Hegel: the deification of Mind

hegel

Fichte’s attempt to deify Subject (Human) to counterbalance Substance (Nature) had proved a failure. Philosophy was returning to although not quite trustworthy, but still more habitual for it ground of Nature. Now it was, in essence, that same Spinozan “Substance”, but somewhat modified. It was still the “Cause of Itself,” but as Its Cause now there appeared not just “It Itself”, but one of Its attributes, namely, “Mind”. Hegel himself did not believe he was returning to Nature. He was sure he kept on exploring Subject, the only difference being that now in the capacity of the Latter there appeared not Human, but Mind.

The greatest of the philosophers of Modern Times, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, was born on 27th of August, 1770, in Stuttgart, Germany. His father was a court official. Wilhelm (as the philosopher-to-be was called in the family) started his studies very early, with his mother as his first teacher. His Latin classes began when he was five.

In 1776, Wilhelm entered a gymnasium. During those years, he read voraciously and kept a diary. Especially he liked the poet F. G. Klopstock (incidentally, J. G. Fichte’s father-in-law) and writers associated with the German Enlightenment, in particular, G. E. Lessing.

In 1781, Wilhelm’s mother died, presumably from typhoid. He was 11 then. The boy and his father also caught the disease, but survived.

In 1788 Wilhelm Hegel entered the faculty of theology at Tübingen University. There, he made friends with two fellow students, the poet J. C. F. Hölderlin and another philosopher to be, F. W. J. Schelling. This friendship greatly influenced the three’s personality formation. They watched the unfolding of the French Revolution with shared enthusiasm. As a sign of their commitment to its ideals, the friends planted the “Tree of Freedom” in Tübingen’s central square.

In 1793, having graduated from the university, Hegel worked as a house tutor for several years. His manuscripts of that period largely dealt with the study of Christianity.

In 1801, Hegel submitted a thesis on the orbits of the planets at the University of Jena and became a lecturer there in logic and metaphysics. Soon his first book appeared entitled “The difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s systems of philosophy”. In parallel, Hegel and Schelling founded “The Critical Journal of Philosophy”. Interestingly, the great poet J. W. von Goethe was the minister of culture and higher education in the duchy of Saxony-Weimar, when Jena then belonged.

In 1806, Napoleon entered Jena. Hegel welcomed this event, regarding the French emperor as an “extraordinary man, whom it is impossible not to admire”. Moreover, Hegel seemed to recognize in Napoleon his “godson”, the incarnation of Absolute Spirit. In a letter to one of his friends, Hegel wrote: “I saw the Emperor, this Wold-Soul, riding out of the city on reconnaissance; it is indeed a wonderful sensation to see such an individual, who concentrated here at a single point, astride a horse, reaches out over the world and masters it” (subsequently, the “Wold-Soul” would be quite rightfully changed by commentators into the “World Spirit”, or “World Mind”). By the way, Wilhelm’s younger brother was killed in Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812.

On the 14th of October, 1806, the Battle of Jena took place near the city, in which Prussia suffered a crushing defeat. From the devastated Jena Hegel moved to Bamberg, then to Nuremberg. There, he was employed as a headmaster of a gymnasium.

In 1807, Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit” came out. In this work, he, for the first time, tried to state his philosophical teaching, which he called the “system of absolute idealism”, or the “system of absolute knowledge”. The “Phenomenology” represented his account of the evolution of consciousness from sense-perception to absolute knowledge. In its most coherent form, his teaching was later stated in his “The Science of Logic” (Die Wissenschaft der Logik) published in 1812-1816.

Hegel’s own teaching formed to a large extent as criticism of I. Kant’s teaching, and also as the rethinking of I. G. Fichte’s, and Schelling’s, doctrines. In contrast to Kant, who doubted the capabilities of human cognition, Hegel argued that there was no sufficient reason to doubt the trustworthiness of human knowledge. It was exactly “Absolute Knowledge” (which may also be designated as “Absolute (i. e. objective) Notion” or “Absolute Spirit”) that he put forward as the starting point of his philosophy. Surely, Human Himself cannot be recognized as Absolute Subject. Mind – That’s the only “real” Absolute available to Human.

Certainly, Absolute Knowledge is thoroughly theoretical and even “empty” in the beginning. But this is what cognition exists for – to move from the “abstract” to the “concrete” and from the “known” to the cognized. So, the world is cognizable, since cognition is, in essence, none other than the self-cognition of Absolute Spirit.

