Hegel and the Freedom of Moderns

Hegel and the Freedom of Moderns

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 400 Illustrations: Published: August 2004

History > European History, Politics > Political Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Critical Theory

Available in English for the first time, Hegel and the Freedom of Moderns revives discussion of the major political and philosophical tenets underlying contemporary liberalism through a revolutionary interpretation of G. W. F. Hegel’s thought. Domenico Losurdo, one of the world’s leading Hegelians, reveals that the philosopher was fully engaged with the political controversies of his time. In so doing, he shows how the issues addressed by Hegel in the nineteenth century resonate with many of the central political concerns of today, among them questions of community, nation, liberalism, and freedom. Based on an examination of Hegel’s entire corpus—including manuscripts, lecture notes, different versions of texts, and letters—Losurdo locates the philosopher’s works within the historical contexts and political situations in which they were composed.

Hegel and the Freedom of Moderns persuasively argues that the tug of war between “conservative” and “liberal” interpretations of Hegel has obscured and distorted the most important aspects of his political thought. Losurdo unravels this misleading dualism and provides an illuminating discussion of the relation between Hegel’s political philosophy and the thinking of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. He also discusses Hegel’s ideas in relation to the pertinent writings of other major figures of modern political philosophy such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, Karl Popper, Norberto Bobbio, and Friedrich Hayek.


"Losurdo historicizes the debates that Hegel addresses, challenges common categorizations such as 'liberal' or 'reactionary,' draws on the important lecture notes of Hegel's philosophy of right (many of which have appeared only in the past thirty or forty years), and is lucid on a topic often discussed in impenetrable, prolix prose. Even Hegel scholars already sympathetic to Losurdo's interpretation will learn from this important book and from his critical dialogue with leading European Hegel scholars such as Bobbio and Ilting." — Mark Tunick, Perspectives on Political Science

Hegel and the Freedom of Moderns constitutes an extremely valuable and original contribution to the study of the genealogy of modernity and of bourgeois culture.” — Joseph A. Buttigieg, editor The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci

“Domenico Losurdo is one of the great contemporary authorities on Hegel; his work needs to be known in the English-speaking world.” — Fredric Jameson, Duke University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Domenico Losurdo is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Urbino and President of the International Hegel-Marx Society for Dialectical Thought. He is the author of numerous books in Italian.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Translators’ Note xii

Hegel Source Abbreviations xv

Preface to the Italian Edition xvii

ONE. A Liberal, Secret Hegel?

