything like that, he was frequently portrayed as such.(Already by the vengeful Schopenhauer, later by Popper, etc.) Today we clearly know that Hegel wasn’t a „philosophical dictator” (not to mention, this title sounds unrealistic too) and that he wasn’t „prussian state philosopher’s as well (another awkward idea)22, but his exact approach to protestantism is still covered by layers of cloud. So, the first question we need to answer about that, is the way how Hegel crossed from being a thinker under the influence of enlightenment, criticising religion sharply, even a bit nietzschean in style, to a concept of religion which finally turns his philosophy into the opposite, and makes him value Christianity and protestantism. Christianity for him first appeared to be alienated, having been grounded on objective doctrines and rites. After subsequent changes in his

See the remarkable summary of Erzsébet Rózsa: Hegel gazdaságfilozófiája.

philosophy of religion, he gradually started to characterise it as a religion of absolute subjectivity. Christianity taken as such was paired with protestantism in theory, the latter forming the most mature form of christian religion in Hegel’s philosophy. Hegel revalued protestantism but for this he had to reevaluate the entire christianity first. This is something we must examine closely. The second question is, finding out the exact meaning and position of Hegel’s protestant theory in the 19th century political-philosophical world, takes us to the problems of 19th century politics, leaving behind the specific terrain of the philosophy of religion and of history. Here the question is: what did Hegel’s protestant principle originally mean in its political context? How does Hegel reevaluate protestantism from historical aspects? So this question deals with both the practical and the theoretical side of the protestant problem. With this point of the study we also get the problem of German national identity. The Reformation had an enormous role in shaping the German nation’s selfawareness, therefore was it so widely disputed in Germany. (And Hegel even attached modernity to protestantism thus making it even more important.) Hegel viewed protestantism’s connection to Germany initially in a way that turned the traditional narrative upside down. As we noted earlier, protestantism wasn’t just a historical problem in Hegel’s age, and for long thereafter. In the age of Bismarck, the German empire was created around protestant German identity. Therefore a „Kulturkampf” had to be fought for protestantism’s cultural supremacy in the state. One of the reasons for this was the idea that the catholic first and foremost owes his allegiance to the pope, thus to a foreign power. Protestantism and catholicism were until late in the 20th century (and sometimes even later) strong political forces as well as christian factions, and most of the times religion’s political and social influence was naturally acknowledged. Just as religion was a political problem first and foremost for Machiavelli, Rousseau and Hobbes (and not metaphysical, or confessional) it was a political problem mainly for Hegel and even Bismarck. The Prussian state has a long tradition of claiming that it is a protestant power. It gained ideological support for the machiavellian wars of Frederick II. (who was an enlightenment deist) and it contributed to the national legend about Prussia’s mission in history. (The last thing which remained of this was the inscription, which adorned the German soldiers’ buckles: „God is with us.”) Ironically though, before Frederick II’s silesian wars, the Prussian policy favoured an alliance with Austria, and was frequently allied with France too. Yet,

they were always eager to rally protestant supporters under their flags.23 Hegel himself regarded Frederick the Great to be a great protestant hero, despite his apparent faithlessness.24 This second question will not be fully answered in this thesis, because we limit our survey to till the end of Jena-period. It is why I thought it necessary to explain my core views on Hegel’s protestant principle and his general connection to protestantism. Now it’s important to note that we can’t say anything about Hegel’s protestantism unless we examine the above presented two questions and their details. Or what we can say are mainly erroneous, cliched ideas. There is an idea I consider to be such, presented by the polish theologianphilosopher Tadeusz Guz: „Formally and in content both dialectics concur. Luther and Hegel build their thinking on one principle::>>to get to position through the negation of negation <<”...Przywara rightly emphasized , that Hegel’s formulation of the contradiction-principle is the final philosophical form of Luther’s concept of God.”25 It does is not within the scope of our present discussion how exactly Guz gets to this conclusion. He gets it by comparing Luther and Hegel, and he finds Hegel’s theoretical origins in Luther’s theology. But Guz is not really convincing, not just because this reasoning compares a theological system to a philosophical one, which was taken out of its original context, and deprived of it’s content. But Guz goes further, and he says nothing important about Hegel’s Berne and Frankfurtperiods. He leaves out Hegel’s criticisms of christianity and protestantism intentionally, and his enlightenment-deist background. Instead of telling us about this early, not really protestant Hegel, he quotes repeatedly well-known authors, who try to reassure us that Hegel was indeed protestant. There were always prominent philosophers who gave great publicity to obsolete, or even entirely

