Hegel Philosophy Of Right Analysis Essay

[ Up ]

A Manual for Hegel's Philosophy of Right

Jeffrey Wattles, 1991         

 

1.  PURPOSE OF THIS COMMENTARY

            This manual is designed to render a neglected classic in ethics accessible for classroom use.  The Philosophy of Right is the text Hegel created for his course at the University of Berlin in 1821.  In German it has a double title: Natural Law and Political Science in Outline and Elements of the Philosophy of Right.  The text, in the translation of T. M. Knox (Oxford University Press, 1952), has much to offer students today.  It is unused in most courses in ethics, however, because the student finds that, despite its flights of intelligibility and rhetorical momentum, it remains embedded in turgid conceptual vocabulary developed in Hegel's other systematic works.  Even the explanatory notes provided within the text and those added later ("Additions") based upon notes taken in Hegel's lectures often fail to alleviate the beginner's burden.

            Faced with a great but partly unintelligible text, many flatly refuse to embark upon the work.  Others skim for the nuggets of readily accessible insight.  A few undertake in full detail Hegel's haunting project--to unfold the logic according to which the nuggets are not merely happy noticings but, most of all, moments in an ordered system.  We should mention the ideal of a commentary, not aimed at here, implicit in a remark of H. S. Harris, who once characterized a book on Hegel as having culled the obvious things and having clarified none of the difficult things in the text.

            There has been a pervasive ambivalence toward Hegel.  His writing has been so impressive that many a philosopher has been both perennially frustrated by Hegel's philosophic inadequacies and perennially intrigued with the prospect of valuable new discoveries that await one's continued attention to Hegel.  How many philosophers have labored through the stage of regarding him as master or as enemy (or both: master because he is enemy, enemy because he is master)!  To lay this ghost aright will be to begin to understand and evolve beyond social systems as they are actualized in our modern, secular age.  Hegel even in some respects points beyond ethical institutions as they have evolved today.  We have begun to realize that the revolutionary conjunction of idealism and violence is not the pattern of progress.  To evolve a better way includes rethinking--and to rethink Hegel is to rethink the tangled system of historical tradition which is largely still our own.

 

2.  THE CONTEXT IN THE ENCYCLOPEDIA

            The philosophy of right finds its place in the broad circle of Hegel's articulation of the system of reality, presented in his Encyclopedia (The Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, whose final version was done in 1830).  In order to get part of the context for the philosophy of right, it is helpful to review the sections from the Encyclopedia, specifically from the third part, the Philosophy of Mind.  This part is presented in three sections--"subjective mind" dealing with psychology, including feelings and drives and inclinations; "objective mind" dealing with the matter unfolded in the Philosophy of Right; and "absolute mind," dealing with art, religion, and philosophy as ultimate realizations of all-encompassing mind.

            It will be useful to pick up the narrative of the Encyclopedia at the point where will is first introduced (#468).  There are many kinds of mental activity; one standard distinction is between theoretical and practical intelligence.  We break into the narrative right at the transition between these two functions.  Mind is functioning as intelligence--using categories (or general terms) to explain what it is thinking about--its contents.  Thus mind is subjectively determining its contents for itself.  The point is not that any old category will do equally well--that is not the notion of "subjectivity" Hegel has in mind.  The point is that mind makes these determinations for itself.  In this sense it is free; i.e., its determining activity is not something done as a service to any principle outside itself.  When mind realizes that it is doing this, that its contents are its own property which it possesses by its application of categories, it realizes itself as will.  Hegel is not inviting cynicism along the lines that personal interests always do (or should lucidly be allowed to) dominate our way of construing our experience (thus there would be no truth of any situation in the light of which we could criticize particular interpretations); the possibility of interest determining what is to count as knowledge, however, is clear from this paragraph.  Hegel is saying that there is an intrinsic freedom, indeed, a will in play as soon as the mind begins to regard its own domain--the contents of thought--as a realm in which it exercises determination (and hence, we may add, the potential for responsible creativity).

            The realm of practical mind is the realm in which mind determines itself and achieves its own fulfillment in reality.

            The leading thought of Hegel's philosophy is that neither the natural nor the social realm is an uncoordinated heap of particular, material facts, without any interconnections or intelligibility.  Rather, as understanding progresses, the "logic" in each of these realms is gradually disclosed; insights are gained.  Sometimes we can put these insights into the language of mathematical formulas; sometimes we need other ways of language.  To find intelligibility is to find the meaning in the facts, the concept inherent in the phenomena.  To find the concept inherent in the phenomena is to become aware of mind implicit in the phenomena.  This does not mean that each phenomenon is conscious (or implicitly conscious).  It does mean that intelligibility is the kin of mind itself--and mind embraces both of these kin.  Mind goes forth to understand, to find the concept in the phenomena, to find itself in the phenomena.  In the social sphere, mind's effort to find itself is especially rewarded, in that the objects of study are persons (minded individuals) and their social structures (the product of mind operating more or less consciously).

 

3.  THE TABLE OF CONTENTS

            One good place to begin The Philosophy of Right is with the table of contents.  Look first at the Third Part: family, (civil) society, and the state.  If we keep in mind Hegel's thought that in these modern institutions rational free will finds its fulfillment, then we will have a better grasp of the long development that is designed to explain the conceptual development of this result.

            The first two parts are subordinate aspects or moments of the social and political totality.  What is the first part, Abstract Right, doing?  The discussion of abstract right occupies the logical place assigned to it in Kant's doctrine of right.  Striving for internal moral rectitude presupposes an external order in which basic rights, such as the security of the person, are guaranteed.  In Hegel, Abstract Right is the skeletal system of legal ideas, generated by the concept of will functioning "immediately," i.e., regarding external things.  "Abstract" is from the Latin which means to draw away from; here it means "taken out of context."  The ethical context is the set of nested institutions that comprise the mature state.  In this sense of "abstract," morality, too, is abstract.

            Part Two, Morality, considers concepts about what ought to be.  Moral thinking, for example, with the categorical imperative, conceives of persons without any necessary regard for their institutional context, e.g., spouse, employee, citizen.

            Part Three, Ethical Life, presents the logic of the family, society, the state, and world history.  Duty becomes concrete, and the individual becomes fulfilled in his freedom by participating in these institutions.

            A note on language: I will use the terms "man" and "he," etc. following Hegel's usage because the gender implications of these terms fits the Hegelian understanding of the sexes and their role in the family, economy, and state.

 

4.  THE PREFACE

            The Preface trumpets Hegel's most ambitious claims for philosophy.  The Philosophy of Right is to be is a textbook which covers in a rigorous ("scientific") way a closed circle of thoughts which have been familiar and accepted for a long time.  What distinguishes this book is that it shows the inner connection of these thoughts, following a philosophic method, which does not ape the rigor of quasi-mathematical deduction, but rather illustrates the method set out in the Science of Logic.  The rigorous form of this exposition is rooted in the content itself; it is not enough energetically to proclaim the edifying truths of religion and the heart.  Truth may be realized in a certain way in social life both in practice and in intuition--but it still needs to be comprehended in thought.  It will not do to begin with what one assumes (without demonstration) to be universally accepted and to make deductions from that.  The freedom of thought is betrayed if it merely offers opinions or, in the name of creativity, diverges from what is universally recognized and valid.  Such false freedom in "thinking" has brought philosophy a terrible reputation for being capricious and easy, and it betrays the truth that we find our satisfaction in the state.  A romantic, religious, "intuitive," emotional, and anti-intellectual approach to political understanding ought to mature to the recognition of the objective principles of law and right.  Some err in clinging to private feeling and "vitality" and scorning duty and law, the rational form of right.  Philosophy is better exercised as public responsibility than as private art.  To present the foundations of politics as so many subjective aims and opinions invites the ruin of the inner ethical life, of love and relations between persons outside the public sphere, and of law and the state as well.  Even though governments are beginning to accord more importance to the work of philosophers [1821!], philosophy is attacked from many sides, especially from those who regard the knowledge of truth as "a wild goose-chase," reducing all thoughts--those of criminals or judges--to the same level.  It is good and actually inevitable that superficial philosophy, developed in seclusion, has now come into open clash with public realities.  Philosophy is essentially political, as we can see from the case of Plato, whose Republic was an account of Greek ethical life in rational terms (whence the apparent utopia); and he put his finger on the crucial issue of his time, even though he suppressed the revolutionary truth that was beginning to break through: "free infinite personality."  "What is rational is actual and what is actual is rational."  What is really rational and what is really actual are the same.  Philosophy's exploration is to uncover this conceptual reality in its diverse appearances; philosophy is unsuited to giving detailed recommendations about practical matters, though it does not disdain them.  "Philosophy . . . is its own time apprehended in thoughts."  It is an account of the reality of what has come to be; it cannot remove itself from its own time; it should not construct a (necessarily empty) ideal of what ought to be.  So the philosophical form of the exposition in this text follows the rationality of the content, ethical structures themselves--hence we have a reconciliation between knowledge and the world.  Philosophy as a reflection on experience can always only follow, not anticipate, the essential developments of actuality.  (Recall that the owl of Minerva was the symbol of wisdom:) "The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk."  This preface, not being itself developed in a rigorous way, is no substitute for a truly philosophic account; and any criticisms which are not so developed are to be discounted.

 

5. THE INTRODUCTION (##1-33)

            The Introduction characterizes will, describes some forms of immature willing that might be termed "false freedom," and anticipates the fulfillment of freedom in the social and political institutions of the modern state.

            The first four paragraphs characterize the enterprise of this book in the broadest terms: a philosophical treatment (#2) of that part of the life of the mind, the will (#4), whose concept of right is actualized (#1) in the legal systems of particular nation states (#3).

            Let us look at these opening paragraphs more closely.  We will not merely study a concept or theory of the right, but "the concept together with its actualization"; the two together form the "Idea" of Right (Hegel's technical term).(#1)

            A concept here, a concept there, unconnected--can a mature philosophy can be content with an apparently arbitrary gathering?  Rather, there is a connection between concepts.  The connection can be traced.  A conceptual narrative can be told.  It is possible to move from simpler to more advanced and complete concepts.(#2)

            A couple of extended comments are relevant here.  Hegel's method is always to begin with the most elementary "thin" concepts, devoid of rich, mature significance and to draw out the implications of these one-sided concepts to show how they lead to the downfall of their own initially apparent self-sufficiency and stability.  At the close of each conceptual suicide, it is possible to exit the rubble by advancing to a higher conceptual level.  Moreover, each concept is part of the whole; it is not to be discarded into some cosmic garbage can, but rather reinserted in its rightful place in the eventually understood totality.  Concepts form a coherent system, which cannot be exhibited all at once; therefore, the conceptual narrative is needed.  Such a narrative is all the more appropriate since so much of modern "thought" is attached to the illusions that the dialectical process of Hegel's critical unfolding lays to rest.

            We may think of Hegel's text as a story of a path through conceptual terrain.   Sometimes the path is steep and difficult.  Sometimes Hegel moves off the main path momentarily and returns to it.  Sometimes he doubles back and rehearses part of the path again.  Sometimes the switchbacks are such that one can realize that the present stretch of the path is analogous to a stretch traversed earlier on a lower level.  There are repeated views of the Alpine meadow of fulfillment: the mature state, its role in world history, and its component institutions.  There are also repeated lookout posts where we review segments of our journey thus far.  Sometimes, after ascending a certain distance, we descend to take up further adventure along a lower level.  Philosophic adequacy, not "height," is the criterion governing our sequence of topics.  Keep in mind that although it is much easier to understand the earlier steps of the conceptual journey in terms of their goal in mature institutions, Hegel insists that philosophy does not operate by presupposing these institutions as goals to be appreciated and accounted for; rather he proposes to show strictly that the concept of the will develops, with logical necessity, into these forms of fulfillment.

            Now to resume the summary.  Positive law is that law which is enacted by a particular governing body, as opposed to law in the sense of general principles which are supposed to underlie positive law.  The general principles of law have their own rationality; positive law has is the result, not only of considerations of principle, but also of diverse historical forces operating at the time.  It is important to keep the study of the logic of law free from the e.g., considerations of struggle for economic and political power, etc. that may play a role in positive law.  It is also important to realize that philosophy cannot be expected to provide deductions that adapt principles to particular situations (#3).  The general preparation for the detailed discussion of will culminates with the thought that Right is an affair of mind, specifically of the will (See Enc 468ff).  Will becomes conscious as mind recognizes its freedom (in determining its own contents by its own concepts, or, put less subjectivistically, in finding its own concepts inherent in what it thinks about) (#4).

             Next we have three paragraphs that set forth a pattern of complementary onesidedness and fulfillment in willing.

            Paragraph #5 presents the side that, on the one hand, the will is indeterminate--without inherent determinations, predicates, characteristics.  To speak of the will which "returns to itself" presupposes a previous engagement of will in some impulse or purpose.  Example: You are feeling awful about yourself because of a professor's humiliating criticism; your friend reminds you that you are not just that failure or that injustice.  Or you have workaholic tendencies, and your friend reminds you that your basic identity is not riding on your performance in this course.  You see the point.  You realize, "I'm me, not this course."  Or consider Gandhi, going on a fast, perhaps unto death, to protest oppressive policies.  He showed that the will can say no to anything, any external pressure, any internal motivation.  If you can't say no, you don't have a choice.  If you don't have a choice, you're not free.  This capacity for negation can be put into practice in extreme and destructive ways.  Hegel speaks about "infinite" negativity and "universality" of the will because it can negate anything and everything. 