I. Searching for the “Authentic” Hegel 3

1. Censorship and Self-Censorship 3

2. Linguistic Self-Censorship and Theoretical Compromise 9

3. Private Dimension and Philosophical Dimension 14

4. Hegel...a Mason? 16

5. Esoteric and Exoteric History 20

6. Philosophical Arguments and Political “Facts” 23

7. An Interpretative “Misunderstanding” or a Real Contradiction? 26

II. The Philosophies of Right: A Turning Point or Continuity 32

1. Reason and Actuality 32

2. The Power of Sovereign 39

3. One Turn, Two Turns, or No Turn at All 46

TWO. Hegel, Marx, and the Liberal Tradition

III. Contractualism and the Modern State 53

1. Anticontractualism=Antiliberalism? 53

2. Contractualism and the Doctrine of Natural Law 56

3. Liberal Anticontractualism

4. The Celebration of Nature and the Ideology of Reactionism 60

5. Hegel and Feudal, Proto-Bourgeois Contractualism 64

6. Contractualism and the Modern State 67

IV Conservative or Liberal? A False Dilemma 71

1. Bobbio’s Dilemma 71

2. Authority and Freedom 72

3. State and Individual 78

4. The Right to Resistance 83

5. The Right of Extreme Need and Individual Rights 87

6. Formal and Substantive Freedom 90

7. Interpretative Categories and Ideological Presuppositions 92

V Hegel and the Liberal Tradition: Two Opposing Interpretations of History 96

1. Hegel and Revolutions 96

2. Revolutions from the Bottom-Up or from the Top-Down 100

3. Revolution According to the Liberal Tradition 103

4. Patricians and Plebeians 107

5. Monarchy and Republic 111

6. The Repression of the Aristocracy and the March Toward Freedom 113

7. Anglophobia and Anglophilia 116

8. Hegel, England, and the Liberal Tradition 118

9. Equality and Freedom 120

VI The Intellectual, Property, and the Social Question 124

1. Theoretical Categories and Immediate Political Options 124

2. The Individual and Institutions 128

3. Institutions and the Social Question 131

4. Labor and Otium 133

5. Intellectuals and Property-Owners 138

6. Property and Political Representations 141

7. Intellectuals and Craftsmen 142

8. A Banausic, Plebeian Hegel? 145

9. The Social Question and Industrial Society 148

THREE. Legitimacy and Contradictions of Modernity

VII Right, Violence, and Notrecht 153

1. War and the Right to Property: Hegel and Locke 153

2. From the Ius Necessitatis to the Right of Extreme Need 155

3. The Contradictions of Modern Economic Development 157

4. Notrecht and Self-Defense: Locke, Fichte, and Hegel 160

5. “Negative Judgment,””Negatively Infinite Judgment,” and “Rebellion” 163

6. Notrecht, Ancien Regime, and Modernity 166

7. The Starving Man and the Slave 169

8. Ius Necessitatis, Ius Resistentiae, Notrecht 171

9. The Conflicts of Right with Moral Intention and Extreme Need 172

10. An Unsolved Problem 177

VII “Agora” and “Schole”: Rousseau, Hegel, and the Liberal Tradition 180

1. The Image of Ancient Times in France and Germany 180

2. Cynics, Monks, Quakers, Anabaptist, and Sansculottes 181

3. Rousseau, the “Poor People’s Grudge,” and Jacobinism 183

4. Politics and Economics in Rousseau and Hegel 186

5. The Social Question and Taxation 189

6. State, Contract, and Joint-Stock Company 193

7. Christianity, Human Rights, and the Community of Citoyens 195

8. The Liberal Tradition and Criticism of Rousseau and Hegel 199

9. Defense of the Individual and Criticism of Liberalism 200

IX School, Division of Labor, and Modern Man’s Freedom 204

1. School, State, and the French Revolution 204

2. Compulsory Education and Freedom of Conscience 206

3. School, State, Church, and Family 210

4. The Rights of Children 213

5. School, Stability, and Social Mobility 215

6. Professions and the Division of Labor 220

7. Division of Labor and Banality of Modernity: Schelling, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche 222

X Moral Tension and the Primacy of Politics 225

2. Inconclusiveness and Narcissism in Moral-Religious Precepts 226

3. Modern World and the Restriction of Moral Sphere 228

4. Hegel and Kant 230

5. Hegel, Schleiermach, and the Liberal Tradition 231

6. Hegel, Burke, and Neo-Aristotelian Conservatism 234

7. Hegel, Aristotle, and the Rejection of Solipsistic Escape 237

8. The French Revolution and the Celebration of Ethicality 238

9. Morality, Ethically, and Modern Freedom 241

10. Hegel’s Ethical Model and Contemporary Actuality 243

XI Legitimacy of the Modern and Rationality of the Actual 246

1. The “Querelle de Anciens, des Modernes,” . . and of the Ancient Germans 246

2. Rejection of Modernity, Cult of Heroes, and Anti-Hegelian Polemic 247

3. Kant, Kleist, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche 250

4. Modernity and the Uneasiness of Liberal Tradition 253

5. Philistinism, Statism, and Modern Standardization 256

6. The Rationality of the Actual and the Difficult Balance between Legitimation and Criticism of Modernity 260

FOUR. The Western World, Liberalism, and the Interpretation of Hegel’s Thought

XII The Second Thirty Years War and the “Philosophical Crusade” against Germany 267

1. Germans, “Goths,” “Huns,” and “Vandals” 267

2. The Great Western Purge 268

3. The Transformation of the Liberal Western World 272

4. An Imaginary Western World, an Imaginary Germany 276

5. Hegel Faces the Western Tribunal 279

6. Ilting and the Liberal Rehabilitation of Hegel 282

7. Lukacs and the Burden of National Stereotypes 286

XII Liberalism, Conservatism, the French Revolution, and Classic German Philosophy 290

1. Allegmeinheit and Egalite 290

2. The English Origins of German Conservatism 292

3. A Selective Anglophilia 296

4. Tracing the Origins of Social Darwinism and Fascist Ideology 297

5. Beyond National Stereotypes 299

6. Burke and the History of European Liberalism 300

7. Burke’s School of Thought and Classic German Philosophy 302

8. Hegel and the Legacy of t
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3291-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3253-4
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