Free Research Paper On The State In Hegel’s Philosophy Of Right

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Law, Democracy, Society, Freedom, Criminal Justice, Philosophy, Ethics, Concept

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2023/04/10

Hegel's philosophy is the culmination of the German philosophy development, which began from Kant. Hegel created a grandiose philosophical system, which covered the whole totality of theoretical knowledge at that time. This philosopher comprehended the state and the right as products of reasonable human activities, which were embodied in real public institutions. Hegel's political doctrine had a tremendous impact on the development of political and legal thought. In his teaching, Hegel considered the idea of the state and law, assuming the task of the science of law and the state not the development of ideas about proper and reasonable right and state, but finding reasonable in reality itself. Hegel has not sought to counter his political ideal reality, but sought first of all to find rationality in reality itself; hence the call for reconciliation with the reality, the rejection of constructing a proper and reasonable right and state and the desire to justify as a rational being.
The concept of the right in the representation of Hegel is based not on the will of the individual, but on the universal will having an independent existence in time, space and expressing objectively reasonable, rather than subjective arbitrariness of the individual, which is significantly different from the concept of right given by Kant and all the supporters of the critical philosophy. Hegel seeks to achieve reasonable essence of the right and state, regardless of the rights and interests of the individual. He interprets the positive law, as an expression of the mind itself, thereby to justify the illegality of the destruction of the revolution, not denying the possibilities of elements of violence and tyranny in the positive law. However, Hegel considers them for right itself as something random, not relating to the nature of law, as something reasonable, both in itself and for itself freedom of the will. The three main forms of concretization of freedom and right concept are an abstract law, morality, ethics. In the sphere of abstract right the will is indirect and abstract. In the sphere of morality acts the right of subjective will in relation to everyone - to the right of the world. In the sphere of ethics is achieved synthesis of these previous two abstract moments. Abstract right and morality are two unilateral moments, which acquire their validity and specificity in ethics, when the concept of freedom is objectified in the form of family, civil society and the state. Hegel emphasizes the infinite importance of that the responsibilities of the state and the rights of citizens are defined by law. Particular importance he applies to constitutional rights and freedoms, believing quite fair that every, defined by law, right to be called freedom. Hegel's appreciation of the role of the law is referring to legal law. Hegel's philosophical development of the concept of law, unfolding in the philosophy of law, by its essence is aimed at the opposition of natural and positive law, the right and the law. (Jeffrey Wattles, 1991)
Hegel distinguished civil society and the state. The philosopher, summarizing and analyzing the contractual theories about civil society of the British and French philosophers of the XVIII century, came to the conclusion that what the British and French called the state, in fact was not the state, it formed a system of socio-economic relations of people, who Hegel called civil society. The relationship of people within this society are determined by their material interests (system of needs), existing in society division of labor and different ways of meeting those needs. Civil society - the sphere of implementation of special, private purposes and interests of the individual. From the point of view of concept of law development is reconstructed interconnection and interdependence of the particular and the universal. Development of the idea involves, according to Hegel, the achievement of such unity, through which opposites of reason, in particular, moments of the features and universality, freedom of the individual and of the whole, are recognized and deployed in their power. It was not in the antique states, neither in Plato's ideal state, nor during feudalism. Hegel showed civil society as, torn by conflicting interests, antagonistic society as a war of all against all. Three main points of civil society are system of requirements; administration of justice; the police and the corporation. Hegel justified the need for public disclosure of laws, public proceedings and trial by jury. Criticizing the concept of omnipresent police state, Hegel distinguishes in the structure of civil society following classes:
1) the substantial (landowners - nobles and peasants);
2) industrial (manufacturers, traders, artisans);
3) universal (officials).
