Hegel's Trinitarian Claim

A Critical Reflection

By Dale M. Schlitt

Subjects: Hegel, Philosophy Of Religion, Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438443744, 401 pages, December 2012
Hardcover : 9781438443751, 401 pages, December 2012

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Table of contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition
Abbreviations of Works by Hegel
Introduction: Hegel’s Trinitarian Claim
Part I: Logic—Hegel’s Reformulation of the True Content of Trinity
1. Logic as Movement of Trinitarian Divine Subjectivity
Logic—the Movement of Pure Thought
The Movement of Self-determining Subjectivity
The Self-determining of the Divine Subject
The Necessarily Triadic Structure of the Self-determining Divine Subject
The Logic as Elaboration of Hegel’s Trinitarian Claim
2. Hegel’s Logic of Pure Thought
Through Etwasi to Being
The Primordial, Elementary Movement of Pure Thought
Summary Remarks on the Structure of Hegel’s Dialectic
Critique of the Primordial, Elementary Movement of Pure Thought
The Determinate Nature of Any Beginning—Implications for Trinity
Part II: Hegel’s Explicit Trinitarian Texts
3. Overview of Hegel’s Trinitarian Thought and a Criterion for the Phenomenology
Transition to Hegel’s Explicit Trinitarian Texts
Hegel’s Syllogistically Structured Explicitly Trinitarian Thought
Guiding Concerns in Approaching the Phenomenology
Toward a Criterion for Critiquing the Phenomenology
A Criterion for Hegel’s Argument in the Phenomenology
4. The Incarnational Immediacy of Trinitarian reconciliation in the Phenomenology
Preliminary, Contextualizing Remarks
Reconciliation in Its Incarnational Immediacy and Trinitarian Explicitation
Critique of Trinitarian Reconciliation in Incarnational Immediacy
Implications for Trinity and for the Self
5. Trinitarian Reconciliation in Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion Lectures
Introduction and Context
Syllogistically Structured Trinitarian Divine Subjectivity in the 1827 Lectures
Critique of Trinitarian Reconciliation as Spiritual Community
The Formal Triadic Structure of Becoming
Part Three: Reconstructing Hegel’s Trinitarian Envisionment
4. From Finite to Infinite
Recapitulative Overview
The Contours of Hegel’s Finite “and” Infinite
From Finitude to Tradically Structured Inclusive Infinite
Toward a Reformulation of Hegel’s Trinitarian Claim
Postscript: From Thought to Experience

Landmark study of Hegel’s arguments for God as Trinity.


Hegel's philosophical interpretation of Trinity as a dialectically developing movement of Spirit is one of the most profound readings of Trinity in Western thought. In Hegel's Trinitarian Claim, Dale M. Schlitt provides a careful, detailed presentation of this claim in Hegel's major published works and in his lectures on the philosophy of religion, taking a critical look at how Hegel presents his claim that to think of God as subject and person one must think of God as Trinity. Although agreeing with Hegel's conclusion, Schlitt argues on the basis of an immanent critique of Hegel's thought that Hegel is not able to defend that claim in the way in which he proposes to do so. Schlitt argues instead that Hegel's trinitarian claim can be justified when Spirit is no longer seen as a movement of thought but as a movement of enriching experience. This close analysis provides an excellent point of entry into the wider study and critical consideration of Hegel's systematic philosophical project as a whole. Originally published in 1984 and available now in paperback for the first time, this edition features a new preface and postscript.

Currently Research Professor in Philosophy and Theology at the Oblate School of Theology, Dale M. Schlitt spent many years at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. His books include Divine Subjectivity: Understanding Hegel's Philosophy of Religion and Experience and Spirit: A Post-Hegelian Philosophical Theology.


"…the book impressively treats the breadth of Hegel's work … Schlitt's [book] gives a deeply detailed and thoroughly articulated account of Hegel's approaches to Trinity, as well as of the expansive secondary resources on Hegel's Trinitarian thought. " — Hegel Bulletin

Praise for the First Edition

"…the 'demythologizing' of such notions as reconciliation, incarnation, and trinity takes place more or less everywhere [in Hegel's system as a whole]. Any one of these can be fruitfully taken … as a hermeneutical key for exposition of Hegelian thought in its totality. Just as fruitfully, any of these central themes can be the focus of critical evaluation. This splendid study undertakes both of these tasks with reference to the trinitarian theme … Schlitt's book has a comprehensive depth that makes it a worthy successor to Jörg Splett's 1965 monograph, Die Trinitätslehre G. W. F. Hegels. Its massive supply of footnotes is almost a second book, a Literaturbericht that is especially thorough in its treatment of the German materials of the last several decades. " — Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"[This study] treats its subject matter at a high level of reflection, in continual discussion with secondary literature and on the newly established basis of texts [distinguishing the four series of Hegel's] lectures on the philosophy of religion. Schlitt's thesis … is embedded in thorough presentations and subtle, focused discussions, which serve as well to inform American readers about ongoing discussions in Germany and France … a high-quality, comprehensive study. " — Theologie und Philosophie