Infomotions, Inc.Ethics. Translated selections from his "Rechtsphilosophie", with an introd. by J. Macbride Sterret. / Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831

Author: Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831
Title: Ethics. Translated selections from his "Rechtsphilosophie", with an introd. by J. Macbride Sterret.
Publisher: Boston Ginn [c1893]
Tag(s): ethics; hegel; ethical; abstract; civic community; external; freedom; philosophy; hence; concept; individual; universal; self
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Identifier: ethicstranslated00hegeuoft
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THE Ethical Series, of which this book on Hegel s Ethics, 
by Professor Sterrett, is the second number, will consist of a 
number of small volumes, each of which will be devoted to 
the presentation of a leading- system in the History of 
Modern Ethics, in selections or extracts from the original 
works. These selections will be accompanied by explana 
tory and critical notes. They will also be introduced by a 
bibliography, a brief biographical sketch of the author of 
the system, a statement of the relation of the system to 
preceding ethical thought, and a brief explanation of the 
main features of the system and its influence on subsequent 
ethical thought. The volumes will be prepared by experi 
enced teachers in the department of Ethics and with special 
reference to undergraduate instruction and study in colleges. 

The series at present will include six volumes as follows : 
HOBBES, Professor G. M. Duncan, Yale University ; 
CLARKE, President F. L. Patton, Princeton University ; 
LOCKE, the Editor of the Series ; 
HUME, Dr. J. H. Hyslop, Columbia College ; 
KANT, Professor John Watson, Queen s University, Canada. 
HEGEL, Professor J. Macbride Sterrett, Columbian University. 

The increasing interest in the study of Ethics and the 
consequent enlargement of the courses in college curricula, 
suggest to every teacher the need of better methods of 
teaching the subject than those which have quite generally 


prevailed in the past. Instruction in the History of Ethics, 
like instruction in the History of Philosophy, has largely 
been based on text-books or lectures giving expositions of, 
and information about, the various systems. Such methods, 
although serviceable, are not as stimulating and helpful as 
those which put the student in direct contact with the 
text of the author, enabling him to study the system 
itself rather than to study about the system. Undoubtedly 
the best plan would be to have the student read the entire 
work of the author, but all teachers will probably concede 
the impracticability of this in undergraduate work, if a num 
ber of systems is to be studied, which is usually desirable. 
Only inferior, in my judgment, to the best, but impracticable 
plan, is the plan of the "Ethical Series,"- to study selec 
tions or extracts from the original works, embodying the 
substance of the system. The " Series " makes provision 
for such work in a convenient and comparatively inexpen 
sive manner. That the plan of instruction on which the 
" Series " is based is in the interest of better scholarship, 
I am assured by my own experience, and by that of many 
other teachers in the leading colleges of the country, with 
whom I have communicated. It is with the earnest hope of 
facilitating instruction and study in the History of Ethics 
that this series is issued. 



THE great revival of interest and work in the department 
of Ethics during the present quarter of a century has had 
its chief inspiration and source in the idealistic philosophy 
of Germany. Of this philosophy Hegel was the culmination 
and crown. Hence it is not necessary to-day to apologize 
for "intruding on the public with a work on Hegel," as 
Dr. Stirling did in 1865. Apart from the empirical evolu 
tionary school, nearly all the prominent writers on Ethics 
in England have been following quite the spirit and sub 
stance of Hegel. 

These " Selections " have been made from his Philosophic 
des Rechts embracing one-half of its contents, supplemented 
with some extracts from his Phdnomenologie des Geistes, 
Philosophic des Geistes and his Philosophy of History (trans 
lation). The portions of the Rechts Philosophic omitted 
have chiefly reference to the special organization of the state 
and are of less obvious ethical import. 

The task of translating has been a perplexing one. And 
the task of mastering his thought in translation may be 
expected to require at least the arduous effort of thought 
that it requires in the original, even of German scholars. 
The difficulties of Hegel, and the impossibility of making 
any adequate and intelligible translation are too well known 
to need more than passing mention. I have avoided making 
a free rendering or paraphrase, though this is much more 
easy and agreeable for both translator and student. I have 
learned that one invariably regrets having adopted this 
easier method, because it invariably deforms and dwarfs 


Hegel s meaning. I have attempted an exact translation, 
making it as literal as possible with fairly idiomatic English 
too literal for intelligibility, unless accompanied with 
careful study. Hegel s language is severely scientific and 
technical, largely the adaptation of ordinary German to 
extraordinary significations, to which Worterbucher afford 
no clue. Common language expresses common thought, 
but is necessarily inadequate, without great stretching, to 
philosophic thought or to the scientific expression of it. 
Hegel s work is not merely historical or descriptive of 
ethical phenomena, but a purely scientific theory of the 
thought or concept {Begriff) underlying and animating all 
forms of morals and manners. 

I have given a vocabulary of his chief technical terms 
which it will be well for the student to master at the outset. 
The Introduction has been made sufficiently popular for all 
persons interested in ethical thought too popular for real 
students of Hegel. 

I am indebted for valuable assistance in the way of 
making out some of the most difficult constructions in the 
German text of Part First of the " Selections " and also 
for aid in looking over the proof-sheets to my colleague, 
Professor Hermann Schonfeld, Ph.D. I am also indebted 
to Mr. P. M. Magnusson, Ph.D., for valuable help in my 
work of translating most of the " Selections " in Part Third. 


WASHINGTON, D.C., July, 1893. 









4. KEY-WORDS 4 . -57 










3. WRONG 91 


(b) FRAUD 94 






2. INTENTION AND WELFARE . . . . . .no 







1. THE FAMILY 148 





2. THE Civic COMMUNITY 159 




WEALTH . . . . . . .168 



LAW AS A FORM OF RIGHT . . . -175 




3. THE STATE l8 9 










1. Grundlinien der Philosophic des Rechts. 1833. Herausg. 
von E. Cans, Hegel s Werke, Band VIII. 

2. Phdnomenologie des Geistes. Band II. 

3. Philosophic des Geistes. Band VII. 

4. The same. Translated into French by A. Vera : Philo- 
sophie de r Esprit de Hegel. Par A. Ve"ra. 

5. Philosophic der Geschichte. Band IX. 

6. The same. Translated by J. Sibree. (Bohn s Library.) 

7. Rechts-, Pflichten- und Religions-Lehre. Band XVIII. 

8. The same. Translated into English with notes by Dr. 
William T. Harris. Jour. Spec. Phil., Vol. IV. 

9. The same. Translated with Supplementary Essays by B. C. 
Burt, 1892. 

10. Hegel" 1 s Philosophy of the State and of History. An 
Exposition, by Professor George S. Morris, in Griggs s Philo 
sophical Classics, 1887. 


1. Die menschliche Freiheit. Von Wilhelm Vatke, 1841. 

2. System der philosophischen Moral. Von Dr. Karl L. 
Michelet, 1828. 

3. Die sittliche Weltordnung. Von Moritz Carriere. 

4. System der Rechtsphilosophie. Von Adolph Lasson, 1882. 

The Nation. By Elisha Mulford, 1875. 
The Republic of God. By the same, 1882. 
The Philosophy of Education. Translated from the German 
of J. K. F. Rosenkranz. 

Prolegomena to Ethics. By Thomas Hill Green, 1 884. 


Outlines of a Critical Theory of Ethics. By Professor John 
Dewey, 1890. 

Ethical Studies. By F. H. Bradley, 1876. 

Constructive Ethics. By W. L. Courtney, 1886. 

Ethics of Naturalism. By W. R. Sorley, 1885. 

Introduction to Social Philosophy. By J. S. Mackenzie, 1889. 

A Manual of Ethics. By the same, 1893. 

Moral Order and Progress. By S. Alexander, 1891. 

The Elements of Ethics. By J. H. Muirhead, 1892. 

Darwin and Hegel. A pamphlet. By D. G. Ritchie. 

Darwinism and Politics. By the same. 

Essays in Philosophical Criticism. Edited by Andrew Seth 
and R. H. Haldane, 1883. 

The Secret of Hegel. By Dr. J. Hutchison Stirling, 1865. 

Lectures on the Philosophy of Law. By J. Hutchison Stirling, 
in Vols. VI. and VII. of Jour, of Spec. Phil. 


Leben Hegel s. Von Karl Rosenkranz. Hegel s Werke (sup 
plement), Band XIX. 

Apologie Hegel s gegen Dr. Haym. Von K. Rosenkranz, 1858. 

Hegel als deutscher Nationalphilosoph. By the same, 1871. 

Hegel und seine Zeit. Von R. Haym, 1857. 

Hegel. By Professor Edward Caird, 1883. 

The Spirit of Modern Philosophy. By Professor Josiah 
Royce, 1892. 



Biographical Sketch. 

THE Philosophy of Hegel is much less personal than 
most systems, especially in contrast with that of Fichte. 
His head rather than his heart is what appears through 
out both his life and his writings. While this gives his 
biography less interest, it gives his writings much more 
scientific form. 

In speaking of Philosophy, as showing us "a succession 
of noble minds, a gallery of heroes of thought," Hegel him 
self has remarked : 

"The events and actions of this history are, therefore, 
such that personality and individuality of character do not 
enter to any large degree into its content and matter. 
In this respect, the history of Philosophy contrasts with 
political history, in which the individual, according to the 
peculiarity of his disposition, talents, affections, the strength 
or weakness of his character, and in general, according to 
that through which he is this individual, is the subject of 
actions and events. In Philosophy, the less deserts and 
merits are accorded to the particular individual, the better 
is the history." 1 

It is, therefore, more pertinent for us to ask, What is 
Hegel? instead of asking, Who was Hegel? In fact, this 
is the way we ordinarily think of Hegel, as the living sys 
tem of thought which he wrought out. The true history of 
a philosopher is the history of his thought and its genesis. 

1 Hegel s History of Philosophy, translated by E. S. Haldane, 1892. 
Vol. I. p. i. 


Hegel s external biography is even more uneventful than 
that of most men of thought the Alexanders and Caesars 
of the intellectual world. The mere subjective private 
characteristics, opinions and prejudices of the man need 
concern us but little in comparison with the universal ele 
ment of thought, which was the real heart of the man. The 
personal character of Hegel is not very interesting: yet it 
was not unworthy of the philosopher as a man, and upon 
the whole it may be said that it needs no apology. The 
two points in which he has been most criticised relate to his 
treatment of Schelling and his so-called subserviency to the 
Prussian government. In neither of these respects is the 
reproach thoroughly justifiable. 

His life was devoid of romance, being rather that of a 
prosaic, common-sense man of the intellectual world. Still, 
as compared with that of Kant, ein alles Zermalmender, the 
life of Hegel, ein alles Umfassender, was much more that of 
a citizen of the world. His acquaintance with the great 
literary and political men and movements of his time was 
intimate and profound. If he was not a patriot of Fichte s 
type, he was not without great interest and influence in 

We give a brief summary of the events of his outward 
life. 1 

1 The limits of space preclude anything more than a brief biograph 
ical sketch of Hegel s life. One forgoes with regret the task of pre 
senting the fuller biography, with temperate estimate of it as a genuine, 
human, scholarly life of the modern Aristotle. Rosenkranz s Hegel s 
Leben and Hegel als deutscher Nationalphilosoph afford ample materials 
for such work. This, however, has already been used most skilfully by 
Professor Edward Caird, who gives us a most admirable exposition 
and estimate of the whole Hegel in his volume in Blackwood s Philo 
sophical Classics. There is no better introduction to Hegel s personality 
and work needed. Professor Josiah Royce (The Spirit of Modern 
Philosophy] also gives a brief, but with a smack of sharpness, pen-sketch 
of Hegel s personal characteristics, using the material of the hostile 
critic Haym rather than that of the eulogistic disciple Rosenkranz. 
Since writing the following sketch I have, for the first time, looked 


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born at Stuttgart, 
the capital of Wiirtemberg, on the 2jth of August, 1770, 
and retained throughout life the Suabian characteristics of 
bluntness, shrewdness, and of deep interest in religion and 
in political affairs. His family belonged to the quiet con 
servative middle-class. His father was an officer in the fis 
cal service and a decided aristocrat. His mother seems to 
have been a woman of more than ordinary intelligence, and 
devoted to the instruction of her eldest son. She died when 
Hegel was thirteen years old. How grateful a remembrance 
he cherished of her is shown in a letter to his sister when 
he was fifty-five years old. " To-day is the anniversary of 
mother s death, which I always keep in memory of her." 
His biographer, Rosenkranz, says that his early youth was 
passed quietly and cheerfully, without any remarkable ex 
periences. The official position of his father brought his 
family into connection with the higher class of citizens. In 
his fifth year he was sent to the Latin school, and in his 
seventh he entered the city Gymnasium. He was always 
an exemplary scholar, and won the prizes in every class. 
In the diary which he kept from his fifteenth to his seven 
teenth year there are traces of deep ethical sentiments, 
though none of moral conflicts. Thus early, too, the Auf- 
kldrung possessed him. He inveighs against intolerance 
and superstition, and asserts the necessity of thinking for 
one s self. From this diary we learn, too, that though 
pedantic as a student, he did not fail to cultivate the social 
side of life. He frequented concerts, and enjoyed the so 
ciety of the pretty maidens he thus met. Rosenkranz notes 
two peculiarities of Hegel at this time which he preserved 
through life: he was addicted to taking snuff and devoted 
to playing cards, especially to whist. 

through Dr. J. Hutchinson Stirling s great work on " The Secret of 
Hegel" and find scattered throughout his most appreciative and valuable 
expository work the most scathing and harsh terms used in characteriz 
ing Hegel. 


In his sixteenth year he began the habit of keeping a 
Common-Place Book and of writing out analyses, with copious 
quotations, of every book of importance that he read. He 
was ready to thus fill his empty self with the best of the 
best authors to lose himself in them that he might find 
himself enlarged and invigorated. For the purpose of 
putting one s self at the point of view of great authors, so 
as to lose one s petty self in them, he held that there was no 
better way than this writing out copious extracts from their 
works. This is the first experience with the principle of edu 
cation most resolutely maintained by Hegel throughout life 
in regard to culture in general, i.e. the principle of self-aliena 
tion (Selbst-Entfremdung) in order to true humanization. But 
even at this time of saturating himself with the thoughts of 
others, he showed that he was not merely passive, as he ex 
presses the greatest admiration of the Greek world of culture, 
in which he soon found himself no mere pilgrim or alien. 
He was thus early penetrated by the nobility and serenity of 
the Grecian spirit, and as early showed his dislike of the 
prevalent morbid sentimentalism. At this time, too, we find 
traces of that conservative spirit in regard to the observance 
of the customary in social life and current affairs which char 
acterized him throughout life as a conservative in religion 
and politics. He thought it to be but vain conceit to be 
continually protesting against established customs and creeds 
and to be obtruding one s own whimsical tastes upon the 
public. "Virtue," he said a little later, "is not a troubling 
one s self about a peculiar and isolated morality of one s 
own. The striving for any such morality is futile and im 
possible of attainment." 

The first trace of interest in philosophy is found in one 
of his note-books, when he was fifteen years of age. He 
defines philosophy to be " the pressing through into the very 
ground and inner constitution of human conceptions and 
knowledge of the profoundest truths." 


He also then formed an intimate friendship with the 
young poet Holderlin, with whom he studied Plato and the 
Greek drama. 

Having been "consecrated to theology" by his parents, he 
entered the University at Tubingen when he was eighteen 
years of age. The first three years of the course were devoted 
to philosophical studies, and the last two to theological. He 
submitted to the dull routine of the work there in a becom 
ing manner, meantime pursuing his own private studies, 
especially of the classics. It was there he formed that inti 
mate and fruitful union with the brilliant, precocious Schel- 
ling (einpraecox ingenium, as his father designated him), five 
years his junior, that forms such an important chapter in 
his life. 

For a time, at least, he was stirred by the revolutionary 
sentiments that were so mightily working then. Together 
with Schelling and other students he formed a political club 
for the discussion of the burning questions of the day, 
and for the championing of the idea of liberty, equality and 
fraternity. He was a jovial companion, and entered with 
zest into the various experiences that characterize the Ger 
man student-life. Yet he had that dignified sobriety of 
manner which won for him the nickname of "old man." 
" God be with the old man " was found written by a fellow- 
student in one of his books. Among other tasks, as theo 
logical student, he also performed that of preaching sermons. 
Dry formalism characterized these productions. 

He studied Kant s philosophy, and was especially inter 
ested in his ethical works. But thus early he had got beyond 
Kant s dualism, and declared against the possibility of pure 
noral_activity, or of theJjjPractical Reason n apart tronTtrrr 
desires of the sensuous nature. Already he looked upon 
malTT nature as "a unitary process of self-realization. 

He left the University in 1793 with a certificate for good 
parts and character, and for fair acquaintance with theology 


and philology, but with no knowledge whatever of phi 

Like many others, his road to a place among the recog 
nized world-thinkers lay through the conditions which hamper 
one in the situation of a private tutor in a rich family. Six 
uneventful years were thus spent by Hegel. But they were 
years of great intellectual activity, years of increase of knowl 
edge, but above all of self-activity, in working over in the 
alembic of his own thought these gathered treasures. His 
education had given him a bias towards theological studies, 
and to the end of his life the study of religion fascinated 
his mind. We find him now busied with exegetical studies. 
In 1795 he finished writing a Life of Christ. Here, too, 
we find him noting the essential elements of Judaism as 
contrasted with the Greek view of religion, and even dis 
paraging Christianity in comparison with the former, though 
a few years later he had worked through to the estimate 
of Christianity as the absolute religion, or the principle of 
self-realization through self-sacrifice alike in man and in 
God, in his relation to man. It is in this period, too, that 
we find the idea of love as the most significant one to Hegel. 
In his appreciation of it we find implicit the whole of his 
later intellectual system. In the movement of love he saw 
the dialectic leading out of self into its other, in order to 
its own self-realization. Here, too, we find him making that 
laborious study of history, which later gave him the basis 
for his Philosophy of History. 

His interest in politics also led him to a fresh study of 
Kant s ethical treatises, that of the Philosophy of Right, 
appearing in 1797, and that of The Metaphysic of Ethics, in 
1798. Hegel strove to unite the two conceptions of positive 
law and subjective morality into a higher one, which he first 
named "Life," and later "Social Morality (i.e. Sittlichkeit ). 
He protested against Kant s utter subjugation of nature 
and his dismemberment of humanity (Zerstucklung des Men- 


scheri) into a casuistry arising from the absoluteness of the 
conception of duty. 

It was at this time that the Wiirtemberg Diet was held 
to promulgate a new constitution based upon the principle 
of the freedom of person and property of all citizens. The 
king favored this constitution, but the aristocratic classes, 
with their vested privileges, protested against it in the name 
of "good old German rights." Here Hegel took his stand 
with the king against the prerogative of feudalism, the privi 
lege of the guild and the purchased monopoly of the rich, 
for the king was, in this instance, the representative of 
rational freedom, of the true idea of the State. 

Through all these theological, historical and practical 
studies there was the nascent life of the Idea throbbing, 
which was to systematize all into the concrete unity of his 
later philosophy. It grew and took shape and form through 
them. He did not at first set himself the task of finding 
such a concrete principle. He did not "make his studies 
in public," as he said of Schelling, but he felt that he was 
making advances which would eventually come to light in 
a full orbed system. Beginning with particular questions 
pressing on him for solution, he was, as he says, "driven 
onward to philosophy, and, through reflection, to transform 
the ideal of his youth into a system." This "system" he 
put in writing in the year 1798. The above quotation is 
from a letter to Schelling, appealing to him as the one most 
likely to aid him in entering upon a public career as phil 
osopher. In January, 1801, he went to Jena, where he 
championed Schelling s Identity- Philosophy against that of 
Fichte. In 1802 he united with Schelling in publishing a 
" Critical Journal of Philosophy," in which the common- 
sense dualism of mind and matter was the stock object 
of attack, as well as the philosophy of subjectivity. The 
Identity- Philosophy, however differently held by Schelling 
and Hegel, furnished " the conception of a unity above all 


differences, which manifests itself in all differences, and 
to which all differences must refer for their explanation." 
From Privat-docent he became Professor in the University 
in 1805. 

In 1807 he published his first important book, the Phae- 
nomenologie des Geistes, which he finished amid the thunders 
of the battle of Jena. He seemed to have been as absorbed 
in this work as Archimedes at the siege of Syracuse. In 
" this voyage of discovery " Hegel touched and illuminated 
and criticised all the various standpoints of ethical and 
speculative philosophy. From 1808 to 1816 he was Pro 
fessor in the Gymnasium at Niirnberg, publishing his Logik 
in 1816. For a year he was Professor at Heidelberg, where 
he published his Encydopddie der philosophischen Wissen- 
schaftcn, in which he gave his whole system in detail and 
in scientific form. In 1818 he was called to the most im 
portant chair of philosophy in Germany that recently 
filled by Fichte in the University of Berlin. From this time 
till his death in 1831 he was recognized as the greatest 
teacher of philosophy in Germany. To fill out this out 
line of dates and places, so as to give a biography of such 
a thinker, would require an exposition of the whole of his 
intellectual deed. To portray him as he was, would be to 
reproduce him as he thought. In order to determine the 
place of ethics in his whole system, it is at least necessary 
to give a brief outline of his Encyclopedia of the Philosophical 
Sciences. Before doing this, however, we may glance at the 
ethical thought of his times. 


Relation to Previous Systems. 

It is scarcely possible to speak of the relation of Hegel s 
ethics to previous ethical systems, without giving the relation 
of his philosophy as a whole to previous systems of phi 


losophy. To properly orientate the English student ten years 
ago by such a statement, would have been the task of a 
whole volume. But so much has been done within the past 
decade or two as to render this superfluous here, beyond the 
general references given in the Bibliography. 

The Development from Kant to Hegel *- is already a well- 
worn topic even in English, as it has long been in German. 
Hegel is by common consent the continuator and completor 
of the idealistic movement begun by Kant. The develop 
ment of this movement is an excellent historical illustration 


of Hegel s own method, -from the abstract universal through 
difference and particularity to the concrete synthetic uni 
versal- Hegel is said to have burned his bridges behind 
him. Stirling will have it that he was always "a crafty 
borrower," using and then abusing his predecessors. But 
the bridges of thought are incombustible, and it is not diffi 
cult to trace the continuity of Hegel s thought with that of 
Kant through the diversity of Fichte and Schelling. Hegel, 
for the most part, leaves out names and dates, abstracting 
the essence of systems and integrating them into his own 
system. His intimate relation to Kant, however, is best 
shown by the polemic which he constantly wages against all 
parts of Kant s system, especially his ethical theory. In 
relation to Kant, Stirling shuts up Hegel in the single 
sentence: "Hegel simply conceives the ego to develop into 
its own categories and, these being complete, externalization 
to result from the same law." This was however no simple 
matter, but rather the prodigious labor of the concept itself. 
So too, to shut up Hegel in a sentence in relation to Kant s 
ethical theory we might say, he simply (rather, complexly) 
gave an exposition of the course that the abstract universal 
law or " Categorical Imperative " of Kant must take and has 
taken in becoming definite, concrete, realized, incarnate in 
the ethical life of humanity. 

1 The title of Professor Andrew Seth s volume. 


CThe starting point of both Kant and Hegel was man as 
I thinking will. But Kant considers the will of subjective man 
I in unattainable identity with the universal will of the tran- 
Iscendent intelligible world, while Hegel gives us the vital 
^ynthesis of these two in his conception of the ethical world 
in which each one has his station and definite duties^ The 
categorical imperative upon both was IYu>0i o-eavroV on its 
practical side, the will. They differed chiefly in their con 
ception of the o-eavroV. whose exegesis they attempted. 1 
With Kant it was the abstract, subjective self ; with Hegel 
fit was the concrete, objective, the completely ethicized or 
ysocialized self. Kant lived and labored under the concep 
tions of the eighteenth century rationalism, which held that 
reason was innate in every man as a sum total of clear, fixed 
notions, while Hegel considered reason as an immanent 
impulse of rationality that was continually realizing itself in 
human experience. They both had a metaphysic of ethics. 
But with Kant this was forever unutterable, with Hegel it 
had been continually uttering itself in the institutions of 
man. With one it was formless, with the other it was the 
continuously self-realizing Word that from the beginning 
was formative of the moral organism of humanity. The one 
looked solely within, the other looked outward for the self 
to be studied. Again with Kant the true res internet was 
absolutely supersensible. With Hegel it was expressed in 
definite and increasingly adequate forms in the res publica 
of the external world of man s activity. Hence he makes 
his " Philosophy of History" an illustrative exposition of his 
science of ethics. The State, in the most concrete sense of 
this term, is the o-eavrov manifesting itself in temporal con 
ditions. The history of the world is the tribunal through 
which man utters the forms of the categorical imperative 
heard in the supersensible world. Let us say in brief, then, 

1 I quote here and elsewhere in this Introduction from my article on 
Hegel s Ethics in "The International Journal of Ethics," January, 1892. 


L_that the difference between Kant and Hegel may be formu 
lated as^the difference between an abstract and a concrete 

("Hegel never ceased to inveigh against the vice of abstract- 
ness. His whole work consists in starting from, criticising, 
and passing beyond various abstract conceptions to a real 
concrete in which alone they find their place as organic 
phases or members. That which is true relatively to its 
correlate is false when abstracted from its correlate. And 
both correlates are true only when they pass through this 
category of reciprocity to the organism which they both 
imply and demonstrate. The empirical and the noumenal 
self; the pure reason and the practical reason; subjective 
freedom and conditioning environment; duty and the good, 
these are some of the elements of ethical man that Kant 
abstracted from their organic process, wherewith to build 
his airy castle of morality. Abstractions, every one of them, 
says Hegel, who ejndeavors to lead through them to the 
more concrete viewjx. We may, however, select two terms 
which will illustrate the difference between Kant and Hegel 
in ethics, i.e., Moralitdt and Sittlichkeit^ both of which are 
used by the Germans for what we call morality. The first 
denotes the morality of the heart or of the conscience. The 
latter denotes conventional morality, or the objective cus 
toms that are recognized as moral (T^IKCX, mores, Sitten). 
The first is the individual conscience, the second is the 
social conscience. Hegel would say that there would be no 
Moralitdt without Sittlichkeit, while Kant, with his categor 
ical imperative, would make each individual an Athanasius 
contra mundum. Hegel would say that there could be no 
duty without some objective good as content for the formal 
good- will. That is, there can be no abstract self-realiza 
tion by the conscientious man, no good-will without good 
manners. To realize himself the individual must do it in 
the forms of social man, must go beyond himself to be him- 


self. He must erect himself above himself and expand him 
self beyond himself in his actualizing of his good-will. Only 
in the objective forms of his station can he find his duties. 
Otherwise his morality is sure to be peevish, cranky, and 
tyrannical, though, as a Simon Stylites, he may write the 
title of saint before his name. Hegel makes most trenchant 
criticisms l of Kant s formal law, showing that as an abstract 
universal it can neither suggest any particular, duties nor 
test the Tightness of rules otherwise suggested. It can only 
be a voice thundering in the inner Sinai, "thou shalt," with 
out power to proceed to decalogic or monologic specification 
of what to do. Only an objective standard of right can 
afford the ground of private judgment and render it other 
than mere wilfulness or mis-judgment. Pythagoras had this 
in view when he said that the best education one could desire 
for his son would be to have him become a citizen of a 
nation with good institutions. On the other hand, such good 
institutions are impossible without the element of Moralitdt. 
Society does not exist apart from the individual. It is rather 
an organism of organisms, whose Sittlichkeit expresses the 
immanent Moralitdt of its people. It exists in and through 
the life of its members. Hegel s conception combatted 
both an abstract individualism and an abstract societarian- 
ism. His ethics are the result of the organically related ele 
ments of abstract personal, or external, rights and Moralitdt. 
His Sittlichkeit is the very life of the most concrete form of 
the self or man, i. e., the State. It is the science of this 
body politic in its movement of self-realization, in which also 
the individual realizes himself, because its realization is what 
he must enter into in order to be what he ought to be. 