Hegel’s teaching has sometimes been characterized as a combination of the Spinozean “Substance” and the Fichtean “I.” He takes up the theme of Absolute Subject suggested and developed by Fichte. But, unlike the latter, Hegel means by Absolute Spirit not the “Rational Will”, but pure Mind, without any hints of anthropomorphism. But what causes Mind to move, if not Will? This question, too, was decided by Hegel purely logically: he evokes Heraclitus’ idea of a contradiction “lying in the foundation of the world that is incomprehensible for human mind”. Hegel names this contradiction, that is, between Being and Nothing, and lays it as the foundation of his teaching. “Contradiction – this is truly what makes the world moving”, – he argues. The Hegelian principle of development implies repudiation of the basic law of classical logic, formulated as early as by Aristotle, the law of non-contradiction. In this way, the term “dialectics” is being reinstated, which formerly designated “controversy”, and now it designates a development based on contradiction. Therefore, Hegel defined Truth as the “unity of contradictory propositions”.

Thus, Hegel’s Absolute Spirit is an acting agent, it is Subject laid as the foundation of Nature, or, as Spinoza would put it, the “Natura Naturans” of Substance. However, in Its activity there can be no willfulness; it is “forced”, so to speak. Absolute Spirit acts by virtue of Its inherent contradictoriness. And Its activity is development.

How, indeed, does development proceed? It proceeds as a successive relay of identities and distinctions. In the beginning, there is absolute identity, or primordial rest. And now, in this primordial rest some unrest arises – in this way a distinction (contradiction) hidden there is being displayed. This distinction manifests itself and reaches its full expression. But, having shown, it retreats and gives way to identity. It looks like the same primordial rest restores. But, in reality, it is not so. The restored identity is another, new identity, not that which was in the beginning (before distinction shows). The new identity is an identity of a higher level, with a new distinction ripening in it, which corresponds to this level. And this new distinction is also due to manifest itself in its own way.

Such is a general scheme of development, according to Hegel. As aforesaid, Hegel lays in the foundation of his dialectics the contradiction between Being and Nothing. In the beginning, this contradiction is purely declarative, as it were, and becomes apparent in no way; it is as much Being, as it is Nothing. Still, there is contraction between Them, and it cannot but manifest itself, either. And it really shows. In this way, the first unrest arises here, Becoming. The Latter, however, is not eternal, either. Having duly manifested Itself, this contradiction is being sublated, or overcome, thanks, again, to the identity of Being and Nothing, which is also cannot but show.

Whereas Plato’s “Ideas” are, in fact, thoughts in the “head” of the Creator God, Hegel completely repudiates the remnants of anthropomorphism in What Truly Exists and puts forward the principle of self-development of the Divine Mind, or Absolute Spirit. Verily, Hegel’s philosophy represents God’s becoming aware of Himself as Reason.

In the course of Its development, Hegel’s “Absolute Spirit” goes through three major stages. At first, It develops in Its purity, in the sphere of logic. Having displayed and overcome necessary distinctions in Itself, It estranges Itself into Nature. At this stage, being in the form of Nature, Absolute Spirit abides “away from Itself”, so to speak. Here, It also goes through a series of identities and distinctions specific of this, “natural”, stage of development. Finally, Absolute Spirit is born again in human consciousness. It reaches Its full expression in art, religion, and philosophy. And It completely returns to Itself in Hegel’s teaching of Absolute Spirit.

In 1816, Hegel moved to Heidelberg, and in 1818, to Berlin. It was at Berlin University that his lecturing activity reached its climax. His lectures were attended by many people from all over Germany and also from abroad, including Russia. It should be noted that the extremely lofty matters dealt with by the lecturer did not result in any “wall” appearing between him and the students. Hegel always remained accessible, and in personal communication he showed himself to be an exceptionally modest and responsive man, which, too, might be indicative of genuine greatness.

Hegel was also keen on music. In 1829, he attended a celebrated concert, arranged by F. Mendelssohn, where J. S. Bach’s “Matthew Passion” was performed after nearly a century of oblivion. Subsequently, he called Bach “a great and true Protestant”. Hegel would often visit the Mendelssohns’ house, where an intellectual and creative atmosphere reigned, inherited from Felix’s grandfather, Moses Mendelssohn, who had initiated the Jewish Enlightenment and who would be otherwise known as the “German Socrates”.

In 1830, Hegel became rector of Berlin University. But his rectorship did not last long. Soon he fell ill with a severe gastric abdominal infection (possibly, cholera), and on the 14th of November, 1831, the great philosopher left this world. He had wished to be buried beside J. G. Fichte, which was fulfilled.

