Spiritual Awareness Keys to Victorious Living Over Bondsman

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Hegel treats these relationships as logical judgments and syllogisms but they do not merely articulate how the mind must operate subjectivity but also explain actual relationships in reality objectivity. Finally, in the Idea, the correspondence of the notion or concept with objective reality, we have the truth of objects or objects as they ought to be, i.

The logical articulation of the Idea is very important to Hegel's explanation of the Idea of the state in modern history, for this provides the principles of rationality that guide the development of Spirit in the world and that become manifested in various ways in social and political life.

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The work was republished by Eduard Gans in and as part of Hegel's Werke , vol. The English language translation of this work by T. Knox refers to these later editions as well as to an edition published in by Georg Lasson, which included corrections from previous editions. The Philosophy of Right constitutes, along with Hegel's Philosophy of History, the penultimate section of his Encyclopedia , the section on Objective Spirit, which deals with the human world and its array of social rules and institutions, including the moral, legal, religious, economic, and political as well as marriage, the family, social classes, and other forms of human organization.

The German word Recht is often translated as 'law', however, Hegel clearly intends the term to have a broader meaning that captures what we might call the good or just society, one that is "rightful" in its structure, composition, and practices. In the Introduction to this work Hegel explains the concept of his philosophical undertaking along with the specific key concepts of will, freedom, and right. Hegel is emphatic that the study is scientific in that it deals in a systematic way with something essentially rational. Furthermore, Hegel is at pains to distinguish the historical or legal approach to "positive law" Gesetz and the philosophical approach to the Idea of right Recht , the former involving mere description and compilation of laws as legal facts while the latter probes into the inner meaning and necessary determinations of law or right.

For Hegel the justification of something, the finding of its inherent rationality, is not a matter of seeking its origins or longstanding features but rather of studying it conceptually. However, there is one sense in which the origin of right is relevant to philosophical science and this is the free will.

This ethical life in the state consists in the unity of the universal and the subjective will. The universal will is contained in the Idea of freedom as its essence, but when considered apart from the subjective will can be thought of only abstractly or indeterminately. In other words, the universal will is that moment in the Idea of freedom where willing is thought of as state of absolutely unrestrained volition, unfettered by any particular circumstances or limitations whatsoever—the pure form of willing.

This is expressed in the modern libertarian view of completely uncoerced choice, the absence of restraint or "negative liberty" as understood by Thomas Hobbes. This means that the will is not merely unrestrained in acting but that it actually can give expression to the doing or accomplishing of certain things, e. The unity of both the moments of abstract universality the will in-itself and subjectivity or particularity the will for-itself is the concrete universal or true individuality the will in-and-for-itself.

According to Hegel, preservation of the distinction of these two moments in the unity identity-in-difference between universal and particular will is what produces rational self-determination of an ego, as well as the self-consciousness of the state as a whole. Hegel's conception of freedom as self-determination is just this unity in difference of the universal and subjective will, be it in the willing by individual persons or in the expressions of will by groups of individuals or collectivities. The "negative self-relation" of this freedom involves the subordination of the natural instincts, impulses, and desires to conscious reflection and to goals and purposes that are consciously chosen and that require commitment to rational principles in order to properly guide action.

The overall structure of the Philosophy of Right is quite remarkable in its "syllogistic" organization. The main division of the work corresponds to what Hegel calls the stages in the development of "the Idea of the absolutely free will," and these are Abstract Right, Morality, and Ethical Life. These last subdivisions are further subdivided into triads, with fourth level subdivisions occurring under Civil Society and the State.

This triadic system of rubrics is no mere description of a static model of social and political life. Hegel claims that it gives expression to the conceptual development of Spirit in human society based upon the purely logical development of rationality provided in his Logic. Thus, it is speculatively based and not derivable from empirical survey, although the particularities of the system do indeed correspond to our experience and what we know about ourselves anthropologically, culturally, etc.