We should note that nothing could be more false to Hegel 
than to translate his Sittlichkeit by mere conventionality or 
his Sitten by mere customs. This would be to take out the 

1 Hegel s Werke, i. 313, referred to by Professor Caird, "The Phi 
losophy of Kant," ii. 186. 


vital heart which formed, received and obeys loyally its own 
customs. The child thoroughly permeated by the family 
spirit yields glad obedience to family customs. The patriot, 
in peace as in war, observes his national customs and laws 
as expressions of his own true will. There is no mere blind 
conservatism in all this, but rather the same vital spirit 
which goes on to reform old customs, adapting them to the 
new and higher forms of life. The morality of the individual 
is possible only in this realm of the ethical (sittlicK) world. 
He must have suckled at the breast of his environing #o? 
and have converted it into flesh of his flesh and bone of his 
bone. There is to be found the material and the standard 
of his own morality. " The ethical life of the individual is 
but a pulse-beat of the whole system and itself the whole 
system." All education is the art of making men ethical 
(sittlich\ of transforming the old Adam into the new Adam. 
"The child is the mere possibility of a moral being." 1 

Obedience is the beginning of practical morality. His dis 
cipline is the entering fulness, through which he becomes 
a son, brother, husband, father, citizen and a cultured man. 
Hegel throughout holds in organic relation both elements 
of solidarity and independence. Nothing could be fur 
ther than his theory from the mechanical, conservative 
conventionality of Chinese morality. He says that "the 
distinguishing feature of the Chinese is that everything 
belonging to the spirit unconstrained morality, heart, in 
ward religion is alien to it." Again, he says : "Custom, 
activity without opposition, for which there is only a formal 
duration, in which the fulness and zest that originally 
characterized the aim of life, is out of the question. This 
is death to individuals and nations, or mere nullity and 
tedium. Only the adoption of some new purpose can 
awaken, can revivify such people." 2 

1 Cf. Hegel s Werke, Band I., 396 and 399. 

a Hegel s Philosophy of History, pp. 144 and 78. 


The difference between the ethics of Kant and Hegel 
may also be expressed in these two formulas: "Duty for 
duty s sake" and " My station and its duties." With Kant 
Duty is the abstract transcendent law of the intelligible 
world which no man can ever realize, and which Duty yet 
commands man to realize for its own sake. The absolute 
ness of Duty was sometimes insisted upon by both Kant 
and Fichte in a thoroughly inhuman way, as utterly divorced 
from all joys of the heart and secular happiness. It was 
against this moral rigorism of formal duty, slighting all 
regard to the phase of subjective needs and to the diversi 
ties of individualities and situations that Jacobi made his 
now classical protest: "Nay, I am that atheist, that profane 
person, who in despite of the will that wills nothing (/. e., in 
despite of the abstract formal precepts of morality) will lie, 
like the dying Desdemona; prevaricate and deceive, like 
Pylades representing himself to be Orestes; will murder, 
like Timoleon; break law and oath, like Epaminondas and 
Johann de Witt; resolve on suicide, like Otho; commit sac 
rilege, like David; nay, pluck ears of corn on the Sabbath, 
only because I am hungry and the law was made for man 
and not man for the law," claiming the right for such deeds 
against the absolute irrational letter of the law. Though 
Hegel (in 1802) criticised 1 Jacobi very severely and pointed 
out the danger of " Jacobi s principle of the beauty of indi 
viduality" leading to the exalting of sentiment and instinct 
to be the judge of the ethical, he afterwards (in 1817) recog 
nized the element of truth in Jacobi s fierce protest against 
moral rigorism. Kant s emphasis on this element of morality 
was a needed corrective of hedonism, but it could afford no 
table of definite duties to be performed. He was himself 
no Moses to bring it down from the mount on tables of 
stone. Indeed to define or particularize the law would be 
to destroy its universality and thus its imperativeness. The 

1 Hegel s Werke, Band I., 105-111. 


good will could not be found on earth, because the law could 
give no laws. "Obey duty" could therefore mean, do no 
particular deed, because no particular is equal to the uni 
versal. It could only be done by the absolute annihilation 
of the individual, for you cannot universalize any particular 
maxim, nor can you particularize the formal universal law 
without marring it. 

Hegel was the Moses to bring the law down from the 
mount. The tables of stone were the deposit of reason, 
realized more or less consciously, in the practical ways of 
a people, in the substantial constitutive spirit of men 
as expressed in traditional and current codes. Against 
Kant s dictum " The good ought to be " Hegel opposed the 
assertion "The good is" The law was found throbbing 
through the social organism of humanity, its vital and syn 
thetic principle. In living the concrete life of one s station 
and people, the individual was fulfilling duty. The life of 
the social community (family, society, nation) exemplifies the 
concrete, objective, inclusive law. It is the moral organism 
in which the individual must be a vital organic member. At 
every stage of every community there is present a world so 
far moralized. The ethical man is the wise man who knows 
and identifies himself with his community. The immoral 
man is the one who is out of harmony with this good will, 
the will for the good of the community. We should know 
better than to think that we know better than this larger, 
communal self. 

Duty thus becomes definite and concrete. I belong to 
certain circles of fellow-men. I live in certain social tissues. 
This is my station in life. To know this is to know my 
duties. I must realize myself by fulfilling all the rela 
tions about my station. I must fill my place, perform a 
definite function in a definite organism, be a vital mem 
ber of it. Organs and organism mutually live and work for 
each other. "The individual s morality is a pulse-beat 


of the whole system and itself the whole system." Thus 
the abstract formal universal law of Kant is exchanged for 
a reflection in the individual of the concrete,objective ethical 
world of his community. It becomes an immanent intelli 
gible universal, definite and concrete. 

In Kant we find the emphasis put on the individual. 
Hegel emphasizes rather the function of the objective social 
organism, which he calls the State, to rear the individual 
into that condition where respect for the right is combined 
with ethical beauty. "This lofty intuition," says Rosen- 
kranz, " is the Hellenic trait in Hegel, which, however, did 
not lead him to abate a tittle of the sharpness and energy of 
the Germanic principle of individuality." Hegel himself 
declared that the study of the master-pieces of classical 
literature should be "the spiritual bath, the profane baptism 
which imparts to the soul the first and inamissible tone and 
tincture of good taste and science." l Certainly the anarchic 
conception of "Man versus the State" was as foreign to 
Hegel s thought as it would have been to a citizen of Athens. 
He would rather say, you cannot be a man without the State, 
you cannot be a whole unless you are a vital member of a 

This, perhaps, is as far as Hegel brings us in the present 
treatise. But, as we shall show, this is only a part of a larger 
whole into which Hegel carries up the self-realizing process 
of the will into the absolute realm, carries up humanity on 
the mount of transfiguration, into the realm of Absolute 
Spirit, which is the real presupposition, cause and end of 
objective spirit, or of man in secular relations. 

We might thus go per saltum, as Hegel himself did, from 
Kant to Hegel. But we should at least notice the media 
tion of the ethical philosophy of Fichte, whose personality 
and ethical enthusiasm really eclipses his philosophy in 
worth and interest. Like Jacobi, he had a heart of fire, 

1 Karl Schmidt s Geschichte der Padagogik, IV., 678. Edition of 1862. 


but unlike him, he followed his head, endeavoring to com 
plete the work of Kant. Kant refused to own this work, 
being unable to recognize the skeleton which he had formed 
when clothed in flesh and blood by Fichte. Fichte claimed 
to harmonize Kant s two Critiques, reducing his dualism to 
the monism of subjective idealism in morals as well as in 
philosophy. He made the ego to be the author of both 
the moral law and of the endeavor to realize it. The prin 
ciple of unity thus attained is the ego itself. This alone, 
he claimed, could be the true significance of Kant s autonomy 
of the will. Beyond the ego there is naught, not even the 
ghostly Ding an sich, nor the suprasensible intelligible world. 
This is subjective idealism, where the ego both forms (macht) 
and creates (schafft^ its own world, in definite contradiction 
to Kant s dictum, macht zwar der Verstand die Natur, aber 
er schafft sie nicht. It was owing to this character of sub 
jective idealism that Hegel relegates it to the rank of an 
historical and superseded system. He says that Fichte 
denied all external reality, making the ego to produce its 
own non-ego for conduct as well as for thought. Still Fichte 
held that in morality the identity ego = non-ego was never 
fully realized, the identity thus remaining a subjective one, 
and a struggle with self the essence of morality. Thus, the 
highest point of the system is only a must (solleri) and a 
striving (streben). In showing this impossible demand, never 
able to attain objectivity, Hegel leaves the system as nothing 
more than subjective idealism of the empirical ego* That 
Hegel failed to do Fichte justice is evident to any reader 
of Fichte, though we feel this to be a slight done to his 
personality and moral enthusiasm rather than any injustice 
to his theory of ethics. 2 

1 For Hegel s criticism of Fichte cf. Hegel s Werke, Band I. 

2 " It is difficult to speak calmly of Fichte. His life stirs one like a 
trumpet. He combines the penetration of a philosopher with the fire 
of a prophet and the thunder of an orator ; and over all his life lies the 
beanty of a stainless purity." Chamber s Encyclopedia. 


Accepting this criticism as true, taking Fichte at his word 
as a subjective idealist, we may say that he utterly outdid 
Kant s boasted Copernican feat, not only making the stars to 
revolve around the ego as the central sun, but making the 
ego to be the creator of the whole moral firmament itself. 
Thus in morals with Fichte the appeal must always be to the 
individual s conviction of duty. He must act according to 
his conscience. I am not aware that Hegel or any other 
one has directly charged Fichte with the evils that naturally 
flow from the principle of the right of private judgment, the 
evils of individualism, moral atomism, moral mis-judgment, 
though these are consequences of all subjective idealism. 
The private conscience can have no judgment, for a judg 
ment is essentially a universal as Kant taught. It can only 
have whims, caprices, likings and opinions of a private and 
therefore of a particular and partial character. Unsaturated 
with the communal universal life, ceasing to be a pulse-beat 
in the system, his judgment loses the character of a judg 
ment or law. 

Following Kant, Fichte at first separates even more 
sharply between the spheres of ^Right (legality) and 
^ (morality), making the former to be utterly independent 
of the latter, and excluding it entirely from the realm of 
morality. Right (legal) is merely mechanical, external force 
holding individuals in the bonds of civil society. In morality 
the individual is purely autonomous. The State is merely a 
social compact, proceeding from the want of confidence and 
sociality. In his later philosophy, however, he puts more 
emphasis upon the State as the condition of morality, making 
it to rest, not on the compact of individuals, but upon the 
aim of the species. To it belongs the imposition of all 
forms of culture and activity. Its final aim is to make ethi- 
cality (Sittlichkeit^ possible. Its power is both obligatory 
and enfranchising, in the education of the race. 1 Thus he 

1 Cf. Adolph Lasson s Rechtsphilosophie, 6 and 100-102. 


approaches more nearly the position of Hegel s Philosophy 
of the State, though in no scientific form. Like Schelling, 
in his latter day he ran into mystical pantheism and abso 

We need say but little of the relation of Hegel to Schel 
ling, of their early pact, of Hegel s apparent discipleship, of 
the lasting unpleasantness between them after the publica 
tion of the Vorwort to Hegel s Phanomenologie des Geistes. 
Beginning as an ardent Fichtean, Schelling soon developed 
in his Identity-Philosophy an abstract pantheism. The 
Program of the Critical Journal of Philosophy, which Schel 
ling and Hegel edited jointly, asserted that "the great imme 
diate interest of philosophy is to put God again absolutely 
at the head of the system, as the one ground of all, the 
principium essendi et cognoscendi" Hegel took this in earnest, 
and ever remained faithful to it, applying it to the solution 
of ethical antinomies and to the explanation of the ethical 
life of mankind. His course onward was towards a more 
concrete conception of the Absolute as Subject, as Spirit, 
while Schilling s course was the reverse, making the Abso 
lute to be the mere indifference point or the identity of in 
determinate substance. It is with this blank, unspiritual 
principle that Hegel definitely breaks in his Preface to his 
first independent work, Die Phanomenologie des Geistes. " In 
such philosophy," he says, " the Absolute is, as it were, shot 
out of a pistol." " It is the night in which all cows are black." 
That is, in it all different things right and wrong, good 
and bad are the same. This blank Absolute Substance 
of Schelling furnished no foundation for ethics, while the 
eternally self-realized and self-realizing Subject of Hegel 
does. God is the beginning and the goal, the orderer of the 
moral order of the world and the creator of* the moral ideal. 
It is this divine principle which constitutes the intellectual 
and ethical cosmos into which man is born for self-realiza 
tion. For the individual, self-realization is to come through 


renunciation of the empty self in favor of the larger and 
truer self mirrored for him in the various circles of the social 
organism, and ultimately in the institutions of Absolute 
Spirit Art, Religion and Philosophy. As to Hegel s 
crafty indebtedness to Fichte and Schelling, it is to be con 
sidered that we may make and read a patchwork of the two 
that seems like Hegel, but that we read it in the light of the 
full, organic, scientific work of Hegel himself. At best, his 
predecessors works were but the quarry whence his genius 
builded a great structure. 

Hegel s ethical view was also in marked contrast with and 
opposition to the ethics of the general eighteenth century 
view known as the Aufkldrung, eclaircisseme?it and free 
thought or rationalism. 

The Anf Mariing was essentially a protest against all tra 
ditional dogmas, cults, creeds and institutions. 1 The trans 
cendent worth of the illuminated and enfranchised individual 
of that time was a very delirium of self-conceited private 
judgment, setting up private reason as the valid tribunal 
before which to summon all manner of hitherto valid laws 
and customs. It was a conceited enlightment (edaircisse- 
ment) or ,a clearing up (^w/klarung) that, as Schelling said, 
had turned into a clearing out (^z/^klarung) of all the wisdom 
and practical experience of the race. This produced that 
ethical atomism in which each atom was independent of 
every other one and of all forms of association in which they 
had been enslaved by priestcraft and statecraft. Rousseau 
asserted this freedom and validity of the merely " natural 
man," decivilized as far as possible. But the natural man 
was not large enough to measure all things, to appreciate 
and estimate rightly the universal human reason already 
done into ethical forms of life. Hence it virtually dropped 
all judgment, all application of universal principles, and 

1 For Hegel s exposition and criticism of this movement consult 
Phdn. des Geistes, 356-437 ; and Philosophy of History, 456-474. 


stuck to its own private pint-cup measure. Kant, in refut 
ing Hume by demonstrating the existence of a priori princi 
ples of judgment, of categories absolutely independent of 
experience, did not himself attain to real objectivity and 
validity. While proclaiming universal and objective princi 
ples he still made them subjective, and hence his philosophy 
could not stem the current which insisted upon privatizing 
these universals instead of insisting upon the private con 
science universalizing itself in the communal traditional 
conscience. Hegel asserts l that this freedom and independ 
ence and validity of private judgment belongs to the Kantian 
philosophy. In Germany, however, he thinks it remained 
rather a "tranquil theory," while in France it was tried in 
practical life, where it culminated in the Reign of Terror. 

Now, Hegel polemicized persistently and strenuously 
against the moral as well as against the intellectual views of 
this rationalism of the understanding. He had been early 
attracted by the glamour of its enthusiasm for the abstract 
rights of man, as against all enslaving customs of existing 
ethical institutions. He also early saw its utter negativeness, 
"ignoring the holy and tender web of human affections." 
He insisted that Reason was not so late born as the eigh 
teenth century, but that it had always been regnant in the 
practical world; that it had always been operative in the 
formation of all social customs and institutions which bound 
men together ; that it was the real substance of the concrete 
life of civilized man. This enabled him to meet all the 
negative criticism of existing institutions (family, society, 
state and church) and to vindicate their validity and ration 
ality as institutions of the spirit for the education of man 
into freedom into humanity. Such, indeed, we shall find 
to be the whole argument of his Ethics as contained in the 
following " Selections." Against the whole rationalistic 
movement of free thought (better designated anti-rationalism) 

1 Philosophy of History, p. 462. 


Hegel dared to maintain that "The Real is the Rational." 
Even the most superficial acquaintance with his philosophy, 
especially with his dialectic, suffices to guard this expression 
from being considered the equivalent of a pet phrase of the 
very movement he was combatting, i. e., that " Whatever is, 
is right/ The "Real," he explains (Logic, 6), is not the 
accidental actuality of any and every sham, but the vital 
substance of the Divine Reason in past and present institu 
tions the throb of real rationality which alone enables 
them to arise and thrive, and to nurture man into humanity. 
Whatever is, is because of its seed or web of rationality. 
The "/>" is always a phase of the ought. The real is 
not and never has been " so feeble as merely to have a right 
or an ought to exist without actually existing " (Logic, 6). 
To be a man, one must at least wear the clothes of a man. 
The disrobed " natural man " of the Aufkldrung needs to be 
assured that clothes are rational, and Hegel s task in his 
Ethics is to reclothe the perishing nude infant of vulgar 
i rationalism. His Philosophic des Rechts is a philosophical 

! Sartor Resartus. 



We have said that it would be necessary to give an 
outline of Hegel s Encyclopddie in order to see the place 
that ethics holds in his whole system. It is also necessary 
to give this for another reason. It has sometimes been 
maintained that Hegel never gave any thorough exposition 
of ethics. Any adequate knowledge of Hegel, however, 
easily disposes of this objection. Hegel s doctrine of ethics 
is found chiefly in the Philosophic des Rechts, which is an 
enlarged exposition of Part Second of his Philosophic des 
Geistes. With this goes, as an interpreting and fulfilling 
sequel, his Philosophy of History. We have made but 


slight reference to his Phdnomenologie des Geistes, which 
contains not only his ethics, but nearly all other parts of his 
Philosophy, in brilliant and somewhat imaginative form. 
Apart from this earlier and graphic work (1807) Hegel only 
published the following works. 

1. The Science of Logic called his Larger Logic, 1811- 

2. The Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, 1817 and 

3. The Philosophy of Right, 1821. 

All the other volumes of his Works were edited from his 
manuscripts by his friends after his death. 

The Encyclopedia contains the whole system in the scien 
tific form given by himself. It is his attempt to exhibit his 
system in its entirety. As we now have it, it is Hegel s 
own revised and enlarged edition, together with additions 
made from his manuscripts used in the Lecture-room. 

This Encyclopedia is not a mere compend of heterogeneous 
parts, but a systematic exposition of all parts of philosophy 
in their organic relations ; that is, an exposition of all the 
connected phases of reality that come under the cognizance 
of the philosopher. It is concerned with Absolute Reality 
in the phases of unity, difference and totality. Hegel s term 
for this Absolute Reality is the Idea (Idee) or God. He 
makes three divisions of the Idea as 

1. Reason ( Vernunft). 

2. Nature. 

3. Spirit (Geist). 

Otherwise, as he denominates them : 

1. Logic, or the Science of the pure Idea. 

2. The Philosophy of Nature. 

3. The Philosophy of Spirit. 

i. The first might better be termed Metaphysics or 
Ontology. -It makes abstraction from the reality ofnature 
and finite spirit and considers only thought in the abstract. 


It takes up all the various predicates or categories by which 
human reason has sought to define and comprehend the 
Universal, the Absolute, beginning with the most abstract 
and empty of them all (mere being) and showing how each 
lower one criticises and elevates itself into the next higher 
one, until restless thought rests in the most concrete and 
absolute category possible the Idea, God. It exhibits 
the interconnectedness of all categories by means of the 
vital dialectic of difference. It is a criticism of the Cate 
gories of thought by itself, in its march to thorough compre 
hension of Reality, through partial conceptions, ending with 
Absolute Personality as that which all the others imply and 
as that which includes and explains them all. 1 

How have men named this reality ? Hegel takes up the 
various answers, only in scientific rather than in historical 
forms, and shows their mutual limitations and filiations, 
arranging them in the order of their comparative capacity 
to express truth in the totality of its relations. To stop 
here would be to stop with the metaphysics of Reality. But 
metaphysics implies physics, presupposes a realm which it 
enswathes and sustains. 

2. This realm Hegel takes up in his Philosophy of Nature. 

The transition which he makes from the Logic to Nature 
is confessedly obscure. It is, however, none other than the 
difficulty of the question of creation by God, the transition 
from God, into the act and processes of self-alienation or 
creation. Hegel, at all events, makes this a free act of 
God. He says, in the last paragraph of his Logic: " The 

1 It was in regard to this work of the Logic in giving a critical 
exposition of the categories of thought that Hegel made the following 
striking remark : "If it is held a valuable achievement to have dis 
covered some sixty odd species of the parrot, a hundred and thirty-seven 
of Veronica, and so forth, it should surely be held a far more valuable 
achievement to discover the forms of reason : Is not a figure of the 
syllogism something infinitely higher than a species of parrot or of 
Veronica?" Hegel s Werke, Band V., 139. 


Idea is absolutely free ; and its freedom means that it does 
not merely pass over into life, or, as finite cognition, allow 
life to show in it, but in its own absolute truth resolves to 
let the element of its particularity or of the first determina 
tion and other-being, the unmediated Idea, as its reflection, 
go forth freely itself from itself as Nature." That is, we 
have the Idea in its most abstract form passing over into 
the phase of time and space existence, progressively, how 
ever, realizing or objectifying reality through various forms 
up to finite spirit, and then, through the various stages and 
grades of finite spirit, ultimately up to God again. 

His philosophy is no mere naturalism or materialism. 
Nature is not the first with Hegel. Nor is it the essentially 
evil, as with the Gnostics. But it is essentially rational 
as the creation of the Divine Reason, progressively ascend 
ing to more adequate rational forms, collecting and elevating 
itself till it reaches the form of organic life and passes into 
soul as the first form of finite spirit. Nature is the matrix 
and the cradle of finite spirit, not because its potency brings 
forth man in and of itself, but because it is so used by the 
immanent Divine Reason. He says: "The end of nature 
is to destroy itself, to break through its immediate sensible 
covering, and, like the Phoenix from its flames, to arise from 
this externality new-born as spirit." 1 Spirit is really the 
ground of the possibility of nature, rather than a natural 
product of nature. Nature is simply the Idea displaying its 
own element of particularity in the form of otherness, and 
the gradual reduction of this form to its own absolute form. 
In the last paragraph of this work he says: "The aim of 
this treatise is to give a picture of nature in order to conquer 
this Proteus; to find in all its externality only the mirror 
of ourselves; to see in nature the free reflexion of the spirit; 
to recognize God in this His immediate form of determinate 
being." 2 

1 Hegel s Natur-philosophie, 696. 2 Ibid., 698. 


3. The Philosophy of Spirit. 

L Hegel s transition from Nature to Spirit is thus readily 
seen3to be clear, explicit and satisfactory. CNature culmi 
nates in man, the interpretation as well as the interpreter of 
naturer? His Philosophy of Spirit includes Subjective Spirit 
(Anthropology and Psychology), Objective Spirit (Rights, 
Morality and Social Ethics), and Absolute Spirit (Art, Re 
ligion and Philosophy). It is with the second division, that 
of Objective Spirit, that we are here concerned, though we 
must note in the sequel how Hegel carries the whole 
^process of finite Spirit up into the sphere of Absolute Spirit. 
/ All three parts form an exposition of the actualization of 
spirit, of its progressive self-realization from the lowest 
form of consciousness to its highest, its return through im 
mense labor to its own true, rational and divine self. Thus 
no one part can be taken as complete in itself. ~J. It is only 
the taking of the whole as one high argument that preserves 
any part from the unjust criticism so often offered. In fact, 
the whole of the Philosophy of Spirit is an ethical treatise, 
if we use the term ethics in the broad sense of the self-real 
ization of the human spirit. The " Selections " in this 
volume are, however, confined to his treatment of Objective 
Spirit, as fully elaborated in a separate treatise, the Philoso 
phic des Rechts" which exhibits the free spirit as it actually 
stands or lives as thinking will in the world. It is an exhi 
bition of spirit as objectified in the institutions^ of law, 
the family, and thestate, set betwee~n subjective spirit and 


dition of man, and lead rm tn man in his highest relations, 
exhibiting the perfection of his spiritual character in the 
realms of art, religion and philosophy, the three media 
f perfect self-realization or of comprehension of his rela 
tions with the Absolute Spirit of whom and through whom 
and to whom are all things. We shall note, in our criticism, 
Hegel s apparent failure to carry ethics up into this sphere 
of the Absolute Spirit. 


Hegel s method is always that of beginning with the most 
abstract phase of his topic and following through the imma 
nent self-criticism of one abstract phase to "another until the 
organic concept (Begriff} is reached, which, is then seen to be 
the real presupposition throughout, instead of being an in- 
rhir.fjvf t p^iili- His true first principle, his most concrete 
statement, is scarcely perceptible in his first advances, but 
it comes more and more clearly to light, as the immanent 
and organic principle that lives in, through, and above all 
the abstractions that strut dogmatically, aping the real. 
Objections will be continually raised against the dogmatic 
utterances of Hegel as to the earlier phases of right and 
freedom, these being taken to represent his own full opinion 
on the topic in hand. But he is only stating the various 
dogmatic standpoints that have been, or may be, held on the 
subject the crude and imperfect opinions upon which he 
is to let loose the dialectic fire to purge them of their dross. 
" The will is absolutely free." " The will wills the will and 
always wills itself." "The Person (abstract) has the right 
to put his will into everything and thereby make it his own." 
These and other examples will readily be noted by the 

Again he often speaks of the immature as the fully ripened, 
of the acorn as an oak, the materials and plan as the ca 
thedral. But the one who reads him closely can generally 
find how he guards against misunderstanding by means 
of one of those many troublesome phrases noted in the 
Vocabulary. Trie true way to read Hegel, in one sense, is 
to read him backward - - his end is his real beginning. 
This, however, he always announces at the first in its poten 
tial form and then follows through its stages of realization. 
His order, moreover, is always the logical one from the ab 
stract universal through the particular to the universalized 
individual. In other words it does not follow the empirical 
or historical order of the development of an institution. He 



starts with the concept of the will. A concept is relatively 
a causa sut, a logically self-determining force, potentially 
containing all the contradictory phases taken on in the 
course of its self-revelation. Just how or when any of these 
phases occur empirically is a matter of no consequence so 
far as the science is concerned. It is a matter of greatest 
consequence that they should thus occur and be the revela 
tion of the concept. But the chronological order of the 
various empirical phases does not necessarily coincide with 
the logical order of the concept. The speculative method is 
to exhibit all these phases as inherently interrelated and as 
the self-characterizations of the concept itself. The external 
manifestation or history of a concept is generally a scene of 
contingency. The speculative method takes and arranges 
all these partial and miscellaneous forms in accordance with 
the concept, stripping them of contingency and organizing 
them into system ; thus exhibiting the rationality (the self- 
developing concept) of their history. Thus we have the 
real history of any institution, as Wallace says, "written, as 

if it had been, in evanescent inks dates are wanting 

individualities and their biographies yield up their place to 
universal and timeless principles." 1 

This exposition of any concept is made by means of its own 
dialectic. That is, the scientific method of Hegel is the 
dialectical one. The dialectic is neither mere subjective 
nor external criticism. It is the immanent life of the con 
cept, criticising itself from lower to higher forms. Starting 
from a dogmatic assertion of the undeveloped universal, we 
see the dialectic gradually specifying, particularizing it and 
successively transmuting each dogmatic particular form into 
a higher form, until the abstract universal becomes fully 
particularized, defined, realized the concrete universal 
the individual or the concept itself. First we have the abstract 
thesis, then the special antithesis and finally the full syn- 

1 The Logic of Hegel, p. LXIII. 


thesis, all of which is the self-realization of the concept. 
The growth of the tree from the seed represents this inner 
dialectic of the concept of a tree. 

