Hegel, Kierkegaard and Heidegger on christianity
Hegel, Kierkegaard and Heidegger all had a view on christianity, especially in the protestant sense. For Hegel, protestantism was more advanced than catholism, since the former in his view correlated more closely to his philosophical ”truth”. Even so, Hegel viewed protestantism as an ”outdated” mode of philosophy. For Hegel, philosophy's ”absolute” outdates christian religion, since according to him, they have basicly the same purpose: to get over the negativity of man, which manifests in religion still on a subjective level. Religion's subjectivity is immediate subjectivity even in it's concreteness, i.e. in it's affirmation and negation. For Hegel, religion's subjectivity is as an isolated subject in relation to the communal subject, but without having at the same time a concrete object neither in it's singleness and universality. A religious subject is here ”concrete”, i.e. particular and universal, but in a subjective sense. For Hegel, philosophy get's over this supposed ”one-sidedness” of the supposedly philosophical thinking of religion by being more total, i.e. absolute in it's subjective and objective concreteness. Since Hegel supposes that religion is about the ultimate ”ground” (Grund) of existence (Existenz) in the philosophical sense, he thinks that his philosophy succeeds better than religion on this grounding of the ground, which is to be the first according to which everything else has it's beginning (Ursprung).
One could agree with Kierkegaard, that Hegel's concept of religion is quite preposterous, as is his ”solution” for it, or rather ab-solution of it by throwing the problem away. Kierkegaard tries to solve this problem another way, but on the same level, since he's still talking about christianity through philosophy. Kierkegaard doesn't have or propose a genuine philosophical resolution to the problems posed by Hegel's philosophy, even though he's tangled in philosophical problematic all the way through. Without going more deeply in to his thinking, the key concept here is the 'Subjekt' as 'Existent'. By 'existence' Kierkegaard means being (Tilværelsen) in contrast to ”thinking” as something objective in Hegel's sense, i.e. universal even in it's concrete meaning. For Kierkegaard, religion is grounded on the grounds (forudsætninger) of subjective existence, not the concrete spirit of Hegel's philosophy, but it's still a 'Grund' in the usual philosophical sense, i.e. 'archē' as the ruling ruler for validity, the ground which determines all that comes after it and keeps within it's realm either as valid or invalid. Eventhough Kierkegaard has in some sense valid points about christianity, these are mere accidents, which somehow made their way rather through despite Kierkegaard and not because of him.
Heidegger's “concept”, or rather structure for existence (Existenz) is not the same as Kierkegaard's, even though they share some characteristics. Heidegger also took some part in the debate about the 'Grund' of protestant christianity, while at the same time dividing philosophy from theology. Heidegger accomplished early a philosophy better grounded than Hegel's, but and also partly because he kept philosophy and religion apart. For Heidegger, christianity indeed does have a philosophical “ground”, but it's not about the philosophical structure of this ground. In this, Heidegger is quite more advanced than Hegel. Heidegger also actually tackles with the problems of Hegel's philosophy, while Kierkegaard merely laments over it. For Heidegger the ground of religion is precisely the ground as a ground, i.e. not as religion. Even though protestant christianity is not here supposed to be a ground, it's according to these grounds, i.e. as an empirical concrete “form” of quite the transcendental philosophical structures. Heidegger's 'existence' is first of all not to be understood either in Hegel's or Kierkegaard's sense. There's quite a lot of Hegel in Heidegger, but also Kierkegaard. Hegel's so called “meditation” between particular and universal objective and subjective are not far from Heidegger's being-in-the-world. However, this being-in-the-world is not infinite and must have an end in time. It's timely and final “peace” in Hegel's sense can't really be found in the world. Rather, the infinite peace Hegel longs for, much like the “apopausai te merimnas“ of Aristotle, is defined through a certain kind of concern, which strictly speaking is a way of being-in-the-world as finite as inauthentic ab-solving of one's worry, or rather clearing one's worry out of sight and mind, as if worry stopped to exist by such a sleight of hand. This worried structure of existence is not subjective in Kierkegaard's sense, nor is it total in Hegel's sense. Rather, as coming-towards-end, the “mediated” subject is it's totality as finity rounded by the foreign and irreconcilable death, even though it's not “subjective” 'Existent' as existing. This interpretation of worldliness goes beyond both Hegel and Kierkegaard, while providing a better solution also in terms of protestant christianity, i.e. Luther, with whom Heidegger was very familiar. Heidegger gives a lot of weight to Kierkegaard's subject's isolation from the mass of people by his conception of death as the wholly mine, even though subjectivity is not here in any way a synthesis of time and eternity, but only the timely coming-towards-end.
Even though the relationship between Hegel, Kierkegaard and Heidegger is pretty enlightening, something might still be said considering the finality of Heidegger's philosophy. It's not as if Heidegger's solution was the only one which could be seriously considered instead of Hegel's. Gadamer's dialogical philosophy differs in some critical aspects from Heidegger's. According to Gadamer, it's rather about being in dialogue with each other, which is decisive, i.e. the ground for even our understanding of death as the coming-towards-end. Gadamer made a point for protestant christianity differently than Heidegger, even with finesse. I've shown in my own academic studies the actual compatibility of Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics with Luther's biblical hermeneutics. At least the early Heidegger left the question about hermeneutics quite open, since it's for him about the circle in understanding, and not in interpretation, even though it's a common misunderstanding to speak about Heidegger's “circle in interpretation“. Gadamer's philosophy is in some ways harder to accommodate with protestantism, or rather with Luther, than Heidegger's, but also more rewarding and I still consider Gadamer's philosophy to be the best around, even though I'm always open to discuss it.
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