            Paragraph #6 presents the complementary side that the will also has the capacity to choose a particular, determinate action ("determinate" means "having specific characteristics").  You drive to Cleveland; you buy a hamburger.  If you can't achieve decision-action, you're not free either.

            Paragraph #7 calls for the union of these two sides.  Often these two sides of the will fall apart; they are not integrated in a single action.  (I'm especially conscious of interpreting here, of saying more than Hegel says in order to get at what I take to be his thought.)  For example, often we just muddle through, we plump or this, we opt for that, we paddle through the habitual waters of our days, without a radical exercise of our freedom.  We do not gather ourselves, mobilize our resources as free agents, and invest our freedom in our decisions.  Lacking resoluteness, we obscure to ourselves the truth of our negative capacity of freedom as we sheepishly follow along the way of inclination.  But this paragraph points beyond onesided rebellion and thoughtless opting to an integrated function of will.  There is a sense of autonomy here, (which is not bound up, as for Kant, with moral rationality): there is self-determination--I invest my freedom in this.     Both these capacities, the inner negativity and the outer positivity, must be preserved and conjoined in order for freedom to be realized.  Dostoevski's Notes from Underground illustrates this problem and its solution.  The underground man lives in an abyss of negativity, so able to criticize the premisses for any conclusion or decision, that he is incapable of decision-action.  He rails against the naivete of the "direct man," who plunks down his sturdy deeds without any awareness of freedom whatsoever.  Liza, however, shows the way of resolution.  She is not naive, knowing evil; but she can act--to bring her love and to depart when she is abused.   

             There are different ways in which will may make a particular commitment (#8); one of these ways concerns external things; I realize my purpose by dealing with external things.  The will acquires content (determinations of itself, qualities) through its purposes, whether they are objectively realized or not (#9).  Example: acquiring a house (an external thing) I acquire "content"; I am not merely myself (the "I=I" of #6), I am a homeowner.  Development is occurring.

             Paragraphs 10-18 describe false freedom, the immature will, choosing arbitrarily among its desires.  The will at this stage operates on the level of "immediacy"; immediacy is complacent satisfaction with intuitive grasp of things, meanings, or values.

            The will in its immediacy relates to objects of consciousness without being aware of their institutional context (#10).  Example: I may go forth to satisfy a sexual interest in sex, or I may buy a hamburger, or I may drive to Cleveland.  But I do not appreciate my partner in the context of the institution of marriage; I do not think of the economic relations that are involved in my buying the hamburger; I do not experience driving as a citizen on the road with other free citizens, whose political will is reflected in the laws I obey, etc.  At the lower levels, the freedom of the will is not realized by the agent.

            At a less philosophically mature stage, will gets its ends (goals, objectives) from immediate impulses, desires, inclinations.  It seems determined by these "givens," and its true character as freedom is hidden from itself.  There does not seem to be any underlying reason behind these diverse desires (#11). 

            Think of the person who can't make up her mind.  Prior to decision, she has a multiplicity of desires, each of which is oriented to an indefinite number of objects (#12).

            In decision, the will resolves the competition and establish itself as an individual.  Once an individual establishes himself or herself by a decision, the individual becomes separate from every other will; competition and conflict is possible, mutual respect is possible, cooperation is possible--but individuals are distinct and separate (#13).

            There is no integration at this level between will and what it resolves upon (#14).  It chooses . . .

. . . arbitrarily; some people mistake this non-rational manifestation for true freedom; it could rather be called false freedom (#15).

            Each choice, of course, is limited, and will can uproot any decision, reverse any commitment (#16).

            The will subordinates and sacrifices some desires to others to resolve conflicts between impulses--in order to maximize happiness or according to some other (equally arbitrary) criterion (#17).

            Human nature encompasses these drives, desires, and inclinations which provide content to the will.  They may be equally be regarded as inherent and thus good or as in opposition to the will and hence needing to be uprooted, as evil (#18).  Life at the level of false freedom spawns a certain kind of relativism," the view that philosophical commitments are "relative" to the individual in such a way that rational adjudication of differences between them is impossible.  When ideas are consigned to such a status, arbitrariness has (for the moment) overcome the true as well as the good.

             The next two paragraphs leads to a vision of the meadow of maturity--the Idea of right.  The medieval (especially monastic) enterprise of purification of desire (as actually or potentially evil) is fulfilled not in some ascetic transcendence, but in the modern light of intelligence which discloses the implicit rationality in the desires.(#19)  Education should teach us how better to gratify our desires.  What education offers are general teachings, "universal" propositions.  They concern the process of reflecting on, comparing, and weighing groups of satisfactions (#20).

            Here comes a vision of the meadow.  The universals that education offers do not have the "concrete universality" of the Idea (the concept of freedom actualized in the institutions of a mature state (#21).  The will is actual, and its object is not some external object (obstacle) but itself (its own inner life as comprehended) (#22).  The will now does not depend on anything outside of itself and is therefore free (#23).  What is at work in the individual will is the Idea, which may be called "the concrete universal," because it is all-encompassing (#24).  This implies that even in the most immature moments of will, the Idea is at work, as the totality which is working itself out, coming to self-realization, through the process of what is partial (all are lost as separate individuals; all are saved in the whole).

            Hegel next explains what meanings he will attach to the terms "subjective" and "objective" when discussing the will.  The first meaning of "subjective" derives from the sense operative when we say each person is a subject, i.e., each person is conscious.  In an experience of consciousness, the subject relates to an object.  Note that "subjective" does not mean mistaken, and "objective" does not mean true; both sides, insofar as they are conceived in isolation from the other are incomplete and in this sense false.  Now for Hegel, our subjective experience of willing, generally in one-sided ignorance of larger truth, has three features: the individual has (1) "self-certainty" (not the same as truth)--the intuitive conviction of being a willing self (without a sense of any necessary involvement with others, with nature, or with institutions), (2) the sense of exercising arbitrary choice regarding various goals that the individual happens to entertain, and (3) the tendency to regard the individual's purposes as merely personal and as longing for fulfillment (#25).  When we say that the will is objective, we may mean that it is self-determining, or that it is true to its concept.  Moreover, the will also can only exist within the objective situation of the individual's particular limitations; finally, will can see itself objectively realized when its goals are accomplished (#26). 

            Again, freedom drives toward self-realization when it has itself as its object: relating to things and persons in terms of the ethical institutions evolved by rational will (#27).  The process of overcoming the alienation between subjective and objective will develops a systematized, substantive, independent whole, (#28) to actually exist as right, as the Idea (#29).  Much traditional philosophy of law, including Kant's, speaks of restrictions on individual liberty so that each person may have equal liberty; but this approach errs in assuming that will is basically private self-will to which external constraints must be applied!  This philosophy aims to transcend that standpoint.

            Right, therefore, is inherent in mind (and hence is); at the same time, right indicates what ought to be.  The concept of right is a product of the freedom of mind.  And the freedom is what ought to be actualized.  This is the bond and the creative tension between what is and what ought to be that drives the unfolding of the various moments that Hegel will narrate.  The philosophy of right narrates the drama of the actualization of freedom (a logical, not, primarily, an historical narrative).  In the concrete actualization of freedom, mind produces the institutions of freedom as a second nature--like itself, derived from itself.  The term "second nature" also connotes that the institutions of freedom's self-actualization have an objectivity comparable to the objectivity of nature.

            There are levels of actualization of will: the formal or abstract rights of personality, moral self-determination, and the familial, economic, and political spheres, and, ultimately, the "world-mind" (Hegel's God, not equivalent to humankind as a whole, but not a transcendent Deity either).  Correspondingly there are higher and lower levels of rights.  They can clash only because they are all rights of the will.  But only one level is absolutely overriding--the level of world-mind (#30).

            Philosophical method, for Hegel, does not presuppose that freedom is fulfilled in the institutions of the mature state: that must be shown.  Nor will this be "applied philosophy" in the sense that previously developed abstractions (i.e., those of the Science of Logic) are merely being applied to some foreign material (#31).  What emerges in logical exposition is a series of concepts--and at the same time a series of experiences (#32).  The stages which we will see unfolding are, first the right of the individual abstracted from every ethical context--the right of personality, abstract right; next the level of the individual's (subjective) moral conception of the good, which faces the world without regard for the actualization of right in ethical institutions; finally, the ethical realm in which the will has objective realization while preserving its subjective freedom--in family, civil society, and the state (in its national, international, and world-historical life).  Note that these divisions are not drawn from historical sources but will be shown to be conceptually required.

            Comment.  Every modern ethical philosophy labors to interpret the key relation between what is and what ought to be.  Most ethical philosophies since David Hume have avoided trying to derive value conclusions simply from factual premises; they have realized that in order to derive conclusions about what ought to be the case, it is necessary to begin with some premise about value (or obligation).  Hegel differs from Aquinas in this respect.  For Aquinas the will is inherently directed (though it may err) toward its good.  This fact about human nature records a value orientation in human nature itself.  Hegel's concept of the will has no such inherent value orientation.  His concept of the will is involved with negating and affirming and in finding full actualization.  Aquinas's doctrine of the will could become richly concrete as specific goods are furnished to the will by our God-given natural tendencies.  For Hegel's radical, modern position, the only value inherent in will is the drive to actualize freedom.  It is on this thin basis that he proposes to derive norms pertaining to law, morality, and the institutions of ethical life.

 

6.  ABSTRACT RIGHT (##34-103)

            Hegel's concept of proof requires him not to begin by directly positing a substantive concept of right--this would be the way of dogmatic, traditional philosophy.  Rather, he must begin with the emptiest form of willing and show that it develops "necessarily" into more mature forms.  The primary experience of will at this level is to realize that, even though it begins immediately to appropriate the things of the external world, it involves itself nevertheless in relations with others (through contracts) contracts; and that the universal will expressed in a contract is not satisfactorily enforced simply by vengeance, but only by a commitment which carries will to the next higher level: morality.

            The development of the concept of will in Part One can be illustrated by a story.  Sandy, walking by the beach, finds a lovely sea shell and picks it up.  She wants to keep it.  It becomes hers, her property.  Perhaps she collects many such shells . . . and sells them to Big Al.  She and Big Al make an agreement for her to furnish shells to him.  Their agreement constitutes a "universal will."  They are assumed to be motivated merely by arbitrariness in willing, and by a relation to things characterized by immediacy.  Their contract, however, is one that either may renounce.  The same arbitrary will that formed the agreement can assert its separate independence over against their universal will.  Suppose Big Al refuses to pay Sandy after she has delivered a load of shells.  This is wrong, as a violation of their contract.  Sandy contemplates revenge: she could torch Big Al's truck.  Then she thinks that he could torch her truck.  The cycle of revenge could go on and on.  She sickens of the prospect.  Now she has arrived at the moment where she can take the step forward to the moral standpoint.  She goes forward and affirms, first, that justice should be done in this case, not merely revenge; and, second, that she will uphold the universal will.

            Let's now summarize leading points from some of the key paragraphs and add a few comments.  Observe the key move at the beginning of Part One: the will is characterized from the outset as operating on the level of immediacy (#34).  The single individual is assumed to confront an external world; i.e., consciousness is relating to things in terms of their naive appeal.  This is the Achilles' heel that will show the vulnerability of right outside a proper social and political context.  The acquisition of property, the entering into contract, and the breaking of contract are all conducted on the level of arbitrariness (false freedom).  The story that Hegel wants to tell here is one that exploits the weakness he finds in the Kantian attitude toward rights as external constraints on individual liberties.  Remove the tenacious individualism from the foundation of a doctrine of rights and there is no explanation for why the moral standpoint is to be discovered only at the end of Part I.  The categorical imperative cited in #36, "Be a person and respect others as persons," seems to be already a moral principle of right; moreover Part II, Morality, defining the good in terms of the union of right and welfare relies on Part I as having given an adequate account of right.  But when it is embraced by will in a condition of immediacy as part of the logic of property rights outside the institutions within which alone its legitimacy can flourish, trouble is brewing, though it will take quite a while for the harvest of false freedom to become manifest.

            Hegel moreover, does not mean to imply, by choosing this starting point, that people come on the scene as individuals before they are members of groups.  Hegel criticizes the romantic dream of a "state of nature" (p. 128).  He is ironically presenting the view of the "origin" of right shared by some enlightenment thinkers.  The point is not that the notion of individual rights is wrong-headed; only that it comes to its own in the social and political whole.

            The next paragraphs make a second beginning to Part I, introducing the concepts of personality and rights.  Consider what basic individual rights ("human rights") there are outside the context of particular political institutions.  (The Roman legal theorists, under the influence of Stoic concepts of cosmopolitan, rational knowledge of cosmic principles of reason, developed the doctrine of natural rights--that there are certain rights a person has, not because of being a Roman citizen or because of any national citizenship, but just by being a person.)  When we say that the individual is a person, we imply that on the one hand the person is unique, has various particular characteristics--and is in that sense determined--and on the other hand has an identity (remember #5) that transcends these determinations (#35).  To identify someone as a personality is to identify him or her as a bearer of rights.  The basic principle here is: "Be a person and respect others as persons" (#36).  Persons have basic ("abstract") rights (and correlative duties to respect others as persons) regardless of their particular aims, or condition of welfare (#37).  The commands or laws of abstract right are negative prohibitions, i.e., against interfering with the possibilities that pertain to the actualization of freedom, possibilities that the individual is not obliged (at this level) to actualize (#38).  As personality confronts an external reality over against itself, knowing its own inner freedom, it moves to sustain itself above these external realities by somehow appropriating them (#39).

