Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 October 2021
Chapter 2 introduces Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion and offers an analysis of his account of the story of the Fall from Genesis. Here Hegel develops his discussion of alienation, since the Fall is a story about how humans are alienated from themselves. It shows that alienation is a fundamental fact of human existence and not just something contingent. The chapter also introduces Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of History and presents his analysis of the alienation that was characteristic of the Roman Empire. Hegel points out that the schools of Roman philosophy—Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Skepticism—can all be seen as reactions to this. An account is given of Hegel’s analysis of Christianity, which he sees as overcoming this alienation. At the end of his lectures, Hegel claims that his own time in the 1820s has certain elements in common with the Roman Empire, when the world of culture had lost its meaning and people fell into a state of alienation and despair. Later thinkers were generally dissatisfied with Hegel’s view that it was sufficient simply to understand the nature of the contemporary crisis. They demanded a more active approach to the world.