The transition in the Logic from universality to particularity to individuality or concrete universality is expressed in the social and political context in the conceptual transition from Abstract Right to Morality to Ethical Life. In the realm of Abstract Right, the will remains in its immediacy as an abstract universal that is expressed in personality and in the universal right to possession of external things in property.

In the realm of Morality, the will is no longer merely "in-itself," or restricted to the specific characteristics of legal personality, but becomes free "for-itself," i. The will is expressed, initially, in inner conviction and subsequently in purpose, intention, and conviction. As opposed to the merely juridical person, the moral agent places primary value on subjective recognition of principles or ideals that stand higher than positive law. Because the subject is intrinsically a social being who needs association with others in order to institutionalize the universal maxims of morality, maxims that cover all people, it is only in the realm of Ethical Life that the universal and the subjective will come into a unity through the objectification of the will in the institutions of the Family, Civil Society, and the State.


In what follows, we trace through Hegel's systematic development of the "stages of the will," highlighting only the most important points as necessary to get an overall view of this work. The subject of Abstract Right Recht is the person as the bearer or holder of individual rights. Hegel claims that this focus on the right of personality, while significant in distinguishing persons from mere things, is abstract and without content, a simple relation of the will to itself.

In this formal conception of right, there is no question of particular interests, advantages, motives or intentions, but only the mere idea of the possibility of choosing based on the having of permission, as long as one does not infringe on the right of other persons. Because of the possibilities of infringement, the positive form of commands in this sphere are prohibitions. Property is the category through which one becomes an object to oneself in that one actualizes the will through possession of something external.


Property is the embodiment of personality and of freedom. Not only can a person put his or her will into something external through the taking possession of it and of using it, but one can also alienate property or yield it to the will of another, including the ability to labor for a restricted period of time. One's personality is inalienable and one's right to personality imprescriptible. This means one cannot alienate all of one's labor time without becoming the property of another. In this sphere, we have a relation of will to will, i. Note the significant development here beyond the dialectic of lord and bondsman.

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Moreover, when contract involves the alienation or giving up of property, the external thing is now an explicit embodiment of the unity of wills. In contractual relations of exchange, what remains identical as the property of the individuals is its value, in respect to which the parties to the contract are on an equal footing, regardless of the qualitative external differences between the things exchanged. In immediate relations of persons to one another it is possible for a particular will to be at variance with the universal through arbitrariness of decision and contingency of circumstance, and so the appearance Erscheinung of right takes on the character of a show Schein , which is the inessential, arbitrary, posing as the essential.

If the "show" is only implicit and not explicit also, i. In fraud a show is made to deceive the other party and so in the doer's eyes the right asserted is only a show. Crime is wrong both in itself and from the doer's point of view, such that wrong is willed without even the pretense or show of right. Here the form of acting does not imply a recognition of right but rather is an act of coercion through exercise of force. It is a "negatively infinite judgement" in that it asserts a denial of rights to the victim, which is not only incompatible with the fact of the matter but also self-negating in denying its own capacity for rights in principle.

The penalty that falls on the criminal is not merely just but is "a right established within the criminal himself, i. All crimes are comparable in their universal property of being injuries, thus, in a sense it is not something personal but the concept itself which carries out retribution. Crime, as the will which is implicitly null, contains its negation in itself, which is its punishment. The nullity of crime is that it has set aside right as such, but since right is absolute it cannot be set aside. Thus, the act of crime is not something positive, not a first thing, but is something negative, and punishment is the negation of crime's negation.

The demand for justice as punishment rather than as revenge, with regard to wrong, implies the demand for a will which, though particular and subjective, also wills the universal as such.

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In wrong the will has become aware of itself as particular and has opposed itself to and contradicted the universal embodied in rights. At this stage the universally right is abstract and one-sided and thus requires a move to a higher level of self-consciousness where the universally right is mediated by the particular convictions of the willing subject. We go beyond the criminal's defiance of the universal by substituting for the abstract conception of personality the more concrete conception of subjectivity.

