Fall 2014

Hegel's Philosophy of Right

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-218


Adam Sitze (Section 01)


In 1820, G.W.F. Hegel completed the last of his major published works: the Philosophy of Right. Almost immediately, Hegel’s text would be criticized as a work of philosophical apology—a rationalization and justification of the repressive Prussian state. Later readers of Hegel would intensify this criticism, interpreting the Philosophy of Right as a terminal limit for Hegelian thought as such—a point in Hegel's intellectual itinerary where his dialectical reason turned into undialectical dogma, his attempt to think actual experience deteriorated into mystical abstraction, and his affirmation of freedom reconciled itself with an affirmation of unfreedom. The goal of this course is to review and rethink these criticisms. By engaging in a close reading of the Philosophy of Right, we shall seek to derive from Hegel's text a relation between thought and law that has been occluded by the traditional assessment of this work. As a part of this reading, we shall pay special attention to the place and function of the criticism of the Philosophy of Right within the genesis of the scholarly field known as “critical theory.” Along the way, we shall pose general questions about what it means to interpret a canonical philosophic text, how to perform a close reading of a translated work, and why “critique” remains essential for education today.

Limited to 40 students.  Fall semester. Professor Sitze.


If Overenrolled: Priority given to LJST majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014