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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Fall
By Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831)
 
        
From the ‘Philosophy of History’
  
  [The “Fall” is the eternal mythus of man, stating the arrival of man to a deeper consciousness of his true self,—his union with the divine-human and his wide separation between his real and his ideal; the necessity for a reconciliation of the two. A further interpretation of the Old Testament doctrine of the fall of man and the history of the chosen people.]

THE FALL is therefore the eternal Mythus of Man; in fact, the very transition by which he becomes man. Persistence in this standpoint is, however, Evil, and the feeling of pain at such a condition, and of longing to transcend it, we find in David, when he says: “Lord, create for me a pure heart, a new steadfast Spirit.” This feeling we observe even in the account of the Fall; though an announcement of reconciliation is not made there, but rather one of continuance in misery. Yet we have in this narrative the prediction of reconciliation in the sentence, “The Serpent’s head shall be bruised;” but still more profoundly expressed where it is stated that when God saw that Adam had eaten of that tree, he said, “Behold, Adam is become as one of us, knowing Good and Evil.” God confirms the words of the Serpent. Implicitly and explicitly, then, we have the truth that man through Spirit—through cognition of the Universal and the Particular—comprehends God himself. But it is only God that declares this,—not man; the latter remains, on the contrary, in a state of internal discord. The joy of reconciliation is still distant from humanity; the absolute and final repose of his whole being is not yet discovered to man. It exists, in the first instance, only for God. As far as the present is concerned, the feeling of pain at his condition is regarded as a final award. The satisfaction which man enjoys at first, consists in the finite and temporal blessings conferred on the Chosen Family and the possession of the Land of Canaan. His repose is not found in God. Sacrifices are, it is true, offered to Him in the Temple, and atonement made by outward offerings and inward penitence. But that mundane satisfaction in the Chosen Family, and its possession of Canaan, was taken from the Jewish people in the chastisement inflicted by the Roman Empire. The Syrian kings did indeed oppress it, but it was left for the Romans to annul its individuality. The Temple of Zion is destroyed; the God-serving nation is scattered to the winds. Here every source of satisfaction is taken away, and the nation is driven back to the standpoint of that primeval Mythus,—the standpoint of that painful feeling which humanity experiences when thrown upon itself. Opposed to the universal Fatum of the Roman World, we have here the consciousness of Evil and the direction of the mind Godwards. All that remains to be done is, that this fundamental idea should be expanded to an objective universal sense, and be taken as the concrete existence of man—as the completion of his nature. Formerly the Land of Canaan, and themselves as the people of God, had been regarded by the Jews as that concrete and complete existence. But this basis of satisfaction is now lost, and thence arises the sense of misery and failure of hope in God, with whom that happy reality had been essentially connected. Here, then, misery is not the stupid immersion in a blind Fate, but a boundless energy of longing. Stoicism taught only that the Negative is not—that pain must not be recognized as a veritable existence: but Jewish feeling persists in acknowledging Reality and desires harmony and reconciliation within its sphere; for that feeling is based on the Oriental Unity of Nature,—i.e., the unity of Reality, of Subjectivity, with the substance of the One Essential Being. Through the loss of mere outward reality Spirit is driven back within itself; the side of reality is thus refined to Universality, through the reference of it to the One.  1
 
 
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