            The most elementary way in which the will moves to establish its own dominion in the face of an external reality . . . is to appropriate things as property.  Walking along the beach, I pick up a shell; the shell becomes my property.  Relations between persons follow from property.  What is mine belongs to no one else.  I can exchange my property and make contracts regarding my property.  Furthermore, since the will can negate all its commitments, it may break contracts, hence crime arises: with this sense of wrong we are

on the threshold of morality (#40).  This paragraph summarizes the rest of the section on Abstract Right.  A crucial move is Hegel's assertion that the primary expression of will is to actualize itself by the taking

of material property.  Relations to other persons are then mediated by property, rather than the other way around.  I.e., will is not, in the first instance, in relation to persons but to things.  And the "external world" is understood as a realm that may be owned before a social realm.  Hegel thus accurately reflects modern law, civil society, and politics which have grown up around the institution of the private ownership of property.  ##41-53, unfolding this notion of property, are especially recommended, but will not be summarized here.  It should be remembered that the concept of right is here discussed in abstraction from the institutions of civil society, its concrete place is found in civil society (cf. ##209, 229).

            The key transition to morality is in #103: responding to crime by revenge perpetuates wrong; but this is a contradiction.  The only way to resolve this contradiction is to seek a justice freed from subjective interests and the contingencies of power.  But such justice must therefore be an expression of a universal will.  Note that the term "universal will" need not imply that everyone agrees; rather, in the simplest contract, two persons establish their wills as identical; this is already a universal will.  The one who breaks the contract asserts his single will explicitly in opposition to the universal will.  In demanding justice, the subjective will comes to will the universal as such--and this is the standpoint of morality, loyalty to the universal will. 

  Let us observe that Hegel's conclusions do not amount to telling the reader what the reader ought are not merely about what ought to be the case; he presents himself as simply describing the evolution that has actually come about.  What is, the true seen philosophically, is the same as what ought to be, what is demanded by freedom's impulse to self-actualization.  Can Hegel succeed in showing that the "mere" drive toward the actualization of freedom requires the norms he derives?  Let us see what we can.

            First a few main points of this section.  The Good is projected by the subjective moral will (conscience) as the union of right and welfare.  And the will in its transition to the moral standpoint is committed to the universal will, not merely to its own interests, the welfare in question is the general welfare, not merely the welfare of the agent.  Morality has no concrete principles from within itself; it lacks the concrete determinations of the ethical life with its structures of family, civil society, and the state.  Moral subjectivity is just that of a single individual, which may or may not correspond to the universal.  Since conscience asserts its right to autonomy--to be itself the judge of what shall count as right--it may end up opposing the universal; it is vulnerable to ending in error, evil, hypocrisy, and sociopathic self-deception.

            Let's put the main points in story form.  Sandy, having become committed to the universal will, reads Kant and Mill and formulates a concept of the good that will, at the culmination of world history, unite the right and the good; indeed all persons rights and interests will be fulfilled, notwithstanding the diversity of personal interests, and the caprice of outward circumstance.  She becomes fanatically dedicated to this moral goal.  She abandons her family, alienates her employer, and disdains the patriotism of the mere citizen.  Though her modern moral theory suffices (pace Hegel) to direct her adequately in a number of moral choices, it gives no concrete direction about the intelligible structures of the world, no definite guidance about what structures must be maintained and which must be constituted in order to evolve her goal.  She carries on a one-person campaign for morality and the good.  Eventually, her isolation begins to take its toll.  She makes a few bad decisions.  She abandons her family, and loses her job, and neglects to pay her taxes--all the while convinced that she is a secular prophet of the moral order, whose conscience is so devoutly consecrated to the final union of right and welfare that she forgets that she can err.  She deteriorates further.  She begins to disguise self-interested actions under the banner of righteousness.  Her hypocrisy progresses to the stage where she no longer realizes how immoral her "morality" has become.  Finally, she has to be taken to the hospital.

            Now a closer exposition.  The moral will emerges from the experience with basic rights with a commitment to the universal will--to the right (at least insofar as that concept was developed in the previous Part).  That commitment is a level of maturity that Hegel calls moral subjectivity (#105), and it is important because freedom can only exist in such terrain (#106).  But note: as soon as we have initially characterized this wonderful step forward into morality, a shadow appears--the partiality and onesidedness of moral subjectivity begins to emerge.  Moral subjectivity is a commitment of merely the single individual, and even though that single individual is committed to the universal will, it may well fail to grasp that universal truly.  Moral subjectivity insists on being shown when moral claims are presented; unwilling to accept authority, modern moral consciousness demands evidence (#107).  But a commitment to morality does not necessarily involve actually knowing (and achieving) what is right.  Rather, the moral stands as a goal to be discerned (and actualized) by moral subjectivity; it is a project.  Morality, therefore, cannot be regarded as something achieved; it is an "ought," something demanded (#108).

            The following paragraphs, ##109-114, characterize moral action in a general way.  Will both determines its own content and strives so that subjective consciousness can express itself objectively.  The purpose of will is what is identical in both the moments of (1) the subjective self-determination of thought--decision--and (2) the objective movement--the process of realization of purpose in outward action (#109).  In other words, the purpose is the same purpose: intended and enacted.  In this content of my action, my moral subjectivity acquires outward existence (#110).  The moral will posits its content as right, but is fallible (#111).  A moral action necessarily affects others--and not merely negatively, as in abstract right (e.g., "You can't take it; it's mine").  The rights to be sought in moral action and the welfare to be realized in moral action are not merely those of the agent (as we shall see), but those of others as well (#112).  (I leave ##113-14 without comment.)

            Now for some remarks defining responsibility (and guilt) in relation to the goal (Zweck, "purpose") of one's action.  Action on the level of immediacy presupposes an external object in a complex environment.  One is responsible for one's action in so far as the resulting state of affairs is one's own (i.e., not brought about by other factors not under my control) (##115-16).  I am not responsible for consequences I could not have foreseen (#117).  Some consequences are precisely what I intend; they belong to the action; changing Hegel's expression slightly, they are the (outer) figure (Gestalt) of the soul or purpose of the purpose of the action.  But beyond that, external factors may contribute to further consequences which cannot be blamed on me (#118).

            Regarding Intention and Welfare, an action may not properly be regarded merely as a momentary, external event, apart from the intention of the agent (#119).              But intentions may not simply be imputed; the agent has a right to disclaim any alleged intention not part of his/her thinking (#120).  The soul of the action is the particular content intended (e.g., the satisfaction of a desire).  A person does not will the evil as such (this assertion is rendered trivially true in the addition to paragraph 121 found on p. 251); rather these universal predicates of judgment are applied from the outside upon an action which was taken, presumably, in order to satisfy some passion, procure some good, rid oneself of some evil, etc.  Thus we can distinguish the inner motive from what is really done.

            But, as the addition remarks, it is possible to live (not just of the level of the effort to externalize one's inner intentions but) on the level of willing the right itself; then the outer action (as valued) and inner motive (as directed to the good) are not separated, opposed, disjunct; in such a happy and truly normal case, there will be no occasion for an external judgment to ascribe a predicate to the action that was not part of the soul of the action.  Our contemporary tendency to inquire about inner motives should pass away as more people come to find satisfaction in the action itself.  (Though there is no right to be successful or to have happiness) there is a right of the subject to find satisfaction through action (#121).

            Since I have a specific intention, my action has subjective value, interest for me.  In any purposive action there is a relation of means ("the immediate in the action") to the end, or purpose.  But any finite purpose can serve as a means to a further purpose, and so on, without limit (#122).

            The subject at this point pursues its interests and seeks for welfare or happiness (#123).  Subjective satisfaction is a legitimate, perhaps tacit, part of one's goal (#124).  That satisfaction is worthy if the actions are worthy.  The infinite value of the individual, in all his particularity, as expressed in Christian civilization, validates personal, particular satisfactions.  It is a mistake to array the universality of the understanding against them.  When I think of the will and subjectivity in general terms, I recognize that there is a right to satisfaction, not only as my own right, but also as the right of others, even of all subjects, whose particular goals may or may not harmonize with the universal (#125).  What is crucial here is that we have made the turn from describing the action of one person to discussing the right of many subjects.

            Next comes the efficient drama of the mutual limitation of right and welfare.  Each subject has rights only because of being free; no intention aiming at welfare (mine or anyone else') can justify an action contrary to right (#126).  (Note: the opposition between right and welfare only arises on the level where abstract right may oppose the welfare of a particular individual.)  Nevertheless, a person whose life is at stake has a legitimate welfare claim against other's normal rights (#127).  Thus we see the onesidedness right and welfare (each of which overrides the other in certain situations) (#128).

            We move to the next section by projecting the good as what conscience intends, namely the integration and fulfillment of these two moments, right and welfare, which we posit as capable of ultimate harmony (#129).  Welfare in this escatological sense is not merely individual, nor is it divorced from right, even as right cannot be right without welfare; rather the right of the whole prevails over the rights of the parts--e.g., property rights and particular welfare aims (#130).  The will initially relates to this projected Good as the essence to which it must measure up, although the Good is dependent upon the will for its actualization (#131).  The subjective will has the legitimate right to recognize for itself the validity of whatever demand may be placed upon it (#132).  The Good projected by will is essentially will itself; thus it is essentially knowable, not some transcendent Reality of which human mind may form merely an approximation; at the same time, the "insight" of this abstractly autonomous rational subject remains formal (not mediated through concrete ethical systems) and may err; the right of autonomy is overridden by the higher right of objectively established systems.

            I have a duty to the Good; but the Good is just essence of will itself, projected as the universal essence of will.  But this essence is abstract and formal; hence duty is to be done simply for the sake of duty (#133).  We may say that duty is to do right and take care for the welfare of self and others (#134); but these contents are not contained within the empty identity of unconditioned duty itself (#135).

            If we think of the Good over against ourselves as being so abstract, then our particularity--those qualities of ourselves that make us unique and that represent our special interests and desires and needs--is consigned to the realm of the subjective.  Conscience is that function of subjectivity which is certain of itself, and which determines and decides upon particular goals (#136).  The will provides itself with basic laws of duty; but these fall short of ethical knowledge (#137).  Conscience, in its self-certainty, calls into question all objective ethical determinations (#138).  (This alienation is understandable when the social sphere enshrines unethical norms.)  When conscience reduces all objective ethical norms to mere appearance, prima facie claims, etc., then it has reverted to the state of the merely arbitrary will (Willkur) which is potentially evil in that it may well raise itself above the objective universal ethical accomplishments of historical reason (#139).  Conscience--which insisted on seeing for itself just what was to be counted as good or evil, right or wrong, a requirement of duty or not--has revealed itself as empty and as arrogant.  Morality, the commitment to the Good without regard for the objective ethical structures of society, has revealed itself as empty and dangerous--as potentially evil.

            Both the subjective conscience and the projected Good are the same in that each is lacking in concrete, definite structure; and their identity is, ironically, what constitutes ethical life (#141).

 

8. ETHICAL LIFE

            The concept of freedom is actually realized in stable, valid laws and institutions (##142-44).  These are substantive structures that endure, even though individuals come and go, regulated by them, and giving them actuality.  The responsible individual finds these institutions to be the very essence of his or her self (as a rational will) (##146-47).  Duties within the context of valid institutions are like duties to oneself; they are liberating, not properly experienced as constraints upon arbitrary impulse (##148-49).  Virtue means the individual appropriation of the qualities required by ethical institutions; when a society is stable, having achieved rational institutions, the opportunity for heroism is reduced and virtue is little noticed (##150-52).  The individual finds fulfillment in the rights and duties of the diverse spheres of the ethical, each of which has its own higher level of mind; i.e., the state is the ethical substance, a mind of a higher order (##153-58).

 

THE FAMILY.   Paragraphs 158-160 introduce familial love and the following sections.

  Familial love involves felt unity.  Can that feeling of unity be experienced beyond the family (in the socio-biological sense)?  How wide a sphere can it encompass?  The young Hegel hoped for such energies to course through the state; the aging Hegel looks only to an unfeeling order in civil society and the state.  The surrender of one's sense of identity as an individual personality (as a bearer of rights), finding a new identity as a member of the larger group, is essential to the family.

            It is only when the family is dissolving that family members relate to each other in terms of rights (#129).  The coming paragraphs portray a classic Hegelian process of a level of life that contains within itself the "seeds" of its own destruction: the family begins in feeling, it is outwardly embodied in property, and it breaks up when the resulting children are educated and leave home (#160).

            Marriage.  In marriage the biological process is raised to consciousness (#162); in marriage persons freely enter an ethical union superior to the inclination or arrangement that may have led them into the marriage initially (#163).  In the new bond, passion becomes but a moment in a larger mindal reality ("spiritual substance").  The marriage ceremony is not merely a matter of getting "a piece of paper; rather the linguistic and public decision establishes something of a higher order (#164).

