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Philosophy of Right

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  1,956 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In this 1821 classic, Hegel applies his most important concept & the dialectics to law, rights, morality, the family, economics & the state. The philosopher defines universal right as the synthesis between the thesis of an individual acting in accordance with the law & the occasional conflict of an antithetical desire to follow private convictions.
paper, 272 pages
Published September 20th 2005 by Dover Publications (first published 1821)
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Possibly the most morally repugnant treatise on political theory this side of Leviathan, Hegel's Philosophy of Right is ostensibly an account of the modern state, but it is in fact a collection of cheerleading anthems for power by an evil pedant desirous of the destruction of our species. There are three agonizing sections. The first is about how, as a particular human being, you are contradictory and therefore untrue; in contrast, the state, being the embodiment of contradictionless Reason, is ...more
Among the pantheon of philosophers, Hegel is one of the most intimidating. His very name evokes fear: the towering behemoth of obscure German prose, looming in the distance, spinning out sentences that can trip up the most astute and careful readers.

Yet, after reading two of his books, I feel that his reputation for obscurity is—like Kant’s—significantly exaggerated. It’s a certain style of writing, sure; and several sentences are, as far as I’m concerned, gobbledygook. But like any academic wo
While I cannot say that I fully agree with his views on Religion and the State... just look at the nutty things that religious folk believe these days? I do think that his sections on democracy could be construed as somewhat implicitly fascistic. Here we see the birth of the Continental Tradition in many ways. It was not Descartes, or Kant, but Hegel who first truly understood the promise of constructing a World Philosophy from the Enlightened Light on the Hill that was Modern Europe. So many co ...more
Erik Graff
Nov 04, 2015 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hegel fans
Recommended to Erik by: David Schweickart
Shelves: philosophy
I read this book for David Schweickart's course on Social and Political Philosophy during the second semester of 1980/1 at Loyola University Chicago. Previously, I'd read Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind and his Logic only. Like the former, unlike the latter, Philosophy of Right is a relatively easy read. Unlike the Phenomenology, it is neither very profound nor challenging, intellectually speaking. It is, however, an important book as regards how it applies the very intriguing thought-forms of the ...more
Cain S. Pinto
At the heart of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1821) is a conception of reason as a normative social institution. The practical use of reason in dealing with daily life is the peculiar human game of acting in accordance with laws—even those only taken true by convention. This rule directed behaviour consists of giving and asking for reasons [a], judging their appropriateness [b], justifying acts, and assertions, one has committed to by them [c], and modifying one’s commitments to ...more
Jacob Aitken
Hegel gives primacy to constitutional monarchy, but wants a government that allows civic participation. Citizens should participate in government as part of a subset of the whole–not as individuals. Hegel calls these subsets “corporations.” I don’t know to what extent corporations in the mid-19th century resemble corporations today. But we can view it another way by calling them “estates,” which is exactly how medieval many participated in the monarchical order.

Hegel wants a constitutional monar
Jacob Aitken
The mature epitome of Hegel's thought. If you aren't intimately familiar with Hegel's vocab (and the language of 19th century Idealism) then don't begin here. The first section begins with Hegel's discussion of modern rights, but one gets the feeling that by rights Hegel doesn't mean what we normally mean. It is not until one consults the "additions" at the end of the book does it become clearer.

Hegel's organization of civil society is nothing less than brilliant. The basic unit of social order
I have avoided going into any detail about the philosophical content in this review so by my reckoning it doesn’t really contain any spoilers, there is one or two things about the general topics he covers and one or two of the positions Hegel holds, but in no place do I really talk about his reasons for holding these positions – basically I very much doubt it’s going to give the ending away.

Before I started reading this everything I’d heard about Hegel made me think he was the king of the silly
Hegel is undoubtably a difficult--though fascinating--philosopher. Outlines of the Philosophy of Right is written a style that is unnecessarily obtuse but, unfortunately, not unusual for the school of thought or the period. I would suggest reading Hegel in conjunction with a class or background book (I personally consulted the Cambridge Companion to Hegel), or otherwise preparing for a slow reading with time allotted for background research. What makes Hegel so interesting is the sheer multiplic ...more
Grant Francis
Don't read this. It will make your head crack open and your brains fall out. Especially if you read Heidegger at the same time.
Peter J.
I always struggle with the Germans when it comes to philosophy, but this was well worth the effort; even if I may have missed a bit. There were some things I strongly disagreed with put forward by Hegel, but right before I would write him off, he would shift gears and say something things that were profoundly insightful; keeping me on the hook.
I'm still musing on his theory that the conscience isn't the voice of something external, but of our true selves, void of corrupting external influences.
I have a lot of feelings about this book. I came to it, really, in order to better understand the vast number of authors who have since tweaked and critiqued Hegel's philosophy and ethics (Kierkegaard, Marx, various post-structuralists). He's a bad writer forwarding a philosophy that--especially in hindsight--seems pretty heinous at the end, but here's my best attempt at a charitable summary:

