Stephen and Elise


Hegel - ‘Civil Society’

What is the nature of the argument?

Appealing to concepts in a deductive, ‘top-down’ fashion

The lecture notes form of Elements directs Hegel’s presentation in an extremely logical direction -- the text’s appeals do not dance around the point - they are dense - they appeal to reason!!!

Begins with an overarching system of ethics that presents itself in different spheres of social life

Students of Hegel, other philosophers (Herr Fries) with emotional views of society

2. Who/What is the argument against?

Herr Fries, proponents of liberal individualism

3. What is the argument?

In civil society, universality is merely necessity.

Spirit attains its actuality by only through internal division, by imposing this limitation and finitude upon itself in [the shape of] natural needs and the continuum of this external necessity, and, in the very process of adapting itself to these limitations, by overcoming them and gaining its objective existence within them. -224

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

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

“Individuals, as citizens of this state, are private persons who have their own interest as their end.” - Pg. 224

“The difference between man and woman is the difference between animal and plant; the animal is closer in character to man, the plant to woman, for the latter is a more peaceful process of unfolding whose principal is the more indeterminate unity of feeling” Pg. 207

            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?

-”Since the determinations of ethics constitute the concept of freedom, they are the substantiality or universal essence of individuals who are related to them merely as accidents.” -190

Education is the art of making human beings ethical: transforms original nature into a spiritual nature, making spirituality habitual (except for women, who can only be imperceptibly educated through “living”, rather than “acquiring knowledge”) -195

How to educate in ethical matters: make the subject a citizen of a state with good laws

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

Individuals are their own ends in civil societies, but cannot “accomplish the full extend of [his] ends without reference to others” -220

A system of interdependence that weaves the subsistence/welfare of the individual with the subsistence, welfare & rights of all **can only have actuality/security in this context**

→ paying taxes, “In furthering my end, I further the universal, and this in turn furthers my end” -222

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

Achieving the “end of reason” - that Spirit (the manifestation of infinite reason) realizes itself in objective existence through education provided by a confrontation with the “pleasures and comforts of individual life” - that the spirit “attains its actuality only through internal division, by imposing this limitation and finitude upon itself in [the shape of] natural needs and the continuum of this external necessity, and, in the very process of adapting itself to these limitations, by overcoming them and gaining its objective existence within them.” pg. 224

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

How to remedy poverty? “For the poor, the universal authority takes over the role of the family with regard not only to their immediate deficiencies but also to the disposition of laziness, viciousness, and the other vices to which their predicament and sense of wrong give rise.”-265

Wadda we gonna do with all these colonies!??!?!?

“The liberation of colonies itself proves to be of the greatest advantage to the mother state, just as the emancipation of slaves is of the greatest advantage to the master” (Pg. 269)

Besides, the creation of civil society belongs to the modern world, which for the first time allows us all determinations of the Idea to attain their rights. -220

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

- how does the author define, conceptualize, and operationalize each concept?

- how does the author prioritize them.

1) Fraternity - “In the system of needs, the livelihood and welfare of each individual are a possibility whose actualization is conditioned by the individual’s own arbitrary will and particular nature, as well as by the objective system of needs. Through the administration of justice, infringements of property or personality are annulled. But the right which is actually present in particularity means not only that contingencies which interfere with this or that end should be cancelled and that the undisturbed security of persons and property should be guaranteed, but also that the livelihood and welfare of individuals should be secured - i.e. that particular welfare should be treated as a right and duly actualized” (Pg. 259-260) ~~~Weeeeeeeeeellllfarreee~~~

2) Liberty: Subjectivity: the absolute form  existent actuality of substance, and is the ground on which the concept of freedom has its existence

“The right of individuals to their subjective determination to freedom is fulfilled in so far as they belong to ethical actuality; for their certainty of their own freedom has its truth in such objectivity, and it is in their ethical realm that they actually possess their own essence and their inner universality.” -196

The individual attains his right only by becoming the citizen of a good state.

3) Equality? - Under the law - “A member of civil society has the right to stand in a court of law and also the duty to submit to the court’s authority and to accept its decision alone when his own right is in dispute” (Pg. 253)

Economic Inequality Okay? -- Section 237

But we can’t let them fall through the cracks!! -- Section 240

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

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

Why you so dense HEGEL!? It’s like I’m reading a lecture or something! Where’s the flare!