Many people would admire Hegel’s teaching of the development of Absolute Spirit. And yet, a doubt would creep in: whether it was really Spirit? The Russian revolutionary A. I. Herzen, for one, was leaning to its “corporeal” interpretation (to Marxism, in the end) and perceived Hegel’s “Logic” as the “algebra of revolution”. A breakthrough interpretation of the Hegelian dialectics was undertaken by the Russian writer and thinker L. N. Tolstoy: he attempted to apply the idea of absolute development to the development of the Person.

Hegel’s teaching had a tremendous impact not only on the further development of philosophy proper, but on the entire European culture, including the Russian culture. As Dmitry Chizhevsky mentions in his book “Hegel in Russia”, the influence of Hegel’s philosophy was the “culmination of the German influence in Russia”.

The pre-revolutionary Russia saw a real craze for Hegel. Ivan Kireyevsky, one of the founders of the Slavophile movement, wrote: “There is no youth here in Russia, who would not reflect on Hegel”. Leo Tolstoy noted that in Russia “those who wanted to cognize Truth, studied Hegel”. Among those Russians who were keen on Hegel there were: the poet V.A. Zhukovsky, literary critic V. G. Belinsky, writers N. V. Gogol and I. S. Turgenev, composers M. P. Musorgsky and A. N. Serov, revolutionaries A. I. Herzen and M. A. Bakunin. Such a prominent figure in the Russian culture as K. C. Aksakov was convinced that the “Russian people are advantageously, compared to all others, destined to comprehend Hegel”.

Maybe, it is not by chance that the first attempt at interpreting the Hegelian dialectics – with regard to the development of Personality – was undertaken precisely in Russia. It was done in the trilogy “Childhood, Adolescence, Youth” by Leo Tolstoy, added by his idea of “comprehensive self-improvement”. It should be noted here, too, that is was not the last attempt to interpret Hegel’s dialectics in Russia.

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Наполеон: вочеловеченный Разум

Гегель, приняв эстафету от «века разума и просвещения», создал философскую систему «объективного идеализма». При этом он полагал, что на этом дело кончится, и обожествлённый им Разум Природы воплотится лишь в его философии, а прусская конституционная монархия останется воплощённым идеалом общественного устройства. Правда, он как-то назвал Наполеона «Абсолютным Духом на коне», но это было, скорее, «фигурой речи». Будучи объективным идеалистом, Гегель не мог предположить, что высшим выражением Разума станет не его философское учение, и не прусская конституционная монархия, а именно конкретный Человек. Ведь Бог – это Личность, жаждущая не только осознать Себя, но и вочеловечиться. Так что дело здесь не могло ограничиться появлением «Логики» Гегеля, равно как и разумного государственного устройства. Вочеловечение имеет свою логику, которая, в данном случае, проявилась в попытке насадить религиозный культ Разума, а, в конечном счёте, привела к обожествлению отдельного человека. Этого человека звали Наполеон Бонапарт.

Наполеоне Буонапарте (так его звали на местном диалекте итальянского языка) родился 15 августа 1769 года в многодетной дворянской семье на средиземноморском острове Корсика, который в ту пору фактически был независимым государством. Отец его был адвокатом и дипломатом, а также вторым человеком во власти на этом острове-государстве. В год рождения Наполеона Корсика была завоёвана французами.

Однако отец Наполеона быстро вошёл в доверие новой власти, благодаря чему ему удалось направить двух своих старших сыновей на обучение во Францию. Причём Наполеону сразу же была определена военная карьера, в то время как его брат должен был учиться на священника.

В военном училище Наполеон был замкнут и необщителен: ведь французов он считал захватчиками своей родины. Его соученикам так же не нравилась заносчивость этого иноземца. Математика и баллистика давались ему гораздо легче, чем науки гуманитарные.

Как бы там ни было, Наполеон с детства много читал. С овладением им французским языком, круг чтения его значительно расширился. Более всего его увлекали книги о путешествиях, а также книги по истории. Этот юноша недолго думал о том, делать жизнь с кого. Его кумирами всегда были Александр Македонский и Юлий Цезарь. Возможно, именно равнение на этих великих людей пробудило у него также интерес к философии. По крайней мере, он узнал, кто был воспитателем Александра, и кто был убийцей Цезаря (имеются в виду соответственно ученик Платона – Аристотель и приверженец стоицизма – Брут).

Успехи юного Наполеона были столь впечатляющими, что он, выиграв надлежащий конкурс, был зачислен в Королевскую кадетскую школу в Париже. Любовь к чтению у него не ослабевает: теперь он не просто читает, но подробно конспектирует прочитанное.

