“God Himself Is Dead”: Returning to Hegel’s Doctrine of Incarnation



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title







Hegel, incarnation, Kierkegaard, metaphysics, Nietzsche, sacrifice


This essay presents a certain defense of Hegel’s doctrine of Incarnation. For Hegel, the logic of the Incarnation constitutes not only the highest insight of religion and theology but, arguably, the key to philosophy itself, as the perfected self-knowledge of the absolute. Such knowledge is what Hegel calls “absolute knowing”, and marks the absolute reconciliation of the knowing subject and its object, substance, or in other words: of the domains of, as it were, historical knowledge and eternal truth. Hegel discovers in the Christian doctrine of Incarnation the logic of this very reconciliation of history and eternity: truth, or the absolute, coincides with the subject’s knowledge of it, which not only includes but privileges the historical “dismemberment” involved in such knowing. Only in Christianity does God dismember himself, or become historical—sacrifice himself, die—in order to know and become himself. But this “death of God” is for Hegel the very meaning of modern subjectivity. For this reason, or if Hegel is right, the Hegelian subject constitutes the sole way in which the desire of philosophy—namely, for the other that truth is—can keep itself from becoming incoherent after the death of God. It is not merely that Hegel’s doctrine of the subject remains valid despite the death of God; rather, the Hegelian subject, whose logic is incarnational and for this reason founds itself on the “death of God”, stands as the sole coherent articulation of this event, even and especially in its Nietzschean guise.

Open Access