The process is not deductive or a priori, proceeding from 
a first principle which remains valid and normative through 
out. It starts rather from an undeveloped first principle and 
shows how inadequate it is, presupposing always a more con 
crete principle as its logical condition. This concrete prin 
ciple is at once the logical and the chronological presupposi 
tion. " In the beginning God (created)." The dialectical 
procedure is a retrograde movement from the abstract to the 
concrete, from error to truth, from the dependent to the 
infinite, the self-determining. That is, the procedure is always 
towards the first principle which is ultimately seen to be the 
true, the first and the final cause of the whole process. Each 
higher stage is reached, not by a mechanical evolution from 
the lower one, but by means of the imperfections and impli 
cations exhibited by the lower one. All nature, all life, all 
thought, except Absolute Thought exhibits this immanent 
dialectic. So much has already been written about this 
dialectic method of Hegel that we need do no more here 
than give one illustration from the text. 

ThiLiirst form of the ethical concept is the family an 
universal or unit. But soon the diversities or 

distinctions of parents and children appear. A married 
couple do not constitute a family. Children break in upon 
this simple unity, and remain always children to their par 
ents. But they do not always remain children. They grow 
to maturity, leave their parents roof and establish new 
families. Family property is divided, the family broken up, 
resolved into mutually independent individuals with various 
interests, thus merging into the realm of civil society. Here 
th|> particular interests of individuals jog and jostle each 
other through civil relations till the ethical realm of an 
organic nation is reached in which both family and civil 
.society are integrated, preserved and fulfilled. 


_ Hegel s Philosophic des Rechts may be called the doc 
trine of the will. The will is the man ? and ethical man is 
will realized in his social institutions. To reach this con 
ception, however, he starts with the most abstract conception 
of will, which he takes as ready to hand. He divides the 
whole work, as usual, into triadic form : 1 

I. The will as immediate, undeveloped potentiality, which 
gives the sphere of abstract or formal right. 

II. The will self-reflected, or subjective individuality, op 
posed to objective will. This gives the sphere of Moralitat, 
or of conscience contra mundum. 

III. The will as the unity and truth of these two abstract 
phases, the realm of formal freedom and objective right 
realized in the world. This gives the realm of Sittlichkeit, 
or the ethical world, as the concrete realization of man as 
will. This includes the sphere of (a) the family, ($) civil 
society, (V) the State in the most concrete sense of the term, 
such as Dr. Mulford construes "the Nation." Under this 
last he embraces (a) internal polity, (/?) external polity, 
(y) international polity, merging into Universal History, as 
the realization of man in the most cosmopolitan sense of 
the term. 

We give a translation of the larger half of this volume, 
and here offer a brief and free exposition of its contents, 
referring the student to the fuller and admirable exposition 
given by Prof. Geo. S. Morris in his volume on " Hegel s 
Philosophy of the State and of History." We recommend 
this volume as a companion book to this translation. 2 

1 33- Grundlinien der Philosophic des Rechts. Berlin, 1848. All 
the references in this volume are to this later edition of the work. 

2 It seems fitting that we should pay a brief tribute to the memory of 
one of the chief philosophical teachers of America, the late Prof. Geo. 
8. Morris, of whom the English quarterly, Mind, says : " He had gained 
a most enviable name and influence among philosophical students 
and writers and teachers. There is every reason to regret deeply his 
untimely death at the age of forty-eight." He was the centre of a 
deep religious and ethical influence extending far beyond the limits 


"* The subject-matter of Hegel s Philosophy of Right, or of 
the State, is the human will, and thus it is essentially a 
treatise on Ethics. Butjhe will, as Hegel tells us ( 4), 
is a particular form of thought, thought translating itself 
into determinate being, thought as impulse to self-actual 
ization. The will, too, is essentially free. At first it is 
only formally, potentially free. It : is only through a long 
series of mediations, through many advances, retreats, 
and ultimate conquests of itself in diverse and apparently 
foreign forms, that this, its essential nature, is realized. 
Put in another way, the subject-matter is the human will, 
!as respects the relation of particular (private) to universal 
(public, social) will of man, and ultimately of this universal 
human will in relation to the absolutely universal Divine 
ill, though this latter belongs to tho^v subsequent and 
ncluding portion of his Encyclopedia. ** 
Cognition completed passes into practical activity. To 
think or know an object is to create, determine and possess 
frfl nhject ; but intelligence, which determines objects, is 
will. It is spirit willing, or realizing itself. But will is 
taken at first in its potential, undeveloped form, will, as 
it were, in the state of nature rather than in stat^bf civili 
zation. It is rather the instinct of the needs "and greeds 
directed to the satisfaction of the individual ; it is poten- 

of the University of Michigan. I quote the following from a private 
letter of Prof. Williston S. Hough, of the University of Minnesota, a 
former student of Dr. Morris, and, at the time of his death, his assist 
ant in Philosophy : 

"At times he spoke almost as one inspired with the melodious rythm 
of a poet and the illumination of rare philosophic insight. Yet the 
chief source of his power was unquestionably his own character. He 
will live in our thought as a remarkable exemplification of sweetness 
and light. His loss to Philosophy in this country is great and twofold : 
ist, as a teacher who would have inspired a genuine interest in Phi 
losophy in every student who came under him, and who would have 
educated many special and useful scholars in this field ; and, 2d, as a 
writer who doubtless had his greatest work still before him." 

A brief personal acquaintance more than confirmed the high estimate 
formed of him from his books. 



tially universal, and yet has no content. Its-^im is to have 
^only its fully realized self as content, and thus be~free. To 
reach this, however, it must descend into the realm of par 
ticularities, into particular will, willing something. The 
movement is from within outward ; but the movement, even 
through the satisfaction of instinctive needs and greeds, is 
from the pure self-reference of the individual as universal. 
It is still abstract, formal, internal. Such a single will 
Hegel denominates a person in the most abstract, formal 
sense of the term. It is the first stage of the realization 
of such formal personality that Hegel treats in his Part 

Abstract Right. 

To be a person is, in one sense, the highest within human 
capacity. But, as used here, the term refers to a mere indi 
vidual will maintaining its single right as universal. It is 
the rude, uncultured man, stubbornly sticking for his will 
fulness, while the true person has an eye for all sides and 
relations of a complex social life. Such a will demands full 
sway for itself without having as yet conscientious aims or 
convictions. It is the right of such a person to cast his will 
over every external thing, making it his own. Confronted 
with other such wills, however, the formula of abstract rights 
is "be a person and respect others as persons." Hegel 
warns us against putting into this formula all that it would 
imply in an ethical^ social state. Nothing like humaneness 
is vet present. In such respect for others the person nnly 
cares for himself. Such a " person " is nowhere to be found. 
But the conception necessarily results from, and is the first 
phase of, the abstract concept of will. Such a potential, 
universal will, however, cannot remain utterly abstract. It 
finds itself confronted by a world of external nature. The 
alternative comes to succumb to this, or to rise and "conquer 
it a.nd sn to be free. Alles ist Ich. The world is by right 


its oyster. It actualizes itself only by making the world 
to be really its oyster. Abstract will asserts itself against 
its environment, lays its hand upon its rights. It thus 
achieves objective existence and takes the first step towards 
actualization. Things are soulless, will-less, and the "per-, 
son " has the right to subject them, all to his will, to put 
his will into them, and thus achieve their true destiny. 

Here appears the distinction between persons and things. 
Things are rightfully a part or property of the person, and 
become such through his act. Will is thus objectified in 
property, and things cease to be mere things, and become 
properties of the will through seizure, use and alienation. 
Property is thus something rational, necessary and sacred. 
First, the body of the person is thus made a possession 
or property. Both body and soul (life) are taken possession 
of, the will making them its instruments. 

Hence, too, the sacredness of "person" or of one s body 
and life. The will being thus placed in them secures them 
from slavery. Slavery can come only where one will not 
maintain the rights of person and property to the death. 
It depends upon each person s will, whether he will be a 
slave or not. If he prefers mere continuance of existence 
to independence, he becomes the slave of the first person 
who can make him his property. Slavery, in primitive 
times, is rather a wrong suffered or chosen than a wrong 
done. I put my will in a thing, and make it an attribute 
or property of myself. This involves the further rights of 
using, consuming and alienating possessions. Will changes 
things into properties. Thus the relation between things 
becomes the relation between wills. Persons are related to 
each other through their properties. They can hold property 
only as they also respect each other s property. 

This is the sphere of contract. Property here comes to 
be held through the will of others as well as through one s 
own will. Instead of one abstract will, we have several 


partially realized wills. The consent of other wills strength 
ens my property-rights. In this common will of contract the 
.abstract will of the mere individual or "person" attains its 
first stage of concrete universality. It fs mediated by the 
. will of some others. 

But such a common will is still far from being that of the 
universal will of society. Its elements are accidental and 
particular, and can give no guarantee of fulfilment. Fraud, 
violence and crime are inevitable. In "crime" will violates 
itself: that is, violates itself as explicitly common will and as 
implicitly universal will. The formal common will of con 
tract, considered as yet abstracted from the concrete uni 
versal will of ethical society, is sure to be violated. Penalty 
follows this negation as the next step forward toward true 
rights and the objectification of the universal will. Con 
tract is a step forward, crime a step backward, and penalty 
another advance in the relation of the particular will to 
universal will, or in the self-realization of will as the science 
of ethics. Penalty is the negation of the negation (crime), 
or a reafftrmation of the universal. The criminal really 
commits the crime against himself as potentially universal 

Punishment springs from the conception of true will and 
of justice. In the very will of the criminal lies the universal 
which is to complete his crime in the penalty. This is an 
act of justice to the criminal himself as well as to the com 
mon will. Punishment really honors the criminal treats 
him as a person, according to his universal element rather 
than a,s a will-less thing. Theories of punishment on the 
ground of the reformation or terrorization of the criminal, or 
of the protection of society, do not duly respect the manhood 
of the criminal. Punishment is only justice to the criminal 
himself. The universal in him cries out, Give me my due, 
let justice be done by having penalty complete my crime. 
Penalty is but the reaction upon the criminal of his own 


negative act. It is equally the act of his own will; it is his 
own right. But in this as yet unorganized and unethical 
condition, where there is no valid universal will of society 
to mediate between crime and penalty, we find punishment 
in the form of revenge, mob-law and Judge Lynch. The 
common will of the abstract contract stage becomes again a 
state of nature, an aggregate of at best only semi-civilized 
Ishmaelites. Here retaliation becomes endless. Family- 
feuds to the death in the sphere of organized society is but 
a relapse to such barbarism. 

True punishment is impossible without the mediation of 
a true universal or ethical will of society. This demand 
brings the judge, who is to be the disinterested repre 
sentative of the true will of man. As legal judge he is 
to have no private views or feelings. He is simply to 
wrong the wronger till he renders right. But as dispenser 
of retributive justice, the judge appeals beyond the letter of 
the law to an inward forum, to the universal will, and renders 
decisions that must commend themselves to the conscience 
of both criminal and society. 

Property, contract and punishment are alike seen to 
be impossible without the presence and mediation of a 
relatively universalized or ethical will. Death or slavery 
can be the only logical issue to abstract will seeking its 
abstract rights. With no other elements at work, such a 
state of nature could never give rise to the institution 
of the State. Some judge more just and universal must 
be found. The demand is for a particular will which 
can at the same time will the universal or the "infinite 
subjectivity of freedom." Such A will must reflect upon 
.itself, retire from mere objectivity to the internal forum. 
This forum is that of Conscience. Here all externalities 
are reflected and transformed into ideal principles of right 
ami-wrong as regards all human actions. This phase Hegel 
calls that of 


Morality (Moral i tat) or Abstract Duty. 

X^oW k ^ 

In this sphere we have to do witbtvman as a subjective 
being rather than a merely formal person. " TTere person 
ality becomes inwardly reflected, exists for itself, and thus 
of infinite worth. Here "person" becomes more personal 
becomes a "subject" who is absolutely beyond any power, 
which may commit violence against his objectified will 
and person. Here, within, the will is absolutely its own 
lord and master. The stand-point now is the right of the 
subjective will. At first, however, this merely subjective 
will is abstract, formal and limited. Hegel shows the pro 
cess from the most abstract form of this subjectivity 
through the phases of (a) purpose and responsibility, (b) 
intention and welfare to (t) the good and conscience, where 
abstract right is translated into duty and virtue or good-will. 

First, it is held that responsibility is only commensurate 
with knowledge. Next, the quality of the will depends upon 
the "intention" and its objective results, which are never 
restricted to particular selfish ends. They must (thirdly) be 
judged according to their universal worth. Hence "the 
good" as the reconciliation of the particular subjective will 
with the universal will, or with the rational. 

The ideal here, in this third phase, is that of duty for 
duty s sake. The duty, however, is yet abstract. No con 
tent can be furnished by itself. The universal element is 
merely formal, unspecified as to content, giving no answer 
as to what one s duty is in any situation, except the grand 
iloquent one of "do right though the heavens fall." An 
objective system of principles and duties, and the union of 
the subjective knowledge with them, is plainly impossible 
on this standpoint. 

Hegel, here and elsewhere, makes, as we have said, 
trenchant criticism of Kant s doctrine of duty. This 
formal law divorces duty from all interest or desire a" 
psychological impossibility. It takes no cognizance of 


the concrete situation and can suggest no present duty. 
It cannot discriminate between particular actions so as 
to call one of them a duty. Finally, it must equally uni 
versalize all particular actions, and thus bring about con 
fusion and collisions. Only in view of the institution 
of property in the State can it say, "Thou shalt not 
steal." In the abstract form of Kant it must equally say, 
"Thou shalt steal." That is, if we abstract all social rela 
tions, which ex hypothesi Kant does, we can universalize any 
particular rule without contradiction. In the realm of the 
concrete morality of social life, however, we cannot do this. 

What will be the result of such an abstract subjective con 
ception of duty ? Plainly the individual must become the 
law-giver and the judge of what is absolute good. He must 
trust to his own private judgment without the mediation of 
existing codes of society. He must give a purely subjective 
individual determination , >f the content of the lofty but 
formal universal. The individual becomes the measure of 
the moral quality of objective actions. There is no public 
source and standard for the guidance of private judgment. 

Hegel does not neglect the important function of the duty 
of private judgment, but is here only showing its capricious- 
ness when taken out of the concrete relations of an ethical 
world. Antinomianism is a logical and historical outcome 
of such abstract private judgment, which runs riot and plays 
the tyrant for lack of an objective concrete social system of 
duties. It is the making of self a statesman to represent a 
concrete state that ex hypothesi does not yet exist. The 
eccentric is made the normal, the crooked the straight. 
This elevation of the capricious individual subjective judg 
ment to be the measure and definition of the universal finally 
results in the evil. " The highest summit of subjectivity 
asserting itself as the absolute is the bad " (das Bose^) 
It is at this abstract standpoint of the natural (unethicized) 
will that he finds the origin of moral evil. 


While thus criticising this standpoint* Hegel does not 
fail to render homage to Kant for having brought out 
the significance of duty. But he shows how this standing 
upon one s own subjective insight and will eventuates 
in the morally evil in that which, being private and 
particular, asserts itself as the universal the sin of the 
creature Satan usurping the throne of God. Here enters 
antinomianism in all its forms. One s own likings are 
liable to become the norm of conduct. A clergyman 
urging a man to do a certain duty was met with the reply, 
"My conscience forbids me to do it." In reply as to 
how his conscience told him this he said, that he felt some 
thing thumping in his breast saying "/ won t, I won t" 
Such a merely subjective norm dissolves all fixed and de 
finite laws of order and right. 

Hegel says that he is not here treating of the religious 
conscience, and also allows that in certain rotten stages 
of society, as in the times of Socrates and the Stoics, this 
concept of private judgment has its place and worth in the 
work of reformation. But the subjective conscience which 
dissolves all external forms of duty and retires within to 
its own little Sinai is likely to make it a Mount Moriah, 
for the sacrifice of the tenderest of human ties. 

If subjective conviction, unenlightened by traditional and 
current codes and institutions, insists upon its private views 
as absolute, we have the destruction of all morality. The 
highest summit of evil is extreme subjectivity asserting itself 
as the absolute, the good God, changing good into evil 
and calling it good. Here delusion has equal right with 
sound sense, and reason no longer has any right. 

Hence we see that conscience at this stage cannot be true 
or good conscience. This abstraction in turn demands as 
its correlate that which it was called out to correct, /. e., 
abstract personal right. In fact, these two abstractions must 
be integrated into the concrete ethical substance from which 


they have really been abstracted. We are only advancing, 
prodigal-like, to the real home of morality, from which we 
have violently torn ourselves away. We thus reach the 
ethical (sittliche) world. 

III. In this world of ethical (sittliche) relations of the 
family, civil society, the state, and humanity, the idea of 
freedom is realized as a " living good that is powerful enough 
to actualize itself" ( 142). Here abstract rightsTecome 
ethical and authorized rights, and abstract duty becomes 
specific and full of content. Private judgment becomes 
relatively universalized, and the lofty, cold, and colorless 
imperative becomes relatively incarnated in the hearts of a 
brotherhood of men. 

In his Phdnomenologie des Geistes Hegel traces with a larger 
and freer hand the dialectic of previous stages, under the 
rubrics of "self-consciousness" and "reason," and uses 
that of " spirit " to designate what he, in the Philosopj^ie des 
Geistes, calls realized morality (SittJichkeit})^^ there uses 
the term "spirit" as equivalent to the corporate, social 
"self-consciousness" and "reason," which has had the 
power to create the ethical world, into various grades of 
which each individual is born, and through which he takes 
form and content in the work of self-realization, or of 

Jaecoming a "person" in the" "truer" sense "pFlhe termT 
The laws of this world are his own laws. He must 

^fulfil them to realize himself. He finds them existing 
for him, as the reason and law of his own specific nature as 


In fact, man is by nature a social animal. He is only 
real a.s he is"" social. To be himself he must be" more ., 
than his own abstract self ; to live his own life he must live 
the life of the body corporate. On one hand, these laws of 
society appear with even more authority than the laws of 
nature. On the other hand, they are not foreign to him, 
but yield to him the testimony of the spirit that they are 


his own. 1 In accepting them he is not doing despite 
to his own individuality, but is accepting the essential 
conditions of its preservation and development. The 
individuality of a man who, from infancy, should sever all 
relations to his fellow-men and grow up " naturally " would 
be an idiot, even lower than the animals with which he 
might consort. 

Society is really creative of individuality. The en 
lightenment and regulation of the subjective conscience 
by the laws and duties of one s station clothes its 
nakedness with the garments of truth and beauty. The 
largest altruism demanded by them is, essentially, the 
largest possible egoism. Through it the individual elevates 
himself from capricious lawlessness into substantial freedom 
and personality. Living for others is the highest form _of_ 
living for self. 

Hegel also uses the term substance to characterize the 
ethical tissue into which man is born. The moral dis 
position of the individual consists in his recognition of this 
substance as his own? 

Virtue he defines as ethical personality (sittliche Person- 
lichkeii}, or the life of the individual permeated and trans 
formed by the ethical substance. Here duties and rights 
first exist, and that only through reciprocal relation. Here 
the natural man is gradually converted into the_ethical maji. 
This ethical substance is an immanent and determining 
principle of action which permeates and transforms the 
natural man, acts as a moulding power through _the 
family, and the social, civil, religious, educational, and 
political organizations. These various institutions of society 
are the realized objective form of the ethical substance, in 
thelruTtion of its own being.** 

1 Philosophic des Rechts, 146, 147. 

2 Philosophic des Geistes, 515. 

3 Professor F. H. Bradley has, I believe, given a thoroughly unique 
exposition of Hegel s dialectic through these phases of morality, in his 


Hegel notes three phases of this ethical world, 

(1) The family as the primitive form of this ethical spirit. 

(2) Civil society, which results from the separation of the 
members of families and their being reunited again in more 
external form for the security of person and property, in a 
realm of merely formal universality. 

(3) The State, or the invisible spirit of the nation, developed 
to an organic reality in the hearts and customs and genius 
of its people. 

i. The individual first comes to himself in the family, 
whose active principle is love, which transcends and includes 
its members in its unity. The family is the first or instinc 
tive realization of the ethical spirit. It exists not by con 
tract but by the grace of God. The union of love and trust 
in this circle forms its organizing and controlling principle, 
so that in it the individual members find a measurable fulfil 
ment of their own capacities. The family, too, is a process 

(a) Marriage ; 

(fi) Family property ; 

(c) The education of children to maturity, and the separa 
tion of its members. 

(a) Marriage is a transformed physical union of male and 
female. The animal phase is transfigured by love into a 
spiritual one. Marriage implies the free consent of the two 
persons to constitute henceforth one person, to submit to 
limitations in order to gain fuller self-realization. The hus 
band is more of a man than the bachelor. Hence it is an 
ethical duty of mankind to enter into and maintain the mar 
riage relation. The marriage bond is essentially a spiritual 
relation, in which individuals subjugate their private aims 

Ethical Studies, which, however, is unfortunately of avail only to the 
few who happen to possess a copy of this "out of print" book. Many 
would gladly buy, borrow, or even steal this desirable volume. I never 
succeeded in more than stealing a hasty reading of it. It ought to be 


and wishes to the law of, at least, a dual life, love, and good. 
Hence marriage, too, is more than a contract. For contract 
implies that the parties still retain their external independ 
ence. Hegel says that Kant s subsumption of marriage 
under contract "is scandalous." Marriage is rather the 
contract of a man and woman to pass, as husband and wife, 
out of and above the sphere of contract. In marriage the 
twain are to become one flesh, one heart, one mind, one 
person. Hence the marriage ceremony should be one of 
social and religious celebration. The cold formalism of 
mere civil contract before a justice of the peace is utterly 
inadequate to manifest and declare such a spiritual relation. 
Marriage is of both ethical and intellectual influence upon 
the parties. They have larger views of life and a common 
good as their aim. Marriage, too, is essentially monogamic. 
This is one of the absolute principles on which the ethical 
character of a social state rests. Marriage between blood- 
relations is also unethical. The family, as a single person 
ality, has its external reality in its family property. 

(/;) It is of the essence of family property that it be com 
mon property. This gives property an ethical value which 
we could not find for it under the category of " abstract 
right." The thought of a common good animates all in 
the acquisition and maintenance of family possessions, thus 
relatively overcoming the "miserable aims that end with self." 

(c) The education of children to maturity. 

Children complete the family circle. In and through 
them the unity of married love comes to external manifesta 
tion. In loving the offspring of their love, the parents love 
each other anew. The rights and duties of parents and 
children spring out of the common good of the family. Con 
fidence and obedience are educed in the children, that they 
may grow up in love in the family ethos. The slave-like 
relation of children to parents among the Romans was of 
the most disastrous influence. The modern world recognizes 


that children are, potentially, free spiritual beings, whom the 
family is to train for citizenship in a larger ethical sphere. 
Families multiply, parents die, and children grow up, and 
we have a multitude of separate persons again, though of 
more concrete and ethical content than under the category 
of "abstract right." Here the elements of individualism 
and independence appear again, in higher form, with differ 
ing and conflicting interests. The first phase of a return to 
a higher ethical unity is in the form of 

2. Civil society, or the realm of armed peace among now 
semi-tutored Ishmaelites, bound together, through their 
wants, by contract, for defence against each other. Hegel 
declines to name this other than " the state on its external 
side," or government. In this realm of "particularity," or, 
as he elsewhere calls it, " system of atomism of self-interest," l 
each private atomistic person makes himself an end and 
uses everything else as a means. Law, the abstract univer 
sal element, is here only a mechanical means to prevent 
internecine warfare. It is a task-master to be eluded by 
every means, and yet serves the pedagogic purpose of dis 
ciplining caprice into formal unity. Absolute individualism 
would be civil anarchy. The individual must contract to 
limit himself by some outward form of universality, in order 
to exist. Through this he learns that his own good can 
only come through the good of all, and comes to recognize 
that the concrete state is the good and true for him on 
earth, without the immanent life of which in civil society 
government could not exist. But to reach this recognition 
of a common corporate good as each one s own good, civil 
society passes through three phases. 

(a) The system of wants, including labor, wealth, and 
classes of society. 

(b) The administration of justice, including legal rights, 
public laws, and courts of justice. 

1 Philosophic des Geistes, 523. 


(V) The sphere of police regulation, in its broadest sense, 
and that of incorporated companies under legal sanction. 

Hegel gives an elaborate treatment of these phases, con 
tinuously demonstrating that each one presupposes and 
actually rests upon the larger ethical organization of man 
in the Nation, or the spiritual State. Through the mainte 
nance of the sanctity of marriage, and of honor in corpora 
tions, civil society passes over into the Nation, in which 
all the previous abstract phases are taken up as organic 

3. The Nation or the invisible State. 

Hegel s lofty and profound conception of the State, as 
the highest realization of the will in its substantial freedom, 
is, happily, too well known to need lengthy exposition. Dr. 
Mulford thoroughly assimilated, appreciated, and American 
ized this conception of " The Nation " as " a moral organ 
ism " and "a moral personality," rooted in human nature, 
which is rooted in the Divine nature, and of Divine origin 
and sanction; the sphere for the "institution " and the "real 
ization of rights and of freedom"; "sovereign" and repre 
sentative of the individual, the family, society, civil rights, 
and the commonwealth; immanent in and vitalizing all these 
spheres; "a temple whose building is of living stones," a 
body, in and through which alone individuals can get the 
form and content of personality; "the work of God in his 
tory, realizing the moral order of the world"; "fulfilling 
humanity in God " ; " the beginning and the goal of history " ; 
"having an immortal life," and "its consummation in the 
perfected kingdom of the Christ." 

With Hegel, the State is the ethical concept, actualized in 
progressively more adequate form, the moral life of humanity 
throbbing through and integrating all the activity of its 

"The State is the self-conscious ethical (sittliche} sub 
stance, the union of the principle of the family and of civil 


society. In the family this principle exists as the feeling 
of love. This immediate, but essential principle, however, 
receives the form of self-conscious universality through the 
second principle, which contains the elements of knowledge 
and will, or thinking will. Thus the State appears, having 
for its content and absolute aim intelligent subjectivity, 
developed into rationality." l The State is the actuality of 
the substantial will, the vital union of the particular interest 
of its members with the relatively universal aims of man 
as man. 

Neither the family nor civil society is commensurate with 
such realization of individuals, though in both of these 
spheres a beginning is made from single to universal aims. 
This larger the largest earthly sphere takes up and ful 
fils all narrower ones. The State is universal or public 
reason, existing unreflectingly in the genius or spirit of its 
people, and objectively in its customs and institutions. 

Membership in this moral organism is the highest duty. 
It is the ethical substance in which alone one can be him 
self. All that he says about the State can be questioned 
only by confounding it, as many modern theorists do, with 
"civil society" as the mechanical expedient for the security 
of private rights and liberty. Herbert Spencer s conception 
is, essentially, only a more developed form of that of The 
Leviathan of Hobbes. Rousseau s volonte generate also 
lacked corporate sovereignty, because it represented only 
an abstraction and contract of particular wills, as a means. 

The corporate will, however, is the primal essential 
element in Hegel s conception of the State. It is the true 
end of man on earth, an end that realizes itself in and 
through its self-conscious members. The concept of the 
State is itself a process, having (a) immediate actuality in 
the particular state, an independent organism, with its 
own constitution or internal polity (Staatsrechi) ; passing 

1 Philosophic des Geistes, 535. 


(f) into the relation of one State to other States, external 
polity ; and finally (V) appearing as the universal or generic 
concept, as lord over particular States. It is thus the fullest 
earthly manifestation of man as spirit, actualizing itself in 
the process of universal history. 

(a) Internal polity. 