            The difference between the sexes is a vital and psychological complementarity of male--knowing, volitional, powerful, active--and female--passive, subjective.  He has the articulate life of politics and economic activity outside the home, which furnishes him a haven of intuitive warmth.  Her destiny is in the home.

. . .

            The family has capital, administered by the husband, as a common property, though each family member has rights in it (##170-72).

            Children represent the unity of a loving marriage; they have a right to be educated--elevated beyond a natural existence into an ethical one.

            What are the goals of parents?  What dispositions are especially important for children to acquire?  What is the relation between the feelings appropriate to children and ethical principles?  (##173-75).

            Why, according to Hegel, should divorce not be available on a whim? (##163-64; 176)

            In what ways can a family be "dissolved"?  (##176-78; 181)

            As families multiply, diversify, separate, they come to treat each other as separate (#181).  The family as the ethical realm of immediacy--feeling--gives way to the next level at which difference, particularity whose universality is merely implicit, emerges:

 

Hegel: Social and Political Thought

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) is one of the greatest systematic thinkers in the history of Western philosophy. In addition to epitomizing German idealist philosophy, Hegel boldly claimed that his own system of philosophy represented an historical culmination of all previous philosophical thought. Hegel's overall encyclopedic system is divided into the science of Logic, the philosophy of Nature, and the philosophy of Spirit. Of most enduring interest are his views on history, society, and the state, which fall within the realm of Objective Spirit. Some have considered Hegel to be a nationalistic apologist for the Prussian State of the early 19th century, but his significance has been much broader, and there is no doubt that Hegel himself considered his work to be an expression of the self-consciousness of the World Spirit of his time. At the core of Hegel's social and political thought are the concepts of freedom, reason, self-consciousness, and recognition. There are important connections between the metaphysical or speculative articulation of these ideas and their application to social and political reality, and one could say that the full meaning of these ideas can be grasped only with a comprehension of their social and historical embodiment. The work that explicates this concretizing of ideas, and which has perhaps stimulated as much controversy as interest, is the Philosophy of Right (Philosophie des Rechts), which will be a main focus of this essay.

Table of Contents

  1. Biography
  2. Political Writings
  3. The Jena Writings (1802-06)
  4. The Phenomenology of Spirit
  5. Logic and Political Theory
  6. The Philosophy of Right
    1. Abstract Right
    2. Morality
    3. Ethical Life
      1. The Family
      2. Civil Society
      3. The State
        1. Constitutional Law
        2. International Law
        3. World History
  7. Closing Remarks
  8. References and Further Reading
    1. Works by Hegel in German and in English Translation
    2. Works on Hegel's Social and Political Philosophy

1. Biography

G.W.F. Hegel was born in Stuttgart in 1770, the son of an official in the government of the Duke of Württemberg. He was educated at the Royal Highschool in Stuttgart from 1777-88 and steeped in both the classics and the literature of the European Enlightenment. In October, 1788 Hegel began studies at a theological seminary in Tübingen, the Tüberger Stift, where he became friends with the poet Hölderlin and philosopher Friedrich Schelling, both of whom would later become famous. In 1790 Hegel received an M.A. degree, one year after the fall of the Bastille in France, an event welcomed by these young idealistic students. Shortly after graduation, Hegel took a post as tutor to a wealthy Swiss family in Berne from 1793-96. In 1797, with the help of his friend Hölderlin, Hegel moved to Frankfurt to take on another tutorship. During this time he wrote unpublished essays on religion which display a certain radical tendency of thought in his critique of orthodox religion.

In January 1801, two years after the death of his father, Hegel finished with tutoring and went to Jena where he took a position as Privatdozent (unsalaried lecturer) at the University of Jena, where Hegel's friend Schelling had already held a university professorship for three years. There Hegel collaborated with Schelling on a Critical Journal of Philosophy (Kritisches Journal der Philosophie) and he also published a piece on the differences between the philosophies of Fichte and Schelling (Differenz des Fichte'schen und Schelling'schen Systems der Philosophie) in which preference was consistently expressed for the latter thinker. After having attained a professorship in 1805, Hegel published his first major work, the Phenomenology of Spirit (Phänomenologie des Geistes, 1807) which was delivered to the publisher just at the time of the occupation of Jena by Napoleon's armies. With the closing of the University, due to the victory of the French in Prussia, Hegel had to seek employment elsewhere and so he took a job as editor of a newspaper in Bamberg, Bavaria in 1807 (Die Bamberger Zeitung) followed by a move to Nuremberg in 1808 where Hegel became headmaster of a preparatory school (Gymnasium), roughly equivalent to a high school, and also taught philosophy to the students there until 1816. During this time Hegel married, had children, and published his Science of Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik) in three volumes.

One year following the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo (1815), Hegel took the position of Professor of Philosophy at the University of Heidelberg where he published his first edition of the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline (Encyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse, 1817). In 1818 he became Professor of Philosophy at the University of Berlin, through the invitation of the Prussion minister von Altenstein (who had introduced many liberal reforms in Prussia until the fall of Napoleon), and Hegel taught there until he died in 1831. Hegel lectured on various topics in philosophy, most notably on history, art, religion, and the history of philosophy and he became quite famous and influential. He held public positions as a member of the Royal Examination Commission of the Province of Brandenberg and also as a councellor in the Ministry of Education. In 1821 he published the Philosophy of Right (Philosophie des Rechts) and in 1830 was given the honor of being elected Rector of the University. On November 14, 1831 Hegel died of cholera in Berlin, four months after having been decorated by Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia.

2. Political Writings

Apart from his philosophical works on history, society, and the state, Hegel wrote several political tracts most of which were not published in his lifetime but which are significant enough in connection to the theoretical writings to deserve some mention. (These are published in English translation in Hegel's Political Writings and Political Writings, listed in the bibliography of works by Hegel below.)

Hegel's very first political work was on "On the Recent Domestic Affairs of Wurtemberg" (Über die neuesten innern Verhältnisse Württembergs…, 1798) which was neither completed nor published. In it Hegel expresses the view that the constitutional structure of Wurtemberg requires fundamental reform. He condemns the absolutist rule of Duke Ferdinand along with the narrow traditionalism and legal positivism of his officials and welcomes the convening of the Estates Assembly, while disagreeing with the method of election in the Diet. In contrast to the existing system of oligarchic privilege, Hegel argues that the Diet needs to be based on popular election through local town councils, although this should not be done by granting suffrage to an uneducated multitude. The essay ends inconclusively on the appropriate method of political representation.

A quite long piece of about 100 pages, The German Constitution (Die Verfassung Deutchlands) was written and revised by Hegel between 1799 and 1802 and was not published until after his death in 1893. This piece provides an analysis and critique of the constitution of the German Empire with the main theme being that the Empire is a thing of the past and that appeals for a unified German state are anachronistic. Hegel finds a certain hypocrisy in German thinking about the Empire and a gap between theory and practice in the German constitution. Germany was no longer a state governed by law but rather a plurality of independent political entities with disparate practices. Hegel stresses the need to recognize that the realities of the modern state necessitate a strong public authority along with a populace that is free and unregimented. The principle of government in the modern world is constitutional monarchy, the potentialities of which can be seen in Austria and Prussia. Hegel ends the essay on an uncertain note with the idea that Germany as a whole could be saved only by some Machiavellian genius.

The essay "Proceedings of the Estates Assembly in the Kingdom of Württemberg, 1815-1816" was published in 1817 in the Heidelbergische Jahrbücher. In it Hegel commented on sections of the official report of the Diet of Württemberg, focusing on the opposition by the Estates to the King's request for ratification of a new constitutional charter that recognized recent liberalizing changes and reforms. Hegel sided with King Frederick and criticized the Estates as being reactionary in their appeal to old customary laws and feudal property rights. There has been controversy over whether Hegel here was trying to gain favor with the King in order to attain a government position. However, Hegel's favoring a sovereign kingdom of Wurtemberg over the German Empire and the need for a constitutional charter that is more rational than the previous are quite continuous with the previous essays. A genuine state needs a strong and effective central public authority, and in resisting the Estates are trying to live in the feudal past. Moreover, Hegel is not uncritical of the King's constitutional provisions and finds deficiencies in the exclusion of members of professions from the Estates Assembly as well as in the proposal for direct suffrage in representation, which treats citizens like unintegrated atomic units rather than as members of a political community.

The last of Hegel's political tracts, "The English Reform Bill," was written in installments in 1831 for the ministerial newspaper, the Preussische Staatszeitung, but was interrupted due to censure by the Prussian King because of the perception of its being overly critical and anti-English. As a result, the remainder of the work was printed independently and distributed discretely. Hegel's main line of criticism is that the proposed English reforms of suffrage will not make much of a difference in the distribution of political power and may only create a power struggle between the rising group of politicians and the traditional ruling class. Moreover, there are deep problems in English society that cannot be addressed by the proposed electoral reforms, including political corruption in the English burroughs, the selling of seats in parliament, and the general oligarchic nature of social reality including the wide disparities between wealth and poverty, Ecclesiastical patronage, and conditions in Ireland. While Hegel supports the idea of reform with its appeal to rational change as against the "positivity" of customary law, traditionalism and privilege, he thinks that universalizing suffrage with a property qualification without a thorough reform of the system of Common Law and the existing social conditions will only be perceived as token measures leading to greater disenchantment among the newly enfranchised and possibly inclinations to violent revolution. Hegel claims that national pride keeps the English from studying and following the reforms of the European Continent or seriously reflecting upon and grasping the nature of government and legislation.

There are several overall themes that reoccur in these political writings and that connect with some of the main lines of thought in Hegel's theoretical works. First, there is the contrast between the attitude of legal positivism and the appeal to the law of reason. Hegel consistently displays a "political rationalism" which attacks old concepts and attitudes that no longer apply to the modern world. Old constitutions stemming from the Feudal era are a confused mixture of customary laws and special privileges that must give way to the constitutional reforms of the new social and political world that has arrived in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Second, reforms of old constitutions must be thorough and radical, but also cautious and gradual. This might sound somewhat inconsistent, but for Hegel a reform is radical due to a fundamental change in direction, not the speed of such change. Hegel suggests that customary institutions not be abolished too quickly for there must be some congruence and continuity with the existing social conditions. Hegel rejects violent popular action and sees the principal force for reform in governments and the estates assemblies, and he thinks reforms should always stress legal equality and the public welfare. Third, Hegel emphasizes the need for a strong central government, albeit without complete centralized control of public administration and social relations. Hegel here anticipates his later conception of civil society (bürgerliche Gesellschaft), the social realm of individual autonomy where there is significant local self-governance. The task of government is not to thoroughly bureaucratize civil society but rather to provide oversight, regulation, and when necessary intervention. Fourth, Hegel claims that representation of the people must be popular but not atomistic. The democratic element in a state is not its sole feature and it must be institutionalized in a rational manner. Hegel rejects universal suffrage as irrational because it provides no means of mediation between the individual and the state as a whole. Hegel believed that the masses lacked the experience and political education to be directly involved in national elections and policy matters and that direct suffrage leads to electoral indifference and apathy. Fifth, while acknowledging the importance of a division of powers in the public authority, Hegel does not appeal to a conception of separation and balance of powers. He views the estates assemblies, which safeguard freedom, as essentially related to the monarch and also stresses the role of civil servants and members of the professions, both in ministerial positions and in the assemblies. The monarchy, however, is the central supporting element in the constitutional structure because the monarch is invested with the sovereignty of the state. However, the power of the monarch is not despotical for he exercises authority through universal laws and statutes and is advised and assisted by a ministry and civil service, all members of which must meet educational requirements.

3. The Jena Writings (1802-06)

Hegel wrote several pieces while at the University of Jena that point in the direction of some of the main theses of the Philosophy of Right. The first was entitled "On the Scientific Modes of Treatment of Natural Law–Its Place in Practical Philosophy and Its Relationship to the Positive Science of Law" (Über die wissenschaftlichen Behandlungsarten des Naturrechts…), published originally in the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie in 1802, edited jointly by Hegel and Schelling. In this piece, usually referred to as the essay on Natural Law, Hegel criticizes both the empirical and formal approaches to natural law, as exemplified in British and Kantian philosophy respectively. Empiricism reaches conclusions that are limited by the particularities of its contexts and materials and thus cannot provide universally valid propositions regarding the concepts of various social and political institutions or of the relation of reflective consciousness to social and political experience. Formalist conclusions, on the other hand, are too insubstantial and abstract in failing to properly link human reason concretely to human experience. Traditional natural law theories are based on an abstract rationalism and the attempts of Rousseau, Kant, and Fichte to remedy this through their various ethical conceptions fail to overcome abstractness. For Hegel, the proper method of philosophical science must link concretely the development of the human mind and its rational powers to actual experience. Moreover, the concept of a social and political community must transcend the instrumentalizing of the state.