В 1785 году умирает его отец. Наполеон заканчивает досрочно кадетскую школу, причём высокий уровень его знаний на выпускных экзаменах удостоверяет выдающийся французский математик, физик и астроном П.-С. Лаплас. В том же году Наполеон начинает военную службу в чине лейтенанта. Внушительную долю своего жалования он посылает матери. Кроме того, он берёт на воспитание своего 11-летнего брата. В это нелёгкое для него время его любимыми авторами становятся французские просветители Вольтер и Руссо, а также драматург Корнель. Но наиболее сильное впечатление на него произвёл роман Гёте «Страдания молодого Вертера», который Наполеон прочёл много раз.

В 1788 году произошёл эпизод, который мог бы изменить ход мировой истории. Во время очередной русско-турецкой войны Наполеон попытался поступить на службу в русскую армию. Однако, согласно тогдашним правилам, иностранцы, принимаемые в русскую армию, понижались в чине. Это не могло устроить честолюбивого Наполеона.

Он безоговорочно поддержал Французскую революцию, разразившуюся в 1789 году. В то время он находился на его родной Корсике. Выступая на стороне революционной Франции, он разошёлся с местным руководством, которое вновь настаивало на независимости острова. Под давлением сепаратистов он, вместе с семьёй, покидает Корсику. Так проявилась широта взглядов Наполеона, который пренебрёг своими детскими, местническими представлениями ради высоких идеалов свободы, равенства и братства. Не только честолюбие двигало им.

В 1793 году вверенные Наполеону войска одержали блестящую победу над британцами, воевавшими на стороне роялистов. Ловким манёвром они были выбиты из города Тулона, за что 24-летний Наполеон получил звание бригадного генерала.

Тем временем во Франции открылась истинная причина Революции: там была провозглашена новая религия – «культ Разума». Это уже был не просто «философский идеализм», и здесь Бог уже не довольствовался лишь осознанием Себя как Разума Природы. Но даже этот вполне развитый религиозный культ был ещё слишком отвлечённым воплощением Божества. Требовался ещё некий Человек, Который бы стал олицетворением этого культа.

После термидорианского переворота Наполеон впал в немилость из-за своих связей с якобинцами. Однако вскоре он был вновь призван для подавления мятежа роялистов в Париже. Блестяще справившись с этой задачей, он был произведён в дивизионные генералы и назначен командующим войсками тыла.

В 1796 году Наполеон женится на дочери генерала, казнённого во время якобинской диктатуры.

Тогда же он был направлен в Италию. Французские войска под командованием Наполеона, освободили значительную часть этой страны от австрийского господства. Причём французы часто не превосходили противника ни численностью, ни вооружением, и победы их в Италии во многом объясняются их боевым революционным духом. Но, более всего, они объясняются полководческим даром Наполеона.

Популярность Наполеона стала вызвать озабоченность у французских властей. Им хотелось отправить Наполеона защищать интересы Франции куда-нибудь подальше. На очереди стояла задача «разобраться» с Англией. Для ослабления последней было решено захватить Египет, куда и направляется Наполеон.

Однако в Египте Наполеон воевал недолго. Его насторожили тревожные донесения с других фронтов, а также обострившаяся обстановка в самой Франции. В то же время, поддержка со стороны армии была ему обеспечена. Посему он решил, что настало ему время перейти свой Рубикон. В 1799 году он неожиданно появился в Париже, разогнал «недееспособные» органы государственной власти и стал фактическим правителем страны. В исторической науке это событие обычно считается концом Французской революции. В действительности же революция сама по себе – это лишь ступень в очередной попытке вочеловечения Бога. Всякая великая революция завершается обожествлением вождя, что сопряжено с внутренней диктатурой, а также с внешней экспансией.

В 1804 году Наполеон провозглашает себя императором. Этот шаг отпугнул от него некоторых его почитателей, которые не ощутили религиозной подоплёки происходящих событий: они считали Наполеона лишь выдающимся человеком, который должен претворить в жизнь высокие идеалы «разума и просвещения» (так, в частности, считал Бетховен). Поэтому, провозгласив себя императором, Наполеон поступил даже скромно. Поистине Он был, хотя и «исторически ограниченным», но вполне действительным воплощением Бога, а именно, обожествлённого Разума Природы.

Диктатура Наполеона не была властью ради власти. Прежде всего, она была направлена на достижение политической и экономической стабильности страны. Но главным смыслом этой власти было сохранение завоеваний Революции. После беззакония, присущего абсолютной монархии, отношения между людьми отныне выстраивались на основе «естественного права». Новый правовой порядок был закреплён в наполеоновском «Гражданском кодексе».