The State, as actualized concrete freedom, not only per- 
mifg j Vmt rreatf^ and contains, as vital members, individual 
personalities. " The prodigious strength and depth of 
modern States springs from their giving the principle of 
subjectivity, or private personality, the most extreme and 
independent development, while at the same time reducing 
this element into substantial unity with, and making it a 
means for, the realization of their own generic end." 

The principle of the worth of the individual, he says, 
"marks the turning-point in the distinction of modern and 
ancient times. Christianity first emphasized this principle 
and made it the vital principle of a new form of the world." 
Hence he must never be understood as slighting this element 
in his larger doctrine of the State, though this appears to 
approach very nearly the ancient doctrine, which swamped 
the individual in the State. It is only the inane perversion 
of this Christian principle of subjectivity that he criticises. 

Though the State may appear as an external power, it is 
really but the rational expression of the corporate will of 
individuals. In the State, rights and duties are in reciprocal 
rplatinn " This union of duty and right is one of the most 
important notes of the State and the inner ground of its 
strength. The individual in accomplishing his duty finds 
self-satisfaction. From his relation to the State there springs 
a right, so that the public affair becomes his own affair." 
Through the disposition and !0os of its people, mere govern 
ment is changed to ethical and substantial self-government, 
and is thus the actualization of concrete freedom. The 
universal element in the laws and institution of the State 


are simply the reflexive expression of the ethical spirit of 
its people. " They are the reason of the Nation, developed 
and actualized in particular forms, and thus the steadfast 
basis of the State and of the genial confidence of its citizens." 
"The guarantee of a constitution /. e. the necessity that 
the laws be reasonable and their realization secured lies 
in the spirit of the people as a whole, that is, in their 
definite self-consciousness of its reason (religion being this 
consciousness in its absolute substantiality), and also in the 
real organization, conformable to it as a development of that 
principle. The constitution presupposes this consciousness 
of the national spirit, as this spirit presupposes the constitu 
tion. For the actual spirit has the definite consciousness of 
its principles only so far as they are present to it as exist 
ing " (Philosophic des Geistcs, 540). The people make their 
own constitution. 

But Vcligion forms a most important factor in the spirit of 
a people. Hegel says frankly that religion is the foundation^ 
of the State, which " is the Divine will unfolding itself in the 
actual organization of a people." Religion has the absolute 
truth for its content creating the most powerful and lofty 
temper of a people, and thus affording the highest approba 
tion and sovereignty to the laws of the State. But when 
"religion degenerates into fanaticism, and tries to make the 
State a church-state, it needs to be curbed. Thus church 
organizations, like other societies, are subordinate to the 
State. Still, the religious sentiment of a people is so con 
trolling, that it is only " a folly of modern times to alter a 
system of corrupt morality and laws without a change in 
religion, to attempt a political revolution without a religious 

The religious faith should be left free, because the 
sphere of religion is higher than that of politics^ Its 
peculiar task is the fostering of lofty ideals and the 
cultivation of the conscience. But when religion takes the 


form of separate organizations within the State, dissenting 
from its social and ethical regulations, it must be subordi 
nated to the ethical supervision of the State. These cannot 
be permitted to foster opinions absolutely alien, or opposed 
to, the constitution, as expressing the corporate genius of its 
people, or to treat the State as a soulless, Godless mechanism, 
instead of an ethical expression of the freedom of God s 

Modern States base their constitutions on the principle 
of freedom. Want of freedom in religion, or an unethical 
conception of God, will be found hostile to such constitu 
tions. Hence Hegel pave the political preference to 
Protestantism, because it inculcates that freedom of thought 
and of conscience which harmonizes with the principle of 
free political life. 

Hegel was accused of deifying the State, because he saw 
in it more than a police mechanism, a miHtarv bureaucracy, 
tyrannizing its citizens. He saw in it tHeiife of the spirit 
of its people, realizing^ its destiny__with vital freedom. He 
did not make it absolute,, as he recognized no finality in any 
secular institutions, ^n i d.._pr.QQl_aimed_ the spheres of art, 
religion, and science (in its broadest sense) as higher than 
th^t f politics, for the free cultivation of which the State 
should be most solicitous. 

He held that the possession of a religious disposition 
by its people was most essential to the welfare of a State, 
springing from and exalting them, as it does, into direct 
relation with God. The real substance of mor^Jjh^nrl 
the State is religion. They rest upon the religious dis 
position of its people. It is fatal to both religion and 
the State to foster two kinds of conscience. The &tate ~ 
must see to it that n rejig-ion is fostered. _The Divjnp 
Spirit must immanently permeate the whole sphere of 
the secular, " Principles of lawful freedom can onlyTe 
abstract and superficial, and the State institutions derived 


from them must of themselves be untenable if the wisdom 
which gave birth to those principles understands religion so 
poorly as not to recognize that they have their final and 
highest guarantee in the religious consciousness." 

Hegel thus would have the customary, the current habits, 
laws and institutions of a State, vitalized and conserved by 
the moral and religious disposition of its people. To rerur 
again 1 to the significance of his term ethical (sittlicK), we 
may reaffirm that it means far more than the mere observ 
ance of conventional customs. It is rather the vital union 
of !0o? and Traflos. The pathos, as active emotion, has 
externalized itself in customs and institutions, but does not 
therefore cease to act. It continues to be the active element 
in the observance of its own customs. This ethical world 
incljudes the national manners, customs, laws, and institu 
tions in which the freedom and rationality of the communal 
spirit has embodied itself. Family, state, school, chuirh, 
C social, scientific, and literary circles are all manifestations 
,; of this free spirit of man in its struggle for self-realization, 
1 They are the forms of substantial freedom which exist, in 
* some degree, in the lowest form of society. They are con 
ventionally recognized forms of "the good," which alone 
enable one to specify the categorical imperative. They are 
more : they are the self-specifications of the communal 
spirit seeking to be good, the outcome of the Moralitdt 
of the social soul, the good or moral manners springing 
from its relative rationality and freedom. Conscience has 
.had some might, and has, to some extent, formed and ruled 
~the ethical world. It has had might enough to torm deca 
logues in all the circles of social activity. The community 
has an insight or conviction, and organizes it into a law or 
an institution, and thus makes its free spirit substantial. 
The ethical will of any people is thus relatively self-realized. 
It thus enacts itself and specifies what its "common good" 

i Cf. pp. 11-13- 


consists in. The individual, asking what good he must do, 
finds here his first definite answer. He is not put to the 
impossible task of framing a morality for himself, but is born 
into the obligation of entering into, sustaining, and further 
ing the moral world into which he is born as a member. His H 
private Judgment must thus be based upon a public source 
and standard. Hence Hegel says, " The striving for a mo- 
.rality of one s own is futile, and by its very nature impossible 
of attainment ; in regard to morality, the saying of the wisest 
man of antiquity is the only true one, to be moral is to live 
in accordance with the moral traditions of one s country." ] 
The Indian of any tribe is a more moral man for being a 
loyal tribal man than he would be if he ignored all tribal 
and domestic relations. No absolutely bad (sittenlos) man 
can exist. Such isolation would be instantaneous suicide. 
Homer thus ridiculed the idea of such a being or thing : 

"No tribe, nor state, nor home hath he." 

Even the babe in his cradle and Simon on his pillar and 
Crusoe on his island have their substantial worth through 
past or present relation to a social tissue. No one, any 
more than Hamlet, creates his own duties. Every one is 
born into an objective, ethical world. His only task is to 
realize himself by fulfilling these objective duties of his 
station. But does this not land us in a Chinese state of 
immobile conservatism? Does this not imply that the cus 
tomary is the ultimate, that the existing status of our ethical 
circle is identical with the ideal, or the "is" with the 
"ought to be"? Certainly this is not the doctrine of 
Hegel as to the progressive consciousness and realization 
of freedom. Loyalty to conventional morality is only a 
prerequisite to reflective conscientiousness, which asks and 
strives after better forms of social self-realization. Hegel 
recognizes no finality in temporal institutions. He sets or 

1 Hegel s Werke, vol. i. p. 400. 



sees the negative dialectic always and everywhere at work 
criticising, overturning, and reforming the ethical world in 
its progress intQ frje absolute spirit, the realm of art, 
religion, and philosophy, in which alone complete self-reaJi- 
zation is possible to the human spirit. Here Hegel s doc 
trine of the development of "the moral Ideal" is in place. 
This has been thoroughly worked out for the individual in j 
Green s Prolegomena to Ethics, and for the race in Hegel s 
Philosophy of History. For the individual, in the lowest 
stage of his social (and actual) life, there is a common good 
already realized, into whose inheritance he enters. Loyalty 
to this fosters conscientiousness which leads to reform. 
Progress, while an advance upon the customary morality, 
is not a product of mere private conscience, but is the out 
growth of the ideal embodied in the conventional forms, 
which come to be more and more fulfilled in higher forms 
and richer content. 

Finality means sterility in morals as well as in all other 
spheres. Hegel gives ample recognition of this element 
of conscientiousness, or the principle of subjective free 
dom, announced first by Socrates and given its infinite 
worth by Christ, so as to be really creative of the modern 
ethical world in distinction from that of the ancient, which 
mechanically subjugated the .individual to the tyranny of 
his social environment. Hifi ethical world absorbs and 
demands the constant activity of this element of conscij 
entiou. c aess, as the necessary dynamic in the progress or 
social man into the consciousness and realization of free[ 
dorr. In the course of its activity it passes through many 
phases,, rational and irrational. He shows the course of its 
own dialectic in his Phdnomenologie des Geistes, of which Dr. 
Harris has given an excellent expository resume in his 
JfegeVs Logic. 

Any single State, however, like an isolated man, is imper 
fect and incomplete. Its realization demands neighborly, 


social relations with and recognition by other States. In- 
.ternational comity is a high ethical fprm % but is always 
limited by the national spirit of the various States. The 
will of man is not fully realized in any one State or federa 
tion of States. Hence we must turn to Universal History, 
to see the fullest and most specialized forms of its develop 
ment. The world-spirit, as the most concrete expression of 
universal human will, comes to view through the dialectic 
of the various national spirits in Universal History. This 
world-spirit appears in the world-history as the judgment of 
the world the verdict of this spirit upon the validity of 
what is contributed by each nation. 

In his Philosophy of History, he shows how the successive 
ethical institutions and ideals are developed for man uni 
versal through nations as individuals. In the progress of 
man into the consciousness and realization of substantial 
freedom, the drama of self-education under divine teaching 
proceeds by fixed steps. The Oriental nations knew that 
one the despot was free. In Greece and Rome indi 
vidualities are developed, and some become conscious of 
their freedom. Finally, with the Germanic world, under the 
inspiration of a reformed Christianity, maturity is reached, 
and it is known that //men (man as man) are free. Through 
out this drama of history there is, however, the guiding 
hand of Providence. Nations may fret and toil and advance, 
rise, ripen, and rot, but the drama continues its teleological 
progress towards the attainment of the spiritual freedom of 
man in conscious God-sonship, because of the immanent 
Providence who always rules and transcends all the acts of 
the drama. Hegel sees one increasing purpose run through 
the ages because he sees God in history. Man proposes 
and God disposes, making even the wrath of man to praise 
him. His guidance is not arbitrary or artificial, but remains 
the unchanging condition of all human endeavor at self- 


The visible result, the progressive realization of freedom 
by man, affords the " true theodicy, the justification of God 
in history." Such is the triumphant conclusion of his 
Philosophy of History. 

And this affords us an answer to a question that forces 
itself upon us in studying Hegel s ethics. DQ^S pMrarry 
ethics up into the sphere of absolute spirit as he does art, 
j-eligion, and philosophy; or does he leave~thenT below in 
the objective world?" Are they merely "secular ethics," 
or jdoes_he ;__give_ a^jietaphysic of ethics which enswathes, 
permeates, and elevates them to the sphere of absolute^ 
spirit? We answer no and yes. 

No ! He did not formally treat of the science of absolute 
ethics (Sittlichkeif). He did not formally develop the science 
of the metaphysic of ethics. He did not formally carry it 
over into the realm of absolute spirit along with art, religion, 
and philosophy. But neither did he ever proclaim any form of 
ethical life as ultimate. No State ever exhausted the ethical 
capacity of man. Universal history, too, is seen to be an 
ever-tending and never-ending process towards the perfection 
of man. To know and to be himself, is the constant endea 
vor of man that Hegel traces in his Philosophy of History. 
But note that it is never man apart from God, that makes 
any progress. The all-animating cause of progress is the 
immanent divine spirit, and every step forward is really pos 
sible only through this Divine metaphysic of the all knowing 
and doing. 

Yes ! Hegel throughout all his works is laboring to bring 
this Divine metaphysics to men s conscious recognition, 
in which alone, he maintains, can men and States find their 
proper realization. 

In speaking of the Jdealitdt (the state of being reduced 
from independence to a factor or member) of ethics he says: 1 
" Idealitat, as such, must receive a pure absolute form, which 

1 Hegel s Werke, Band I., 400. 


is to be intuited and reverenced as the God of the Nation. 
This, too, can only have its joyous activity in a cult or form 
of worship." Again, in speaking of the limits of ethicality, 
he says: 1 "It cannot flee for its fulfilment to the formless 
ness of cosmopolitanism, nor to the emptiness of the rights 
of humanity or of a republic of nations. The richest and 
most free individuality is only possible in relation to the 
Absolute Idea" 

In his Philosophie des Geistes? in speaking of this ele 
vation of the moralized consciousness to the knowledge 
of God, he says that Kant s starting-point at least is most 
correct in so far as he considers faith in God as proceeding 
from the Practical Reason, as the true nature of God is 
active, working reason, /. <?., the self-determining and realizing 
concept itself Freedom. . . . True religion and true re 
ligiosity proceed from ethicalitv. Through this alone is the 

Idea of God known as Free Spirit. It is vain to seek for 
true religion outside of ethicality." 

It is needless to multiply quotations, for the latter part 
of Hegel s Encyclopedia treats of this relation to the Absolute 
Spirit under the rubrics of the Beautiful, the Good and the 
True, each of which he afterwards elaborated in separate 
treatises. God is the alpha and the omega of all human 
knowledge and experience. CEthics is the course of the 
realization of the potentially universal will of man. Real- 

Jzed to the fullest extent in secular relations, it still "strives 
after its infinite ideal. No community or State attords its 
adequate realization. It runs up into the ideal humanity 
in God. The State as " the terrestrial God " and the World- 
Spirit are not yet the Spirit of the Universe, not yet God. 
The perpetual struggle of morality merges into the religion 
of at-one-ment with God. Here the process of self-realiza 
tion is perfect through faith. Religion is essentially ethical 
a self-realization of the infinite self. Reference mayliere 

1 Hegel s Werke, Band I., 422. 2 552> 



be made to Principal Caird s chapter on "The Religious 
Life," 1 where he elaborates in a most beautiful way Hegel s 
profound conception as to the relation of morality and 

In his Phanomenologie, Hegel makes the transition from 
ethics to religion through the act of the forgiveness of th^ 
wicked. This negation of a negation is the mind s majestic 
act in ascending from the sphere of the finite and relative 
to its native home with Absolute Spirit. This is the sphere 
of religion, where all the discords and failures of the 
ethical sphere are transcended and transmuted by the spirit s 
union with God. Thus the fethical consciousness rests upon 
and is possible only through its relation of dependence upon 
religion as its own higher form. 

Ethical man, in his most comprehensive and ripest earthly 
relations, is not a little god by himself. Self-realization is 
impossible even in the widest ethical (sittliche) institutions. 
Personality can only approximate realization in conscious 
relation with the Absolute Personality. Thus ethics, as the 
science of man, reaches its highest form in Christian ethics, 
that is, in that form and spirit of life congruous with the 
Christian conception of man. " The measure of the stature 
of the fulness of Christ " is the norm of man s self-realiza 
tion. The Christian "secularization of morals" means the 
realization of the kingdom of God on earth. Any lower 
view really dehumanizes man in abstracting him from all 
that is most essential and substantial. The new birth into 
Christ and his kingdom is the absolutely essential condi 
tion of a normal ethical life on earth. To live aright one 
must love aright, for what one loves he lives. Hence 
Christian love is the all-comprehensive activity, which 
is the condition of ethical life in the individual and 

1 An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, by John Caird, 
D.D., chap. IX. 


In all ethical (sittliche) spheres man is relatively realizing 
himself under the " disposing " of God, however he himself 
may "propose." Thus we see Hegel finding a relative self- 
realization of man in the family, which is organic to a larger 
life in society. In the State the same process goes on, and 
tiansition is made to the larger life of self-realization in 
" universal history."^ 

But universal history again is seen to manifest the inade- 
quateness of attainment, and becomes organic :^o Jtb.e perfect 
consummation of man in the discovery and ^adoption of the 
revealed will of God as the absolute standard of_an ethical 
Ijje^jao that man becomes consciously a child of God and 
a co-worker with him. This insight attained, the process 
begins of living anew and aright in all the established ethical 
institutions, of imbuing the secular with the divine, of secu 
larizing the divine, of the maintenance of the kingdom of 
God on earth through domestic, social, civil, political, and 
religious institutions. 

The Christian banner is the final banner of free spirit, 
recognizing its own work in the so-called secular institutions 
which it creates and animates. All these Hegel declares 
to be " nothing else than religion manifesting itself in the 
relations of the actual world." "The Gospel in the Secular 
life" expresses, in brief, Hegel s ultimate conception of 
ethics. "The spirit finds the goal of its struggle, and its 
harmonization in that very sphere which it (as mediaeval 
ecclesiasticism) made the object of its resistance ; it finds 
that secular pursuits are a spiritual occupation (Philosophy 
of History, p. 369). 

That which vitalizes and moralizes each one of these 
secular spheres, that which is their constant presupposition 
and life their metaphysic is the life of God in the mind 
and heart of social man, guiding, luring, and impelling him on 
to self-realization in the sustaining environment of spiritual, 
substantial freedom, the republic of God. Thus Hegel 


finds ethics to be not an abstract decalogue falling straight 
from heaven, but rather a slowly-worked-out process of the 
heavenly in the earthly sphere. It is the kingdom of God 
coming, and His universal will being done on earth as it is 
in heaven. 



German Worterbucher are of very little service in trarv ating 
Hegel. He uses even ordinary terms in an extraordinary 
or technical sense ; but he does this consistently. His 
terms are not only pregnant, but they also have thoroughly 
definite significance, and thus enable him to put his philos 
ophy in dry scientific form. Hence it demands the sort of 
reading that one would give to Newton s Principia or 
Spinoza s Ethica. 

The mastery of these key-words in English will greatly 
facilitate, indeed, is indispensable to the understanding of 
his thought. We therefore give the following list of them 
with the translations which we have quite uniformly followed 
in this volume : 

Abstrakt Concret. These two terms represent the be 
ginning and the end of every concept, institution, or thing 
that Hegel treats of ; that is, he first treats it as abstracted 
from all connexion with environing context. But as viewed, 
it gradually demands and attains all its proper relations. 
It becomes a self-developed and self-developing process, 
assimilating all that it comes into relation with, and thus is 

An sich, fitr sich, and an und fiir sich are, however, much 
more frequently used by Hegel to express somewhat the 
same states or phases of an object, concept, person, or in 
stitution. Any one of these is an sich when it is still in the 
germ, merely implicit or potential, latent or undeveloped; 


not only in germ, but also closed up in itself against all 
vital interconnexion with its context, and thus abstract. It 
becomes fur sich when its germ is developed, when it be 
comes explicit and actual. But further it becomes an und 
fiir sich when its individuality has become completely uni 
versalized, or when its latent universality has been com 
pletely specified, and its relations to all its context realized 
through its own self-activity. It is thus the concrete, the 
absolute, the independent, through having absorbed all 
limits into self-characterizing properties. 

Besonderheit (particularity) is an intermediate between 
Allgemeinheit (universality) and Einzelheit (individuality). 
The abstract, potential universal is more and more particu 
larized, till self-specification is completed in the concrete 

Aufheben-setzen. These two terms express the activity 
in this process from the abstract through the particular 
to the concrete. Setzen is to posit, particularize, specify, 
explicitly state the ideal elements in the an sich stage and 
thus to raise it to the fiir sich stage. But each one of the 
various specifications is in turn posited as absolute and 
final. Hence there could never be more than one made 
(gesetzt), posited, without the concomitant, or, rather, the 
following of the activity expressed by the term aufheben. 
This term, as Hegel tells us (Logic, 96), has the double 
signification of "(i) to destroy or annul; (2) to retain or 
preserve." Thus the Gospel abrogates, annuls the Law and 
yet fulfils it, retains it in transmuted form as an element 
(moment) of itself. 

Moment. Phase, element, factor of a whole. What has 
been specified as a Besonderheit^ as fiir sich is aufgehoben to 
a moment or organic element of a larger unity. Its inde 
pendence (fiir sicJi) is destroyed, and yet it is preserved as 
an integral element. Its isolated reality is annulled (aufge- 
hoberi) through its being preserved as a dynamic factor in a 


more concrete unity. The acid and base are aufgehoben in 
the salt. Hegel also uses the term Idealitat as opposed to 
Realitat to express the same relation. Realitat is the 
explicit, specified form the filr sich of Particular itat. 
This is reduced to its Idealitat or to being an ideal (ideell) 
moment, or dynamic factor. 

Begriff. I have used the term concept in place of idea, 
or of the barbarous term notion, as the best translation of 
cg r i/ a g r ipP m g together, comprehension, concept (con- 
cipid). This is the key-word to Hegel. He uses it to 
express the concrete reality, the living process of passing 
from the an sich through the fur sich to the an und fur sich, 
through the successive negations of successively posited 
specifications. It embraces all the processes hitherto 
named. It is at once these processes and the result of 
them. " It is the power of substance in the fruition of its 
own being, and therefore that which is free. It forms a 
systematic whole, in which each of its elementary functions 
is the very total which the concept is, and posited as indis- 
solubly one with it." * It is the fully developed unity of all 
previous abstract and partial forms. It is the truth of the 
thing in its utmost active self-realization. Idee (Idea) is 
Hegel s term for the Concept of Concepts, the ultimate, 
infinite, absolute self-activity, God, the process which pro 
duces Himself eternally. This, however, strictly falls with 
out the subject matter of the present treatise, except in 
so far as all moral and ethical phases of man have their 
real ground in the Idea. This treatise is concerned with 
the development of the concept of the universal human will 
in secular relations. 

Bestimmung. There is no other word which, with its 
cognates, occurs so frequently in this treatise. I generally 
translate this word by determination, specification, or char 
acterization. It is from bestimmen to be-voice, to vocalize, 

1 Logic, 1 60. 



to audibly specify, to point out and thus determine or char 
acterize its object. JSestimmtheit is the resulting definite- 
ness or character. Unbestimmtheit is the state of lacking all 
definite, specific characterization. 

Dasein I have generally translated as determinate being, 
sometimes by definite or positive existence. 

Wirklichkeit, actuality. Hegel says ( 82) "actuality is 
that which acts, works (wirkf) and preserves itself in its 
work or other, being realized rather than lost through such 

Unmittelbar, that which is immediate or unmediated, 
referring to the way a thing presents itself to us directly 
as " a shot out of a pistol." It corresponds to the an sich 
phase of the concept. The immediate is the undeveloped 
in its relation to us. 

Vcrmittelt, that which is mediated ; that which is known 
by means of relations and environment. 

Moralitat-Sittlichkeit. As we have elsewhere given full 
exposition of these terms, we may here give their simple 
translation as morality (subjective) and ethicahty (objective). 
Unendlich. That is infinite which has only itself for its 
object, that which is reflected back from externalities within 
itself, as a closed and self-sufficient process, the infinite 
of the circle rather than of the line, the qualitative instead 
of the quantitative infinite. 

The object of Hegel s Rechtsphilosophie is the exposition 
of the concept (Begriff)^ of the will, as thought in the process 
of translating itself into actuality or determinate being, 
its most specified and concrete form. He begins with 
the will as implicit (an sich), immediate (unmittelbar), and 
abstract (abstraki), following it through all its posited 
(gesetzte) phases (Momenta) of particularity (Besonderheif) 
from undeveloped universality to its complete, concrete, 
and thoroughly mediated (vermittelf) form of the concept 
(Begriff), by successive determinations (Bestimmungen) and 

KEY- WORDS. 6 1 

forms of determinate being (Dasein\ which are as succes 
sively abrogated and integrated (aufgehoberi). These stages 
represent the various imperfect relations of particular will 
to universal will, the aim being to thoroughly particularize 
abstractly universal will, and thus exhibit it in its truth, /. <?., 
in its freedom. 




IN his Preface Hegel says that the object of a Philosophy 
of Right cannot be the discovery of rights and morals, as 
these are already age-old and well known, but only to win 
for them such rational form or system as may justify them 
to the free rational spirit. Philosophy s task is not to create 
but to understand existing reality. He sets aside the preten- 
tions of the so-called rationalistic philosophy for the severer 
labor of showing how 

" The rational is the real, 
And the real the rational." 

The real is the Reason or the Divine mind, the creator of the 
world as its own progressive revelation. Hence the world 
throughout must be fundamentally rational. The Philosophy 
of Right is a comprehension and an exposition of this reality 
at the foundation of, and throbbing through, all forms of 
social and political institutions. Its task is not to go beyond 
these forms and construe an ideal morality and society, but 
to note the phases of rationality in existing forms and thus 
to reconcile us with reality. The rationalism which refuses 
to accept anything which it cannot reduce to the form of 
conceptions of the understanding has well been said to lead 
away from God. But genuine philosophy leads up through 
the immanent God to the transcendent God, whether it traces 
the Divine (The Idea) working in the forms of nature, of 
human thought, or in those of human institutions. 


In his Introduction he says that such a science has to deal 
with the Idea of Rights, as well as with the Concept of Rights 
and its actualization into objective existence in other words 
with the soul and body of ethical institutions as animated 
by the Divine Spirit. The soul is to be discovered in its 
own development of the body, being its first entelechy or its 
truth. Montesquieu rightly apprehended the various his 
torical elements and positive forms of right as organic mem 
bers of a totality or system (concept). 

The real ground of all rights is the spiritual. The start 
ing-point is the will that is free. Freedom is the very sub 
stance and character of will, bringing forth the spiritual 
world on earth. It is the fundamental characteristic of the 
will, just as weight is of matter. 

The will is not a faculty diverse from thought. The will 
is rather a particular form of thought. It is thought trans 
lating itself into determinate being. The will is free. 
Without freedom it is an empty word. In its first or 
unmediated phase, the will is only formally free. Abstrac 
tion is made of the will from all definite form or content 
in order to reach this phase of pure indeterminateness of 
the will, where it can will one thing just as well as another, 
e. g., to destroy as well as to create social and ethical insti 
tutions. The direct actualization of such formless freedom 
would be the furies of destruction. Another phase is that 
of the indeterminate will passing out into determinations. 
This is the limiting, negating phase of the abstractly infinite 
will of the first phase. But the genuine will is really the 
unity of both these phases. It is self-realized, self-filled. 
This will is thoroughly identical with its content. The will 
wills what it is. It is always and everywhere at home with 
itself always its own object, everywhere fully developed 
and active. 

The natural man, however, is such will only potentially, as 
the acorn is the oak. It is imbedded in all sorts of desires, 


inclinations and wants. It appears as caprice and hence as 
irrational. One deems himself free when he can do as he 
likes, satisfy this or that desire or whim at will. But such 
caprice is seen to be suicidal to the whole mass of desires. 
There must be a system of them in which each one shall find 
its appropriate place. This occurs through reflexion, which 
brings forward the idea of happiness, as the primary form of 
the universal for the will. Still this is but a particular form, 
inadequate to the concept of the will. It is purified through 
the more universal, though the abstract conception of duty, 
and then returns to the concrete world to find itself in all its 
activity with both of these elements of happiness and duty. 

