In a Post-Hegelian Spirit: Philosophical Theology as Idealistic Discontent, Gary Dorrien

Gary Dorrien expounds in this book the religious philosophy underlying his many magisterial books on modern theology, social ethics, and political philosophy. His constructive position is liberal-liberationist and post-Hegelian, reflecting his many years of social justice activism and what he calls "my dance with Hegel." Hegel, he argues, broke open the deadliest assumptions of Western thought by conceiving being as becoming and consciousness as the social-subjective relation of spirit to itself; yet his white Eurocentric conceits were grotesquely inflated even by the standards of his time. Dorrien emphasizes both sides of this Hegelian legacy, contending that it takes a great deal of digging and refuting to recover the parts of Hegel that still matter for religious thought.

April 16, 2020

From the Reviews:

Gary Dorrien has written a masterpiece of religious philosophy. He argues for a religious philosophy that he carefully presents, in post-Hegelian terms, as a theology of divine becoming--renewing Christian theology with philosophical rigor and a passion for truth.  Hille Haker, Richard McCormick Endowed Chair of Ethics, Loyola University Chicago

Brilliant! A thorough delight to read, Dorrien is deeply insightful, thought-provoking, comprehensive, and nuanced. If ever a book deserved to be called a tour-de-force, it is this one.  Mary Doak, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Diego

Gary Dorrien effectively demonstrates why we are never done reading Hegel. His book is a beautiful argument, in exquisite detail, for the continual relevance of idealistic discontent. James M. McLachlan, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Western Carolina University

Lifelong aficionado of Hegel and pre-eminent historian of American religious thought Gary Dorrien takes us on a journey through modern philosophical theology through a Hegelian lens. With characteristic wit, incisive critique, and synthetic ability, he dips into the deep storehouse of his own discoveries and reflections. Dorrien persuasively appropriates Hegel as a philosopher of love who championed the dialectical, unifying, intersubjective power of Spirit, but in a genuinely post-Hegelian way that contributes to a liberationist form of idealism and a pluralist, relational, liberal-liberationist theology. Jennifer G. Jesse, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Truman State University

Dorrien’s book exemplifies liberal theology and its scope is enormous, running from Kant, Hegel, and Schleiermacher to liberation theology to Whiteheadian process theology. It is a book that truly deserves to be called a tour-de-force. David Ray Griffin, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University

By distilling his signature argument about the role of post-Kantian idealism in modern Christian thought, Dorrien fashions a liberationist form of religious idealism: a religious philosophy that is simultaneously both Hegelian—as it expounds a fluid, holistic, open, intersubjective, ambiguous, tragic, and reconciliatory idea of revelation—and post-Hegelian, as it rejects the deep-seated flaws in Hegel’s thought. Dorrien mines Kant, Schleiermacher, and Hegel as the foundation of his argument about intellectual intuition and the creative power of subjectivity. After analyzing critiques of Hegel by Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, Karl Barth, and Emmanuel Levinas, Dorrien contends that though these monumental figures were penetrating in their assessments, they appear one-sided compared to Hegel. In a Post-Hegelian Spirit further engages with the personal idealist tradition founded by Borden Parker Bowne, the process tradition founded by Alfred North Whitehead, and the daring cultural contributions of Paul Tillich, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosemary Radford Ruether, David Tracy, Peter Hodgson, Edward Farley, Catherine Keller, and Monica Coleman.

Dispelling common interpretations that Hegel’s theology simply fashioned a closed system, Dorrien argues instead that Hegel can be interpreted legitimately in six different ways and is best interpreted as a philosopher of love who developed a Christian theodicy of love divine. Hegel expounded a process theodicy of God salvaging what can be salvaged from history, even as his tragic sense of the carnage of history cuts deep, lingering at Calvary.