Затем Наполеон продолжил Свои зарубежные походы, поделиться с другими народами идеалами свободы, равенства и братства, восторжествовавшими на французской земле. Конечно, в глубине души, Его не могло не смущать, что Сам Он по сути оставался абсолютным монархом, к тому же узурпатором, а по отношению к «освобождаемым» народам – захватчиком. При случае Он не гнушался и чисто феодальными способами захвата чужих земель, как например, с помощью «династических браков». В частности, он дважды предлагал руку и сердце российским августейшим особам женского пола, но оба раза получал отказ (кстати, такой фокус Наполеону удался в отношении австрийской принцессы). В то же время, указанная «неразборчивость» Наполеона в средствах, опять же, не была самоцелью: как говорится, «для пользы дела». Впрочем, истинная миссия Его оставалась для Него столь же непостижимой, как и непостижимо всё, происходящее в этом мире, не будучи рассмотрено sub specie Dei.

К 1811 году большая часть Европы «наслаждалось свободой» в рамках единой Французской империи. Однако, достигнув своего зенита, звезда Наполеона стала клониться к закату. Возможно, в глубине души, Наполеон это ощущал. Но, как всякий правитель, задержавшийся у власти, Наполеон потерял чувство реальности. Он стал предпринимать отчаянные шаги, чтобы увековечить свою власть (впрочем, шаги эти не выходили за рамки осуществления Наполеоном Своей миссии). В 1810 году, чтобы обзавестись наследником, он разводится со своей неплодной 1-й женой и сочетается браком с дочерью австрийского императора. Однако брак этот был без восторга воспринят во Франции, а судьба наследника, рождённого в этом браке, оказалась незавидной. Русская кампания 1912 года стала для Наполеона роковой. Измотанные остатки его войск, разбавленные необстрелянным пополнением, потерпели сокрушительное поражение в «Битве народов» под Лейпцигом в 1813 году.

Посрамлённый Наполеон попытался совершить самоубийство. Однако яд, который Он долго носил собой, не возымел ожидаемого действия, и Наполеон остался жив. Он отрёкся от французского престола и был выслан на средиземноморский остров Эльба. Впрочем, эта ссылка отнюдь не была равносильна тюремному заключению. Остров был передан Ему в собственность, за ним был сохранён титул императора (в рамках острова) и даже придано небольшое войско в качестве «личной охраны».

Большую часть времени Он пребывал в глубокой задумчивости. Понемногу Наполеон стал заниматься  благоустройством своей мини-империи: принимал местных «ходоков», пытался провести какие-то реформы, в частности, улучшения в сельском хозяйстве. Его навещали его друзья и родственники, в частности, его мать, а также, пожалуй, единственная женщина, которая осталась верной ему до конца – польская графиня Мария Валевска. Но, отрекшись от звания императора Великой Франции, Он по-прежнему оставался в ранге воплощённого Бога, откуда Его не в силах был кто-либо разжаловать.

Периферическим зрением Наполеон не переставал следить за событиями на большой земле. Между тем, события там принимали дурной оборот. На троне была восстановлена династия Бурбонов. С ними же вернулись феодалы, лишившиеся имущества и привилегий в ходе Революции. Наполеон не мог равнодушно взирать на то, как  дело его жизни оборачивается прахом. В 1815 году он с небольшим отрядом высаживается на побережье Франции. Войска, посланные, чтобы остановить его, перешли на Его сторону. Через несколько дней Он уже был в Париже, встреченный ликующей толпой.

В отличие от французов, остальная Европа восприняла «2-е пришествие» Наполеона без восторга. Главы государств, собравшиеся на Венском Конгрессе, объявили непокорного корсиканца «вне закона» и стали собирать войска для решающего сражения. Вскоре состоялась битва при Ватерлоо, которую Наполеон проиграл.

Тем не менее, поражение Наполеона было далеко не разгромным, причём не только в плане военном. Принципы философского идеализма, догматы религии Разума, которые олицетворял Наполеон, достаточно глубоко укоренились в европейской общественной жизни, а затем разошлись по всему миру. Так заявило о себе мощное мировоззрение, имя которому «либерализм». Это была сила, с которой уже нельзя было не считаться, и которая, при случае, уже вполне могла защитить себя. Вернувшиеся на французский трон Бурбоны уже не могли править страной безраздельно.

Сам же Наполеон сдался на милость британских властей и был выслан на отдалённый остров Святой Елены в Атлантическом океане. Он получил статус не политического беженца, а военнопленного, и условия его содержания были, по образному выражению самого Наполеона, «хуже, чем в клетке Тамерлана». Однако Он старался сохранять присутствие духа. Поверженный Кумир вновь обращается к литературному творчеству, которому Он отдал дань в молодые годы (ведь Наполеон был автором романов, политических памфлетов, и даже философского трактата «Диалог о любви»). На острове он диктует свои «Мемуары».