Elements outlines an ethical philosophy that prioritizes/has its end in the state. That is, unlike a Kant
Michael Williams
A strange book. Hegel's politics are impossible to categorize. But two things are certain. 1) This book was NOT particularly progressive in its own time and could even be characterized as reactionary and not merely conservative. Hegel champions the rule of law, the existence of a diet and the publicizing of its debates, religious toleration, and freedom of speech. But all of these liberal stances are highly qualified throughout his work and rendered somewhat meaningless by the absolute and unche ...more
Peter Owens
A killer work, and much clearer than The Phenomenology of Spirit, thought perhaps my having read the latter influenced my ability to read it well. Considered by some Hegelians to be his weakest work, I think it is perhaps under-appreciated.
John Rivera
Hegel can be extremely thick at times. His vocabulary is completely his own and he doesn't like outlining his central themes. You really have to take your time reading this text in order to see what he's getting at.

He's proposals for how a modern state should look (no universal suffrage, women's roles limited to raising children and housekeeping, a hereditary monarch as the head of state, etc.) can seem a bit ridiculous to a modern liberal audience but take it with a grain of salt. Even Hegel th
Sean Rosenthal
Interesting quote:

"As for popular suffrage, it may be further remarked that especially in large states it leads inevitably to electoral indifference, since the casting of a single vote is of no significance where there is a multitude of electors. Even if a voting qualification is highly valued and esteemed by those who are entitled to it, they still do not enter the polling booth. Thus the result of an institution of this kind is more likely to be the opposite of what was intended; election actu
This is an incredibly difficult book to read, because of the structure of the book itself. The text is actually the compiled notes of students, with three layers of notes on each argument. As a result, the philosophy of an incredibly difficult thinker is made even more difficult because of the format of the text. Nonetheless, within the book are Hegel's critiques of Kantian ethics and his introduction of a kind of Aristotiliean ethics. Ultimately, Hegel's description of the ideal state as a Germ ...more
Tom McDonald
This Oxford World's Classic edition (2008) of the Philosophy of Right deserves 5 stars primarily owing to the revisions, edits, and introduction by Stephen Houlgate. Houlgate is among the recent cohort of Anglophone Hegel scholars who have finally begun to get Hegel right, despite the long history of misreception and misunderstanding of Hegel as an obscurantist by Anglophone philosophers.
From this book, i found the Theory of Need. This theory inspires me to explore Need in Law perspective. This is one of the inspiring book for me. Thx for Hegel, the author, wish i had a chance to study about Hegel and his theories.
Joshua Goller
This book was incredibly verbose, opaque, and metaphysical. I also don't buy into normative ethics at all, or Hegel's justification of the State being the highest level of ethical whatever.
By far Hegel's most boring work that I've read. Stick to his work on art and The Phenomenology of Spirit is you're interested in his work, but the latter requires assistance to process.
Fantastic for its insight into Hegel's bizarre ontology. Nice to pair it with Kant's Critique of Pure Reason for an overview of most communitarian/libertarian controversies.
Thomas Ross
Hegel is a confusing and challenging author to read but nevertheless interesting despite disagreeing with his ideas regarding freedom. It's challenging but worth it/
Although he seriously needs an editor...a surprising enlightening book.
Most challenging book I think I have ever read.
Chad Newton
A bad writing of philosophical beliefs
Susanna Rose
a crystal bowl - it's cracks are noble
hegel and i, we've never gotten on
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  • Hegel
  • Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit
  • Political Writings (Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right
  • The Spirit of the Laws (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • The Discourses & Other Early Political Writings (Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • Theological-Political Treatise
  • The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic: Part I: Human Nature; Part II: de Corpore Politico with Three Lives
  • Natural Right and History
  • Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology
  • The Concept of the Political
  • A Letter Concerning Toleration: Humbly Submitted
  • The Politics of Friendship
  • The Principles of Morals and Legislation
  • Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy
  • On Liberty and Other Essays
  • The Rights of War and Peace: In Three Volumes
  • On the Aesthetic Education of Man
German philosopher and one of the founding figures of German Idealism. Influenced by Kant's transcendental idealism and Rousseau's politics, Hegel formulated an elaborate system of historical development of ethics, government, and religion through the dialectical unfolding of the Absolute. Hegel was one of the most well-known historicist philosopher, and his thought presaged continental philosophy ...more
More about Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel...

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