Here we reach the most concrete form of the will that is 
free. It is self-characterizing in all its activity. It is think 
ing intelligence actualizing itself, recognizing as virtually its 
own deed the deeds of corporate humanity and so being self- 
determined even in its strictest obedience to current customs 
and authorities. In all his content the thinking man finds 
only his own substance. Such a rational, free will Hegel 
declares to be infinite and absolute, because it is always its 
own object, which is thus never an external limit. Chains 
of his prison house are his own chains. The self is con 
scious of itself as a whole system. Its consciousness of 
itself is a closed circle. It is everywhere reflected back 
upon itself instead of going further and further into the un 
known. The will is thus truly infinite, as any circle may be 
said to be infinite, which cannot be said of any straight line, 
however far it be produced. Such a will willing only itself 
is thus infinite. 

But even this true form of the will is primarily abstract 
and passes through various stadia. These various forms of 
self-determination in this activity of the will are what we 
term rights. Rights are something holy because they are the 
self-determinations of rational freedom. Every stage of the 
development of the free will has its corresponding rights. 


Collisions can come only when these rights are all placed 
upon an equality, no allowance being made for progressive 
development, and thus for a system of rights in which one is 
higher than another, because belonging to a higher phase of 
the will s activity. Subjective conscience and objective codes 
are each a special form of rights, because each of them is a 
definite form of active, free will. They can come into col 
lision only because they are both rights. The collision can 
only be solved in the whole system of actualized will. This is 
found in no one person. It is only the world-spirit that is 
universal and whose rights are ultimate, subordinating all 
other forms of right. We shall elsewhere note that even this 
unlimited will, this absolute, " terrestrial god " is not abso 
lutely ultimate. It is only a relative absolute, the highest 
phase of the actualization of objective spirit, which points 
to and leads into the realm of the absolutely Absolute Spirit, 
into the higher forms of the spirit in the spheres of art, re 
ligion and philosophy, for its fruition. The Philosophy of 
Right seeks to trace the immanent dialectic of free will as it 
moves through the various forms, from the most abstract to 
the most concrete and ripest form. This dialectic is the 
very life of the spirit and thus something quite different from 
the negative form used by the Sophists and sometimes even 
by Plato. It is not the dialectic of mere subjective thought, 
but the spirit s own activity, organizing itself in definite forms. 
The progress of the dialectic is always from the abstract to 
the more concrete, from the seed, through trunk, branches 
and flower to the fruit-bearing tree. While the historical 
phases of man s progress into freedom afford abundant illus 
trations, its chronological order does not run part passu with 
the logical order, which the dialectic or speculative method 
follows. This method alone can give scientific form to con 
tingent historical phases, because it exhibits each phase as 
the expression of a particular form of the concept of freedom, 
and all as members of the organic Idea of absolute free will. 


Starting with the most abstract form of the will, which he 
takes as ready to hand, he divides the whole work, as usual, 
into triadic form : 

I. The unmediated form of the will asserting itself as per 
son in external things the sphere of abstract or formal 

II. The will reflected back from mere external things into 
itself as a closed infinite circle, or subjective individuality 
opposed to will objective in mere things. This gives the 
sphere of Moralitat, or of conscience contra mundum. 

III. The will as the unity of these two abstract phases, 
realizing itself at once in both objective and subjective right. 
This is the realm of Sittlichkeit, or the ethical world, as the 
concrete realization of man as will. This includes the sphere 
of (a) the family, (t>) the civic community, (c) the State 
in the most concrete sense of the term the organic 
unity of the individual wills of a whole nation. Ultimately, 
however, it is the federation of nations, or the universal his 
tory of humanity that gives us the realization of man as will 
in the most cosmopolitan sense of the term. Thus hu 
manity s rights are the highest kind of rights. 

This division proceeds upon the principle of the Logic, 
that the first form of anything is the unmediated, hence the 
most abstract and poorest form. It also seeks abundant 
historical illustrations, though a philosophical division of a 
subject follows the immanent dialectic of the Idea rather 
than that of external material. 

" Subjective morality (Moralitat) and ethical or objective 
morality (Sittlichkeit) which are ordinarily used as synonyms, 
are here used in essentially different senses. Kantian writers 
use by preference the term morality (Moralitat) and the 
practical principle of this philosophy is entirely limited 
to this subjective side, rendering impossible and really 
negating the standpoint of ethics (Sittlichkeit) or objective 
morality. That these two terms have etymologically the 


same significance does not prevent our using them for 
different conceptions." 

The term "right" throughout this treatise is used in its 
widest sense, embracing subjective and objective morality 
as well as civil and humanitarian rights. 

The first form of right is that of abstract objectivity, / . <?., 
property as belonging to a person. The negation of this 
standpoint is that of subjective morality, or the assertion of 
the worth of the subjective self. But this subjective con 
science demands that it have objective might, as it has 
subjective right. It seeks to have its will done upon earth. 
But both these phases are abstract and find their truth in 
the standpoint of objective morality (Sittlichkdt). Its first 
form, however, that of the Family, is a natural state in which 
the individual has yielded up his rude personality and finds 
his true self in the larger self of the family. The next 
sphere, that of civil society, however, shows a loss of this 
immediate unity of affection. It is wrong to call this 
sphere the State, as its only bond of unity is that of re 
ciprocal wants, of independent individuals. In the State 
proper we have the concretest form of objective morality, 
uniting independence and individuality with the universal 
substance. \*Right in the State is higher than in the family 
or in civil society. It is freedom in its most concrete form 
as realized in the universal history of humanity. 



Hegel s P kilos op hie des Rechts. 





THE absolutely free will, if we consider, it according to its 
abstract concept (Begriff) is in its most undeveloped and 
unreal form that of mere immediacy. Considered in this 
most imperfect form it is only abstract actuality (/ . e., mere 
potentiality) relating merely to itself and negative in regard 
to all reality. It exists thus in itself as particular will of a 
subject. According to the phase of particularity the will has 
a further content of definite aims. But, as excluding individ 
uality, it has this content at the same time as an external 
and immediately present world that happens to be before it. 

Supplementary. When it is said that the absolutely free 
will, as it exists in its merely abstract concept, is in the form 
of immediacy it must be understood in the following way. 
The fully perfected Idea (Idee) of the will would be the con 
dition in which the concept would have fully realized itself, 
and in which its determinate being (Daseiri) would be 
nothing other than its own development. At first, however, 
the concept is abstract, containing all sorts of definite con 
tents. But these contents are as yet merely potential and 
undeveloped. If I say " I am free " the "I " which is free, 
is simply this oppositionless potential being, whereas in 
morality there is actual opposition. On the one hand I am 
an individual will, and on the other is the good or the 


universal even though it be in myself. Thus in morality the 
will already contains the distinctions of individuality and 
universality and is thus rendered definite. But primarily no 
such a distinction is present. For in the first abstract unity 
there is neither progress nor mediation. The will is thus 
simply in the form of immediacy, or of mere being (Sein). 
The essential insight to be reached here is that this lack of 
determinateness or characterization is itself a sort of deter 
mination of the will. For it consists in the lack, as yet, of 
any difference between the will and its content. But this, 
being opposed to characterization brings itself to the char 
acter of being a determined thing. This characterization is 
here simply that of abstract identity. The will becomes 
thereby individual will the person. 


The universality of this for itself free will is merely 
formal relation to its own self. This is indeed a self-conscious 
though contentless relation. The subject is thus far person. 
The conception of personality implies that I as person, 
perfect in every way (in subjective willfulness, instinct, 
desire as well as in respect to my merely external existence) 
am determined and finite, and yet that I am absolute 
relation to myself. Thus I know myself, in finite condi 
tions, as infinite, universal and free. 

Personality first begins here, in so far as the subject has not 
merely self-consciousness in the sense of conscious relation 
to external things but where he has consciousness of himself 
as perfect though abstract ego, which negates all concrete 
limitations and validity. Thus there is in personality the 
knowledge of self as object, but as a purely self-identical 
object raised through thought into simple Infinitude. Indi 
viduals and peoples alike lack personality in so far as they 
have not yet attained to this pure thought and knowledge 
of self. , 


Supplementary. It is the merely abstractly independent 
will that we call person. In one sense it is rightly held that 
the highest destiny of man is that of being person. In spite 
of this, however, we sometimes use this term person in a 
despicable sense. Person, however, is essentially different 
from subject ; for the term subject expresses only the 
potentiality of personality. In this way, we might speak of 
every kind of living beings as subjects. \ Person, 1 however, 
is the subject, for whom subjectivity is cqnsciously_,ji 
possession^; for, as person, I am absolutely for myself./ 
Person is the individuality of freedom in pure self-acquired 
being. As such a person, I know myself as free in myself, 
and can abstract myself from every condition and circum 
stance, as there is naught but pure personality before me ; 
and yet I am, as such, an entirely determined form of being. 
I am so old, so large, in this place, etc. Personality is thus 
at once lofty and lowly. It contains the unity of the finite 
and the infinite, of the boundless and the definitely bounded. 
It is the very loftiness of personality that it can sustain this 
contradiction, which could neither contain nor endure any 
thing purely natural. 


(1) Personality, in general, contains the capacity of rights, 
and constitutes the concept and the abstract foundation of 
merely formal right. Hence, the precept of merely abstract 
right is this : Be a person, and respect others as persons. 


(2) Particularity of will is indeed a phase of total con 
sciousness of will ; but it is not yet explicitly present in 
abstract personality as such. It is present only as different 
from personality, the characteristic of freedom ; it is present 

1 Compare with this Hegel s use of the term " Subject" in the higher 
sense, in 105. 


only as desire, need, instinct, accidental liking, etc. Thus, 
in formal rights, there is no question concerning particular 
interests, one s own gains or welfare, nor concerning the 
particular ground or motive of one s will, nor concerning 
insight and intention. 

Supplement. The element of particularity not yet being 
present in the person in the form of freedom, we have, at 
this stage, no concern with anything relating to it. Where 
the person has no other interests than his formal rights, he 
is likely to make these a matter of caprice, especially if he 
be of narrow mind and heart. It is chiefly the rough, uncul 
tivated man who stands for his rights, while the magnanimous 
man considers the many different interests involved along 
with his own. Thus, abstract right is at first merely potential, 
and thus quite formal in regard to the whole circle of inter 
ests involved. Therefore, the legal right affords a warrant, 
which, however, it is not necessary for a cultured man to 
pursue, because it represents only one side of the whole 
context ; for potentiality is the sort of being which has also 
the significance of not being. 


In relation to the concrete activity of moral and ethical 
(sittlicfi) relations, we may say that abstract right is only 
a potentiality, and legal right thus only a permission or 
warrant. The necessity of this sort of right limits itself, 
by reason of its abstractness, to the negative form of pre 
serving personality and all its results from injury. Hence, 
there are only legal prohibitions. Even the positive form 
of legal injunctions has only prohibition at its basis. 


(3) The specific and immediate individuality of the 
person is related to a world of nature, over against which 
the personality of the will stands as something subjective. 


But the limitation of subjectivity to this personality as 
something universal and infinite, is something quite con 
tradictory and futile. Personality is itself the activity which 
abrogates this contradiction and gives itself reality, or what 
is the same, posits that world of nature as being its own. 


Rights are primarily, the immediate form of determinate 
being which freedom proposes to itself : 

(a) Possession or Property. Freedom is here that of 
abstract will as such, or of a single individual as a self- 
relating personality. 

(b) The person distinguishing himself from himself, 
relates himself to another person, both having definite 
existence for each other only so far as they both are owners 
of property. There is here an implicit identity which gains 
definite form through the transference of the property of 
one to the other. This involves a common will and the 
maintenance of rights. This is the sphere of Contract. 

(c) The will in relation to itself, rather than as distin 
guished from another one, contains the relation of particular 
will as opposed to itself as absolute or universal will. This 
is the sphere of Wrong and Crime. 

. . . Here it is evident that the right to things belongs 
only to personality as such. The so-called rights of person 
among the Romans implied a man s having the status of 
being a legal person. Personality was thus only a status as 
opposed to slavery. . . . Hence, such rights were not the 
rights of a person as such. We shall see later on that the 
family relation involves, as its essential condition, rather 
the giving up of personality, or of the strict legal rights 
of person. Hence, it is not the place to treat of the rights 
of definite concrete personality before treating of those 
of abstract personality. . . . 




IN order that a person be a fully developed and independ 
ent organism, it is necessary that he find or make some 
external sphere for his freedom. Because the person as 
absolutely existing, infinite will is, as yet, in this entirely 
abstract form, we find that this external sphere which is 
essential to constitute his freedom, is designated as being 
equally something distinct and separable from himself. 

Supplement-. The rationality of property does not lie in 
its satisfaction of wants, but in its abrogation of the mere 
subjectivity of personality. It is in property that person 
primarily exists as reason. Although the primitive reality 
of my freedom in an external thing be a bad form of 
reality, still abstract personality in its immediate form 
can have no other sort of real existence. 


That which is thus immediately distinct from the free 
spirit, is for this free spirit, as well as in its own nature, 
something external, unfree, impersonal and right-less. . . . 

Supplement. As this thing lacks subjectivity, it is some 
thing external not only to the subject but also to itself. 
Thus space and time are external and I, as a sensuous 
being, am myself external, spatial and temporal. The 
sensuous perceptions I may have are of something which 
is external even to itself. The animal may have sensuous 
perceptions, but its soul does not have its soul, its own 
very self, for object, but some external thing. 



As immediate concept and thus as a single individual, 
person has a natural form of existence. 

This physical form of being belongs to a person partly as 
an independent physical organism and partly through his 
relation to his body as an external thing. We are here 
speaking of person in relation to immediate forms of external 
existence, his body among others, rather than in his relation 
to them as developed into more definite things through the 
mediation of the will. . . . 


As a person, I have the right to put my will into every 
thing, which thereby becomes mine. The thing has no 
substantial end of its own, but only attains this quality by 
being related to my will. That is, mankind has the right of 
absolute proprietorship. 

The so-called philosophy which ascribes independent 
reality to immediate individual impersonal things, as well 
as that philosophy which assures us that the spirit cannot 
recognize, the truth or know what the thing in itself is, all 
such philosophy is immediately refuted by the conduct of 
free will towards these things. If, perchance, such things 
have for sensuous perception and representation the appear 
ance of independent reality, we find that on the other hand 
the free will is the idealism, the real truth of such apparent 

Supplement. All things are capable of being made the 
property of man, because he is free-will and as such in and 
for himself, while everything else Tacks this quality. Every 
man, therefore, has the right to put his will into things, that 
is, to annul them and make them his own. For they, as 
external, have no self-aim ; they are not that infinite refer 
ence of self to self, as subject, but are even externalities to 


themselves. Every living thing (the animal) is such an 
externality and thus a thing. Only the will is infinite, abso 
lute in reference to all else, which in turn is only relative. 
To make such things mine is really only to manifest the 
dignity of my will in comparison with them, and to demon 
strate that they are not independent and do not have any 
self-end. This manifestation is made through my putting 
in the thing another end than that which it immediately 
had. I give the living thing, the animal, as my property, 
another soul. I give it my soul. Thus the free-will is the 
idealism which preserves things, but not as they are imme 
diately, while realism holds them as being in and of them 
selves absolute and real, though they are finite. Animals 
themselves do not have this realistic philosophy as to things. 
For they eat things up, thereby proving that they are not 
absolute and independent. 


Possession is constituted by my having anything merely 
within my own external power, - The special interest in 
possession comes from my having made some element of 
natural want, desire or caprice my own. The side of this 
activity of possession, which brings out my free and actual 
will, is the positive and legal side, or the characteristic of 

In respect to want, which appears as the primary phase, 
property seems to be means. But the true position from 
the standpoint of freedom is that which regards property 
in its first definite form, as essentially an end for freedom 


In property my will becomes personal to me, hence objec 
tive as the will of the individual. Thus property receives 
the character of private property and also that of common 


property, which according to its nature can be possessed as 
parcelled out among many individuals. Here we have the 
characteristic of a potentially dissolvable community or 
partnership, it being a matter of caprice whether or not I 
shall let my portion remain in the common property. . . . 
Supplementary. In saying that the will becomes personal 
in property, it is to be noted that person is here used in the 
sense of particular being, so that property becomes personal 
property. As I give to my will this form of externality, it 
is essential that property have the definite character of 
being mine in particular. This is the important doctrine 
of the necessity of private property. Any restriction made 
to it must be made "solely by the State. Frequently indeed, 
especially in our times, private property has been restored 
by the State. Many States have rightly enough abolished 
cloisters, because ultimately a community has no such right 
to property as the person. 


As person I am to possess my own life and body as I do 
other things just in so far as I put my will into them. . . . 
The souls of the anhnals possess their bodies indeed, but 
they have no right to their life because they do not put their 
will into it. 


The body, in so far as it is an uncultivated piece of exter 
nal existence, is inadequate to the spirit. The spirit must 
first take possession of it in order- to make it its animated 
tool. But in reference to other people I am essentially free 
even as to my body. ... It is but a vain sophistry which 
says that the real person, the Soul, cannot be injured by 
maltreatment offered to one s body. . . . Violence done to 
my body is really done to me. 



It is the rational thing then for me, in relation to external 
things, to possess property. But the particular form or 
amount of property possessed depends upon subjective 
aims, needs, caprice, talents and external circumstances. 
Moreover, such possession, in this sphere of abstract per 
sonality, is not yet explicitly set forth as identical with 
freedom. Hence it is a matter of mere legal contingency 
as to the kind and quantity of property that I possess. 

All persons are equal in this abstract sphere, if indeed we 
can here speak of many persons. This is but a tautological 
proposition. For person is yet abstract and unparticular- 
ized. Equality is identity of the understanding. This is 
the standpoint first taken by reflective thought and medi 
ocrity of spirit, when the relation of unity and difference 
first occurs to it. Here then we have only the abstract 
equality of abstract persons. Outside of this, that is, in 
every particular form of possession, there is really inequality. 
The demand sometimes made for an equal division of lands 
or possessions can only be made by a very superficial under 
standing. For in the sphere of actual particular possessions 
there falls not only the contingency of external nature, but 
also the whole of the spiritual nature with its infinite num 
ber of differences and its developed organic form of reason. 
We cannot speak of an injustice of nature in an unequal 
partition of possessions and means, for nature is not free 
and so neither just nor unjust. That all men should have 
a competency for their needs is a well-meant moral desire, 
but without any objective reality. Then, too, it is to be 
noted that what we call a competency is something different 
from possessions and belongs to the later stage, Civil Society. 

Supplementary. The equality which one might introduce 
in regard to the partition of goods would, in any event, be 
destroyed in a s.hort time, since property depends upon 


industry. The impossibility of such an equal distribution 
should prevent all attempts to secure it. ... It is wrong 
to maintain that justice demands that each one should have 
an equal amount of property. For the demand is only that 
each should have property. It is then rather true that 
equality of possessions would be unjust in the sphere of 
particularity, which is the sphere of inequality. . . . 


A thing belongs to the accidental first comer who gets it, 
because a second comer cannot take possession of what is 
already the property of another. The first comer is not 
legal owner by virtue of his being the first comer, but 
because he is free will. He becomes first comer only by 
the accidental fact that another one comes after him. 


Supplementary. The primary concept of property is that 
one puts his will into a thing. The fuller concept involves 
the full realization of the idea of property. It is necessary 
that the inner act of will by which I say that something is 
mine, be made cognizable by others. In really making a 
thing my own, I give it the power of manifesting this in 
external form. It must not remain mine simply in my inner 
will. Children sometimes cry out against others taking pos 
session of a thing, that they had wished it first. But such 
wishing is inadequate for grown-up people. The form of 
subjectivity must be worked out into objectivity. 


Taking possession of the material of a thing makes it my 
property, as it does not belong to itself. . . . 



Property has its proximate characteristic determinations 
in the relation of the will to the thing. This gives us, 

(A) Immediate Possession in so far as the will has its 
objective reality in the thing as a positive existence, 

(Jff) Use or Consumption, i. e. in so far as the will has its 
objective reality in negating the thing possessed, 

(C) Relinquishment of property, as the return of the will 
into itself out of the thing. These three phases are the 
positive, the negative, and the infinite judgment of the will 
in relation to the thing. 

A. Possession. 


Possession arises (a) partly from the mere corporeal seizure 
of a thing (b) partly from the expenditure of formative work 
upon it and (c) partly from mere designation, or putting the 
sign of ownership upon it. 



(a) Supplementary. The hand is the chief organ of cor 
poreal possession. This no beast possesses. And what I 
grasp with the hand becomes in turn the means of grasping 


(b) Through the expenditure of formative work upon a 
thing possessed, it comes to have a sort of independent 
existence and ceases to be limited to actual present cor 
poreal seizure as the condition of possession. . . . 



Man is, primarily, a natural sort of existence, external to 
his essential being. It is only through the culture of his 
body and spirit, especially through the apprehension of his 
freedom through self-consciousness, that he takes possession 
of himself and becomes his own owner. This act may also 
be called that of actualizing his concept or of developing his 
potentiality, faculties, talents. Through such act the natural 
man becomes positively his own and truly objective. He 
is thus distinguished from simple self-consciousness and 
becomes capable of maintaining the proper form of man 

[In the remainder of this paragraph Hegel shows at some 
length, that the only justification that can be offered of 
slavery and of mere lordship over men comes from con 
sidering man as a merely natural form of existence. On 
the other hand, the absolute wrong of slavery can only be 
maintained by considering man as he is ideally, as having 
all his potentialities developed, that is, as free, independ 
ent, cultured and spiritual. This, too, is an abstract and 
one-sided view, identifying immediately the merely natural 
man with the spiritual man. The truth is that man by 
nature (as a mere natural being) is unfree, and that man 
by nature (as fully developed man) is free. But man has 
such a spiritual nature, not in the state of nature but in 
the state of an ethical, civilized community. The blame 
of slavery really lies upon the will of the enslaved man or 
people, rather than upon those who enslave them. The 
enslaved has not said, give me liberty or death, but rather, 
give me life even at the expense of liberty. 

Historically, slavery occurs in the transition from the state 
of mere nature to the state of grace, in the concrete social 
relations of the civilized community. It occurs in that stage 
of human development where a wrong is still right. At 


such a stage, the wrong is of real worth and its place can be 


(V) Supplementary. Possession by means of designation 
or sign of ownership is the most perfect form, for the other 
kinds of it have more or less the effect of a sign. When I 
seize or when I form a thing, the ultimate significance is 
always that of a sign to others that I put my will in the thing 
so as to exclude their possessing it. The concept of a sign 
is that a thing does not stand for what it is, but for what it 
signifies. A cockade, for example, signifies citizenship in a 
state, though the color has no connection whatever with the 
nation, and represents not itself but the nation. Man shows 
his sovereignty over things by being able to give a sign and 
thus acquire possession. 

B. Use or Consumption. 


. . . Use is the satisfaction of my want through the alter 
ation, destruction, or consumption of the thing, the selfless 
ness of whose nature is thus made evident, and its real 
destiny accomplished. . . . 

Supplementary. The thing is reduced to a means of 
satisfying my needs. In any struggle for existence between 
a person and a thing, one of them must lose its own being 
in order to there being unity ; but, in such a conflict, the I 
is the vital, willing, the real affirmative, while the thing is 
merely a thing. It must perish and I preserve myself, such 
being the rational prerogative of that which is organic. 



Supplementary. The relation of use to property is that of 
substance to quality, of potential to actual power. The field 
is only a field in so far as it produces a harvest. He who 
has the whole use of a field is the real owner, and it is an 
empty abstraction to recognize any other property in it. 


Partial, or temporary use, or possession of a thing is, 
however, to be distinguished from ownership. It is only 
the complete and permanent use of a thing that constitutes 
me owner of that whose abstract title may belong to another. 
Only so far as I permeate the thing throughout with my 
will, thus making it impermeable by others, is it truly mine. 
It is thus the essential nature of proprietorship that it be 
free and complete. . . . 

It is more than fifteen hundred years since, under the 
influence of Christianity, personal freedom began to flourish, 
and became, at least for a small part of the human race, 
recognized as a universal principle. But the freedom of 
ownership has only since yesterday, we may say, been recog 
nized here and there as a principle. This is an example 
from universal history of the length of time required by 
Spirit for its advance into self-consciousness ; also, an illus 
tration against the impatience of mere opinion. 


Supplement. We find, however, that the qualitative form 
of use passes over into the quantitative. . . . This last 
takes the form of value, . . . Money is the abstract form 


of value. Gold represents everything except the human 
wants ; hence, it is itself ruled by the conception of specific 
value. A man can, in a way, be the owner of a thing 
without being the possessor of its real worth. A family 
which has possessions which it can neither sell nor spend, 
is not owner of its worth. 


Giving form, and putting one s mark upon a thing, are, 
however, external circumstances, needing continually the 
presence of the active subjective will to give them meaning 
and value. This presence is manifested through Use and 
Consumption, which must be continuous to avail. Without 
this active presence of will in them, things are deserted, 
become masterless ; hence, property may be lost or acquired 
by prescription. . . . Prescription is founded upon the very 
character of property, namely, upon the actual manifestation 
of the will to possess something. Public monuments are 
national property, so long as they are of worth through the 
indwelling soul of national honor and traditions. Deprived 
of this national spirit, they become masterless, and are thus 
the fair booty of any individual who chooses to take them, 
e.g., the Grecian and Egyptian works of art in Turkey. So, 
too, the extinction of copyright in the family of an author 
rests upon the same principle. Literary works become 
masterless (though in just the opposite way), like national 
monuments ; that is, they become universal property as to 
their worth, instead of being private property. So, the 
mere land of unused cemeteries, or that which is otherwise 
consecrated to eternal non-use, implies merely a non- 
present, arbitrary will, through the infringement of which 
no real interest is injured. Sacred respect for all such 
unused land cannot be guaranteed. 


C. The Relinquishment of Property. 

I can relinquish my property, because it is mine only so 
far as I put my will into it. 1 can give up (derelinquere) my 
lordship over anything that is mine, or I can deliver it over 
to another will for possession. But this refers only to such 
things as are by their very nature external. 

Supplementary. Such a true alienation is a direct decla 
ration of the will, in contrast with alienation by prescription. 
In fact, when the whole process of property is looked at, we 
see its relinquishment to be a genuine act of taking pos 
session. The first phase of property is the immediate 
taking possession of a thing. Then further ownership 
is acquired through use, while taking possession through 
the voluntary relinquishment of ownership is the last and 
fullest sort of ownership. 

Resume of 66- 71. 

In these paragraphs Hegel makes the needed restrictions 
to the above doctrine. There are some sorts of possessions 
which by their very nature are inalienable. Those which 
constitute the very essence of my personality, such as my 
free-will, my ethical life and religious convictions, are thus 
inalienable. To relinquish them is to give up being a free 
self-cause, or causa sui, cujus natura nan potest concipi, nisi 
existens. There is, however, a possibility of such suicidal 
action that is frequently actualized. The bad is itself either 
a denying and giving up the essentials of personality, or it is 
the making actual something which does not belong to the 
very inner essence of personality a realization by man of 
the un-manly, the //0;z-human or J7//?-human. Slavery is an 
example of one sort of such suicide. Superstition affords 
corresponding examples in the moral, ethical and religious 


spheres. Intelligent rationality as to duties and dogmas is 
here sacrificed to the arbitrary authority of others. Rights 
as such are inalienable. Hence any one who has in any way 
lost his rights has the inalienable right and duty to resume 
them at the first possible opportunity. The slave, whether 
civil or religious, has always the right to violate the wrong 
right of his tyrant. 

I may part with the productions of my hand or head, with 
my daily labor of brawn or brain, without doing violence to 
my personality, for such labor does not consume the whole 
of my self-activity. Herein lies the difference between the 
slave and the day-laborer, even though the toil of the latter 
be greater and his bodily comfort less than those of the 

Again, one s life cannot be considered as external to per 
sonality and, hence, cannot be relinquished. I, as an individ 
ual, in the sphere of mere abstract right, have no right to 
lay down my life. It is only when a person is a member of 
an ethical community that he has the right to offer up his life 
at its command and in its service. Suicide may perhaps be 
looked upon as bravery, but it is only the poor sort of brav 
ery of tailors and girls. 