Hegel's work entitled "The System of Ethical Life" (System der Sittlichkeit) was written in 1802-03 and first published in its entirety by Georg Lasson in 1913 in a volume entitled Schriften zur Politik und Rechtsphilosophie. In this work, Hegel develops a philosophical theory of social and political development that correlates with the self-development of essential human powers. Historically, humans begin in an immediate relation to nature and their social existence takes the form of natürliche Sittlichkeit, i.e., a non-selfconscious relation to nature and to others. However, the satisfaction of human desires leads to their reproduction and multiplication and leads to the necessity for labor, which induces transformation in the human world and people's connections to it. This process leads to a self-realization that undermines the original naïve unity with nature and others and to the formation of overtly cooperative endeavors, e.g., in the making and use of tools. Another result of labor is the emergence of private property as an embodiment of human personality as well as of sets of legal relationships that institutionalize property ownership, exchange, etc., and deal with crimes against property. Furthermore, disparities in property and power lead to relationships of subordination and the use of the labor of others to satisfy one's increasingly complex and expanded desires. Gradually, a system of mutual dependence, a "system of needs," develops, and along with the increasing division of labor there also develops class differentiations reflecting the types of labor or activity taken up by members of each class, which Hegel classifies into the agricultural, acquisitive, and administerial classes. However, despite relations of interdependence and cooperation the members of society experience social connections as a sort of blind fate without some larger system of control which is provided by the state which regulates the economic life of society. The details of the structure of the state are unclear in this essay, but what is clear is that for Hegel the state provides an increased rationality to social practices, much in the sense that the later German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) would articulate how social practices become more rational by being codified and made more predictable.

The manuscripts entitled Realphilosophie are based on lectures Hegel delivered at Jena University in 1803-04 (Realphilosophie I) and 1805-06 (Realphilosophie II), and were originally published by Johannes Hoffmeister in 1932. These writings cover much of the same ground as the System der Sittlichkeit in explicating a philosophy of mind and human experience in relation to human social and political development. Some of the noteworthy ideas in these writings are the role and significance of language for social consciousness, for giving expression to a people (Volk) and for the comprehending of and mastery of the world, and the necessity and consequences of the fragmentation of primordial social relationships and patterns as part of the process of human development. Also, there is a reiteration of the importance of property relations as crucial to social recognition and how there would be no security of property or recognition of property rights if society were to remain a mere multitude of families. Such security requires a system of control over the "struggle for recognition" through interpersonal norms, rules, and juridical authority provided by the nation state. Moreover, Hegel repeats the need for strong state regulation of the economy, which if left to its own workings is blind to the needs of the social community. The economy, especially through the division of labor, produces fragmentation and diminishment of human life (compare Marx on alienation) and the state must not only address this phenomenon but also provide the means for the people's political participation to further the development of social self-consciousness. In all of this Hegel appears to be providing a philosophical account of modern developments both in terms of the tensions and conflicts that are new to modernity as well as in the progressive movements of reform found under the influence of Napoleon.

Finally, Hegel also discusses the forms of government, the three main types being tyranny, democracy, and hereditary monarchy. Tyranny is found typically in primitive or undeveloped states, democracy exists in states where there is the realization of individual identity but no split between the public and private person, and hereditary monarchy is the appropriate form of political authority in the modern world in providing strong central government along with a system of indirect representation through Estates. The relation of religion to the state is undeveloped in these writings, but Hegel is clear about the supereminent role of the state that stands above all else in giving expression to the Spirit (Geist) of a society in a sort of earthly kingdom of God, the realization of God in the world. True religion complements and supports this realization and thus cannot properly have supremacy over or be opposed to the state.

4. The Phenomenology of Spirit

The Phenomenology of Spirit (Die Phänomenologie des Geistes), published in 1807, is Hegel's first major comprehensive philosophical work. Originally intended to be the first part of his comprehensive system of science (Wissenschaft) or philosophy, Hegel eventually considered it to be the introduction to his system. This work provides what can be called a "biography of spirit," i.e., an account of the development of consciousness and self-consciousness in the context of some central epistemological, anthropological and cultural themes of human history. It has continuity with the works discussed above in examining the development of the human mind in relation to human experience but is more wide-ranging in also addressing fundamental questions about the meaning of perceiving, knowing, and other cognitive activities as well as of the nature of reason and reality. Given the focus of this essay, the themes of the Phenomenology to be discussed here are those directly relevant to Hegel's social and political thought.

One of the most widely discussed places in the Phenomenology is the chapter on "The Truth of Self-Certainty" which includes a subsection on "Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness: Lordship and Bondage." This section treats of the (somewhat misleadingly named) "master/slave" struggle which is taken by some, especially the Marxian-inspired, as a paradigm of all forms of social conflict, in particular the struggle between social classes. It is clear that Hegel intended the scenario to typify certain features of the struggle for recognition (Anerkennung) overall, be it social, personal, etc. The conflict between master and slave (which shall be referred to hereafter as lord and bondsman as more in keeping with Hegel's own terminology and the intended generic meaning) is one in which the historical themes of dominance and obedience, dependence and independence, etc., are philosophically introduced. Although this specific dialectic of struggle occurs only at the earliest stages of self-consciousness, it nonetheless sets up the main problematic for achieving realized self-consciousness–the gaining of self-recognition through the recognition of and by another, through mutual recognition.

According to Hegel, the relationship between self and otherness is the fundamental defining characteristic of human awareness and activity, being rooted as it is in the emotion of desire for objects as well as in the estrangement from those objects, which is part of the primordial human experience of the world. The otherness that consciousness experiences as a barrier to its goal is the external reality of the natural and social world, which prevents individual consciousness from becoming free and independent. However, that otherness cannot be abolished or destroyed, without destroying oneself, and so ideally there must be reconciliation between self and other such that consciousness can "universalize" itself through the other. In the relation of dominance and subservience between two consciousnesses, say lord and bondsman, the basic problem for consciousness is the overcoming of its otherness, or put positively, the achieving of integration with itself. The relation between lord and bondsman leads to a sort of provisional, incomplete resolution of the struggle for recognition between distinct consciousnesses.

Hegel asks us to consider how a struggle between two distinct consciousnesses, let us say a violent "life-or-death" struggle, would lead to one consciousness surrendering and submitting to the other out of fear of death. Initially, the consciousness that becomes lord or master proves its freedom through willingness to risk its life and not submit to the other out of fear of death, and thus not identify simply with its desire for life and physical being. Moreover, this consciousness is given acknowledgement of its freedom through the submission and dependence of the other, which turns out paradoxically to be a deficient recognition in that the dominant one fails to see a reflection of itself in the subservient one. Adequate recognition requires a mirroring of the self through the other, which means that to be successful it must be mutual. In the ensuing relationship of lordship and bondage, furthermore, the bondsman through work and discipline (motivated by fear of dying at the hands of the master or lord) transforms his subservience into a mastery over his environment, and thus achieves a measure of independence. In objectifying himself in his environment through his labor the bondsman in effect realizes himself, with his transformed environment serving as a reflection of his inherently self-realizing activity. Thus, the bondsman gains a measure of independence in his subjugation out of fear of death. In a way, the lord represents death as the absolute subjugator, since it is through fear of this master, of the death that he can impose, that the bondsman in his acquiescence and subservience is placed into a social context of work and discipline. Yet despite, or more properly, because of this subjection the bondsman is able to attain a measure of independence by internalizing and overcoming those limitations which must be dealt with if he is to produce efficiently. However, this accomplishment, the self-determination of the bondsman, is limited and incomplete because of the asymmetry that remains in his relation to the lord. Self-consciousness is still fragmented, i.e., the objectification through labor that the bondsman experiences does not coincide with the consciousness of the lord whose sense of self is not through labor but through power over the bondsman and enjoyment of the fruits of the bondsman's labor. Only in a realm of ethical life can self-determination be fully self-conscious to the extent that universal freedom is reflected in the life of each individual member of society.

Thus, in the Phenomenology consciousness must move on through the phases of Stoicism, Skepticism, and the Unhappy Consciousness before engaging in the self-articulation of Reason, and it is not until the section "Objective Spirit: The Ethical Order" that the full universalization of self-consciousness is in principle to be met with. Here we find a shape of human existence where all men work freely, serving the needs of the whole community rather than of masters, and subject only to the "discipline of reason." This mode of ethical life, typified in ancient Greek democracy, also eventually disintegrates, as is expressed in the conflict between human and divine law and the tragic fate that is the outcome of this conflict illustrated in the story of Antigone. However, the ethical life described here is still in its immediacy and is therefore at a level of abstractness that falls short of the mediation of subjectivity and universality which is provided spiritually in revealed Christianity and politically in the modern state, which purportedly provides a solution to human conflict arising from the struggle for recognition. In any case, the rest of the Phenomenology is devoted to examinations of culture (including enlightenment and revolution), morality, religion, and finally, Absolute Knowing.

The dialectic of self-determination is, for Hegel, inherent in the very structure of freedom, and is the defining feature of Spirit (Geist). The full actualization of Spirit in the human community requires the progressive development of individuality which effectively begins with the realization in self-consciousness of the "truth of self-certainty" and culminates in the shape of a shared common life in an integrated community of love and Reason, based upon the realization of truths of incarnation, death, resurrection, and forgiveness as grasped in speculative Religion. The articulation Hegel provides in the Phenomenology, however, is very generic and is to be made concrete politically with the working out of a specific conception of the modern nation-state with its particular configuration of social and political institutions. It is to the latter that we must turn in order to see how these fundamental dialectical considerations take shape in the "solution" to the struggle for recognition in self-consciousness. However, before moving directly to Hegel's theory of the state, and history, some discussion of his Logic is in order.

5. Logic and Political Theory

The Logic constitutes the first part of Hegel's philosophical system as presented in his Encyclopedia. It was preceded by his larger work, The Science of Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik), published in 1812-16 in two volumes. The "Encyclopedia Logic" is a shorter version intended to function as part of an "outline," but it became longer in the course of the three published versions of 1817, 1827, and 1830. Also, the English translation by William Wallace contains additions from the notes of students who heard Hegel's lectures on this subject. (Reference to the paragraphs of the Encyclopedia will be made with the "¶" character.)

The structure of the Logic is triadic, reflecting the organization of the larger system of philosophy as well as a variety of other motifs, both internal and external to the Logic proper. The Logic has three divisions: the Doctrine of Being, the Doctrine of Essence, and the Doctrine of the Notion (or Concept). There are a number of logical categories in this work that are directly relevant to social and political theorizing. In the Doctrine of Being, for example, Hegel explains the concept of "being-for-self" as the function of self-relatedness in the resolving of opposition between self and other in the "ideality of the finite" (¶ 95-96). He claims that the task of philosophy is to bring out the ideality of the finite, and as will be seen later Hegel's philosophy of the state is intended to articulate the ideality of the state, i.e., its affirmative and infinite or rational features. In the Doctrine of Essence, Hegel explains the categories of actuality and freedom. He says that actuality is the unity of "essence and existence" (¶ 142) and argues that this does not rule out the actuality of ideas for they become actual by being realized in external existence. Hegel will have related points to make about the actuality of the idea of the state in society and history. Also, he defines freedom not in terms of contingency or lack of determination, as is popular, but rather as the "truth of necessity," i.e., freedom presupposes necessity in the sense that reciprocal action and reaction provide a structure for free action, e.g., a necessary relation between crime and punishment.

The Doctrine of the Notion (Begriff) is perhaps the most relevant section of the Logic to social and political theory due to its focus on the various dynamics of development. This section is subdivided into three parts: the subjective notion, the objective notion, and the idea which articulates the unity of subjective and objective. The first part, the subjective notion, contains three "moments" or functional parts: universality, particularity, and individuality (¶ 163ff). These are particularly important as Hegel will show how the functional parts of the state operate according to a progressive "dialectical" movement from the first to the third moments and how the state as a whole, as a functioning and integrated totality, gives expression to the concept of individuality (in ¶198 Hegel refers to the state as "a system of three syllogisms"). Hegel treats these relationships as logical judgments and syllogisms but they do not merely articulate how the mind must operate (subjectivity) but also explain actual relationships in reality (objectivity). In objective reality we find these logical/dialectical relationships in mechanism, chemism, and teleology. Finally, in the Idea, the correspondence of the notion or concept with objective reality, we have the truth of objects or objects as they ought to be, i.e., as they correspond to their proper concepts. The logical articulation of the Idea is very important to Hegel's explanation of the Idea of the state in modern history, for this provides the principles of rationality that guide the development of Spirit in the world and that become manifested in various ways in social and political life.

6. The Philosophy of Right

In 1821, Hegel's Philosophy of Right orginally appeared under the double title Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaften in Grundrisse; Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (Natural Law and the Science of the State; Elements of the Philosophy of Right). The work was republished by Eduard Gans in 1833 and 1854 as part of Hegel's Werke, vol. viii and included additions from notes taken by students at Hegel's lectures. The English language translation of this work by T. M. Knox refers to these later editions as well as to an edition published in 1923 by Georg Lasson, which included corrections from previous editions.

The Philosophy of Right constitutes, along with Hegel's Philosophy of History, the penultimate section of his Encyclopedia, the section on Objective Spirit, which deals with the human world and its array of social rules and institutions, including the moral, legal, religious, economic, and political as well as marriage, the family, social classes, and other forms of human organization. The German word Recht is often translated as 'law', however, Hegel clearly intends the term to have a broader meaning that captures what we might call the good or just society, one that is "rightful" in its structure, composition, and practices.

