Western Political Thought Hegel-Part 1 for ICMR NET

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George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - Part I: Western Political Thought (Political Science)

George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 - 1831)

George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel


The Sequence of Philosophy


  • Born in Germany in 1770 in an upper middle class family .
  • Rose to philosophical excellency and settled in Berlin and died there only in 1831.
  • There he gain immortal fame and became not only the ‘king of philosophers’ but ‘philosopher of kings’ .
  • According to Sabine “The significance of political thought of Hegel centers round two points and those are the dialectics as a method and the idealism of the nation state” .
  • Hegel drew his philosophy from various sources.
  • Was influenced by Plato and Aristotle.
  • He was also influenced by French revolution, which for him was a glorious mental dawn.
  • He studied Kant՚s philosophy and rejected his individualistic conception of state and the idea of passive obedience to state.

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On Nature of Man

  • Agrees with Aristotle that man is a social and political animal both by nature and necessity.
  • He always wants both need and assistance of others for his mental, moral and physical development.
  • In actual life each individual is bound to find that without the assistance of others it shall not be possible for him to achieve what is best in him.
  • Each individual want some type of association for the realization of his freedom.
  • According to him earliest association was family.
  • Which served his sensual needs and afforded him the minimum necessary protection for his living.
  • Wayper has said about this institution that it incorporated in men ‘the idea of mutual love, and thus the basis from which Hegel begins his analysis of state’ .

Hegel on State

Hegel on State
Points of Hegel

The individual has only an indirect and reflected existence, whereas state possess ultimate reality.

  • In his view essence of state is freedom.
  • And true freedom lies in complete subordination to the dictates of state.
  • It is in state that man is able to enjoy his outward self over his inward idea of freedom.
  • According to him state is an agency which represents and aims at subjective freedom.
  • It is both absolute and infallible.
  • It is the march of God on earth and thus an end in itself and not means to an end.
  • Since the state represents reason, the freedom of individual in state lies in obeying the laws.
  • It represents individual , collective and divine will.
  • He preferred formation of federation but pleaded that system of representation in state should be on functional basis .

Philosophy of History

  • Hegel՚s political thought is deeply embedded in his philosophical approach , particularly in his philosophy of history.
  • He is chief exponent of idealism which is closely linked with his dialectical method.
  • Hegel՚s principle of dialectical idealism implies:
    • Idea (spirit or consciousness) is the basic substance of universe, which includes physical objects as well as social and political institutions; it is the driving force behind all historical development.
    • Idea is endowed with capacity and tendency of development.
    • Idea always moves in a dialectical path , that is the initial idea is confronted by its contradictory form (the opposite idea) and this confrontation results in the destruction of untenable parts of the two , and integration of their tenable parts; this process goes on repeating itself until it reaches the stage of the Absolute Idea.
  • But the synthesis so evolved may not be the whole truth, though it is relatively free from the untrue elements of the two; it is nearer the truth and perfection.
  • It therefore takes the position of new thesis and undergoes the same process of clash with its antithesis and the emergence of a new synthesis.
  • This negation of negation continues till it reaches the stage of absolute idea which is free from contradiction.

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