An analysis of classes is needed to Hegel in order to find a mediating link between the activities of the individual and the interests of the state as a whole. Only a person belonging to a particular class, according to the philosopher, becomes in a certain political attitude of the universality of the state. The basis for progressive development of society and the state, Hegel considers presence in them of social contradictions. He admits that, on the one hand, increases the accumulation of wealth, and on the other, increases the dependence and distress of class, attached to the work. In today's society, according to Hegel, there is a concentration of excessive wealth in a few hands and the growth of luxury are accompanied by endless growth of dependence and need. Civil society and the state, according to the Hegelian concept, are related as reason and mind: civil society - the "external state", "the state of needs and mind," but the true state is reasonable. Therefore, in the philosophical and logical level, civil society is regarded by Hegel as a magnet of state. Development of civil society presupposes, according to Hegel, the existence of the state as its foundation. Therefore, in reality, the state is generally the first, within which the family develops into civil society, and the idea of the state is divided on these two points. Civil society in the interpretation of Hegel is mediated by labor system of needs, resting on the rule of private property and the universal formal equality of people. To theoretical merits of Hegel refers a clear principled formulation of the question about the relationship of socio-economic and political spheres of civil society and the state, about necessity and law, the dialectical nature of these ties and relations. (David Peddle, 2000)
The state is the reality of the moral idea - the moral spirit as an explicit, clear itself, the substantial will, which thinks and knows itself and does what it knows and because it knows it. The state for Hegel is something reasonable, freedom reaches the highest, proper to it right. Therefore, the state is, according to the teaching of Hegel, an end in itself. From the statement of the absolute value of the state, Hegel makes two conclusions: First, the state has precedence over the interests of the individual, it has the highest law with regard to individuals, the highest duty is to be a member of state. Secondly, the State can not be regarded only as a means to protect the interests of the individual. Regarding the appointment of the State in the promotion and protection of property and personal freedom of the individual citizen means the recognition of individual interests as the ultimate goal of their existence in the state. The state actually is in a completely different attitude to the individual, because it is an objective spirit. The individual derives from the life of the state the true concept of morality, it only in the state carries out its true freedom, because here is achieved, according to Hegel, the unity of the objective of freedom, that is the general will and subjective freedom of the individual, who will adhere to the laws, moral basic principle, which has universal importance. His understanding of the state Hegel opposes to the ideas of the French Revolution. Hegel's idea of the state represents a legal reality, in a hierarchical structure of which the state itself being the most specific right, appears as a legal state. Freedom means the achievement of legal state. The availability of state’s idea Hegel states only in relation to the developed European countries of contemporary to him historical epoch, in which the Christian idea of freedom is realized, personal independence and the equality of all before the law are achieved, representation and constitutional rule are established. (G. W. F. Hegel, 1991)
The state as a moral entity in the interpretation of Hegel is not aggregation of individuals with their distinct rights, not a dead mechanism, but a living organism. Therefore, for Hegel question is not about freedom on the one hand, of the individual, citizen, and on the other - of state, not the opposition of their autonomous and independent human rights and freedoms, but an organic integrity of freedom - the freedom of the state organized by the people (nation), comprising in itself freedom of individuals and spheres of national life. The supreme moment of the idea of the state, according to Hegel, is the ideal of sovereignty. The States relate to each other as independent, free and independent individuals. The substance of the state, its sovereignty act as an absolute power over all single, special and final, over life, property and the rights of individuals and their communities. The guarantee of independence of the state, according to Hegel, is the armed forces, developed condition of which represents permanent army. The dispute between the states, if their sovereign will does not come to an agreement, Hegel emphasizes, can only be solved by war. However, even in the war as a state of lawlessness and violence continue to apply such principles as mutual recognition of states, the transient nature of war and the possibility of peace. Hegel praises the state as an idea (i.e. reality) of the right, as a legal state, as an organization of freedom, in which the mechanism of violence and apparatus of political state are mediated and curbed by law, introduced in the legal framework, functioning only in the state and legal forms. As Hegel’s state itself is a legal formation (specific law), and the various rights and freedoms are valid only on the basis and within the framework of the state, the Hegelian concept of the right and state represents specific etatist variant of the bourgeois doctrine of "rule of law". The philosophical and legal doctrine of Hegel had an enormous influence on the subsequent history of political and legal thought. Hegel's philosophy gave a fairly wide scope for substantiation of both conservative and critical oppositional views. (Mark E. Knackstedt, 1994)


Jeffrey Wattles. (1991). A Manual for Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Available at:
David Peddle. (2000). Hegel's Political Ideal: Civil Society, History And Sittlichkeit. Wilfred Grenfell College Press, 117-126.
G. W. F. Hegel. (1991). Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Cambridge University Press, 22-28.
Mark E. Knackstedt. (1994). State and Revolution: Hegel, Marx, and Lenin. McMaster University, 46-60.

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