In the Introduction to this work Hegel explains the concept of his philosophical undertaking along with the specific key concepts of will, freedom, and right. At the very beginning, Hegel states that the Idea of right, the concept together with its actualization, is the proper subject of the philosophical science of right (¶ 1). Hegel is emphatic that the study is scientific in that it deals in a systematic way with something essentially rational. He further remarks that the basis of scientific procedure in a philosophy of right is explicated in philosophical logic and presupposed by the former (¶ 2). Furthermore, Hegel is at pains to distinguish the historical or legal approach to "positive law" (Gesetz) and the philosophical approach to the Idea of right (Recht), the former involving mere description and compilation of laws as legal facts while the latter probes into the inner meaning and necessary determinations of law or right. For Hegel the justification of something, the finding of its inherent rationality, is not a matter of seeking its origins or longstanding features but rather of studying it conceptually.

However, there is one sense in which the origin of right is relevant to philosophical science and this is the free will. The free will is the basis and origin of right in the sense that mind or spirit (Geist) generally objectifies itself in a system of right (human social and political institutions) that gives expression to freedom, which Hegel says is both the substance and goal of right (¶ 4). This ethical life in the state consists in the unity of the universal and the subjective will. The universal will is contained in the Idea of freedom as its essence, but when considered apart from the subjective will can be thought of only abstractly or indeterminately. Considered apart from the subjective or particular will, the universal will is "the element of pure indeterminacy or that pure reflection of the ego into itself which involves the dissipation of every restriction and every content either immediately presented by nature, by needs, desires, and impulses, or given and determined by any means whatever" (¶ 5). In other words, the universal will is that moment in the Idea of freedom where willing is thought of as state of absolutely unrestrained volition, unfettered by any particular circumstances or limitations whatsoever–the pure form of willing. This is expressed in the modern libertarian view of completely uncoerced choice, the absence of restraint (or "negative liberty" as understood by Thomas Hobbes). The subjective will, on the other hand, is the principle of activity and realization that involves "differentiation, determination, and positing of a determinacy as a content and object" (¶ 6). This means that the will is not merely unrestrained in acting but that it actually can give expression to the doing or accomplishing of certain things, e.g., through talent or expertise (sometimes called "positive freedom"). The unity of both the moments of abstract universality (the will in-itself) and subjectivity or particularity (the will for-itself) is the concrete universal or true individuality (the will in-and-for-itself). According to Hegel, preservation of the distinction of these two moments in the unity (identity-in-difference) between universal and particular will is what produces rational self-determination of an ego, as well as the self-consciousness of the state as a whole. Hegel's conception of freedom as self-determination is just this unity in difference of the universal and subjective will, be it in the willing by individual persons or in the expressions of will by groups of individuals or collectivities. The "negative self-relation" of this freedom involves the subordination of the natural instincts, impulses, and desires to conscious reflection and to goals and purposes that are consciously chosen and that require commitment to rational principles in order to properly guide action.

The overall structure of the Philosophy of Right is quite remarkable in its "syllogistic" organization. The main division of the work corresponds to what Hegel calls the stages in the development of "the Idea of the absolutely free will," and these are Abstract Right, Morality, and Ethical Life. Each of these divisions is further subdivided triadically: under Abstract Right there is Property, Contract, and Wrong; under Morality falls Purpose and Responsibility, Intention and Welfare, and Good and Conscience; finally, under Ethical Life comes the Family, Civil Society, and the State. These last subdivisions are further subdivided into triads, with fourth level subdivisions occurring under Civil Society and the State. This triadic system of rubrics is no mere description of a static model of social and political life. Hegel claims that it gives expression to the conceptual development of Spirit in human society based upon the purely logical development of rationality provided in his Logic. Thus, it is speculatively based and not derivable from empirical survey, although the particularities of the system do indeed correspond to our experience and what we know about ourselves anthropologically, culturally, etc.

The transition in the Logic from universality to particularity to individuality (or concrete universality) is expressed in the social and political context in the conceptual transition from Abstract Right to Morality to Ethical Life. In the realm of Abstract Right, the will remains in its immediacy as an abstract universal that is expressed in personality and in the universal right to possession of external things in property. In the realm of Morality, the will is no longer merely "in-itself," or restricted to the specific characteristics of legal personality, but becomes free "for-itself," i.e., it is will reflected into itself so as to produce a self-consciousness of the will's infinity. The will is expressed, initially, in inner conviction and subsequently in purpose, intention, and conviction. As opposed to the merely juridical person, the moral agent places primary value on subjective recognition of principles or ideals that stand higher than positive law. At this stage, universality of a higher moral law is viewed as something inherently different from subjectivity, from the will's inward convictions and actions, and so in its isolation from a system of objectively recognized legal rules the willing subject remains "abstract, restricted, and formal" (¶ 108). Because the subject is intrinsically a social being who needs association with others in order to institutionalize the universal maxims of morality, maxims that cover all people, it is only in the realm of Ethical Life that the universal and the subjective will come into a unity through the objectification of the will in the institutions of the Family, Civil Society, and the State.

In what follows, we trace through Hegel's systematic development of the "stages of the will," highlighting only the most important points as necessary to get an overall view of this work.

a. Abstract Right

The subject of Abstract Right (Recht) is the person as the bearer or holder of individual rights. Hegel claims that this focus on the right of personality, while significant in distinguishing persons from mere things, is abstract and without content, a simple relation of the will to itself. The imperative of right is: "Be a person and respect others as persons" (¶ 36). In this formal conception of right, there is no question of particular interests, advantages, motives or intentions, but only the mere idea of the possibility of choosing based on the having of permission, as long as one does not infringe on the right of other persons. Because of the possibilities of infringement, the positive form of commands in this sphere are prohibitions.

(1) Property (the universality of will as embodied in things)

A person must translate his or her freedom into the external world "in order to exist as Idea" (¶ 41), thus abstract right manifests itself in the absolute right of appropriation over all things. Property is the category through which one becomes an object to oneself in that one actualizes the will through possession of something external. Property is the embodiment of personality and of freedom. Not only can a person put his or her will into something external through the taking possession of it and of using it, but one can also alienate property or yield it to the will of another, including the ability to labor for a restricted period of time. One's personality is inalienable and one's right to personality imprescriptible. This means one cannot alienate all of one's labor time without becoming the property of another.

(2) Contract (the positing of explicit universality of will)

In this sphere, we have a relation of will to will, i.e., one holds property not merely by means of the subjective will externalized in a thing, but by means of another's person's will, and implicitly by virtue of one's participation in a common will. The status of being an independent owner of something from which one excludes the will of another is thus mediated in the identification of one's will with the other in the contractual relation, which presupposes that the contracting parties "recognize each other as persons and property owners" (¶ 71). (Note the significant development here beyond the dialectic of lord and bondsman.) Moreover, when contract involves the alienation or giving up of property, the external thing is now an explicit embodiment of the unity of wills. In contractual relations of exchange, what remains identical as the property of the individuals is its value, in respect to which the parties to the contract are on an equal footing, regardless of the qualitative external differences between the things exchanged. "Value is the universal in which the subjects of the contract participate" (¶ 77).

(3) Wrong (the particular will opposing itself to the universal)

In immediate relations of persons to one another it is possible for a particular will to be at variance with the universal through arbitrariness of decision and contingency of circumstance, and so the appearance (Erscheinung) of right takes on the character of a show (Schein), which is the inessential, arbitrary, posing as the essential. If the "show" is only implicit and not explicit also, i.e., if the wrong passes in the doer's eyes as right, the wrong is non-malicious. In fraud a show is made to deceive the other party and so in the doer's eyes the right asserted is only a show. Crime is wrong both in itself and from the doer's point of view, such that wrong is willed without even the pretense or show of right. Here the form of acting does not imply a recognition of right but rather is an act of coercion through exercise of force. It is a "negatively infinite judgement" in that it asserts a denial of rights to the victim, which is not only incompatible with the fact of the matter but also self-negating in denying its own capacity for rights in principle.

The penalty that falls on the criminal is not merely just but is "a right established within the criminal himself, i.e., in his objectively embodied will, in his action," because the crime as the action of a rational being implies appeal to a universal standard recognized by the criminal (¶ 100). The annulling of crime in this sphere of immediate right occurs first as revenge, which as retributive is just in its content, but in its form it is an act of a subjective will and does not correspond with its universal content and hence as a new transgression is defective and contradictory (¶ 102). All crimes are comparable in their universal property of being injuries, thus, in a sense it is not something personal but the concept itself which carries out retribution.

Crime, as the will which is implicitly null, contains its negation in itself, which is its punishment.

The nullity of crime is that it has set aside right as such, but since right is absolute it cannot be set aside. Thus, the act of crime is not something positive, not a first thing, but is something negative, and punishment is the negation of crime's negation.

b. Morality

The demand for justice as punishment rather than as revenge, with regard to wrong, implies the demand for a will which, though particular and subjective, also wills the universal as such. In wrong the will has become aware of itself as particular and has opposed itself to and contradicted the universal embodied in rights. At this stage the universally right is abstract and one-sided and thus requires a move to a higher level of self-consciousness where the universally right is mediated by the particular convictions of the willing subject. We go beyond the criminal's defiance of the universal by substituting for the abstract conception of personality the more concrete conception of subjectivity. The criminal is now viewed as breaking his own law, and his crime is a self-contradiction and not only a contradiction of a right outside him. This recognition brings us to the level of morality (Moralität) where the will is free both in itself and for itself, i.e., the will is self-conscious of its subjective freedom.

At the level of morality the right of the subjective will is embodied in immediate wills (as opposed to immediate things like property). The defect of this level, however, is that the subject is only for itself, i.e., one is conscious of one's subjectivity and independence but is conscious of universality only as something different from this subjectivity. Therefore, the identity of the particular will and the universal will is only implicit and the moral point of view is that of a relation of "ought-to-be," or the demand for what is right. While the moral will externalizes itself in action, its self-determination is a pure "restlessness" of activity that never arrives at actualization.

The right of the moral will has three aspects. First, there is the right of the will to act in its external environment, to recognize as its actions only those that it has consciously willed in light of an aim or purpose (purpose and responsibility). Second, in my intention I ought to be aware not simply of my particular action but also of the universal which is conjoined with it. The universal is what I have willed and is my intention. The right of intention is that the universal quality of the action is not merely implied but is known by the agent, and so it lies from the start in one's subjective will. Moreover, the content of such a will is not only the right of the particular subject to be satisfied but is elevated to a universal end, the end of welfare or happiness (intention and welfare). The welfare of many unspecified persons is thus also an essential end and right of subjectivity. However, right as an abstract universal and welfare as abstract particularity, may collide, since both are contingent on circumstances for their satisfaction, e.g., in cases where claims of right or welfare by someone may endanger the life of another there can be a counter-claim to a right of distress. "This distress reveals the finitude and therefore the contingency of both right and welfare" (¶ 128). This "contradiction" between right and welfare is overcome in the third aspect of the moral will, the good which is "the Idea as the unity of the concept of the will with the particular will" (¶ 129).

In addition to the right of the subjective will that whatever it recognizes as valid shall be seen by it as good, and that an action shall be imputed to it as good or evil in accordance with its knowledge of the worth which the action has in its external objectivity (¶ 132), which together constitute a "right of insight," the will also must recognize the good as its duty, which is, to begin with, duty for duty's sake, or duty formally and without content (e.g., as expressed in the Kantian "categorical imperative"). Because of this lack of content, the subjective will in its abstract reflection into itself is "absolute inward certainty (Gewißheit) of self," or conscience (Gewissen). While true or authentic conscience is the disposition to will what is absolutely good, and thus correspond with what is objectively right, purely formal conscience lacks an objective system of principles and duties. Although conscience is ideally supposed to mean the identity of subjective knowing and willing with the truly good, when it remains the subjective inner reflection of self-consciousness into itself its claim to this identity is deficient and one-sided. Moreover, when the determinate character of right and duty reduces to subjectivity, the mere inwardness of the will, there is the potentiality of elevating the self-will of particular individuals above the universal itself, i.e., of "slipping into evil" (¶ 139). What makes a person evil is the choosing of natural desires in opposition to the good, i.e., to the concept of the will. When an individual attempts to pass off his or her action as good, and thus imposing it on others, while being aware of the discrepancy between its negative character and the objective universal good, the person falls into hypocrisy. This is one of several forms of perverse moral subjectivity that Hegel discusses at length in his remarks (¶ 140).

c. Ethical Life

Hegel's analysis of the moral implications of "good and conscience" leads to the conclusion that a concrete unity of the objective good with the subjectivity of the will cannot be achieved at the level of personal morality since all attempts at this are problematic. The concrete identity of the good with the subjective will occurs only in moving to the level of ethical life (Sittlichkeit), which Hegel says is "the Idea of freedom…the concept of freedom developed into the existing world and the nature of self-consciousness" (¶ 142). Thus, ethical life is permeated with both objectivity and subjectivity: regarded objectively it is the state and its institutions, whose force (unlike abstract right) depends entirely on the self-consciousness of citizens, on their subjective freedom; regarded subjectively it is the ethical will of the individual which (unlike the moral will) is aware of objective duties that express one's inner sense of universality. The rationality of the ethical order of society is thus constituted in the synthesis of the concept of the will, both as universal and as particular, with its embodiment in institutional life.

