Hegel’s Lectures on the Proofs of the Existence of God

Hegel’s lectures have had as great a historical impact as the works he himself published. Important elements of his system are elaborated only in the lectures, especially those given in Berlin during the last decade of his life. The original editors conflated materials from different sources and dates, obscuring the development and logic of Hegel’s thought.

Hegel lectured on the proofs of the existence of God as a separate topic in 1829. He also discussed the proofs in the context of his lectures on the philosophy of religion (1821-31), where the different types of proofs were considered mostly in relation to specific religions. The text that he prepared for his lectures in 1829 was a fully formulated manuscript and appears to have been the first draft of a work that he intended to publish and for which he signed a contract shortly before his death in 1831. The 16 lectures include an introduction to the problem of the proofs and a detailed discussion of the cosmological proof. Philipp Marheineke published these lectures in 1832 as an appendix to the lectures on the philosophy of religion, together with an earlier manuscript fragment on the cosmological proof and the treatment of the teleological and ontological proofs as found in the 1831 philosophy of religion lectures.

Hegel’s 1829 lectures on the proofs are of particular importance because they represent what he actually wrote as distinct from auditors’ transcriptions of oral lectures. Moreover, they come late in his career and offer his final and most seasoned thinking on a topic of obvious significance to him, that of the reality status of God and ways of knowing God. These materials show how Hegel conceived the connection between the cosmological, teleological, and ontological proofs.

All of this material has been newly translated by Peter C. Hodgson from the German critical editions by Walter Jaeschke. This edition includes an editorial introduction and annotations on the text.

The translation was published by Oxford University Press in 2007 and replicated in its entirety in digital form by Simon Gros in January 2023, a work done as an independent student without prior authorisation purely for private use and study purposes. The page numbers and footnote numbers in this digital edition do not correspond to the printed book and are therefore not fit for citation purposes. The source of the text has been a defect digital copy of the book which is sold online, but which contained a lot of errors due to improper digital handling of the book, for example spelling errors due to automatic text recognition, mixed order of footnotes, a lot of formatting errors, etc. and therefore needed a complete reconstruction of the book to be properly read at all. Due to the great possibility of a few of these editorial and transcription errors still remaining even after manual review, this copy is also not meant to replace the physical book, which should still be used for scholarly purposes.

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