Category Archives: Journal: Hegel Bulletin

Article: Hegel as a Theorist of Secularization


Hegel's philosophy of religion is characterized by what seems to be a deep tension. On the one hand, Hegel claims to be a Christian thinker, viewing religion, and in particular Christianity, as a manifestation of the absolute. On the other hand, however, he seems to view modernity as largely secular, devoid of authoritative claims to transcendence. Modernity is secular in the political sense of requiring the state to be neutral when it comes to matters of religion. However, it is also secular in the sense of there being no recourse to authoritative representations of a transcendent God. Drawing on Charles Taylor's view of secularization, the article focuses on the second strand of his religious thinking, exploring how Hegel can be thought of as a theorist of secularization. It is claimed that his dialectic of religious development describes a process of secularization. Ultimately, Hegel's system offers a view of the absolute as immanent, suggesting that an adequate account of religion will necessarily have to accept secularization as the end-point of spirit's development. This is how the tension between religion and secularization can be resolved.