Contemporary historians frequently attribute prussian success to the discipline and ethos of duty created by protestantism..”In pietism must we see one root of special preussentum-writes Hans Joachim Schoeps. „Its second root is the calvinism of the royal family, and the third is the neo-stoic thinking which came from Holland.”(Schoeps: Preussen, p.48.) A more elaborate survey on that in: Philip S. Gorski: The protestant ethic and the spirit of bureaucracy, in: American Sociological Review, Vol. 60, No. 5, p. 783-786. 24 Elisabeth Weisser-Lohmann: Reformation und Friedrich II in den Geschichtsphilosophischen Vorlesungen Hegels,(in: Hegel-Studien Beiheft 38, p.95-121.) 25 Tadeusz Guz: Zum Gottesbegriff G. W. F. Hegels,p. 235-236.

false ideas. We have no duty to believe in such philosophical narratives, which are sometimes false, and sometimes downright gossip-like. It would be thus much more scientific to place and prove these statements into the original, contextual evolution of the hegelian philosophy, than to merely quote them. We must remember, than even stating something about ourselves may be just false, even more so false can be statements about others. Guz not only argues, that the mature Hegel created a system which is identical to the theology of Luther, (that alone is not our subject of research) but that his philosophy came straightforwardly from religion, and that he was always a true protestant believer. I think these statements can easely be called in question. Such ideas helped to create partially, and uphold those opinions about Hegel, which consider him to be an obscurantist thinker, driven by religion (or more like superstition) into false heights of speculations, a creator of lifeless dogmatism. This „theologist” view of Hegel can be of course, paired with another, more positive valuations. (Guz himself-rather typically-names Hegel’s dialectics „destructive” „murderous” and places the blame on him for the disunion of christianity.) In my opinion, Hegel was neither a dogmatic, nor a theologian. And certainly not murderous as well. He created inspiring and controversial ideas, and these ideas help us in our philosophical meditation regarding modernity and ourselves. He is –just like every philosopher worthy to be called such-open to be called into a serious debate, to be criticised, or even-should someone decide sobe neglected. But if we hope to learn from a thinker, who mesmerized great philosophers and ages, we must eagerly and rationally research and debate his theories, instead of providing our questions with cheap, makeshift answers. It is my sincere hope then, that my dissertation sheds light on Hegel’s evolution regarding the philosophy of religion, and on the protestant principle (in its connection to other philosophical disciplines) until the end of Jena-period. This is the path he traversed while being on his spiritual journey from late enlightenment up to his own dialectics, „absolute idealism” as he called it. The present dissertation can’t provide a comprehensive study about Hegel’s philosophy of religion or about the protestant principle, as this study ends in Jena. As we all know, most of the sources (and the maybe the best and most popular ones) dealing with Hegel protestant ideas originate from the Berlin-era, and that era falls outside out of our current scope. We just examine the premises

and in Jena we already see the firm theoretical ground on which Hegel had built his protestant principle. (It should be noted, that having more sources from Hegel’s Berne and Frankfurt periods would be a splendid opportunity for most Hegel-researchers, and we can even venture to say, that the exact story may never be told fully without them, but the reality is, that we can’t expect much important documents to resurface in the near future, which could bring radical changes in our analysis.) There is a great deal of confusion about Hegel’s Berne and Frankfurt –periods, and this study therefore tries to bring order into this confusing mess of opinions, details and legends. It this enterprise succeeds at least limitedly, then the author is statisfied. While in the process of dissecting this problematic, we will first concentrate on Hegel’s spiritual surroundings, namely late-enlightenment, more specifically on the problem of civil religion, on Rousseau and Lessing as important influences on Hegel, and naturally, Kant, another potent source. Thereafter we attempt to reconstruct Hegel’s early philosophy and religion, and his view of protestantism, in the mirror of historical and philosophical reflection. Basically, most of this will mean to follow Hegel’s changing opinion on Kant’s philosophy of religion, and connected to it, his idea of refomation. Of course, such enterprise would be highly unlikely, without a glance at general contemporary philosophy, and historical problems. Also, important interpretators of Hegel must be taken into account for each crucial step. Therefore I spent much effort to show contradicting opinions in important matters, if those opinions came from prominent scholars. I tried to mention classic interpretations as well, like that of Dilthey, and to connect to a serious interpretation: that of Georg Lukács. Lukács presents a good balance to even some of the modern interpetations, although, being biased and aged, his book on the young Hegel leaves much to be desired. Lukács though had a great merit for us hungarians: he presented the first internationally acknowledged, serious study on Hegel, written by a hungarian. This book –despite it’s numerous shortcomings-is a valuable inspiration even today. I hoped to do justice to Hegel, but to modern and well-established scholars as well: all of them deserve it.

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