Почитатели Наполеона не оставляли попыток вызволить венценосного узника из заточения и воссоздать «наполеоновскую империю» то в Африке, то в Америке. Но охрана Наполеона на сей раз была непроницаемой, и все такие попытки успешно пресекались.

Образ Наполеона всё более идеализируется: Он наделяется чертами романтического героя, с которым связываются такие мотивы, как «непонятость», одиночество, бунтарство, изгнание, бегство и т. п. Его участь стала источником вдохновения для таких поэтов как Лермонтов и Байрон. Даже у классика-Пушкина созерцание свободной стихии моря пробудило воспоминание о Байроне и Наполеоне как двух гениях, после ухода которых «мир опустел».

Наполеон ушёл из жизни 5 мая 1821 года. Он завещал похоронить себя на берегах Сены. Но британские власти постановили похоронить Его на острове. Лишь в 1840 году останки Наполеона было разрешено перевести во Францию. В конечном счёте, Его гробница была установлена в некрополе парижского Дома инвалидов, причём материал для гробницы был предоставлен российским императором Николаем 1-м (по всей видимости, облачение рассадника «вольнодумства» в карельский порфир позволяло тирану чувствовать себя в большей безопасности).

Какие же выводы можно сделать из обожествления Разума Природы и последующего Его вочеловечения? Какия новыя черты добавляет эта Попытка к живописуемому Образу Божию? По всей видимости, Она выявляет «просвещённость», «образованность» и «предпочтение Закона своеволию» как неотъемлемые свойства божественной Личности.

Napoleon: the incarnated Mind

Hegel, having picked up the baton from the “age of reason and enlightenment”, created the philosophical system of “objective idealism”. In doing so, he believed that was the end of it, and Nature’s deified Mind would only be embodied in his philosophy, and the Prussian constitutional monarchy would remain the implemented ideal social order. True, he once called Napoleon the “World Spirit on horseback”, but that was rather a “figure of speech”. Being an objective idealist, Hegel could not imagine that the supreme expression of “Spirit” was going to by neither his philosophical teaching, nor the Prussian constitutional monarchy, but exactly a specific human being. The point is that God is basically a person, who yearns not only to become aware of Himself, but, ultimately, to incarnate Himself. So, the matter here could not limit itself to the emergence of Hegel’s “Logic”, as well as a rational state structure. Incarnation has its own logic, which, in this particular case, showed in an attempt to assert the religious cult of Reason, and, ultimately, resulted in the deification of an individual person. This person’s name was Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleone Buonaparte (this is how he was called in the local dialect of the Italian language) was born on August 15th , 1769, into a large noble family in the Mediterranean island of Corsica, which was actually an independent state at the time. His father was a lawyer and diplomat, and, in general, the second-ranking man in the island. However, Corsica was conquered by the French later that same year.

Napoleon’s father promptly insinuated himself into the new authorities’ confidence, thanks to which he managed to send his two elder sons to France for education. Moreover, Napoleon was right away intended for a military career, while his brother was supposed to be a priest.

At a military college, Napoleon carried himself independently, was unsociable and avoidant, as he considered the French the occupants of His homeland. His fellow students had no special liking for the arrogant outlander, either. Mathematics and ballistics came easier to him, than humanities.

Anyway, Napoleon read heavily since childhood. Mastering French enabled him to hugely expand his reading. Travel and history books carried Him away. This youth did not ponder long over whose pattern to build his life upon. Alexander the Great and Julius Cesar had always been His idols. Following their example may well have awakened his interest in philosophy. At least, he was bound to know who Alexander’s educator and who Cesar’s assassin had been (meaning respectively Plato’s pupil Aristotle and the stoic Brutus).

The young Napoleon’s advances were so impressive that he, having won the relevant contest, matriculated at the Royal Cadet School in Paris. His love of reading did not show any sign of abating: now he would not only read, but take detailed notes while reading.

In 1785, his father died. Napoleon graduated from the Cadet School before the appointed time. At the final examinations, his high level of knowledge was certified, in particular, by an outstanding French mathematician, physicist, and astronomer, P.-S. Laplace. That same year, Napoleon started his military service as a lieutenant. A huge share of His salary would be sent to His mother. Besides, He had to take care of His 11 year-old brother. In those hard times of his life, French enlighteners Voltaire and Rousseau, and also tragic dramatist Corneille became His favourite authors. But the most profound impact was made on him by Goethe’s novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, which Napoleon read over and over again.

