Hegel's Idea of Freedom (Oxford Philosophical Monographs)
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This book offers the first full-length treatment in English of Hegel's idea of freedom - his theory of what it is to be free and his account of the social and political contexts in which this freedom is developed, realized, and sustained. Freedom is the value that Hegel most greatly admired and the central organizing concept of his social philosophy.
Hegel also holds that a Volksgeist is able to achieve a certain level of freedom only in virtue of a particular historical inheritance. A public culture of freedom does not create itself ex nihilo but is always, at least in part, the product of a historical process of development that draws on previous cultures and ways of living (Hegel talks of ‘a progression, growth and succession from one national principle to another’ (VG 65/56; cf. 69–73/ 60–3)). Hegel's thesis here, then, is that it is only
content of everyday practical reasoning in 46 FREEDOM AS RATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION part because those determinations represent the particular content of freedom. It is thus of considerable importance for Hegel's project to explore whether the claim that freedom has ‘particular content’ is philosophically defensible. One possible objection is that this way of understanding freedom has little or nothing to do with our everyday or ‘common-sense’ understanding of the concept. According to this
freedom and desire. This is the case of the agent who relies on his own unexamined desires and inclinations to make some important decision. Hegel's suggestion, as we saw, is that the reasons for thinking that the agent in the ﬁrst case lacks full freedom are also reasons for thinking that this second agent is incompletely free. In both cases, the process of deliberation and justiﬁcation with which the agents approach their decisions to act are essentially the same. Two parallel features of the
the norms of social and political legitimacy in the context of the social order itself, but, as we noted at the start of Chapter 1, the obvious worry is that they will end up endorsing an uncritical acceptance of existing social structures and power relations. Hegel's social philosophy is often contrasted with the social contract theory along just such lines. It is suggested, for instance, that Hegel's political thought represents little more than an attempt to defend the status quo of early
contemporary thinking about civil society is Cohen and Arato, Civil Society and Political Theory, ch. 2. 238 Good discussions of Hegel's state/civil-society distinction to which I am greatly indebted include: Avineri, Hegel's Theory of the Modern State, 141–7; Pelczynski, ‘Introduction’ to State and Civil Society, and ‘The Hegelian Conception of the State’, 10–12; Plant, Hegel: An Introduction, ch. 9; Riedel, Between Tradition and Revolution, ch. 6; and Hardimon, Hegel's Social Philosophy, ch.