The criminal is now viewed as breaking his own law, and his crime is a self-contradiction and not only a contradiction of a right outside him. At the level of morality the right of the subjective will is embodied in immediate wills as opposed to immediate things like property.

The defect of this level, however, is that the subject is only for itself, i. Therefore, the identity of the particular will and the universal will is only implicit and the moral point of view is that of a relation of "ought-to-be," or the demand for what is right. While the moral will externalizes itself in action, its self-determination is a pure "restlessness" of activity that never arrives at actualization. The right of the moral will has three aspects. First, there is the right of the will to act in its external environment, to recognize as its actions only those that it has consciously willed in light of an aim or purpose purpose and responsibility.

Second, in my intention I ought to be aware not simply of my particular action but also of the universal which is conjoined with it. The universal is what I have willed and is my intention. The right of intention is that the universal quality of the action is not merely implied but is known by the agent, and so it lies from the start in one's subjective will. Moreover, the content of such a will is not only the right of the particular subject to be satisfied but is elevated to a universal end, the end of welfare or happiness intention and welfare.

The welfare of many unspecified persons is thus also an essential end and right of subjectivity. However, right as an abstract universal and welfare as abstract particularity, may collide, since both are contingent on circumstances for their satisfaction, e. While true or authentic conscience is the disposition to will what is absolutely good, and thus correspond with what is objectively right, purely formal conscience lacks an objective system of principles and duties.

Although conscience is ideally supposed to mean the identity of subjective knowing and willing with the truly good, when it remains the subjective inner reflection of self-consciousness into itself its claim to this identity is deficient and one-sided. Moreover, when the determinate character of right and duty reduces to subjectivity, the mere inwardness of the will, there is the potentiality of elevating the self-will of particular individuals above the universal itself, i.

What makes a person evil is the choosing of natural desires in opposition to the good, i. When an individual attempts to pass off his or her action as good, and thus imposing it on others, while being aware of the discrepancy between its negative character and the objective universal good, the person falls into hypocrisy. Hegel's analysis of the moral implications of "good and conscience" leads to the conclusion that a concrete unity of the objective good with the subjectivity of the will cannot be achieved at the level of personal morality since all attempts at this are problematic.

Thus, ethical life is permeated with both objectivity and subjectivity: regarded objectively it is the state and its institutions, whose force unlike abstract right depends entirely on the self-consciousness of citizens, on their subjective freedom; regarded subjectively it is the ethical will of the individual which unlike the moral will is aware of objective duties that express one's inner sense of universality.

The rationality of the ethical order of society is thus constituted in the synthesis of the concept of the will, both as universal and as particular, with its embodiment in institutional life. The synthesis of ethical life means that individuals not only act in conformity with the ethical good but that they recognize the authority of ethical laws. The knowledge of how the laws and institutions of society are binding on the will of individuals entails a "doctrine of duties. In the performance of duty the individual exhibits virtue when the ethical order is reflected in his or her character, and when this is done by simple conformity with one's duties it is rectitude.

When individuals are simply identified with the actual ethical order such that their ethical practices are habitual and second nature, ethical life appears in their general mode of conduct as custom Sitten. In duty "the self-will of the individual vanishes together with his private conscience which had claimed independence and opposed itself to the ethical substance.

For when his character is ethical, he recognizes as the end which moves him to act the universal which is itself unmoved but is disclosed in its specific determinations as rationality actualized.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

However, this does not deny the right of subjectivity, i. The "bond of duty" will be seen as a restriction on the particular individual only if the self-will of subjective freedom is considered in the abstract, apart from an ethical order as is the case for both Abstract Right and Morality. In the realm of ethical life the logical syllogism of self-determination of the Idea is most clearly applied.

The moments of universality, particularity, and individuality initially are represented respectively in the institutions of the family, civil society, and the state. The family is "ethical mind in its natural or immediate phase" and is characterized by love or the feeling of unity in which one is not conscious of oneself as an independent person but only as a member of the family unit to which one is bound.