In 1788, an episode took place, which could have changed the course of world history. During just another Russo-Turkish war, Napoleon attempted to enlist in the Russian army. However, according to the then-existing rules, foreigners accepted into the Russian armed forces had to be lowered in rank. This could not suit an ambitious Napoleon.

He unreservedly welcomed the French Revolution that broke out in 1789. He was in his native Corsica, when the news reached him. Siding with the revolutionary France, He fell into disagreement with the local authorities, who, again, insisted on the island’s independence. Pressurized by the separatists, he, together with the family, left the island. This is how Napoleon’s width of views showed: He discarded his childish, parochial fancies for the sake of the lofty ideals of freedom, equality, and brotherhood. It was not only ambition that he was guided by.

In 1793, troops led by Napoleon gained a splendid victory over the British forces, which fought on the Royalist side. By a clever manoeuvre, they were dislodged from the city of Toulon. For this victory, Napoleon was promoted to brigadier general. He was 24 then.

In the meantime, the Revolution’s hidden motive was laid bare in France. A new religion was proclaimed there, “the cult of Reason”. That was a more serious bid, than just “philosophical idealism,” showing that God was no more content with only becoming conscious of Himself as the Mind of Nature. And even this rather full-fledged religious cult was still a too remote embodiment of the Deity. A certain Human Being was needed, Who would become the personification of this cult.

After the Thermidorian coup, Napoleon fell into disgrace because of his connections with the Jakobins. Yet, he was soon called up again to suppress a royalist rebellion in Paris. Having brilliantly coped with the task, Napoleon was promoted to general of division and appointed Commander of the Interior.

In 1796, Napoleon got married to a daughter of a general executed during the Jacobin dictatorship.

That same year, he was sent to Italy. French troops under the command of Napoleon freed a considerable part of this country from Austrian rule. The French would rarely outnumber the enemy in manpower or arms, and their victories in Italy could largely be accounted for by their martial, revolutionary spirit, but, most of all, by Napoleon’s generalship.

Napoleon’s popularity started to worry the French authorities. They would like him to protect French interests somewhere further away. Then, sorting Great Britain out was on the agenda. To weaken the enemy, it was decided to capture Egypt. And this is where Napoleon was sent to.

But Napoleon did not fight long in Egypt. He was made uneasy by the alarming dispatches from other fronts, as well as by the exacerbated situation in France itself. Support from the army had already been secured for him by then, so he decided it was time for him to “cross the Rubicon”. In 1799, he suddenly turned up in Paris, dispersed the “incapable” state government bodies, and became the country’s de-facto ruler. In historical science, this event has commonly been interpreted as the end of the French Revolution. In reality, however, the Revolution, in Itself, is only a stage in God’s attempt to incarnate Himself. Each great revolution is crowned with the deification of the leader, which is always fraught both with internal dictatorship and external expansion.

In 1804, Napoleon declared himself emperor. This move scared some of his admirers away from him – they failed to conceive the religious background of what was going on. They would tend to think of Napoleon as just an outstanding person, who was supposed to implement the lofty ideals of “reason and enlightenment” (for example, such was Beethoven’s attitude). Therefore, having declared himself emperor, Napoleon acted even modestly. Verily, He was although “historically limited”, but still the actual embodiment of God, that is, of the deified Mind of Nature.

Napoleon’s dictatorship was not power for power’s sake. First of all, it was aimed at gaining political and economic stability in the country. But its innermost purport was to preserve the achievements of the Revolution. After lawlessness inherent in absolute monarchy, relationships between people were now built on the basis of Natural Law. The new legal order was enshrined in the Napoleonic “Civil Code”.

Then Napoleon continued his campaigns abroad to share with other nations the ideals of freedom, equality, and brotherhood, which had prevailed on the French soil. Certainly, somewhere deep inside he could not but feel some discomfort, because, for all that, he remained an absolute monarch, a usurper at that, and, in relation to other peoples, an occupant. On occasion, he had no aversion towards using purely feudalistic methods of capturing foreign lands, for example, by “dynastic marriage”. In particular, he twice made a proposal of marriage to Russian female august personages, but was refused both times (incidentally, the same trick worked with an Austrian princess). At the same time, Napoleon’s above-noted unscrupulousness in the methods employed was, again, not an end in itself, but, as the saying goes, “for the good of the cause”. However, his true mission remained for him as incomprehensible, as is everything in this world, until being viewed “sub specie Dei”.