Property as an external thing is in connection with other 
externalities or properties. But as the principle of property 
is will, this relation of property to property is that of will to 
will. As proprietor my will enters a circle of common will. 
Thus property becomes mediated by this relation to other 
wills. It is no longer merely a matter of my own subjective 
will in relation to an external thing. This is the sphere of 
Contract. In property the relation is that of a single will, in 
contract it is that of several wills, of a common, though not of 
the universal, will of an ethical community. 




PROPERTY, even as an external form of existence, is merely 
a thing. As property, the thing has been permeated by hu 
man will. In contract, we have the process which represents 
and resolves the contradiction that I am and remain inde 
pendent exclusive proprietor, so far as I, in a will identical 
with the other will, cease to be proprietor. 


I can alienate property not only as an external thing, but 
it also belongs to its very concept that I dispose of it as 
property, in order that my will stand over against me as 
some definite objective affair. But my will, as thus parted 
with, is another will. This process, accordingly, wherein that 
necessity of the concept is real, is the unity of different wills, 
in which their differences and peculiarities are annulled. 
But in this identity of will there is, at this stage, implied 
that each will, as not identical with the other, is and remains 
explicitly particular will. 


As both of the contracting parties are related to each 
other as independent persons, we have 

(a) Contract proceeding from the arbitrary choice of the 

(/?) The common will expressed in the contract is only 
common and not a genuine universal. 

(y) The subject matter of contract is only a particular 
external thing, as only such can be relinquished at the 
arbitrary choice of the individual. 


[Hegel stops here to declaim against the subsumption of 
marriage under the concept of contract. He says that such 
a reference of marriage as was made by Kant should be 
stigmatized as scandalous. Just as little can the nature of 
the State be treated as that of a contract of all citizens with 
each other or with their rulers. It is rather the natural and 
universal heritage into which men are born, it is far more 
truly a universal will than the common will that appears in 
contract. Like the family, it exists not by contract but by 
the grace of God, springing from the ideal nature of man as 
seen by the Divine Idea. Into both of these ethical spheres 
we all are born without making any contract in regard to 
them. We can neither enter nor leave the State at will. It 
is the universal will in which we exist. It is the rational 
destiny of man to live in the State. 

Hegel further maintains the contract sphere to be a 
more concrete phase of right than that of property, when 
considered as based simply upon the relation of one s own 
individual will to things. Property held by contract, by 
common consent, is much more real and secure. It is not 
till what I have put my will into is recognized and allowed 
by other wills to be mine, that it can be held as property. 
In real contract as distinguished from formal contract, each 
one, through a common will, gives up, and at the same time 
retains and obtains possessions. Thus after contract, each 
one of the contracting parties, after having severally given 
up pieces of property, emerges with possession yet of the 
Talue of what they parted with. Hence, he maintains, a 
laesio enormis cancels the obligation of a contract. 

Contract is given definite form through stipulation. For 
malities are necessary for the conversion of subjectivity into 
objectivity. Though the tendency may be for them to grow 
simpler, we shall always need some kind of formalities, as 
the speech for uttering or making outward and visible the 
thoughts and intents of men in mutual relations. Stipula- 

WRONG. 9 1 

tion applies only to what is of substantial value. A contract 
is more than a promise. A promise is guaranteed only by 
a capricious subjective will which promises and may then 
refuse to fulfil its promise. But the stipulation in a contract, 
is a guard against such capricious willing. On the other 
hand contract is an affair of legal rather than of moral right. 
The secret intentions, the moral disposition in the contract 
ing parties are not taken into consideration at this stage. 
Contract has to do with legal rather than with moral rights. 
The common will of the several particular persons in 
contract, is still far from being the universal will as Idea. 
It is still limited and contingent. Hence it is more than 
liable to conflict with true, universal will. Such collision 
constitutes Wrong (das Unrecht}.] 



POTENTIAL right comes, through contract, to have posi 
tive form. Its inner universality thus takes the form 
of something held in common by caprice and by par 
ticular will. This may be termed the phenomenal appear 
ance of right. Here the right and its essential determinate 
being (the particular will) accidentally agree. This phe 
nomenal appearance of rights is continued, as a semblance, in 
Wrong. In wrong we have the opposition between implicit 
rights and the particular will through which they come to be 
any particular sort of rights. The truth of this semblance, 
however, is that such manifestation of will is naught and 
that the right reconstructs itself through the negation of 
this negation of itself. Through this negation of the wrong, 
the right returns to itself and characterizes itself as some- 


thing real and valid, whereas it was primarily only some 
thing potential and immediate. 

Supplementary. Universal will, when essentially deter 
mined by particular will, is in a relation with an unessential, 
a relation of essence to its appearance, which can never 
adequately represent it. In wrong we have the semblance 
of the right. Semblance is inadequate character of exist 
ence, inadequate to the essence, and, though it asserts its 
independent validity, it vanishes through the energizing of 
the essence against it. The right, in thus manifesting the 
unreality of the semblance, receives the definite character of 
that which is firm and valid. Right thus becomes actual. 
For Actuality is that which energizes and maintains itself 
even in and through its opponent. 


Right (which, as a particular and consequently a vary 
ing thing, in relation to its own implicit universality and 
simplicity, receives the form of a semblance), is such a 
semblance partly in and of itself ; partly it becomes a 
semblance through the subject or doer as a semblance, 
and partly it is posited as absolutely naught, /. <?., Uninten 
tional or Civil Wrong, Fraud and Crime. 

Supplementary. - . . . The difference between fraud 
and crime is that the former still respects the form of right 
while the latter does not. 

A. Unintentional Wrong. 

Occupancy and contract in all their special forms, being 
primarily different manifestations and consequences of my 
will as such, are, in respect to the recognition of others, 
legal claims, because the will is implicitly universal. It is 

WRONG. 93 

only as concerns their variety and their external manifesta 
tion towards each other, that the one and same thing can 
belong only to different persons, each of whom considers 
the thing to belong to him, from some particular legal 
reason. Thus collisions of legal rights arise. 


Such a collision, in which the thing is claimed for a par 
ticular legal reason, and which constitutes the sphere of 
civil lawsuits, contains the acknowledgment of right as uni 
versal and decisive. Thus all parties hold that the thing 
should belong to the one who has the legal right to it. 
The contest is only in regard to the subsumption of the 
thing under the property of the one or of the other. This 
is a merely negative judgment, in which only the particular 
as to what is mine or thine is negated. 


Supplementary. What is implicitly right has a definite 
ground, and my wrong which I deem to be right I also 
defend on some definite ground. It is the nature of the 
finite and particular to give room to contingencies. Conse 
quently collisions must take place here, for we are here on 
the stage of the finite. The first form of wrong (the 
unintentional) negates only the particular will, while the 
general right is respected. Hence, it is the slightest form 
of wrong. When I say that a rose is not red, I still 
acknowledge that it has color. I do not deny the species, 
but only deny the particular color, red. Just so is right 
here recognized. Each one wants the right, and desires 
only what is right. The wrong consists only in each person 
holding for right what he wishes. 


B. Fraud. 



Supplementary. In fraud, the second stage of wrong, 
the particular will is respected, but not the universal right. 
In fraud, the particular will is not injured, because the 
person deceived is made to believe that he is being fairly 
treated. That which constitutes fraud is the demanding 
as one s right that which is only a subjective and simulated 


In contract, I acquire property for the sake of some 
particular quality of the thing, and at the same time in 
accordance with its inner universality, partly according to 
its value, partly as out of the property of another person. 
Through the arbitrariness of the vendor a false semblance 
can be produced in my mind so that the contract is formally 
right, while it really lacks the implicit universality of the 



Supplementary. There is no punishment prescribed for 
unintentional or civil wrong, for in this there is no evil 
intentions against the right as such. 

Punishment, however, comes with fraud, for here it is 
that right, as such, is injured. 

C. Violence and Crime. 

My will being projected into an external thing is thereby 
just so far seized and placed under necessity. My will can 

WRONG. 95 

thus partly suffer violence in general, partly violence can be 
done to it by my being forced to do something or to make 
sacrifice as the condition of keeping my property or life. 
That is, my will can be coerced. 

Supplementary. Wrong proper is crime where neither 
the right, as such, nor as it appears to me is respected, where 
consequently both the subjective and objective sides are 


As a living creature man can, indeed, be coerced, that is, 
his physical and otherwise external side can be brought 
under the power of others, but the free-will as such cannot 
be coerced except in so far as it fail to withdraw itself out 
of the externality to which it has bonded itself in property. 
Only he can be coerced who allows himself to be coerced. 


Violence must be annulled by violence. This is involved 
in the concept of violence, as being self-destructive. It is 
therefore not only conditionally legal, but morally necessary 
a second coercion which is the abrogation of the first 

Violation of a contract by the failure to comply with the 
stipulation, or with the legal duties towards family or state, 
is a first coercion, or at least violence, so far as I take away 
a property which belongs to another, or fail to give him his 
just dues. Pedagogical coercion and coercion used against 
savagery and barbarianism do not at first seem to be the 
negation of a prior violence. But the merely natural will is 
itself implicit violence against the inherent Idea of freedom, 
which is to be protected and enforced against such wild 
will. Either there is already an existing ethical condition 
in family or state, against which all such barbarian natural 
ness is violence or there is a mere state of nature, a state of 


violence in general. In this way the Idea, in opposition 
to this condition, brings about despotism. 

Supplementary, There can no longer be heroes in the 
State. These appear only in rude and primitive conditions. 
The purpose of such is a legal, necessary and political one, 
and this purpose they accomplish as their own private 
affair. The heroes who founded states, introduced marriage 
and agriculture, have, indeed, not done so as a recognized 
right, and these institutions still appear as matters of their 
own capricious choice. Still, in reference to the higher 
right of the Idea against barbarianism, this coercion by 
heroes is a legal one, for but little can be accomplished 
against savage violence by mere kindness. 


Abstract right is a right of compulsion, because the wrong 
against it is a force against the determinate being of my 
freedom in an external thing. . . . 

Supplementary. Here we may note the difference of the 
moral from the legal. In the moral, in the reflexion into 
self, there are two elements, first, the good is my aim, and 
I must determine myself in. accordance with this Idea. My 
resolution embraces the determinate being of the good, and 
I actualize it in myself. But this is entirely internal. Hence 
there can be no compulsion against this form of right. The 
laws of a State, consequently, cannot wish to extend over the 
disposition of its people. For in the moral, the person is 
for himself, and compulsion would here be without sense. 


The first compulsion exercised by the free person, as vio 
lence, which violates the very character of freedom in its 
concrete sense, that is, violates right as right this is 
crime . . . which negates the very capacity of right. . . 

WRONG. 97 

Perjury, high treason, counterfeiting, forging notes are the 
subject-matter of Penal Law. . . . 


Supplementary. We cannot decide in just what way each 
and every crime is to be punished merely by abstract reason, 
but this must be left to positive laws. The estimation of 
crime grows milder with the progress of culture. To-day 
crime is much less severely punished than a hundred years 
ago. It is, however, the relation between crime and punish 
ment that has changed. 


Violation of right as such is, indeed, a positive external 
affair, though naught in itself. The making its nullity mani 
fest is the same as the nullification of that violation in its 
own external form. This brings out the actuality of right, 
its form of necessity as mediated by the destruction of its 

Supplementary. A crime changes the form of existence of 
that which it violates. This changed form is the opposite of 
itself and hence null. Its nullity consists in its abrogation 
of the right as right. The right as absolute is indestructible. 
Therefore this external manifestation of the crime is itself 
null, and this nullity is the very nature of the effect of the 
crime. But what is null must manifest itself as violable. 
The criminal act is not a prior, definite affair to which pun 
ishment is a secondary and negative thing. But the crime 
itself is the negative, so that the punishment is only the ne 
gation of this negation. The actual right is now the abroga 
tion of this violation. It thus manifests its validity and pre 
serves itself as a definite form of mediated and necessary 



Violence committed only against external possessions is 
an evil (Uebel}, and consists in damage done to any sort 
of property. The abrogation of the violation through" 
counter-violence is the form of civil satisfaction or repara 
tion, so far as this is possible. . . . 


. . . Crime has definite existence only in the particular 
will of the criminal. Offering violence to this will is the an 
nulling of the crime (which otherwise would maintain its own 
validity) and the restoration of the right. 

[Hegel here makes some strictures upon various theories of 
punishment. Punishment being an evil, some maintain that 
it is folly to commit one evil because of a previous evil (the 
crime). It is this superficial view of crime as a mere evil, 
that is at the basis of those theories which admit punishment 
only so far as it tends to protect society by intimidating or 
reforming criminals. But crime is not a mere evil. It vio 
lates justice itself, and these theories deal rather with extrin 
sic considerations of psychological and sentimental charac 
ter, and miss the essence of the matter, that punishment 
is intrinsically just both to society and to the criminal 
himself. Here the essential point is that crime, not merely 
as an evil, but as a violation of right as such, is to be ne 
gated. We must see the real nature that belongs to crime. 
The chief question is as to the essence of crime ; this is the 
thing to be negated by punishment. Confusion in views of 
punishment cannot be avoided as long as the essence of 
crime is undetermined. 

The true view of punishment treats the criminal as a 
man. The theory of mere intimidation does not. It rather 
treats him like a dog, whom we may deter from biting again 
by flourishing a stick at him. It sets aside both the con- 

WRONG. 99 

sideration of the criminal s free-will and the nature of 
justice, whereas the true theory honors the man in the 
criminal in manifesting and vindicating the absoluteness of 


The injury done the criminal is not only just, per se, but 
also as being the implicit will of the criminal a definite 
form of his own freedom. In other words his punishment is 
his right. Punishment is really a right to the criminal him 
self. That is, it is really contained as an element in his 
definitely acting will. For his action, being that of a 
rational being, implies that it is something universal and 
thus legislative. Thus he implicitly recognizes his rational 
action as giving the law in accordance with which his own 
right can be determined. 

Beccaria denies to the State the right of the death penalty 
on the ground that it cannot be presupposed that the Social 
Compact contained the consent of individuals to their own 
death. But really the criminal does give his consent to it by 
his very deed. The nature of the crime, as well as the 
criminal s own will, demands that the violation should be 
abrogated. But Beccaria s theory did some good in mini 
mizing the death-penalty, limiting it to crimes inherently 
worthy of it. ... 

102. (( ^j, 

The abrogation of crime in this sphere of abstract right, 
(that is of right not yet mediated by ethical relations) takes 
primarily the form of revenge, which is justified as to its 
substance in so far as it is retaliation. But as to the form 
of such punishment, revenge is the deed of a mere subjective 
arbitrary will. Such a will, we have seen, has the power to 
place its own infinite law upon every sort of accomplished 
violation. Hence its justice is capricious. As regards 
other persons, it never passes beyond the scope of the 


arbitrary will of the individual avenger. Thus revenge is 
only a new violation. Thus revenge provokes revenge ad 
infinitum, and family feuds are transmitted from generation 
to generation. 

Supplementary. In a state of society where there are 
neither judges nor law, punishment always takes the form 
of revenge, and this remains defective in so far as it is the 
deed of a subjective will and, consequently, not in accordance 
with the real substance of the case. Judges are also per 
sons, but they represent the universal will of the law, and it 
is not their intention to put anything into the punishment 
which is not in accordance with the nature of the case. . . . 
Among uncivilized peoples revenge is everlasting, as among 
the Arabians, where it can only be suppressed by a higher 
power or by the impossibility of indulging in it. Indeed we, 
to-day, still have a remnant of revenge, inasmuch as it is left 
to the discretion of individuals to bring violations before the 
tribunal or not. 


The demand for the solution of this contradiction, which 
exists here as to the kind and manner of the abrogation of 
wrong, is the demand for a justice free from subjective 
interests and form, as well as from the capriciousness of 
mere power, that is, for a justice which is not merely an 
avenging but a punishing justice. This implies primarily 
the demand for a particular subjective will, which, however, 
wills the universal as such. But this is the very concept of 
morality (Moralitai). It is not only something demanded, 
but something that has emanated from this very process. 

Transition from Right into Morality. 


Crime and avenging justice represent the development of 
the will into consciousness of the opposition within it of 

WRONG. 10 1 

the implicitly universal with the actually partial and special 
elements. They also lead to the stage in which the will, 
annulling this opposition, turns back into itself, being there 
by developed and actualized. The right is thus preserved 
and its universal nature maintained, as against particular 
external forms. In negating its own particular, and there 
fore negative form, it realizes itself more fully. It becomes 
independent, its negative activity being but a form of its 
own self-characterization. 

In the sphere of abstract right will has been defined as 
abstract personality, as opposed to things and to other 
persons. It has now its own personality as its only object. 
This indefinite explicit subjectivity constitutes the prin 
ciple of the moral (moralischen) standpoint. 

In property we find the specific character of the will to re 
side in the abstract meum, that is, in an external thing. In 
contract the property of the single will is mediated by the 
common will of several persons. In wrong we see the con 
tingency of this common will being made manifest, while in 
the moral standpoint all contingency is potentially overcome. 
This is the sphere of reflective thought, the internal forum of 
conscience. All contingency is reflected back into the implicit 
identity of the will with itself, which constitutes its true 

Truth demands the veritable existence of the concept and 
the correspondence of its content with this its true form. In 
rights, the will has its existence in an external thing. The 
next demand of the concept of the will is that it have it 
internally, within itself. It must be self-reflected and have 
itself as its object. This affirmative relation to itself can 
only be attained through the annulment of its immediacy. 
This is accomplished in the punishment of crime, leading 
through its own negation of its own negation to affirmation 
to Morality (Moralitai). 




THE moral standpoint is that of the will in so far as it is 
infinite, not merely in an abstract and potential form, but 
as actually thus infinite for itself. This reflexion of the 
will into itself and its independent identity, as opposed to 
merely implicit being, and the immediacy and the self- 
developing determinations in this latter, constitutes the 
person a subject* 


Since subjectivity now constitutes the characteristic of 
the concept, and is different from the concept in the form of 
implicitly existent will, and, indeed, as subjectivity is at 
the same time the will of the subject as an independent 
individual which still contains the element of immediacy, 
it constitutes the determinate being of the concept. Thus 
subjectivity gives a higher basis for freedom. In reference 
to the Idea, the subjectivity of the will forms the side of 
existence, its phase of reality. Freedom, or the potential 
will, can actually exist only in subjective will. 

This second sphere, that of morality, represents, therefore, 
on the whole the real side of the concept of freedom ; and 
the process in this sphere is that of annulling the will which 
is at first existing only for self, and which is immediately 
only implicitly identical with the potentially existing univer 
sal will, according to that difference in which it becomes 
profoundly self-involved. The process also includes that 
of positing the will existing for itself, as identical with the 

1 Cf. p. 73, foot-note. 


potentially existing will. This process is accordingly the 
elaboration of this present basis of freedom (of that sub 
jectivity which is at first abstract, that is to say, distin 
guished from the concept), to equality with the concept, which 
thereby becomes capable of receiving for the Idea its true 
realization. In this process the subjective will determines 
itself thereby as truly objective and concrete. 

Supplementary. IK treating of strict formal right, we 
were not concerned with the question as to one s principle 
or intention. This question concerning the self-determina 
tion and motive (Triebfeder) of the will, as well as concern 
ing design, enters only here with the moral. 

A man desires to be judged according to his own self- 
determination ; he is, in this respect, free, whatever the 
external conditions may be. One cannot encroach upon 
this conviction of men ; no violence can be done to it, and 
the moral will is therefore inaccessible. Man s worth is 
estimated according to his inner action, and hence, the 
moral standpoint is that of independent freedom. 


The self-determination of the will is at the same time a 
phase of its concept, and subjectivity is not only the side of 
its determinate being, but it is its own determination. The 
independent free-will, defined as subjective, at first as 
concept, has, itself, determined being in order to exist as 
Idea. The moral standpoint is therefore, as to its form, the 
right of the subjective will. According to this right, the 
will recognizes, and is, something only in so far as the right 
is its own. The will is in this as a subjective thing to 

itself. . . . 

Supplementary. The whole determination of the will is 
again a totality which as subjectivity must also have objec 
tivity. Freedom can realize itself only in the subject, for 
the subject is the true material for this realization. But this 


determinate being of the will, which we called subjectivity, 
is different from the absolutely independent will. The will, 
in order to become such independent will, must free itself 
from this other, from the one-sidedness of mere subjectivity. 
Immorality it is the distinct interest of men which comes in 
question, and this is just the high value of the same, that 
man knows himself as absolute and that he determines him 
self. The uncultured man allows himself to be imposed 
upon by mere brute force and natural laws. Children like 
wise have no moral will, but permit themselves to be directed 
by their parents. But the cultured self-developing man de 
sires that he himself be in everything which he does. 


The subjective will, as immediately for itself and dis 
tinguished from the potential will, is hence abstract, limited 
and formal. But subjectivity is not only formal, but, as the 
infinite self-determination of the will, it constitutes the for 
mality of the same. As this, in its first appearance as indi 
vidual will, is not yet posited as identical with the concept of 
the will, we find that the moral standpoint is that of relation, 
of obligation or requirement. And inasmuch as the element 
of difference in subjectivity contains just as well determina 
tion opposed to objectivity in the form of determinate being, 
so the standpoint of consciousness is here also attained or 
in general, the standpoint of difference, finiteness and phe- 
nomenality (Erscheinung) of will. 

The moral is primarily not yet determined as the opposite 
of the immoral, as right is not immediately the opposite 
of wrong ; but it is the universal standpoint of the moral as 
well as of the immoral which is based upon the subjectivity 
of the will. 

Supplementary. Self-determination in morality is to be 
conceived of as the pure restless activity which has not yet 
attained any definite existence. It is first in the ethical 


(Sittlicheri) that the will is identical with the concept of the 
will and has only this latter as its content. In the moral, the 
will is still related to that which is potential. It is therefore 
the standpoint of difference, and the process of this stand 
point is the identification of the subjective will with the 
concept of the latter. The ought, which is the distinguishing 
element of morality, does not however attain to actual ex 
istence, except in concrete social relations of men. This 
ought to which the subjective will is related is a double 
thing. It is one time the substantial being of the concept, 
and again the externally existing. Even if the good were 
posited in the subjective will, it would not yet be thereby 

Resume of 109- 113. 

The formal character of the moral standpoint passes from 
the opposition between the subjective and the objective into 
the simple identity of the will with itself in this opposition. 
Here we have the content of the will, present in both ele 
ments and indifferent as to form as regards these differences. 
This is what we know as the Aim (der Zweck). 

But on the moral standpoint, this identity of content has 
further characteristics 

(a) The content is so determined as mine that it contains 
explicitly my very subjectivity, both as my inner aim and as 
the external objectivity which it may have received. 

(b) Let the content have some particular form from any 
source, it still must be conformable to the implicit will. But 
as this will is still formal, this conformity is only a demand 
and contains the possibility of being non-conformity. 

(c) Inasmuch as I attain my subjectivity in the accomplish 
ment of my aim, I thus annul my immediate undeveloped 
subjectivity. But this external subjectivity is the will of 
others ( 73). Hence the accomplishment of my aim im 
plies the identity of my will with that of others. The utter- 


ance of thje subjective or moral will is found in action. Such 
action implies that I know it as mine, in essential relation to 
the concept (as obligatory) and to the will of others. Thus 
a moral action is distinguished from a legal one. 

The right of moral will has three sides: 

(A) The abstract or formal right of action, in such a way 
that the content of the action, carried out into immediate 
determinate existence, be mine and represent the purpose of 
my subjective will. 

(2?) The special character of the action is its inner con 
tent (a) as it is for me, whose universal character is deter 
mined by the worth of the action and what it avails for me 
_ that is inner intention (/?) its content as the special aim 
of my particular subjective being, that is, individual well-being. 

(C) This inner content in its universality, as elevated 
into absolute, existing objectivity, is the absolute aim of 
will as will that is the Good. This is in the sphere of 
the reflexion with the antithesis of subjective universality, 
partly of evil, and partly of conscience. 

Supplementary. In order to be moral, every action must 
primarily harmonize with my purpose, for the right of the 
moral will consists in recognizing in any action only that 
which was internally designed. Purpose thus makes the 
formal demand that the objective will be also the internal thing 
willed by me. In the second phase, that of inner intention, 
the question is concerning the relative worth of the action 
in reference to myself. The third phase concerns not only 
the relative but the absolute worth of the action, that is, the 
Good. The first breach of the action is between something 
proposed, and some definite accomplished affair. Then 
follows the breach between that which is external as uni 
versal will and the inner particular character which I give 
it. Thirdly we have the demand that the intention have 



universal validity. The Good is intention elevated to the 
concept of the will. 

Purpose and Culpability. 


THE limitation of the subjective will in external action 
arises from the fact that in all such action there is the pre 
supposition of an external object and its manifold environ 
ment. A deed implies the working of a change in this 
external realm, and the will is culpable in so far as the 
change thus wrought can be called mine, as being that pro 
posed by me. . . . 

Supplementary. What was in my purpose can be imputed 
to me. It is with this proposed deed that we are chiefly 
concerned when dealing with crime. But in culpability 
(Schuld) there is the merely external judgment as to whether 
I have done a certain thing or not. Culpability does not 
primarily imply the quality of imputability. 


In proposing to work a change in the given external 
realm, the self-acting will has a general idea of the circum 
stances. But as these circumstances limit it, the objective 
phenomenon is accidental and may contain something quite 
other than one s general idea of it. The subjective will 
claims as its right, that, in any of its deeds, it recognize as 
its own and be held responsible for only what it proposed 
to do. The deed can only be imputed to the will, and for 
this the will demands the right of knowledge. 



The action, passing from the internal will into an external 
realm where external necessity binds all together, is followed 
by many consequences not calculated upon. In one way, 
the consequences properly belong to the action, as being 
what was aimed at. But at the same time the deed passes 
over into the dominion of external powers which add to it 
many foreign consequences. It cannot reckon all the con 
sequences as its own, as being aimed at by itself and so it 
disclaims responsibility for all consequences not contained 
in its original design. 

It is difficult, however, to distinguish between the accidental 
and the necessary or proper consequences of one s own ac 
tion, for the inner purpose or plan is nothing, for others at 
least, till it enters the objective realm, and, once there, inex 
tricable complication bids defiance to perfectly clear de- 
markation between the two sorts of consequences. The 
principle is sometimes announced that in acting we may de 
spise consequences. On the other hand it is proclaimed 
that actions are to be judged solely by their consequences. 
Both of these principles are abstract and untrue. . . . 

Supplementary. This disclaiming responsibility for all 
consequences not proposed soon leads to the next phase 
that of Intention. But there are consequences beyond the 
known and proposed external effects. Although my deed is 
some one particular thing, it yet contains necessary and uni 
versal qualities. I cannot forsee all external effects of a 
proposed action, but I must know the universal element im 
plicit in every deed. The transition -from Purpose to Intention 
consists in the recognition that I ought to know the universal 
element in every action so as to will it, to intend it. 



Intention and Well-being. 


THE external form of an act is a manifold context of 
countless particularities. The act may be considered in such 
a way that at first cognizance is taken of only one of these 
many particularities. But the truth of the individual is the 
universal, the real character of the act as such is not 
merely an isolated external thing, but it is rather a uni 
versal embracing the whole of a manifold context. Purpose, 
proceeding from a thinking being, contains not only the indi 
vidual, but also essentially the universal side. Such purpose 
we call Intejition. 

