POLITICS AND SOCIETY IN HEGEL
A core element of European identity is the notion of freedom in two forms that developed in the modern era: freedom as (a) the individual’s self-determination within his or her private sphere and personal life and (b) the community’s self-determination as a public achievement of private citizens come together to deliberate and decide matters of the res publica. In theory and history, the realization of such freedom has always been fraught with difficulty. Hegel’s Philosophy of Right offers one of the most compelling diagnoses of the ills of modern Western political community with respect to these two freedoms. It also develops some of the most influential standards by which to judge the civil society that undergirds modern European political community and its claims to provide these two freedoms.
G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, trans. T.M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967; ISBN 978-0195002768) ▪ Or in the original language: Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts oder Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaft im Grundrisse (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1986)
Axel Honneth, The Pathologies of Individual Freedom: Hegel’s Social Theory (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010) ▪ Or in the original language: Leiden an Unbestimmtheit. Eine Reaktualisierung der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie (Ditzingen: Reclam, 2001)
Evaluation ▪ The final grade is the average of three essays, each four to five pages. To pass the course, one must submit all essays, each on time. A student may write an optional fourth essay; course grade is then the average of the three highest essay grades.
In-Class Participation: Student-led Class Discussions
- The several students assigned to one of four class discussions (on September 28, October 17, November 14, and December 05) are collectively in charge of that day’s discussion as the “agenda-makers” for that session. By 6 pm the day before the discussion, every student shall submit, as a post to our seminar’s Canvas site, a brief, critical, thoughtful, textually based analysis of (or questions about) the text in the unit assigned, citing the text with page numbers.
- Each discussion session the several agenda-makers will prepare their agenda by selecting and editing, from all class submissions, a brief list of points and questions to direct our discussion that day. The agenda-makers will post the agenda (as a thread to that day’s forum) to Canvas by 11 pm the night before the discussion session. For that discussion, the agenda-makers will bring to class hardcopy for each student. On the basis of that agenda, the agenda-makers will design and lead class discussion in all of its aspects. The instructor will observe but only speak in response to direct questions from students about the text.
- On submissions: Always cite and quote one or more passages from the texts, and include the page numbers of material cited. Keep comments brief, and never longer than a paragraph. Always compare the two readings one with the other. Students may critically analyze the readings for the day; bring up something in the texts you found interesting or suggestive that the class should discuss; or ask questions of the assigned readings. Agenda-makers must also submit a post.
- Agenda-making directions: In the agenda (a) identify the author of each submission used; (b) capture some of the diversity in perspective within each group of submissions; (c) construct the agenda in ways that encourage student-to-student dialog; (d) an agenda need not resemble previous agendas; be creative; (e) a useful agenda may be larger than the time available to us in seminar: it allows us in seminar to choose from among points (so have no regrets if we do not “complete” the day’s agenda). Include textual cites and page numbers. Power point presentations encouraged but not required.
- Agenda content: The agenda need not be comprehensive. Keep in mind that we have limited time to discuss the agenda, so the key is focus. For example, identify overlaps among the submissions, or questions that come up repeatedly. The goal is to facilitate a thoughtful, textually informed discussion among students. Agenda-makers might want to organize the agenda around a small number of questions they think are particularly important to our analysis of the readings.
Essays ▪ For each of the essays, the instructor will provide a list of topics from which students may choose (students may also develop their own topic). Students may modify the topic chosen in ways that suit the logic of the essay’s argument. Each essay should develop original insights about Hegel (and later, Honneth), in the student’s own and unique voice. Avoid glosses of our authors. Please (a) formulate a clear thesis and state it within the first paragraph of your essay, (b) then defend that thesis with clear, rationally plausible, discursive arguments and support both your thesis and your arguments through close textual analyses of our assigned readings while (c) drawing on one or more carefully chosen concrete examples. (d) Consider the text on its own terms, before submitting it to your careful and thoughtful critique. This entails “reconstructing” the part or parts of the text you draw upon. (e) Define all key terms. State explicitly your interpretation of those of Hegel’s concepts that you use; never assume that your reader understands either the concept or your particular interpretation of it. (f) Write as concisely and clearly as possible. Avoid convoluted sentences and overuse of adjectives. Avoid run-on paragraphs. Be very thoughtful about appropriate word-choice. (g) Provide complete page references for all textual cites.