The synthesis of ethical life means that individuals not only act in conformity with the ethical good but that they recognize the authority of ethical laws. This authority is not something alien to individuals since they are linked to the ethical order through a strong identification which Hegel says "is more like an identity than even the relation of faith or trust" (¶ 147). The knowledge of how the laws and institutions of society are binding on the will of individuals entails a "doctrine of duties." In duty the individual finds liberation both from dependence on mere natural impulse, which may or may not motivate ethical actions, and from indeterminate subjectivity which cannot produce a clear view of proper action. "In duty the individual acquires his substantive freedom" (¶ 149). In the performance of duty the individual exhibits virtue when the ethical order is reflected in his or her character, and when this is done by simple conformity with one's duties it is rectitude. When individuals are simply identified with the actual ethical order such that their ethical practices are habitual and second nature, ethical life appears in their general mode of conduct as custom (Sitten). Thus, the ethical order manifests its right and validity vis-à-vis individuals. In duty "the self-will of the individual vanishes together with his private conscience which had claimed independence and opposed itself to the ethical substance. For when his character is ethical, he recognizes as the end which moves him to act the universal which is itself unmoved but is disclosed in its specific determinations as rationality actualized. He knows that his own dignity and the whole stability of his particular ends are grounded in this same universal, and it is therein that he actually attains these" (¶ 152). However, this does not deny the right of subjectivity, i.e., the right of individuals to be satisfied in their particular pursuits and free activity; but this right is realized only in belonging to an objective ethical order. The "bond of duty" will be seen as a restriction on the particular individual only if the self-will of subjective freedom is considered in the abstract, apart from an ethical order (as is the case for both Abstract Right and Morality). "Hence, in this identity of the universal will with the particular will, right and duty coalesce, and by being in the ethical order a man has rights in so far as he has duties, and duties in so far as he has rights" (¶ 155).

In the realm of ethical life the logical syllogism of self-determination of the Idea is most clearly applied. The moments of universality, particularity, and individuality initially are represented respectively in the institutions of the family, civil society, and the state. The family is "ethical mind in its natural or immediate phase" and is characterized by love or the feeling of unity in which one is not conscious of oneself as an independent person but only as a member of the family unit to which one is bound. Civil society, on the other hand, comprises an association of individuals considered as self-subsistent and who have no conscious sense of unity of membership but only pursue self-interest, e.g., in satisfying needs, acquiring and protecting property, and in joining organizations for mutual advantage. Finally, the constitution of the political state brings together in a unity the sense of the importance of the whole or universal good along with the freedom of particularity of individual pursuits and thus is "the end and actuality of both the substantial order and the public life devoted thereto" (¶ 157).

i. The Family

The family is characterized by love which is "mind's feeling of its own unity," where one's sense of individuality is within this unity, not as an independent individual but as a member essentially related to the other family members. Thus, familial love implies a contradiction between, on the one hand, not wanting to be a self-subsistent and independent person if that means feeling incomplete and, on the other hand, wanting to be recognized in another person. Familial love is truly an ethical unity, but because it is nonetheless a subjective feeling it is limited in sustaining unity (pars. 158-59, and additions).

(A) Marriage

The union of man and woman in marriage is both natural and spiritual, i.e., is a physical relationship and one that is also self-conscious, and it is entered into on the basis of the free consent of the persons. Since this consent involves bringing two persons into a union, there is the mutual surrender of their natural individuality for the sake of union, which is both a self-restriction and also a liberation because in this way individuals attain a higher self-consciousness.

(B) Family Capital

The family as a unit has its external existence in property, specifically capital (Vermögen) which constitutes permanent and secured possessions that allow for endurance of the family as "person" (¶ 170). This capital is the common property of all the family members, none of whom possess property of their own, but it is administered by the head of the family, the husband.

(C) Education of Children & Dissolution of the Family

Children provide the external and objective basis for the unity of marriage. The love of the parents for their children is the explicit expression of their love for each other, while their immediate feelings of love for each other are only subjective. Children have the right to maintenance and education, and in this regard a claim upon the family capital, but parents have the right to provide this service to the children and to instill discipline over the wishes of their children. The education of children has a twofold purpose: the positive aim of instilling ethical principles in them in the form of immediate feeling and the negative one of raising them out of the instinctive physical level. Marriage can be dissolved not by whim but by duly constituted authority when there is total estrangement of husband and wife. The ethical dissolution of the family results when the children have been educated to be free and responsible persons and they are of mature age under the law. The natural dissolution of the family occurs with the death of the parents, the result of which is the passing of inheritance of property to the surviving family members. The disintegration of the family exhibits its immediacy and contingency as an expression of the ethical Idea (pars. 173-80).

ii. Civil Society

With civil society (bürgerliche Gesellschaft) we move from the family or "the ethical idea still in its concept," where consciousness of the whole or totality is focal, to the "determination of particularity," where the satisfaction of subjective needs and desires is given free reign (pars. 181-182). However, despite the pursuit of private or selfish ends in relatively unrestricted social and economic activity, universality is implicit in the differentiation of particular needs insofar as the welfare of an individual in society is intrinsically bound up with that of others, since each requires another in some way to effectively engage in reciprocal activities like commerce, trade, etc. Because this system of interdependence is not self-conscious but exists only in abstraction from the individual pursuit of need satisfaction, here particularity and universality are only externally related. Hegel says that "this system may be prima facie regarded as the external state, the state based on need, the state as the Understanding (Verstand) envisages it" (¶ 183). However, civil society is also a realm of mediation of particular wills through social interaction and a means whereby individuals are educated (Bildung) through their efforts and struggles toward a higher universal consciousness.

(A) The System of Needs

This dimension of civil society involves the pursuit of need satisfaction. Humans are different from animals in their ability to multiply needs and differentiate them in various ways, which leads to their refinement and luxury. Political economy discovers the necessary interconnections in the social and universalistic side of need. Work is the mode of acquisition and transformation of the means for satisfying needs as well as a mode of practical education in abilities and understanding. Work also reveals the way in which people are dependent upon one another in their self-seeking and how each individual contributes to the need satisfaction of all others. Society generates a "universal permanent capital" (¶ 199) that everyone in principle can draw upon, but the natural inequalities between individuals will translate into social inequalities. Furthermore, labor undergoes a division according to the complexities of the system of production, which is reflected in social class divisions: the agricultural (substantial or immediate); the business (reflecting or formal); and the civil servants (universal). Membership in a class is important for gaining status and recognition in a civil society. Hegel says that "A man actualizes himself only in becoming something definite, i.e., something specifically particularized; this means restricting himself exclusively to one of the particular spheres of need. In this class-system, the ethical frame of mind therefore is rectitude and esprit de corps, i.e., the disposition to make oneself a member of one of the moments of civil society by one's own act … in this way gaining recognition both in one's own eyes and in the eyes of others" (¶ 207).

The "substantial" agricultural class is based upon family relationships whose capital is in the products of nature, such as the land, and tends to be patriarchial, unreflective, and oriented toward dependence rather than free activity. In contrast to this focus on "immediacy," the business class is oriented toward work and reflection, e.g., in transforming raw materials for use and exchange, which is a form of mediation of humans to one another. The main activities of the business class are craftsmanship, manufacture, and trade. The third class is the class of civil servants, which Hegel calls the "universal class" because it has the universal interests of society as its concern. Members of this class are relieved from having to labor to support themselves and maintain their livelihood either from private resources such as inheritance or are paid a salary by the state as members of the bureaucracy. These individuals tend to be highly educated and must qualify for appointment to government positions on the basis of merit.

(B) Administration of Justice

The principle of rightness becomes civil law (Gesetz) when it is posited, and in order to have binding force it must be given determinate objective existence. To be determinately existent, laws must be made universally known through a public legal code. Through a rational legal system, private property and personality are given legal recognition and validity in civil society, and wrongdoing now becomes an infringement, not merely of the subjective right of individuals but also of the larger universal will that exists in ethical life. The court of justice is the means whereby right is vindicated as something universal by addressing particular cases of violation or conflict without mere subjective feeling or private bias. "Instead of the injured party, the injured universal now comes on the scene, and … this pursuit consequently ceases to be the subjective and contingent retribution of revenge and is transformed into the genuine reconciliation of right with itself, i.e, into punishment" (¶ 220). Moreover, court proceedings and legal processes must take place according to rights and rules of evidence; judicial proceedings as well as the laws themselves must be made public; trial should be by jury; and punishment should fit the crime. Finally, in the administration of justice, "civil society returns to its concept, to the unity of the implicit universal with the subjective particular, although here the latter is only that present in single cases and the universality in question is that of abstract right" (¶ 229).

(C) The Police and the Corporation

The Police (Polizei) for Hegel is understood broadly as the public authorities in civil society. In addition to crime fighting organizations, it includes agencies that provide oversight over public utilities as well as regulation of and, when necessary, intervention into activities related to the production, distribution, and sale of goods and services, or with any of the contingencies that can affect the rights and welfare of individuals and society generally (e.g., defense of the public's right not to be defrauded, and also the management of goods inspection). Also, the public authority superintends education and organizes the relief of poverty. Poverty must be addressed both through private charity and public assistance since in civil society it constitutes a social wrong when poverty results in the creation of a class of "penurious rabble" (¶ 245). Society looks to colonization to increase its wealth but poverty remains a problem with no apparent solution.

The corporation (Korporation) applies especially to the business class, since this class is concentrated on the particularities of social existence and the corporation has the function of bringing implicit similarities between various private interests into explicit existence in forms of association. This is not the same as our contemporary business corporation but rather is a voluntary association of persons based on occupational or various social interests (such as professional and trade guilds, educational clubs, religious societies, townships, etc.) Because of the integrating function of the corporation, especially in regard to the social and economic division of labor, what appear as selfish purposes in civil society are shown to be at the same time universal through the formation of concretely recognized commonalities. Hegel says that "a Corporation has the right, under the surveillance of the public authority, (a) to look after its own interests within its own sphere, (b) to co-opt members, qualified objectively by requisite skill and rectitude, to a number fixed by the general structure of society, (c) to protect its members against particular contingencies, (d) to provide the education requisite to fit other to become members. In short, the right is to come on the scene like a second family for its members …" (¶ 252). Furthermore, the family is assured greater stability of livelihood insofar as its providers are corporation members who command the respect due to them in their social positions. "Unless he is a member of an authorized Corporation (and it is only by being authorized that an association becomes a Corporation), an individual is without rank or dignity, his isolation reduces his business to mere self-seeking, and his livelihood and satisfaction become insecure" (¶ 253). Because individual self-seeking is raised to a higher level of common pursuits, albeit restricted to the interest of a sectional group, individual self-consciousness is raised to relative universality. Hence, "As the family was the first, so the Corporation is the second ethical root of the state, the one planted in civil society" (¶ 255).

iii. The State

The political State, as the third moment of Ethical Life, provides a synthesis between the principles governing the Family and those governing Civil Society. The rationality of the state is located in the realization of the universal substantial will in the self-consciousness of particular individuals elevated to consciousness of universality. Freedom becomes explicit and objective in this sphere. "Since the state is mind objectified, it is only as one of its members that the individual has objectivity, genuine individuality, and an ethical life … and the individual's destiny is the living of a universal life" (¶ 258). Rationality is concrete in the state in so far as its content is comprised in the unity of objective freedom (freedom of the universal or substantial will) and subjective freedom (freedom of everyone in knowing and willing of particular ends); and in its form rationality is in self-determining action or laws and principles which are logical universal thoughts (as in the logical syllogism).

The Idea of the State is itself divided into three moments: (a) the immediate actuality of the state as a self-dependent organism, or Constitutional Law; (b) the relation of states to other states in International Law; (c) the universal Idea as Mind or Spirit which gives itself actuality in the process of World-History.

1) Constitutional Law

(1) The Constitution (internally)

Only through the political constitution of the State can universality and particularity be welded together into a real unity. The self-consciousness of this unity is expressed in the recognition on the part of each citizen that the full meaning of one's actual freedom is found in the objective laws and institutions provided by the State. The aspect of identity comes to the fore in the recognition that individual citizens give to the ethical laws such that they "do not live as private persons for their own ends alone, but in the very act of willing these they will the universal in the light of the universal, and their activity is consciously aimed at none but the universal end" (¶ 260). The aspect of differentiation, on the other hand, is found in "the right of individuals to their particular satisfaction," the right of subjective freedom which is maintained in Civil Society. Thus, according to Hegel, "the universal must be furthered, but subjectivity on the other hand must attain its full and living development. It is only when both these moments subsist in their strength that the state can be regarded as articulated and genuinely organized" (¶ 260, addition).

As was indicated in the introduction to the concept of Ethical Life above, the higher authority of the laws and institutions of society requires a doctrine of duties. From the vantage point of the political State, this means that there must be a correlation between rights and duties. "In the state, as something ethical, as the inter-penetration of the substantive and the particular, my obligation to what is substantive is at the same time the embodiment of my particular freedom. This means that in the state duty and right are united in one and the same relation" (¶ 261). In fulfilling one's duties one is also satisfying particular interests, and the conviction that this is so Hegel calls "political sentiment" (politische Gesinnung) or patriotism. "This sentiment is, in general, trust (which may pass over into a greater or lesser degree of educated insight), or the consciousness that my interest, both substantive and particular, is contained and preserved in another's (that is, the state's) interest and end, i.e., in the other's relation to me as an individual" (¶ 268).

