Hegel's Philosophy of Freedom

Hegel's Philosophy of Freedom

Paul Franco
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Hegel's Philosophy of Freedom
    Book Description:

    Human freedom is the central theme of modern political philosophy, and G. W. F. Hegel offers perhaps the most profound and systematic modern attempt to understand the state as the realization of human freedom. In this comprehensive examination of Hegel's philosophy of freedom, Paul Franco traces the development of Hegel's ideas of freedom, situates them within his general philosophical system, and relates them to the larger tradition of modern political philosophy. Franco then applies Hegel's understanding of liberty to certain problems in contemporary political theory. He argues that Hegel offers a powerful reformulation of liberalism that escapes many of the problematic assumptions of traditional liberal doctrine and yet avoids falling into the romantic and relativistic excesses of a substantial communitarianism.Devoting the major portion of his attention to Hegel's masterpiece thePhilosophy of Right, published in 1821, Franco provides a clear and nontechnical guide to the challenging arguments Hegel presents. Franco establishes the necessary context within which to understand the work and draws on Hegel's other writings, including the unpublished lecture notes, to illuminate it. For the Hegel specialist as well as the reader with a more general interest in political philosophy and modern intellectual history, this book offers significant insights into Hegel's ideas on the theme of human liberty.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14809-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Chapter 1 Autonomy and Politics: Rousseau, Kant, and Fichte
    (pp. 1-32)

    It is a reliable, if not altogether surprising, principle of interpretation that in order to understand a political philosopher one must understand him in his context. But what constitutes the appropriate context in which to consider any particular political philosopher? In the case of a minor or second-rank thinker, of course, the appropriate context may consist of the particular historical or political circumstances in which that thinker’s thought takes shape. But in the case of a truly great or first-rank political philosopher—and to this select class Hegel surely belongs—such a narrow construction of the interpretive context will fail...

  6. Chapter 2 Hegel’s Development to 1806
    (pp. 33-80)

    In this chapter, I do not provide a detailed analysis of Hegel’s early development up to thePhenomenology of Spirit,to which a number of books have been devoted already;¹ rather, I give a broad overview designed to bring out the concerns which bear on, if only to be transmuted in, Hegel’s mature political philosophical outlook. The focus of this book is Hegel’s mature political philosophy as it is most coherently and comprehensively presented in thePhilosophy of Right,and I do not wish the earlier, immature writings to obscure this focus.² I am sensitive to Stanley Rosen’s concern about...

  7. Chapter 3 The Moral Political Ideas of the Phenomenology of Spirit
    (pp. 81-119)

    ThePhenomenology of Spiritis one of the greatest, as well as one of the most difficult, books in the literature of philosophy. It is not primarily a book of moral or political philosophy, although much of its argument is fraught with moral and political implications. It is with these that I am concerned in this chapter, drawing out the continuities between them and the moral and political themes pursued in the previous chapter. Two themes, somewhat paradoxically related, dominate my analysis: first, Hegel’s critique of individualism and his concomitant emphasis on ethical life or, as he refers to it...

  8. Chapter 4 Hegel’s Idea of Political Philosophy
    (pp. 120-153)

    Having considered the development of Hegel’s moral and political thought up through thePhenomenology,we are now ready to examine thePhilosophy of Right.In this chapter, I take up the methodological issues that first confront the reader immediately upon opening the book, in the Preface and the first few paragraphs of the Introduction. The first issue concerns Hegel’s understanding of the relationship between philosophy and historical-political actuality. This, of course, is the great theme of the Preface to thePhilosophy of Right,encapsulated in the famous (or infamous) dictum, “What is rational is actual; and what is actual is...

  9. Chapter 5 Hegel’s Concept Freedom
    (pp. 154-187)

    In this chapter, I explicate Hegel’s concept of freedom through a careful analysis of the Introduction to thePhilosophy of Right.In the writings examined so far, freedom has, of course, played a central role. Hegel’s earliest writings, directed against the “positivity” of Judaism and Christianity, are suffused with the idea of freedom, which he largely interprets in terms of the Kantian notion of autonomy. “Reason and Freedom,” he writes to Schelling in 1795, “remain our password”(L,32/1:18). And he enthusiastically agrees when Schelling writes back, “The alpha and omega of all philosophy is freedom”(L,32/22 and 35...

  10. Chapter 6 The Basic Structure the Philosophy of Right: From Abstract Right to Ethical Life
    (pp. 188-233)

    In this chapter, I follow the movement of thePhilosophy of Rightthrough the three major moments that constitute its basic structure: the movement from abstract right through morality to ethical life. The chapter focuses on the first two of these moments—abstract right and morality—showing what exactly they involve, wherein their significance lies, and why, in Hegel’s view, they are ultimately abstract and must give way to the more concrete standpoint of ethical life. The chapter will conclude with an examination of the general concept of ethical life, leaving to the ensuing chapters the consideration of the specific...

  11. Chapter 7 The Ethical Preconditions of the Rational State: Family and Civil Society
    (pp. 234-277)

    We have arrived at the standpoint of ethical life, which is distinguished from the earlier standpoints of abstract right and morality by virtue of its concreteness. Both formal right and morality have been shown to be abstract, unable to stand on their own as independent realities. Each embodies an important aspect of human freedom, but neither can stand alone because it lacks what the other possesses. Abstract right is all objectivity and universality, whereas morality is all subjectivity and particularity. A concrete standpoint is to be achieved only by uniting these two abstract points of view into a single whole....

  12. Chapter 8 The Rational State
    (pp. 278-341)

    The argument of thePhilosophy of Right,and of Hegel’s political philosophy in general, culminates in his teaching about the state. The state is the substantial ground or basis of all the rights and institutions whose development we have followed up to this point—the rights of property, contract, welfare, and conscience, as well as the institutions of the family and civil society. At the same time, the state marks the telos of the dialectic of human freedom pursued in thePhilosophy of Rightinsofar as it is in the state that individuals finally make the universal their explicit aim...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 342-350)

    Every interpreter of Hegel’s philosophy, it seems, is inevitably driven to ask the Crocean question: What is dead and what is still living in it? Although I do not depart from this venerable tradition here, I do modify Croce’s question somewhat to avoid misleading implications. I do not, for example, wish to break up Hegel’s philosophy into separate parts and consign some of them—the social or political philosophy, for example—to the living and the rest—the speculative logic and metaphysics, for example—to the dead. I have given my reasons for rejecting this piecemeal approach to Hegel’s philosophy...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 351-382)
  15. Index
    (pp. 383-391)