Emily, Lexi, John 2/14/2014

Hegel Discussion #1

1. What is the nature of the argument?

- or more loosely, how is the author trying to make his/her case?

- is the argument inductive or deductive, does it generalize from the specific, or begin with an over-arching theory and proceed to interpret specifics?

  • BOTH directions (DIALECTIC): deductive logic and proves it inductively. He proves it bottom up even though he has it figured out from top down.
    • Examples:
    • Humans have to have things to possess: things to will over shows that able to exercise will
    • To be aware of self have to engage with others: relational nature that wields something.
    • Individual, interacting with other individuals in a social unity and the synthesis is family-family is accommodation of multiple individualities.
    • Personality needs subjectivity and things (they are other, but need each other to recognize basic personality).

- what is the rhetorical form of the argument? i.e., does it make appeal to authorities, to history, to logic, to the reader's introspection ....?

  • appeals to history (ex) Roman laws 33, 77)
  • appeals to logic and reason (41)

- to whom is the writing addressed? or for whom is it intended?

  • academics/scholars
  • real” philosophers, not “superficial” ones (17)

2. Who/What is the argument against?

- identify the targets, other authors or systems of thought that this author is bent on challenging.

  • Kant (63, 71): Why did he disagree with Kant? Emphasis on reason, and not enough motivation for individuals-will. How to learn to be human.
  • Romanticism: Rousseau (Being emotional, using intuition)(58)
  • Sophists (18)
  • Plato (20): members of the collective as a whole and Hegel believes that people aren’t even aware of why they are doing what they’re doing because they don’t have reason (negative or robotic). Critique, that it achieves a coherent state but doesn’t allow citizens to have personalities. Human beings aren’t complete without community, but needs to have individuals.

3. What is the argument?

- or more loosely, what is the author trying to do? persuade the reader of?

- does the author clearly state his/her intention? if so, what is it?

  • He says that this treatise is “an attempt to comprehend and portray the state as an inherently rational entity” (21)
  • what reason is in regards to humanity
  • what classifies “will” and “freedom”


- be sure to pay attention to what the author is saying concerning our three focal points:

           i. human nature: what theory is developed, what assumptions are made?

           ii. ethics: how does ethics figure in the argument?  is the author engaging in moral

condemnation or moral prescription, if so, on the basis of what sort of ethical theory?

           iii. politics: what is politics according to the author?  what should the purposes of politics be?

  • Humans have a drive towards possession (75)
  • Humans have a need to come together (so that they can affirm themselves)
  • Humans are rational beings
  • morality is only fulfilled in the ethical realm” (137)

-   does the author employ or develop any specific concepts that deserve attention?

  • speculative mode of cognition and scientific logic (10)
  • dialectic reasoning (he’s a both/and philosopher)

3a. What does the author regard as the distinctive problems and possibilities in the Modern Age

  • Human beings go to the extremes of emotion and reason (Ex. Romanticism, Kant)

3b. How does the author address liberty, equality, and fraternity?


  • Laws of right: derived from human beings, not absolute (13)
  • know myself in my finitude as infinite, universal, and free” (68)
  • “This relation of will to will is the true distinctive ground in which freedom has its existence.” (102)
  • “I am essentially a free entity within my body while I am in immediate possession of it” (79)


  • “For while human beings are certainly equal, they are equal only as persons, that is, in relation to the source of their possessions.” (80)


“The unity of different wills, which therefore relinquish their difference and distinctiveness” (104).

4. What are the strengths of the author's argument?

  • For the time being yes, because he breaks down each level of reason and how individuals interact in the world at each stage. - any insights, valuable distinctions?
  • Kant believes that individuals should be reasonable, but does not say why they should be motivated to act this way, and Hegel addresses this issue.

5. What are the weaknesses of the author's argument?

  • Dialectic arguing can be hard to follow
    • if thinking correctly about reality, thinks about where everything is, and denies nothing. Consciously trying to take everything on.