Thus, the "bond of duty" cannot involve being coerced into obeying the laws of the State. "Commonplace thinking often has the impression that force holds the state together, but in fact its only bond is the sense of order which everybody possesses" (¶ 268, addition).

According to Hegel, the political state is rational in so far as it inwardly differentiates itself according to the nature of the Concept (Begriff). The principle of the division of powers expresses inner differentiation, but while these powers are distinguished they must also be built into an organic whole such that each contains in itself the other moments so that the political constitution is a concrete unity in difference. Constitutional Law is accordingly divided into three moments: (a) the Legislature which establishes the universal through lawmaking; (b) the Executive which subsumes the particular under the universal through administering the laws; (c) the Crown which is the power of subjectivity of the state in the providing of the act of "ultimate decision" and thus forming into unity the other two powers. Despite the syllogistic sequence of universality, particularity, and individuality in these three constitutional powers, Hegel discusses the Crown first followed by the Executive and the Legislature respectively. Hegel understands the concept of the Crown in terms of constitutional monarchy.

(a) The Crown

"The power of the crown contains in itself the three moments of the whole, namely, (a) the universality of the constitution and the laws; (b) counsel, which refers the particular to the universal; and (g) the moment of ultimate decision, as the self-determination to which everything else reverts and from which everything else derives the beginning of its actuality" (¶ 275). The third moment is what gives expression to the sovereignty of the state, i.e., that the various activities, agencies, functions and powers of the state are not self-subsistent but rather have their basis ultimately in the unity of the state as a single self or self-organized organic whole. The monarch is the bearer of the individuality of the state and its sovereignty is the ideality in unity in which the particular functions and powers of the state subsist. "It is only as a person, the monarch, that the personality of the state is actual. Personality expresses the concept as such; but the person enshrines the actuality of the concept, and only when the concept is determined as a person is it the Idea or truth" (¶ 279).

The monarch is not a despot but rather a constitutional monarch, and he does not act in a capricious manner but is bound by a decision-making process, in particular to the recommendations and decisions of his cabinet (supreme advisory council). The monarch functions solely to give agency to the state, and so his personal traits are irrelevant and his ascending to the throne is based on hereditary succession, and thus on the accident of birth. "In a completely organized state, it is only a question of the culminating point of formal decision … he has only to say 'yes' and dot the 'i' …. In a well organized monarchy, the objective aspect belongs to law alone, and the monarch's part is merely to set to the law the subjective 'I will'" (¶ 280, addition). The "majesty of the monarch" lies in the free asserting of 'I will' as an expression of the unity of the state and the final step in establishing law.

(b) The Executive

The executive has the task of executing and applying the decisions formally made by the monarch. "This task of merely subsuming the particular under the universal is comprised in the executive power, which also includes the powers of the judiciary and the police" (¶ 287). Also, the executive is the higher authority that oversees the filling of positions of responsibilities in corporations. The executive is comprised of the civil servants proper and the higher advisory officials organized into committees, both of which are connected to the monarch through their supreme departmental heads. Overall, government has its division of labor into various centers of administration managed by special officials. Individuals are appointed to executive functions on the basis of their knowledgibility and proof of ability and tenure is conditional on the fulfillment of duties, with the offices in the civil service being open to all citizens.

The executive is not an unchecked bureaucratic authority. "The security of the state and its subjects against the misuse of power by ministers and their officials lies directly in their hierarchical organization and their answerability; but it lies too in the authority given to societies and corporations …" (¶ 295). However, civil servants will tend to be dispassionate, upright, and polite in part as "a result of direct education in thought and ethical conduct" (¶ 296). Civil servants and the members of the executive make up the largest section of the middle class, the class with a highly developed intelligence and consciousness of right. Moreover, "The sovereign working on the middle class at the top, and Corporation-rights working on it at the bottom, are the institutions which effectively prevent it from acquiring the isolated position of an aristocracy and using its education and skill as a means to an arbitrary tyranny" (¶ 297).

(c) The Legislature

For Hegel, "The legislature is concerned (a) with the laws as such in so far as they require fresh and extended determination; and (b) with the content of home affairs affecting the entire state" (¶ 298). Legislative activity focuses on both providing well-being and happiness for citizens as well as exacting services from them (largely in the form of monetary taxes). The proper function of legislation is distinguished from the function of administration and state regulation in that the content of the former are determinate laws that are wholly universal whereas in administration it is application of the law to particulars, along with enforcing the law. Hegel also says that the other two moments of the political constitution, the monarchy and the executive, are the first two moments of the legislature, i.e., are reflected in the legislature respectively through the ultimate decision regarding proposed laws and an advising function in their formation. Hegel rejects the idea of independence or separation of powers for the sake of checks and balances, which he holds destroys the unity of the state (¶ 300, addition). The third moment in the legislature is the estates (Stände), which are the classes of society given political recognition in the legislature.

In the legislature, the estates "have the function of bringing public affairs into existence not only implicitly, but also actually, i.e., of bringing into existence the moment of subjective formal freedom, the public consciousness as an empirical universal, of which the thoughts and opinions of the Many are particulars" (¶ 301). Not only do the estates guarantee the general welfare and public freedom, but they are also the means by which the state as a whole enters the subjective consciousness of the people through their participation in the state. Thus, the estates incorporate the private judgment and will of individuals in civil society and give it political significance.

The estates have an important integrating function in the state overall. "Regarded as a mediating organ, the Estates stand between the government in general on the one hand, and the nation broken up into particulars (people and associations) on the other. … [I]n common with the organized executive, they are a middle term preventing both the extreme isolation of the power of the crown … and also the isolation of the particular interests of persons, societies and Corporations" (¶ 302). Also, the organizing function of the estates prevents groups in society from becoming formless masses that could form anti-government feelings and rise up in blocs in opposition to the state.

The three classes of civil society, the agricultural, the business, and the universal class of civil servants, are each given political voice in the Estates Assembly in accordance with their distinctiveness in the lower spheres of civil life. The legislature is divided into two houses, an upper and lower. The upper house comprises the agricultural estate (including the peasant farmers and landed aristocracy), a class "whose ethical life is natural, whose basis is family life, and, so far as its livelihood is concerned, the possession of land. Its particular members attain their position by birth, just as the monarch does, and, in common with him, they possess a will which rests on itself alone" (¶ 305). Landed gentry inherit their estates and so owe their position to birth (primogeniture) and thus are free from the exigencies and uncertainties of the life of business and state interference. The relative independence of this class makes it particularly suited for public office as well as a mediating element between the crown and civil society.

The second section of the estates, the business class, comprises the "fluctuating and changeable element in civil society" which can enter politics only through its deputies or representatives (unlike the agricultural estate from which members can present themselves to the Estates Assembly in person). The appointment of deputies is "made by society as a society" both because of the multiplicity of members but also because representation must reflect the organization of civil society into associations, communities, and corporations. It is only as a member of such groups that an individual is a member of the state, and hence rational representation implies that consent to legislation is to be given not directly by all but only by "plenipotentiaries" who are chosen on the basis of their understanding of public affairs as well as managerial and political acumen, character, insight, etc. Moreover, their charge is to further the general interest of society and not the interest of a particular association or corporation instead (¶ 308-10).

The deputies of civil society are selected by the various corporations, not on the basis of universal direct suffrage which Hegel believed inevitably leads to electoral indifference, and they adopt the point of view of society. "Deputies are sometimes regarded as 'representatives'; but they are representatives in an organic, rational sense only if they are representatives not of individuals or a conglomeration of them, but of one of the essential spheres of society and its large-scale interests. Hence, representation cannot now be taken to mean simply the substitution of one man for another; the point is that the interest itself is actually present in its representative, while he himself is there to represent the objective element of his own being" (¶ 311).

The debates that take place in the Estates Assembly are to be open to the public, whereby citizens can become politically educated both about national affairs and the true character of their own interests. "The formal subjective freedom of individuals consists in their having and expressing their own private judgements, opinions, and recommendations as affairs of state. This freedom is collectively manifested as what is called 'public opinion', in which what is absolutely universal, the substantive and the true, is linked with its opposite, the purely particular and private opinions of the Many" (¶ 316). Public opinion is a "standing self-contradiction" because, on the one hand, it gives expression to genuine needs and proper tendencies of common life along with common sense views about important matters and, on the other, is infected with accidental opinion, ignorance, and faulty judgment. "Public opinion therefore deserves to be as much respected as despised -- despised for its concrete expression and for the concrete consciousness it expresses, respected for its essential basis, a basis which only glimmers more or less dimly in that concrete expression" (¶ 318). Moreover, while there is freedom of public communication, freedom of the press is not totally unrestricted as freedom does not mean absence of all restriction, either in word or deed.

Hegel calls the class of civil servants the "universal class" not only because as members of the executive their function is to "subsume the particular under the universal" in the administration of law, but also because they reflect a disposition of mind (due perhaps largely from their education) that transcends concerns with selfish ends in the devotion to the discharge of public functions and to the public universal good. As one of the classes of the estates, civil servants also participate in the legislature as an "unofficial class," which seems to mean that as members of the executive they will attend legislative assemblies in an advisory capacity, but this is not entirely clear from Hegel's text. Also, given that the monarch and the classes of civil society when conceived in abstraction are opposed to each other as "the one and the many," they must become "fused into a unity" or mediated together through the civil servant class. From the point of view of the crown the executive is such a middle term, because it carries out the final decisions of the crown and makes it "particularized" in civil society. On the other hand, in order for the classes of civil society to actually sense this unity with the crown a mediation must occur from the other direction, so to speak, where the upper house of the estates, in virtue of certain likenesses to the Crown (e.g., role of birth for one's position) is able to mediate between the Crown and civil society as a whole.

(2) Sovereignty vis-à-vis foreign States

The interpenetration of the universal with the particular will through a complex system of social and political mediations is what produces the self-consciousness of the nation-state considered as an organic (internally differentiated and interrelated) totality or concrete individual. In this system, particular individuals consciously pursue the universal ends of the State, not out of external or mechanical conformity to law, but in the free development of personal individuality and the expression of the unique subjectivity of each. However, individuality is not something possessed by particular persons alone, or even primarily by such persons. The state as a whole, i.e., the nation-state as distinct from the political state as one of its moments, constitutes a higher form of individuality. In principle, Mind or Spirit possesses a singleness in its "negative self-relation," i.e., in the sense that unity in a being is a function of setting itself off from other beings. "Individuality is awareness of one's existence as a unit in sharp distinction from others. It manifests itself here in the state as a relation to other states, each of which is autonomous vis-à-vis the others. This autonomy embodies mind's actual awareness of itself as a unit and hence it is the most fundamental freedom which a people possesses as well as its highest dignity" (¶ 322). For any being to have self-conscious independence requires distinguishing the self from any of its contingent characteristics (inner self-negation), which externally is a distinction from another being. This consciousness of what one is not is for the nation-state its negative relation to itself embodied externally in the world as the relation of one state to another. However, this is not a mere externality, "But in fact this negative relation is that moment in the state which is most supremely its own, the state's actual infinity as the ideality of everything finite within it" (¶ 323).

According to Hegel, war is an "ethical moment" in the life of a nation-state and hence is neither purely accidental nor an inherent evil. Because there is no higher earthly power ruling over nation-states, and because these entities are oriented to preserving their existence and sovereignty, conflicts leading to war are inevitable. Also, defense of one's nation is an ethical duty and the ultimate test of one's patriotism is war. "Sacrifice on behalf of the individuality of the state is the substantial tie between the state and all its members and so is a universal duty" (¶ 325). In making a sacrifice for the sake of the state individuals prove their courage, which involves a transcendence of concern with egoistic interests and mere material existence. "The intrinsic worth of courage as a disposition of mind is to be found in the genuine absolute, final end, the sovereignty of the state. The work of courage is to actualize this final end, and the means to this end is the sacrifice of personal actuality" (¶ 328). Moreover, war, along with catastrophy, disease, etc, highlights the finitude, insecurity, and ultimate transitoriness of human existence and puts the health of a state to a test. Hegel does not consider the ideal of "perpetual peace," as advocated by Kant, a realistic goal towards which humanity can strive. Not only is the sovereignty of each state imprescriptible, but any alliance or league of states will be established in opposition to others.

2) International Law

"International law springs from the relations between autonomous states. It is for this reason that what is absolute in it retains the form of an ought-to-be, since its actuality depends on different wills each of which is sovereign" (¶ 330). States are not private persons in civil society who pursue their self-interest in the context of universal interdependence but rather are completely autonomous entities with no relations of private right or morality. However, since a state cannot escape having relations with other states, there must be at least some sort of recognition of each by the other. International law prescribes that treaties between states ought to be kept, but this universal proviso remains abstract because the sovereignty of a state is its guiding principle, hence states are to that extent in a state of nature in relation to each other (in the Hobbesian sense of there being natural rights to one's survival with no natural duties to others). "Their rights are actualized only in their particular wills and not in a universal will with constitutional powers over them. This universal proviso of international law therefore does not go beyond an ought-to-be, and what really happens is that international relations in accordance with treaty alternate with the severance of these relations" (¶ 333). Obviously, if states come to disagree about the nature of their treaties, etc., and there is no acceptable compromise for each party, then matters will ultimately be settled by war.

One thought on “Hegel Philosophy Of Right Analysis Essay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *