Sunday, February 8, 2009

Providence and Reason Revisited

In view of our discussion last time concerning the relation between Providence and Reason, I thought it might be helpful to call attention to something Hegel says in Chapter Three: “. . .for Reason is the perception of God’s work” (p.39). It seems to me that Hegel is suggesting in these two chapters that Providence and Reason both refer to God’s plan, only when it’s called “Providence,” it remains internal to God and unknowable to humankind, as in “It’s God’s will and therefore must be for the best. It is not given to us to understand His reasons, and so we must simply have faith.” This is the laziness of religion that Hegel referred to in Chapter Two. But philosophy recognizes God’s plan as “Reason” and so within the capability of human being to understand. As I’m fond of saying in my classes, “You’re not going to find something you don’t think is there.” So it is essential for Hegel in this, the Introduction to the Philosophy of History, to make this distinction between religion and philosophy clear to his students, thereby making a course in the Philosophy of History possible.

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