Intention is really an abstraction. The attempt at justifi 
cation through one s intention is really the isolating of a 
single aspect of the deed, which is maintained as the sub 
jective essence of the deed. But the universal quality of 
the deed is also manifested in its accomplishment. Incendi 
arism is the actual result of the intention to set fire to only 
a little pile of kindling wood. Murder is the result of 
cutting out a pound of flesh from a living body. That is, 
one cannot really intend an isolated single side of an action. 
... In acting a man has to do with external consequences. 
An old proverb says : " A stone flung from the hand is the 
very devil." A man has to face the bad as well as good 
consequences of all his deeds. These are really definite 
qualities of his own will. 


The right of Intention is that the universal quality of the 
act be not only implicit, but be fully known to the one 
doing the act, as having been the real purpose of his will. 


On the other hand the right, as regards the external form of 
the act, is the right of its being considered as something 
known and willed by a rational being. 

This right to such insight implies the slight or total lack 
of responsibility of children, the feeble-minded and insane 
for their actions. But as all such actions have numerous 
contingent effects, we can say that their subjective quality 
has that lack of character, as regards the power and 
strength of self-consciousness and thoughtfulness. Only 
such particular conditions annul the character of thought 
and freedom of will, and lead us to consider these actions 
not according to the worth which they would have as pro 
ceeding from a rational will. 


The universal quality of an act is its manifold content in 
general, reduced to the simple form of universality. But 
the subjective individual, as contrasted with the objective 
particularity of his deed, has in his aim his own peculiar 
intent, which is the determining soul of the act. The fact 
that this subjective phase is contained and accomplished in 
the act, constitutes the concrete character of subjective 
freedom, the right of the subject to find his satisfaction in 
the act. 

[In a supplementary note Hegel illustrates this right of 
intention. Murder may have been committed. We ask 
whether it was the intent of the doer rather, than an unin 
tentional consequence of some action. It is the motive 
that constitutes primarily what is called the moral element. 
This moral element has the sense of the universal in 
purpose and the particular of the intention. In modern 
times, the chief question concerns the motive of an act, 
while formerly it was merely asked : Is this man honest, 
does he do his duty ? To-day we look at the heart and 


presuppose a breach between the external action and the 
inner subjective motive. The higher moral standpoint, 
however, is that of a harmony between the two sides, so 
that the external side corresponds to and satisfies the 
subjective purpose. The merely objective method of esti 
mating the worth of deeds has its epochs both in the history 
of the world and of individuals.] 


Through the motive, the action has personal subjective 
worth and interest. In reference to this subjective aim, 
the wider effects of the act are reduced to means. But, in 
so far as such an aim is a finite thing, it can in turn be 
reduced to a means to a further design, etc., ad infinitum. 


As regards the content of such aims, we have here 
(a) merely the formal activity that the person s activity 
be limited to what he considers his aim. One wishes to 
work only for his own interests, or for what should be his 
interests. (/3) Such abstract formal freedom has, however, 
further definite content only in the natural phases of its 
subjective determinate being needs, inclinations, passions, 
opinions, fancies, etc. The satisfaction of such a content is 
Well-being, in particular and in general. This is the sphere 
of finite aims. 

[In a supplementary note Hegel asks whether a man has 
the right to choose such un-free finite aims, and gives an 
affirmative answer. It is not a mere accident, but according 
to reason, that man is a living being, and, so far, he has a 
right to make his wants his aim. There is nothing degrad 
ing in being such a living creature, and there is also no 
higher form in which he can manifest his spirituality.] 



. . . The series of man s deeds constitutes the very 
man. If this series of actions be worthless, so also is the 
subjectivity of his will worthless. If on the contrary the 
series of deeds be substantial, so also is the inner will of 
the individual substantial. 

This right of subjective freedom constitutes the turning 
point between antiquity and modern times. This right in 
all its infinitude is pronounced, and raised into being a 
universal principle, by Christianity. Subordinate elements 
of this principle are love, Romanticism, the eternal bliss of 
the individual ; further, morality and conscience ; further, 
the principles of civil order, and the forms in the history of 
art, science and philosophy. But abstract reflexion may so 
emphasize this element in opposition to the universal, as to 
lead to a view of morality that makes it to consist in a 
perpetual hostile conflict with one s own satisfaction the 
demand " to do withfaversion what duty commands." 

Such an abstract view gives rise to the "psychological 
view " of history, which seeks to belittle all great deeds and 
heroes by reducing the primary intentions which found their 
satisfaction in substantial activity, to mere morbid cravings 
for glory and renown, as the real motives of the actions. . . 
This is the view of " psychological valets to whom no men 
are heroes because they themselves are only valets." 


The subjective, in connection with the particular content 
of well-being, stands (as being inwardly reflected, as some 
thing infinite) at the same time in relation to the universal, 
i.e., to the potentially existing will. This phase, primarily 
posited in the form of particularity, is the well-being of others 
also yes even, in a perfect yet empty definition, the welfare 
of all. Thus the essential aim and right of subjectivity is 


really the welfare of many other persons. But inasmuch as 
such absolute universality, as distinguished from such par 
ticular content, has not yet been denned further than as 
being the right, these particular aims distinguished from uni 
versal aims may or may not be consonant with them. 


My own right, as well as that of others, is a right only in 
so far as I am a free being. Hence it cannot main tain itself 
in opposition to this, its substantial foundation. Further, 
any plan for the welfare of myself or of others (which we 
call moral design) cannot justify a wrong deed. 

Supplementary. Even life is not a necessity when in con 
flict with the higher freedom. The famous answer given to 
a libeller who excused himself by saying, il faut done que je 
vive, was/> rien vois pas la necessite. When St. Crispen stole 
leather to make shoes for the poor, his action may be called 
moral, and yet it was unlawful and therefore unsound. 


We may embrace under the term life, as personal exist 
ence, the whole of the interests of the natural will. Life, 
in cases of extreme danger or in collision with the legal 
property of others, has a claim to the right of necessity (not 
in equity but as a right). It has such claim inasmuch as on 
the one hand we have the absolute violation of the total 
personality and, consequently, the total lack of right as 
concerns the individual, while on the other hand we have 
only the violation of a limited form of freedom. At the 
same time, however, the right as such is acknowledged as 
well as the claim to right of the one injured in this special 

Out of this right of necessity arises the beneficium com- 
petentiae ; that to a debtor must be left his tools, farming im- 


plements, clothing in a word, as much of his property as 
is absolutely necessary for his maintenance according to his 
condition of life. 

Supplementary. Life has its claims as against any merely 
abstract right. Hence stealing a loaf of bread to preserve 
one s life is of course an unlawful act, but cannot be treated 
as common theft. If one, in immediate danger of losing 
his life, should not be permitted to preserve his life at all 
hazards, he would be void of all rights. The loss of life 
implies the negation of the totality of his freedom. 


This right of necessity reveals to us the finitude and con 
sequently the contingency of right under the form of well- 
being. This form we see to be that of the abstract determi 
nation of freedom, without its being the existence of the 
particular person. It is that of the particular will without 
the universality of the right. Its onesidedness and ideality 
(/. e., its being reduced from independence to the form of 
being a constituent element in a larger whole) is accordingly 
posited, as it has in itself been already determined in the 
concept. Right has formerly characterized its determinate 
being as the particular will ; and subjectivity in its inclusive 
particularity is itself the determinate being of freedom, as 
it is potentially that of infinite relation of the will to itself, 
the universality of freedom. Both phases in them thus 
unified to their truth, to their identity (though at first only 
in relative relation to each other) constitute the Good as the 
perfected, the independently characterized universal, and 
Conscience as (in itself knowing and in itself determining of 
content) infinite subjectivity. 



The Good and Conscience. 


The Good is the Idea, as the unity of the concept of the 
will and of the particular will. It is realized freedom, the 
absolute final purpose of the world. In this unity, abstract 
right, as well as well-being, and the subjectivity of knowledge 
and the contingency of external determinite being are an 
nulled as independent in themselves, but at the same time 
are contained and preserved in it as to their essence. 

Supplementary. Each phase is properly the Idea. But 
the earlier phases contain the Idea only in abstract form. 
Thus, for example, the Ego as personality is already the 
Idea, but in its most abstract form. Hence the Good is the 
more fully determined Idea, the unity of the concept of the 
will and of the particular will. It is not an abstract legal 
thing, but it is full of content. And it is this content which 
constitutes right as well as well-being. 


In this Idea, well-being has no actual validity, as the deter 
minate being of a particular individual will, but only as 
universal well-being and, essentially, as universal in itself, /. e., 
according to the concept of freedom. Well-being is not good 
when devoid of right, nor is the right good when devoid of 
well-being. (Fiat justitia must not have as its consequence 
pereat mundus.) Consequently, the Good (as the necessity 
of actuality through the particular will and at the same time 
as its substance) has absolute right against the abstract 
right of property and any particular ends of well-being. 
Each of these phases, so far as distinguished from the 
good, has validity only in so far as it is in accordance with 
the Good and subordinate to it. 



Thus the Good is the absolutely essential for the subjective 
will, which has worth and dignity only in so far as, in its 
insight and intent, it corresponds with the good. So far as 
the good is, at this stage, still the abstract Idea of the good, 
the subjective will has not yet been taken up into it and 
made conformable to it. Hence subjective will is in a 
relation to the good, inasmuch as the good is its substantial 
content. It is obligated to make the good its purpose and 
accomplish it. On the other hand the good is only actual 
ized through the mediation of the subjective will. 

Supplementary. The will is not absolutely good, but can 
only become the good that it is potentially, through its own 
labor. So, too, the good without the subjective element is 
only an abstraction. The development of the Good con 
tains three stages: (i) The good for me the willing one, is 
particular will and I know it as such. (2) We define the 
Good and develop its particular characteristics. (3) We 
have the act of pointing out definitely what is the good as 
such, the particularity of the good as infinite self-dependent 
subjectivity. This internal act of specifying just what is 
good is the Conscience. 


It is the right of the subjective will that whatever it is to 
recognize as binding be apprehended by it as good. This 
right involves, further, that a person be held responsible for 
any external action, only so far as he knows its external 
value, whether it be right or wrong, good or bad, lawful or 

[Hegel further maintains, that as the good is only the truth 
of the will, it is only possible in thought and through 
thought. Hence all agnosticism is fatal to morality. It is 
indeed the highest right of the subject to recognize nothing 


as obligatory which he, as a rational being, does not see to 
be such. But this subjective standpoint neglects the right 
of objective rationality. The insight of subjective reason is 
liable to be a mere fancy or an error. It is a proper part of 
one s subjective culture, that he attain to this right of insight. 
I must have the conviction of a duty on good grounds, and 
must recognize it to be essentially my duty. . . . This 
right of insight into the very nature of good differs from the 
right of 0#/"-sight, of knowledge as to the external conse 
quence of an act. The first has to do only with the inward 
peace of a quiet conscience. The latter concerns the con 
formity of intention with external consequences. Hence it 
is that in the state, legal culpability cannot be restricted to 
the dictates of private conscience as to what is right or 
wrong. Here the citizen can only claim the right to have 
the laws so explicitly promulgated that he may know what 
is legal and illegal. Private conscience may be allowed to 
have its own convictions so long as these do not go forth 
in opposition to the existing ethical conditions of society. 
The law indeed judges children and the feeble-minded quite 
leniently. But it is the nature of man as man to be rational 
to will the universal, and he must be held responsible for 
doing so. The incendiary is not only guilty of lighting a 
bundle of straw, but of burning down the house. He is 
responsible not only for the proposed external consequences 
of his deed, but also for his inner purpose to commit the 
deed, for his bad will. It is on this standpoint of con 
science that responsibility for its dictates is demanded. . . . 


The good stands in its relation to the subject as his own 
essential will, and hence as his bounden duty. However, 
there is still a distinction between the good and any par 
ticular choice of the subjective will. At this stage the good 
has only the character of abstract universality. That is, it 


has the form of Duty. Hence the maxim, " Duty must be 
done for duty s sake." 

Supplementary. ... It is the merit of the lofty stand 
point of Kant s philosophy to have emphasized the signifi 
cance of duty. 


Every action demands some definite content and aim. 
But abstract duty does not contain such. Consequently the 
question arises, what is duty ? The only reply that can be 
given from this standpoint of duty is, to do right and to care 
for the welfare of one s self and of all his fellows. 


[In this paragraph Hegel maintains that Duty is an abso 
lutely abstract, contentless universal, and hence stigmatizes 
Kant s theory of duty as being an empty formalism, and 
his moral science, as mere talk about duty for duty s sake. 
This standpoint affords no immanent doctrine of particular 
duties. One can only arrive at particular duties by import 
ing something into this empty principle from without. It 
contains no criterion as to whether any particular act is 
a duty or not. In truth, one may say that any and every 
illegal and immoral act might be justified on Kant s maxim. 
It is only so far as the right of property and life are pre 
supposed, that theft and murder contradict the maxim. 
Abstractly considered, however, the maxim does not con 
tain this, but must borrow it from concrete ethical condi 
tions already attained. 1 ] 


The nature of the good being thus abstract and formal, 
causes the other element of the Idea (that of particularity) 

1 Hegel refers to his fuller criticisms of Kant s principle made in his 
Phdnomenologie des Geistes, which are reproduced by Prof. Edward 
Caird in his Critical Philosophy of Kant, Vol. II, pp. 186-188. 


to fall within the sphere of subjectivity. This subjectivity 
is (in its universality turned back into itself) its own abso 
lute certitude of itself ; it is the specifying, the determining, 
the deciding element in a word it is the Conscience. 

Supplementary. We may speak in very lofty terms of 
duty. To do so elevates man and enlarges his heart. But 
such talk becomes tedious when it fails to point out and 
lead to the accomplishment of any single duty. The spirit 
requires some specific form as that to which he is obligated. 
But duty, as used by Kant, is that inner abysmal solitude, 
which excludes all specification. A man on the standpoint 
of mere Conscience is, indeed, freed from all shackles of 
special commands. In one way this is a higher standpoint. 
It is the modern world that first attained to such conscious 
ness. Previous ages have been more sensuous. They 
have had some external positive forms to guide them, either 
of a religious or legal sort. But Conscience knows and 
identifies itself with every thought. What is my own sub 
jective thought, that alone is binding upon me. 


The genuine conscience is that frame of mind (Gesin- 
nung) which wishes for that only which is absolutely good. 
Hence it has well-established principles the current explicit 
virtues and duties. As distinguished from this concrete 
content, the truth, it is only the formal side of the activity 
of the will which, as such, has no particular content. But 
the objective system of these principles and duties, and 
the union of the subjective knowledge with them, is first 
attained on the succeeding standpoint that of Ethicality 
(Sittlichkeit^. On the formal standpoint of morality, con 
science lacks all such objective content. It is merely the 
infinite formal certitude of itself of the subjective indi 


Conscience expresses the absolute right of the subjective 
self-consciousness, to know perfectly just what the right 
and the obligatory are. It can acknowledge nothing but 
that which it knows as absolutely good. Further, it must 
maintain as truly right and obligatory, whatever it thus 
knows and wills. Conscience is the unity of subjective 
knowledge and of the absolute truth. It is a holy of holies, 
to meddle with which would be sacrilegious. But it is only 
the definite content of what is esteemed to be good, which 
can decide whether the conscience of any particular indi 
vidual corresponds to this Idea of the Conscience. Right 
and duty, as the absolutely rational characteristics of the 
will, are neither the particular quality of an individual s 
will, nor a mere sentimental form, but they are universal 
laws and principles. Through these alone it is to be deter 
mined whether one s conscience is true or not. Any appeal 
to only its own arbitrary views, is directly opposed to what 
it professes to be, that is, to the rational and absolutely 
valid modes of conduct. 

Hence the state cannot acknowledge the validity of any 
merely private conscience, any more than science can accept 
merely subjective views. Still the private conscience can 
separate itself from this true content and degrade it to a 
mere form and semblance, by standing upon its own views. 
Hence ambiguity in regard to conscience lies in the pre 
supposed identity of subjective conscience with objective 
good, which renders it sacred. Private conscience, however, 
may claim the validity which belongs only to this absolutely 
rational content. We are now treating of the moral stand 
point as distinguished from the ethical (sittlichen} standpoint. 
We have spoken of the true conscience here only to avoid any 
misunderstanding. Our criticisms of the formal conscience 
do not apply to the true conscience, which belongs to the 
ethical frame of mind treated of in Part Third. We note, 
too, that the religious conscience is not to be treated of here. 



This form of private conscience really dissolves all definite 
forms of right and duty. It is the judge which determines 
its content from within. At the same time it is the power 
which actualizes any conjectured and obligatory good. 

[Hegel says that in epochs when the current forms of right 
and good could not satisfy the better will, philosophers like 
Socrates and the Stoics sought to find within themselves and 
to determine out of their own minds, truer forms of right 
and good. . . . 

Supplementary. We may grant that no current form of 
morality is absolutely true and final. When any current 
form has become insufficient or obsolete, it is the preroga 
tive of subjectivity to evolve another one. In truth every 
existing form of ethicality (concrete social morality) has 
been produced through this subjective activity of the social 
spirit. We may grant this without retracting our criticisms 
upon the formal and formless character of mere subject 
ivity, before it has produced new forms. It is only in times 
when the current codes are empty and spiritless and exist 
as a mere dead letter, that it is right for the individual to 
withdraw to his own inner sanctuary. This was the case of 
Socrates. The same is also more or less true in some 
present conditions of society.] 


The subjective will may thus refuse to acknowledge the 
validity of definite current forms of duty and insist upon 
maintaining its own inner convictions. In so far as it does 
so, it is really the possibility of elevating its own arbitrary 
caprice to supremacy over the true universal, and of actual 
izing this usurpation in actual deed. That is, it is the 
possibility of being morally Evil (pose}. 

Mere private conscience is thus actually upon the very 
threshold of changing into the bad. Both morality and that 


is morally bad, have their common root in that certitude 
of itself which insists upon existing, knowing and choosing 
in an arbitrarily independent way. 

The origin of evil lies in the region of the mysterious, /. e., 
in the speculative nature of freedom. Freedom must neces 
sarily advance beyond the mere natural will, and must put 
itself in internal relation to it. This naturalness of the will 
comes into existence as the contradiction of its very self, 
and as incompatible with itself in this opposition. Thus it 
is this particularity of the will itself that characterizes itself 
as the evil. There is here an opposition of the merely 
natural will to the subjectivity of the will. In this oppo 
sition, the subjective will is only relatively and formally 
independent being, as it can draw its content only from the 
properties of the natural will, from its cravings, instincts, 
inclinations, etc. These latter may be either good or bad. 
But the will having such contingent content, is opposed to 
the universal, to the good. Hence its internality is really 
evil. Thus man is bad potentially or by nature, as well as 
through his intellectual advance, though neither mere nature 
nor thought, as such, are in themselves bad. But this side 
of the necessity of evil, absolutely implies that this evil be 
characterized as necessarily that which ought not to be, * . e., 
that it ought to be negated, not that it should not have 
appeared. This constitutes the distinction between the 
irrational beast and man. It must needs be that the offense 
come, but not that man should hold to it, to his own destruc 
tion. . . . The individual subject as such, is therefore abso 
lutely responsible for the guilt of his own evil. 

Supplementary. Man has the possibility of the good, 
that is of willing the universal. But he has also the possi 
bility of evil, that is of identifying some particular form with 
the universal. He is thus good only inasmuch as he has 
the possibility of being bad. Moral good and evil are 
inseparable, through the concept becoming objective, and 


as such having the property of difference. The bad will 
chooses something different from the universal will, while 
the good will chooses what is conformable to its genuine 
concept. . . . But the question of the origin of evil relates 
more strictly to the transition of the positive into the nega 
tive. If God is held as being Himself the absolute Positive 
(Gesetzte) in the creation of the world, there is no possible 
entrance for the negative. It would be an unsatisfactory 
and empty relation to suppose the admission of the negative 
by God. In mythology the origin of evil is not really com 
prehended. The good and bad are not recognized as having 
any connection other than an external one. But this will not 
satisfy thought, which demands to see how the negative is 
rooted in the positive. This solution is contained in the very 
concept, or in its self-developed form of the Idea. The Idea, 
as active, is essentially self-distinguishing, posits its other or 
its opposite out of itself. Thus the bad has its root in the 
self-activity of the will. The will, in concept, is good as 
well as bad. The natural will is potentially this contra 
diction it must distinguish itself from itself in order to be 
developed and internal. The merely natural will is opposed 
to the contents of concrete freedom. The child and the 
savage are thus held to a less degree of responsibility than 
the fully developed and civilized man. 

The merely natural will, in its naive state, is neither good 
nor bad. It is only when it is brought into conscious relation 
to the will as freedom, that it gets the property of being 
that which ought not to be and thus becomes the morally 
bad. The natural will, when still remaining in the educated, 
civilized man, is no longer merely natural will, but is an 
element positively opposed to the good. It is false to say 
that man is without guilt when he once sees that the morally 
evil is a necessary element in the concept of will, for man s 
own choice of his deed is the act of his freedom and he is 
responsible for it. It was in man s getting the knowledge 


of good and evil that he was said to have become like God. 
But this knowledge of good and evil is no merely natural 
necessity. It is rather the freely chosen solution of the 
immanent opposition of good and evil. Both are present, 
and I have the choice between .them. It is thus the nature 
of moral evil that it is the choice of man, but not that he 
be compelled by any natural necessity to choose it. 


Self-consciousness has the wisdom and power to give its 
aims external form. Every such aim must have this posi 
tive side, because purpose implies concrete external action. 
Thus it is nominally for the sake of a duty and a good 
purpose, that self-consciousness is able to maintain an 
action as a good one, both as regards one s self and others, 
though the action be merely the identification of an arbi 
trary subjective aim with the true universal. If one insists 
upon carrying out, under the guise of duty, such a sub 
jective aim so as to affect other people, we have Hypocrisy. 
If it affects only the man himself, we have the very 
acme of mere subjectivity usurping the throne of the 

We call this last and most abstruse form of moral evil the 
highest summit of subjectivity on the moral standpoint. 
Here we find the bad changing into the good and the good 
into the bad, through consciousness knowing and insisting 
upon its own power as absolute. This is the form in which 
we meet with moral evil in our day. Shallow thought, in 
the name of philosophy, has thus distorted a profound 
concept and arrogated the title of the good for the morally 

[Hegel here treats at some length of the current forms of 
this false subjectivity : 

(a) There are three phases in the development of 
hypocrisy : 



(a) The knowledge of the true universal, either in the 
form of the feeling of right and duty, or in the form of 
thorough knowledge of them. 

(/3) The choosing of something particular in opposition to 
this known universal. 

(y) The conscious choice of evil as such. 

These phases represent the acting with a bad conscience, 
rather than hypocrisy as such. It is a weighty question 
whether an action is bad only in so far as it is done with a 
bad conscience. This is very well expressed by Pascal, 
who says : (Les Provinc. 4* lettre). Us seront tous damnes ces 
demi-pecheurs, qui ont quelque amour pour la vertu. Mais 
pour ces francs-pecheurs, pecheurs endurcis, pecheurs sans 
melange, pleins et acheves, Venfer ne les tient pas : Us ont 
trompe le diable a force de s y abandonner. 1 

The subjective right of knowing the moral character of 
one s deed, must not be thought to be in collision with 
absolute objective right, in such a way as to regard them as 
distinct and mutually indifferent to each other. The bad is 
formally the very core of the individual wrong-doer, inas 
much as it is the assertion of absolute egoism. Hence, he 
is guilty of it. Yet man is inherently rational, in his capacity 
for knowing the absolutely universal. It would not be 
treating man in accordance with his high capacity, if we 
should not attribute his evil deed to him as really part of 
his very self. 

1 Pascal refers to Christ s prayer on the cross for the forgiveness of 
his enemies on the ground that " they know not what they do." This 
would have been a superfluous prayer if their ignorance had changed 
the character of their deed so as to make it not to be evil and thus not 
to need forgiveness. He also adduces Aristotle s distinction as to an 
act being OVK eidus or ayvo&v. The former refers to ignorance of 
the external conditions. As to the other he says : " Every bad man is 
ignorant of what is to be done and what is left undone. And it is just 
this defect (a/iaprt a) that makes men unjust and wicked. But such 
ignorance does not make their actions involuntary (and not imputable), 
but only makes them bad." 


(If) But badness from a bad conscience is not yet hypo 
crisy. Hypocrisy is rather the maintaining before others that 
one s bad deed is really good, and the external simulation 
of being good, pious, etc. an artifice of fraud to deceive 
others. The bad man can, moreover, appeal to his general 
goodness and piety as grounds of self- justification for his 
bad action, using them as a cloak for perverting the bad 
into that which is good for himself. 

(V) To this perversion belongs that form known as Proba 
bilism. Probabilism maintains the principle that any action 
is permitted for which any good reason may be found, even 
if this be only the opinion of a learned Doctor, however it 
may differ from the opinion of other Doctors. It, however, 
acknowledges that such an authority gives only probability, 
though it asserts it to be sufficient for quieting the con 
science. It concedes that there may be other reasons just 
as good. It also acknowledges the necessity of some ob 
jective ground for right conduct. The decision as to what 
is good (or bad) is placed upon the many good reasons 
including those authorities. But these are numerous and 
contradictory. Hence it is the arbitrary choice of the indi 
vidual which must ultimately decide the case. This under 
mines all ethicality and religious life. But, because Proba 
bilism does not acknowledge this choice of the individual 
as the ground of decision, it is a form of hypocrisy. 

(d) The next phase is that which maintains that the good 
will consists in merely willing the good; that all which is 
needed to make an action good is that one wills the good 
in general. But the action has a content only as far as it 
is a specific choice. The good, on the other hand, is not 
specific, and thus it is reserved to private choice to give it 
a content. In Probabilism some reverend Father is an 
authority. Here every one has the dignity of being an 
authority, specifying just what is good. But what one calls 
good may be only one side of the concrete case, and thus 


it may be really bad, all things being considered. This is 
the phase of Intention previously considered ( 119). Here 
we have a conflict of qualities of a deed, it being good ac 
cording to the one, and bad according to the other. Hence 
the question arises whether the intention is really good. But 
the individual always intends the good. The particular deed 
intended is still good (it is held), in spite of some of its 
sides being criminal and bad, because it was intended. If 
the individual had intended some one of these bad sides 
instead of the one he did, it would still have been good, 
because intended. 

Theft and murder are really, as deeds, the satisfaction 
of such a will as wills them. Thus they have a positive 
side in the will, and in order to make the deed good it is 
only necessary to intend the gratification of such a will. 
Theft and flight from battle for the sake of one s life or 
that of his family, murderous revenge for one s gratification 
of his feeling of his own rights, killing a man because he 
is bad, all such may be stamped as good deeds because 
of the good intention with which they are done. Thus it 
has even been said that there is no really bad man, as no 
one ever wills the bad for the sake of the bad, but always 
wills something positive, something which satisfies his will, 
something good. Thus we find that all difference between 
good and evil, and all real duties, have disappeared in this 
abstract good. Therefore, to merely will the good, or to 
merely do a deed with good intention, is rather evil. 