SCHEDULE OF READINGS AND TOPICS FOR EACH SESSION
August 24 ▪ Confidence-building exercise (required but not graded) toward reducing possible anxieties about writing essays for this course: in place of class today, students should spend no more than 90 minutes (equal to today’s class time) writing no more than one page, typed, double-spaced, font size 12, font Times Roman, on the following topic (in anticipation of our seminar’s focus on political freedom): “What social and political institutions and conventions provide you with political freedom, and which institutions hinder or deny your freedom?” Submit via Canvas upload by August 28, 5 pm. I will return essays, with constructive feedback and suggestions, via Canvas on August 29.
August 29 ▪ Introduction to Hegel’s system of political and moral philosophy: § 33
August 31 ▪ Freedom of the will, §§ 15-21
September 07 ▪ Freedom of the will, cont., §§ 22-29
PART 1. ABSTRACT RIGHT
September 12 ▪ The individual as an abstract will, §§ 34-40
September 14 ▪ Property as the external sphere of free will, §§ 41-49
September 19 ▪ Property as the external sphere of free will, cont., §§ 50-58
September 21 ▪ Alienation of property, §§ 65-71
September 26 ▪ Contract, §§ 72-80
September 28 ▪ Student-led discussion of Abstract Right (§§ 34-80)
PART 2. MORALITY
October 03 ▪ Transition from Right to Morality, § 104; The moral will, §§ 105-114
October 05 ▪ Purpose and responsibility, §§ 115-118
October 10 ▪ Intention and welfare, §§ 119-128
October 12 ▪ The good and the conscience, §§ 129-136
October 17 ▪ Student-led discussion of Morality (§§ 104-136)
PART 3. ETHICAL LIFE
October 19 ▪ Transition from Morality to Ethical Life, § 141
► Sunday, October 23: First essay due by 6 pm via Canvas upload
October 24 ▪ Ethical life as the idea of freedom, §§ 142-157
October 26 ▪ The family; relationship between the sexes, §§ 158-167
October 31 ▪ Civil society, §§ 182-188
November 02 ▪ The system of needs, §§ 189-195
November 07 ▪ Nature of labor, §§ 196-208
November 09 ▪ Differing interests of producers and consumers, § 236; the state, §§ 257-259
November 14 ▪ Student-led discussion of Ethical Life (§§ 141-259)
PART 4. Critique and Reconstruction of Hegel’s Project:
Pathologies of Individual Freedom
November 16 ▪ Intersubjective conditions of autonomy, Honneth pp. 1-9
► Sunday, November 20: Second essay due by 6 pm via Canvas upload
November 21 ▪ Necessary spheres of self-realization, pp. 10-18
November 23 ▪ Necessary spheres of self-realization, cont., pp. 18-24; self-realization with institutions of modern life: persons as legal subjects in a moral order, pp. 25-28
November 28 ▪ Pathologies of individual freedom, pp. 28-42;
November 30 ▪ the therapeutic significance of ethical life, pp. 42-47; conditions of ethical life, pp. 48-57; self-realization and recognition, cont., pp. 58-63
December 05 ▪ Student-led discussion of Honneth’s critique of Hegel (pp. 1-63)
► Sunday, December 11: Third essay due by 6 pm via Canvas upload
► Friday, December 16: Optional fourth essay due by 6 pm via Canvas upload (see instructor for optional essay prompts)
▪ Recommended reference works on Hegel’s philosophy in general ▪
Baur, Michael (ed.). 2014. G.W.F. Hegel: Key Concepts. Abingdon: Routledge.
Beiser, Frederick. 2008. The Cambridge Companion to Hegel & Nineteenth Century Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Burbidge, John. 2013. Historical Dictionary of Hegelian Philosophy, second edition, Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press.
Houlgate, Stephen. 2005. Introduction to Hegel: Freedom, Truth and History, Oxford: Blackwell.
Houlgate, Stephen and Michael Baur, eds. 2011. A Companion to Hegel, Oxford: Blackwell.
Taylor, Charles. 1975. Hegel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
▪ Recommended secondary works on Hegel’s political thought in particular ▪
Avineri, Shlomo. 1972. Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Franco, Paul. 1999. Hegel’s Philosophy of Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Moyar, Dean. 2011. Hegel’s Conscience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Neuhouser, Frederick. 2000. Foundations of Hegel’s Social Theory: Actualizing Freedom. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Pelczynski, Z.A., ed. 1984. The State and Civil Society: Studies in Hegel’s Political Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pippin, Robert. 2008. Hegel’s Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tunick, Mark, 1992. Hegel’s Political Philosophy. Princeton University Press.
Williams, Robert. 1997. Hegel’s Ethics of Recognition, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Wood, Allen. 1990. Hegel’s Ethical Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yeomans, Christopher. 2012. Freedom and Reflection: Hegel and the Logic of Agency. New York: Oxford University Press.