By 1811, the bulk of Europe was “enjoying freedom” within a single French Empire. Yet, Napoleon’s star, having reached its zenith, began to decline. Possibly, at bottom, Napoleon could feel it. But, like any ruler who has stayed in power for too long, he lost the sense of reality. He started making desperate moves to perpetuate his power (these moves, however, did not go beyond Napoleon’s fulfillment of his mission). In 1810, in order to provide Himself with a successor, he divorced with his 1st, infertile wife, and contracted matrimony with the Austrian emperor’s daughter. This marriage, however, was received in France without enthusiasm, and the fate of “the Eaglet” born of this marriage would be unenviable. The campaign of 1812 in Russia proved fatal for Napoleon. The worn-out remainder of his troops, diluted with unseasoned reinforcements, suffered a crushing defeat in the “Battle of the Nations” near Leipzig in 1813.

The disgraced Napoleon attempted to commit a suicide. But the poison, which he had long been carrying with him, did not take effect, and Napoleon kept alive. He abdicated the French crown and was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba. Still, this exile was far from being tantamount to imprisonment. The island was transferred to his possession, and he retained the title of emperor (within the island’s limits). Moreover, he was allowed to have a miniature army as his “lifeguard”.

Most of the time, he would be absorbed in deep reflection. Little by little, he got engaged in beautifying his mini-empire. He would receive local peasant petitioners and tried to carry out some reforms, in particular, to improve agricultural practices. He would be visited by his friends, relatives, notably, by his mother, and also, perhaps, the only woman, who would stay true to Him to the end, the Polish countess Marie Walewska. Having abdicated as the emperor of the Great France, he still remained a living personification of Nature’s Reason, from which rank nobody could demote Him. With peripheral vision, Napoleon kept on following the developments on the mainland.

In the meantime, the things on the mainland were taking a turn for the worse. The Bourbon dynasty was restored to the French throne. Along with them, feudal lords were returning, who had been deprived of property and privileges during the Revolution. Napoleon could not just look on how His life’s work was going to rack and ruin. In 1815, Napoleon, accompanied by a small detachment, landed on the French coast. Government forces, sent to stop him, went over to his side. In a few days, he was already in Paris, welcomed by rapturous crowds.

In contrast to the French, the rest of Europe was not so happy about Napoleon’s “Second Coming”. The heads of state gathered at the Congress of Vienna declared the recalcitrant Corsican an outlaw and started mustering forces for a decisive battle. Soon, the Battle of Waterloo took place, which Napoleon lost.

Nevertheless, Napoleon’s defeat was far from devastating, and not only in purely military terms. The principles of philosophical idealism, the tenets of the religion of Reason, which Napoleon personified, had already been deep-rooted in the European social life and were set to spread all over the world. This is how a powerful new ideology asserted itself, namely, “liberalism”. That was a force to be reckoned with, and which could protect itself, when necessary. The Bourbons, restored to the French throne, could be no more the sole rulers of the country.

As to Napoleon, He surrendered to the discretion of the British authorities and was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean. He was given prisoner of war status, not that of political refugee, and His incarceration conditions were, as Napoleon put it, “worse than in the cage of Tamerlane”. However, He tried to retain His presence of mind. The fallen Idol, again, turned to writing, which He would find time for in his early years (after all, Napoleon was the author of novels, pamphlets, and even of the philosophical treatise “The Dialogue on Love”). At St. Helena, he dictated his “Memoires”.

Napoleon’s admirers did not abandon attempts to set the kingly prisoner free and recreate the “Napoleonic Empire” now in Africa, now in America. But this time, Napoleon’s guard was impenetrable, and all those attempts proved unsuccessful.

In the meantime, the Image of Napoleon was being increasingly idealized. It was being endowed with the characteristics of a romantic hero. Being associated with it, there were such motifs as: loneliness, not being understood, rebelliousness, expulsion, escape, etc. Napoleon’s fate became a source of inspiration for such poets as Byron and Lermontov. Even for the classical Pushkin, watching the unharnessed element of the sea awakened the memories of both Byron and Napoleon, as the two men of genius, after the departure of whom “the world grew empty”.

Napoleon passed away on May 5th, 1821. He had wanted to be buried on the banks of the Seine. But the British authorities decided to bury him at St. Helena. It was not until 1840 that Napoleon’s remains were allowed to be taken to France. In the end, his tomb was placed at Paris’s Les Invalides. It is noteworthy that the material for the tomb was provided by the Russian emperor Nicolas I. Apparently, robing the propagator of freethinking in Karelian porphyry made the tyrant feel safer.

So, what conclusions can one draw from the deification of Nature’s Mind and Its subsequent incarnation? What new features does this Attempt add to the Image of God being painted? Apparently, It reveals “enlightenment”, “educatedness”, and “preferring Law to willfulness” in the Divine Person.