Here we may consider the maxim: the end sanctifies the 
means. It might be replied: certainly a holy aim does, but 
an unholy aim does not sanctify the means. If the end is 
holy, the means are also holy. This would be a tautological 
expression, if "means" were used in its strict sense, that 
is, if it be strictly a means. But the real meaning of this 
expression is that even a bad " means," yes, even a crime, 
is permissible or obligatory if it leads to a good end. Thou 


shalt not kill, and yet courts of justice and soldiers have 
not only the right but the duty to kill men. But in these 
cases it is strictly denned as to what kind of men and under 
what circumstance this is a right and a duty. Thou shalt 
preserve thy own life and that of thy family. But even 
this duty is subordinated to a higher end, and thus reduced 
to a means. But what is designated as a crime is not an 
indefinite thing still open to discussion, but has its clearly- 
defined character. The sacred aim which is opposed to the 
criminal means, is nothing more than a private opinion as 
to what is good or better. Finally, we have mere private 
opinion expressly proclaimed as the rule of right and duty. 
(e) That is we have private conviction as to what is right 
made the judge of the ethical (sittliche) nature of an act. 
The good, which a man wills, has no specific content as yet, 
and the principle of private conviction demands that the 
individual subsume an act under the character of that which 
is good for himself. Here even the appearance of any 
ethical objectivity has disappeared. Such a doctrine is 
directly connected with the so-called philosophy which denies 
the knowableness of truth and consequently that of ethical 
laws. As such a philosophy esteems the knowableness of 
truth to be an empty conceit, it must make the merely outward 
appearance of an action the measure of its truth, and con 
sequently place the ethical in the peculiar world-conception 
and private conviction of the individual. Such a degraded 
form of philosophy may seem to be the idle talk of scholas 
tics, but the evil of it is that it gradually makes its way into 
ethical thought and then shows its real baseness. When 
such views as those we have mentioned obtain currency, 
there is no longer either vice or hypocrisy. Everything is 
justified by the intention and by the outward appearance. 1 

1 I do not doubt but that one may be thoroughly convinced. But 
how many men undertake the worst crimes out of just such felt convic 
tions. If this ground were allowed there could be no longer any 


But the possibility of error must sometimes force itself 
upon those holding this principle of private conviction, and 
thus give rise to the demand for an absolute and universal 
law. But law does not act. It is only the real man who acts. 
In measuring the worth of a man the only question is con 
cerning how far he has received the law into his heart and 
mind, how far his conviction has been affected by it. But 
if man s actions are not to be judged according to that law 
it is hard to see what purpose that law serves. Such a law 
is degraded to a mere outer letter, for it is only through my 
conviction that it becomes a law binding me to the obli 
gatory. Such a law may have the authority of God, of the 
State, of millenniums in which it was the bond uniting men 
in all their manifold relations ; and yet against all these 
authorities I oppose the authority of my subjective con 
viction. Such self-conceit appears at first as tremendous, 
and yet this principle of private judgment which we are here 
considering justifies this conceit. Shallow philosophy and 
bad sophistry may lead to such higher inconsequence. And 
if they then admit the possibility of error, and consequently 
of crime, they still seek to reduce it to its minimum. For, 
say they, to err is human. Who has not daily erred concern 
ing more or less important things. And yet even the dis 
tinction between important and unimportant things vanishes, 
when private conviction is considered to be ultimate. The 
admission of the possibility of an error is changed into the 
assertion that a wrong conviction is only an error. This is 
but a step removed from dishonesty. For at one time all 
ethicality and human worth are placed in private conviction, 
thus elevating it to the highest and holiest position. At 
another time private conviction is regarded as merely an 

rational judgment as to good and bad, right and wrong or the noble and 
ignoble. Delusion would have equal right with sound sense. Reason 
would have no right, or validity only the one who doubted would be in 
the truth. I shudder before the consequence of such tolerance, which 
would be exclusively to the advantage of un-reason. FR. A. JACOBI. 


error. In fact my conviction is extremely insignificant. If 
I cannot know anything true, then it is a matter of indiffer 
ence how or what I think, and there remains for my thought 
only that empty good of the abstract understanding. 

Moreover, there results the consequence that others, who 
act according to their convictions, may regard my actions 
(from conviction) as crimes, and that they are quite right in 
doing so. Thus I am cast down from the pinnacle of free 
dom and honor into the condition of slavery and dishonor. 
Thus the principle of private conviction (of others) meets 
me as an avenging judge. 

(/) The highest form of the expression of this subjectivity 
(a term borrowed from Plato, though used in a different 
way) is that of Irony. This is the conviction not only of 
the unreality and vanity of all rights, laws, duties and vir 
tues, but it is the recognition of its own vanity, and, at the 
same time, of itself, as absolute. The ego is all. It has 
become conscious of its own utter emptiness, and yet main 
tains itself as the ultimate and fundamental reality in an 
empty world. The ego which creates, names and destroys 
its own good and evil has become conscious of its own utter 
invalidity and vanity. Such Irony is only possible in a 
period of great culture, when all earnest belief has vanished 
and the vanity of vanities appears as the only reality. Here 
there is no real good acknowledged, either objective or sub 
jective. One s own desires, aims, and good, are recognized 
as equally invalid with current codes of morality, and yet 
they are deliberately maintained as having absolute validity.] 

Transition from Morality to Ethicality (Sittlichkeit*). 


The good is as yet abstract. But, as the concrete sub 
stance of freedom, it demands determinations or qualities in 
general, as well as the principle of freedom, as identical with 
the good. Conscience, which is yet only an abstract principle 


of determination, likewise demands that its determinations 
be given universality and objectivity. We have seen how 
both good and duty, when either of them is raised to inde 
pendent universality, lack that specific definite character 
which they ought to have. But the integration of both the 
good and Conscience, as relatively independent, is potentially 
accomplished in their organic unity. For we have seen sub 
jectivity vanishing into its own emptiness, already posited 
(in the form of pure self-certitude or conscience), as identical 
with the abstract universality of the good. This integration 
of the good and Conscience is the real truth of them both. It 
is their concrete organic unity. This unity is the sphere of 
Ethicality, or the concrete ethical world of social life. 

This transition is more scientifically developed in the 
Logic. We are here concerned with its finite abstract side, 
/. e., with good demanding actualization and with conscience 
demanding the good for its content. But both of these, as 
yet partial phases, are not yet explicitly developed into that 
which they are potentially. This development of both the 
good and of conscience, so that neither lacks the other; this 
integration of both into an organic unity, in which each is 
retained as a member rather than as an independent thing, 
is the realized Idea of the will. In this each one attains its 
true reality. . . . 

We found the first definite characteristic of the determi 
nate being (Dasein) of freedom to be that of Abstract Right. 
This, however, passed through the reflexion of self-conscious 
ness into the form of the good. Here now we have the truth 
of abstract right as well as of both the good and conscience. 
The Ethical (Sittliche) is subjective disposition of mind, but 
only in reference to implicit 1 (an sick) rights. That this 

1 It seems that Hegel s thought requires some other term than im 
plicit (an sick) here. The ethical in general has to do with the explicit. 
Hegel s reference to it here as subjective disposition in reference to 
implicit rights is only made in passing and without further elucidation, 
and is inexplicable. 


Idea is the truth of the concept of freedom, cannot be merely 
an accepted presupposition, but must be demonstrated by 
philosophy. This demonstration is simply that of showing 
how both abstract right and conscience lead back into this 
organic unity as their truth. 

Supplementary. Both the standpoints previously con 
sidered lack their opposites. Abstract good vanishes into 
perfect powerlessness, and conscience shrivels into objective 
insignificance. Hence there may arise a longing for objec 
tivity. A man would sometimes gladly humble himself to 
slavish dependency in order to escape the torture and empti 
ness of mere negativity. This accounts for the many recent 
perversions to the Catholic Church. Such persons have 
found no definite codes and dogmas within their own 
spirit and have reached out after something stable, after 
an authority, even if what they obtained was devoid of the 
substantiality of thought. Ethicality (Sittlichkeif), or the 
ethical world of social life, is the absolute unity of sub 
jective and objective good. In this sphere is found the 
solution of the antinomy in strict accordance with the con 
cept of freedom. Ethicality is not merely the subjective 
form and the self-determination of the will, but it has real 
freedom for its content. Both right and morality need the 
ethical for their foundation, as without it neither has any 
actuality. Only the Idea, the true infinite is actual. Rights 
exist only as the branch, or as a plant clinging round a 
firm tree. 




ETHICALITY, or the ethical world of concrete social life, is 
the Idea of freedom, as the vital and virile good. It is in 
self-consciousness that this good attains to its knowledge 
and volition, and through their activity to its own actualiza 
tion. On the other hand it is in this ethical substance that 
self-consciousness has its absolute ground and efficient end. "\ 
Ethicality is the concept of freedom, developed into the present I 
existing world and into the nature of self-consciousness. / 


Since this unity of the concept of the will and its determi 
nate being (J^as^m^which is the particular will, is know 
ing, the consciousness of the difference between these 
moments of the Idea is present, but in such a manner that 
now each moment by itself is the totality of the Idea, and 
has the Idea as ground and contents. 


(a) The objective ethical (pbjektive Sittliche), which takes 
the place of abstract good, is substance, concrete through its 
subjectivity as infinite form. This substance posits thence 
differences in itself, which thereby are determined by the 
concept, and through which the ethical concept gains a 
fixed content, which is explicitly necessary and elevated 
above subjective opinion and inclination. This content 
consists of the in and for themselves existing laws and 


Supplementary. In all ethicality (Sittlichkeit) both the 
objective and the subjective moments are present ; but both 
are its forms only. The good is here substance^jthat me_ans 
the filling up of the"~oFjective with subjectivity. When 
ethicality is viewed from the objective standpoint, it may be 
said that the ethical man is unconscious of himself. In this 
sense, Antigone declared that no one knew whence the laws 
had come ; that they were eternal : that is to say, they are 
the absolutely independent realities, the determinations 
proceeding from the nature of the case. But none the less 
this substantial has also a consciousness, although this con 
sciousness has always, on this standpoint, only the position 
of a phase. 


In the fact that the ethical is the system of these determi 
nations of the Idea, consists its rationality. In this manner 
it becomes freedom, or the in and for itself existing will as 
the objective, the sphere of necessity, whose moments are 
the ethical powers that rule the lives of individuals and 
are actualized and revealed in them as their attributes 
(Acddenzeii) and conceptions. 

Supplementary. Since the concept of freedom consists in 
the ethical determinations, these are the substantiality or 
the universal essence of the individuals, who, consequently, 
are related to this universal factor as something accidental. 
Whether the individual exists or not is indifferent to 
objective ethicality, which alone is the enduring and the 
power through which the lives of individuals are ruled. 
Hence, ethicality, or concrete morality, has been represented 
to mankind as eternal justice, as gods existing in and for 
themselves, against whom the vain striving of the individuals 
becomes only a fluctuating play. 



(/?) The substance is, in this its actual self-consciousness, 
cognizant of itself, and hence object of knowledge. On 
the one hand, by virtue of the fact that they exist in the 
highest sense of independence, the ethical substance, its 
laws, and domination, have for the subject an absolute 
authority and force, infinitely more stable than the mere 
being [das Sein~\ of nature. 

The sun, moon, mountains, rivers, objects of nature in 
general, exist; they have for consciousness the authority 
not only of mere existence in general, but also of having 
a particular nature. Consciousness respects this particular 
nature, and is guided by it when employed with objects of 
nature. But the authority of ethical laws is infinitely higher, 
since the things in nature present rationality only in a wholly 
external (ausserliche) and particular manner, and conceal this 
rationality under the form of the contingent. 


On the other hand, the ethical substance, its laws and 
authority, are nothing foreign to the subject, but they afford 
the subject the testimony of the spirit, as being of its own 
essence, as that in which it feels itself to exist (Selbstgefuht), 
and in which it lives as in its proper element, undifferen- 
tiated from itself, a condition that is unmediated and as 
yet identical, even as faith and trust are. 

Faith and trust belong to incipient reflection, and pre 
suppose a conception and differentiation; as, for example, 
believing in a heathen religion is different from being a 
heathen. This relation, or rather relationless identity, in 
which the ethical is the actual vitality of self-consciousness, 
can under all circumstances resolve itself into a relation of 
faith and conviction, and into something mediated by further 
reflection, into insight founded on reasons. This insight 


may also begin from any particular aims, interests or con 
siderations, from fear or hope, or from historical antecedents. 
But its adequate recognition belongs to the thinking con 


For the individual, who distinguishes himself from these 
substantial determinations as the subjective and in himself 
indeterminate, or as the particularly determined, and to 
whom they hence stand in the relation of substance, these 
substantial determinations become duties which, in relation 
to his will, are obligatory. 

The ethical doctrine of duties (that is, as it is objectively, 
and not as conceived according to the empty principle of 
moral subjectivity, according to which, indeed, nothing 
determines it [134]) is, consequently, the systematic devel 
opment of the sphere of ethical necessity. This forms the 
content of this Part Third of this treatise. The difference 
of this presentation from the form of a doctrine of duties con 
sists in this alone, that, in what follows, the ethical deter 
minations present themselves as necessary relations, without 
any further consequence being added to each of them. 
Hence this determination is a duty for man. A doctrine of 
duties, when not a philosophical science, takes its subject- 
matter from conditions and relations contingently presented, 
and shows their connection with individual conceptions, 
with those principles and thoughts, aims, motives, feelings, 
and the like, which are generally entertained, and can add 
as reasons the further consequence of each duty in reference 
to other ethical relations, as well as in reference to common 
welfare and opinion. But an immanent and consistent 
doctrine of duties can be nothing else than the evolution of 
those relations which become necessary through the Idea of 
freedom, and hence actual throughout their whole extent, 
in the State. 



Obligatory duty can appear as a limitation, only to 
undetermined subjectivity or abstract freedom, and to the 
desires of the natural will, or to that moral will which deter 
mines its indeterminate good through its own caprice. But 
the individual has in duty rather his liberation, on the one 
hand, from the dependence imposed on him when under 
the influence of natural desires alone, as well as from the 
oppression which he suffers as subjective particularity in 
the moral reflexion as to what ought and what may be 
done ; and, on the other hand, from the undetermined sub 
jectivity which does not express itself and thus attain the 
objective characteristics of action, but remains in itself as a 
non-actuality. In duty the individual shakes off subjective 
fetters and attains substantial freedom. 

Supplementary. Duty limits only the caprice of subjec 
tivity, and comes in conflict only with the abstract good to 
which subjectivity clings. When men say, "We wish to be 
free," this means at first only, "We wish to be free in an 
abstract sense," / . e., free from objective laws. Hence 
every determination and organic differentiation in the State 
is held to be a limitation of this freedom. Duty is not a 
limitation, or restriction of freedom but of the abstraction 
of freedom, that is to say, of the opposite to freedom : duty 
is the arrival of freedom at determinate being, the gaining 
of affirmative freedom. 


The ethical, in so far as it reflects itself in the individual 
character, as such is determined by nature, is virtue. 

Inasmuch as this shows itself as nothing but the simple 
conformity of the individual to the duties of the situation in 
which he finds himself, virtue is rectitude. 


What man should do, what duties he must fulfil in order 
to be virtuous, is easily determined in an ethical community. 
There is nothing else for him to do than that which is pre 
scribed, proclaimed and made known to him in his ethical 
relations. Rectitude is the universal, that which can be 
promoted in him partly as the ethical and partly as the 
legally right. But for the moral standpoint, rectitude easily 
appears as something subordinate, over and above which 
one must demand something still more in one s self and 
others. The desire to be something particular is not satisfied 
with conformity to the universal and objective forms of duty 
as existing in the current conventional morals. Such a 
desire finds only in an exception the consciousness of the 
desired peculiarity. The different sides of rectitude may just 
as properly be called virtues, since they are just as much the 
property (though in the comparison with others, not the 
particular property) of the individual. 

But discourse about virtue borders easily on empty decla 
mation, since it treats only of an abstract and indefinite 
matter. Such discourse with its reasons and manner of 
presentation also appeals to the individual, as to a being of 
caprice and subjective inclination. In an ethical condition 
of society, whose relations are fully developed and actual 
ized, such peculiar forms of virtue have a place and actuality 
only in extraordinary circumstances and collisions of these 
relations that is, in actual collisions, for moral reflection 
can, indeed find collisions under any circumstances, and 
obtain for itself the consciousness of having made sacri 
fices and of being something particular and peculiar. For 
this reason this form of virtue as such occurs oftener in 
undeveloped states of society and of the community. In 
such earlier stages the ethical and its actualization is more 
of an individual choice and a genial nature peculiar to 
the individual. The ancients, we know, predicated virtue 
especially of Hercules. In the ancient state however, 


ethicality had not grown to this free system of an independ 
ent development and objectivity- thus the deficiency had 
to be supplied by the geniality of the individual. 

The doctrine of virtues, when not simply a doctrine of 
particular duties, includes the character which is founded in 
natural determinations. Thus it embraces a spiritual history 
of the natural man. 

Since the. virtues are the ethical in reference to the par 
ticular, and from this subjective side something undetermined, 
the quantitative "more" or "less" appears as their deter 
mination ; and their contemplation brings up the opposite 
defects as vice. Thus Aristotle determined the correct 
signification of the particular virtues as the mean between 
a too-much and a too-little. The same content which takes 
the form of duties and then that of virtues, has also the 
form of impulses. These, also, have the same fundamental 
content. But since this content of the impulses belongs still 
to the immediate will and the natural sensibilities, and has 
not been developed to the determination of ethicality, the 
impulses have only the abstract object in common with 
the content of duties and virtues. But this abstract object, 
being without determination in itself, does not contain the 
limits of good and evil in itself. In other words, the im 
pulses are good according to the abstraction of the positive, 
and conversely bad, according to the abstraction of the 
negative ( 18). 

Supplementary. Where a person does this or that ethic 
ally good act, he is not straightway virtuous, but this he 
is when ethical behavior is a stable element in his character. 
Virtue is rather ethical virtuosoship. The reason that we 
do not speak so much of virtue now as formerly, is that 
ethicality is no longer so much some peculiar quality of a 
particular individual as formerly. The French are, in the 
main, the people who speak most of virtue, because among 
them the individual is considered rather as something pecu- 


liar, and as having a natural (/ . <?., not yet ethical) manner 
of action. The Germans, on the contrary, are more thought 
ful, and among them the same content gains the form of 


But in the simple identity with the actuality of individuals, 
the ethical appears as their common manner of acting, as 
custom. This habitual manner of acting becomes a second 
nature, which takes the place of that which at first is simply 
natural will. It becomes the penetrating soul, meaning, 
and actuality of its existence, the living and present spirit 
as a world, whose substance first then exists as spirit. 

Supplementary. As nature has her laws, as the animal, 
the trees, the sun, fulfil their law, so also is custom the law 
belonging to the spirit of freedom. That which legal right 
and morality have not yet attained, that custom is, namely, 
spirit. For in legal right the particularity is not yet that of 
the concept, but only that of the natural will. Likewise, 
at the stage of morality, self-consciousness is not yet spiritual 
consciousness. The question is, then, only concerning the 
worth of the subject in himself ; that is to say, the subject 
which determines himself in accordance with the good 
against the evil, has still the form of arbitrariness. On the 
other hand, at the ethical stage, the will is the will of the 
spirit and has a substantial content adequate unto itself. 
Pedagogy is the art of making men ethical : it considers 
man as a merely natural being it shows the way to a new 
birth, how to convert his first nature into a second spiritual 
nature, so that this spiritual becomes a habit in him. In 
this habit the opposition of the natural and subjective will 
disappears and the struggle of the subject is broken. Thus 
habit belongs to ethicality to the same extent as to philo 
sophic thought, for the latter demands that the spirit shall be 
cultured so as to be opposed to arbitrary notions, and that 


these shall be crushed and conquered, in order that rational 
thought have free course. 

But man also dies of habit, that is, he is dead when he 
has fully habituated himself to life, when he has become 
spiritually and physically obtuse, and when the opposition 
belonging to subjective consciousness and spiritual activity 
has disappeared. For man is active only as long as there is 
is something he has not attained, in reference to which he 
wishes to be productive and effective. When this is accom 
plished, virile activity and vitality (Lebendigkeii), disappear, 
and the absence of interest that then ensues is spiritual 
or even physical -death. 


In this manner, ethical substantiality comes to its right 
and this right gains its realization. For the self-will and 
independent conscience of the individual, which existed 
as for itself only and produced an opposition against the 
concrete ethical life, disappear, when the ethical character 
recognizes as its motive and end (beuuegende Zweck) the un 
moved universal that has been reduced by its determina 
tions to actual rationality ; and when this ethical character 
recognizes its value, as well as the persistence (Bestehcn) of 
particular ends, as being grounded and having its actuality 
in this determined universal. Subjectivity is the absolute 
form itself and the existing actuality of substance. The 
distinction of the subject from substance, viewed as the 
objects, ends, and power of the subject, is nothing but the 
likewise immediately (unmittelbar, i. e., not mediately) van 
ished distinction of form. 

Subjectivity, which is the ground of existence for the con 
cept of freedom ( 106) and which, on the moral standpoint, 
is still differentiated from said concept, becomes, in the 
ethical sphere, the adequate existence of the concept of 



The right of individuals to their subjective determination of 
freedom has its realization in the fact that they belong to 
ethical reality, inasmuch as the certitude of their freedom 
has its truth in such objectivity, and they (the individuals) 
actually possses in the ethical sphere their essential being 
(Weseii) and their inner universality ( 147). 

To a father who asked how he might best bring up his 
son, a Pythagorean (it is also attributed to others) answered: 
"By making him the citizen of a state with good laws." 

Supplementary. The pedagogical attempt to keep pupils 
away from the common (/. ^., communal) life of the present, 
and to bring them up in the country (Rousseau in "mi/e") 
has been a vain experiment, for to estrange men from the 
laws of the world cannot prove a success. Even if youth 
is educated in solitude, it is certainly unwarranted to think 
that no fragrant breeze from the spirit-world should ever 
invade this solitude, and that the power of the world-spirit 
is too weak to take possession of this little separated terri 
tory. When he is the citizen of a good state, the individual 
first gains his just rights. 

" The realm of morality (Sittlichkeit) is nothing but the 
absolute spiritual unity of the essence of individuals, which 
exists in their independent reality. . . . This moral sub 
stance, looked at abstractly from the mere side of its uni 
versality, is the law as the expression of such thought. But 
from another point of view it is also immediate actual self- 
consciousness as custom. On the other hand, the individual 
consciousness exists as a unitary member of the universal 
consciousness. Its action and existence are the universal 
custom (Sitte or 0os), in which it lives and moves and has 
its being. . . . 

"Any merely particular action or business of the individual 
relates to the needs of himself as a natural being. But 


these, his commonest functions, are saved from nothingness 
and given reality solely by the universal maintaining medium, 
that is, through the power of the whole people of which 
he is a member. It is this power, too, which gives content 
as well as form to his actions. What he does is the uni 
versal skill and custom of all. Just so far as this content 
completely individualizes itself, is its reality inwoven with 
the activity of all. The labor of the individual for his own 
wants is at the same time a satisfying of the needs of others, 
and reciprocally the satisfaction of his own needs is attained 
only through the labor of others. Thus the individual un 
consciously does an universal work in doing his own indi 
vidual work. But he also does this consciously. The whole, 
as his object, is that for which he sacrifices himself, and 
through which sacrifice he fulfils himself. Here there is 
nothing but what is reciprocal; nothing even in the appar 
ently negative activity of the independent individual, but such 
as enables him to attain the positive significance of independ 
ent being. This unity, which throbs through both the nega 
tion and the affirmation of the individual, speaks its universal 
language in the common custom and laws of his people. 
Yet this unchanging essence, the spirit of his people, 
is itself simply the expression of the single individuality 
which seems to be opposed to it. The laws proclaim what 
each one is and does. The individual recognizes this essence 
as not only his universal outward existence, but also as that 
which is particularized in his own individuality and in that 
of fellow-citizens. Hence each one has in this universal 
spirit nothing else than assurance of himself, and finds in 
existing reality nothing but himself. In it I behold only 
independent beings like myself. In them I see the free 
unity of self with others, which exists through others as it 
does through me. I see them as myself and myself as them 
in this free unity or universal substance. Thus reason is 
realized in truth in the life of a free people. It is present, 


living spirit, in which the individual not only finds his char 
acter, i. e., universal and particular essence, proclaimed and 
prepared ready to hand, but also finds that he himself is this 
essence, and has attained his definite character. Hence 
the wisest men of antiquity have proclaimed the maxim: 
that wisdom and virtue consist in living in harmony with 
the etfos (morals) of one s own people." 1 


The right of individuals to special characteristics, is con 
tained in ethical substantiality, since particularity is the 
manner of the external appearance in which the ethical 


In this identity of the universal and particular will, duty 
and right consequently coincide, and man has in the ethical 
sphere duties to the same extent as rights, and rights to the 
same extent as duties. In abstract legal right, the ego has 
the right and another has the duty ; in the moral sphere, 
only the right of my own knowledge and will, together with 
my welfare united with duty, are demanded. 

Supplementary. The slave can have no duties, for duties 
belong to the free man alone. If all rights were on one side 
and all duties on the other, the whole (das Ganze) would 
dissolve, for identity alone is the foundation which we here 
must hold fast. 


The ethical substance, as containing the independent self- 
consciousness that coincides with its concept, is the actual 
spirit of a family and a people. 

1 Hegel s Phdnomenologie des Geistes, pp. 256-8, cf. Bradley s Ethical 
Studies, pp. 167-8. 


Supplementary. The ethical is not abstract like the good, 
but is, in an intensive sense, actual. The spirit has actuality, 
and individuals are the accidents of this actuality. Conse 
quently, in the ethical sphere, there are only two points 
of view possible : either to start from substantiality, or to 
proceed in an atomistic manner and rise from individuality 
as foundation. But the latter point of view is spiritless, 
since it leads only to a conglomeration ; for the spirit is 
nothing individual, but it is the unity of the individual and 


The concept of this Idea is only spirit, self-knowledge, and 
actuality, when it is the objectification of itself, the move 
ment through the form of its moments. It is, therefore : 

(a) The immediated, or natural ethical spirit ; the 

This substantiality changes at the loss of its unity into 
that of separation (of the members of the family) and to the 
standpoint of the relative, thus becoming, 

(b) The civic community, a union of the members as 
independent individuals (i. e., as private persons) in a formal 
universality, through their needs, and through the legal con 
stitution as a means for the safety of persons and property, 
and through an external order for their individual and com 
mon interests. This external state centers itself together 

(c) In the end and actuality of the substantial universal, 
and of the public life devoted to the common weal in the 
constitution of the State. 



The Family. 


THE family, as the unmediated substantiality of the spirit 
has its emotional sense of unity, love, for its characteristic ; 
so that the disposition is to have the self-consciousness 
of one s individuality in this unity as in an independent 
essentiality, in order to be united to the family not as a 
person for himself, but as a member. 

Supplementary. Love means in general the conscious 
ness of my unity with another ; so that I do not remain 
isolated for myself, but gain my self-consciousness only as 
the renunciation of my exclusive independence (Fursich- 
seins], and thereby know myself as the unity of myself with 
the other and of the other with me. But love is feeling, 
that is, it is ethicality in the primitive natural form. In the 
State we do not find love ; there one is conscious of the 
unity as the unity of /aw, there the content must be rational 
and I must know it. The first phase of love is that I wish 
not to be an independent person for myself, and that, if I 
irn, I feel myself defective and incomplete. The second 
phase is that I win myself in another person, that I am 
recognized in him as he is in me. Love is, hence, a most 
monstrous contradiction to the understanding, which it can 
not solve, since nothing harder is found than this punctili 
ousness of self-consciousness which is denied, and which I 
am still said to have affirmed. But love is at once the 
source and the solution of the contradiction ; as solution 
it is ethical concord. 


The right which belongs to the individual on the ground 
of family-unity, and which at first is his life in this unity 


itself, appears only in the form of (legal) rights as of the 
abstract phase of the determined individuality, when once 
dissolution of the family takes place. Here, those who 
have been its members, become independent persons in 
their disposition and actuality, and receive separately (and 
consequently in an external way, as wealth, support, cost of 
education, and the Ijke) that which they obtained in the 
family as their natural heritage. 

Supplementary. The right of the family consists properly 
in this : that its substantiality shall have determinate exist 
ence (Daseiii). Consequently, it is a right against any 
external impediments, and against secession from this unity. 
But on the contrary, again, love is a feeling, a subjective 
affair, against which the unity (Einigkeii) cannot make itself 
effective. Hence, when unity is to be promoted it can be 
done only by the agency of such things which, according to 
their nature, are external and not dependent on feeling. 


The family consummates itself on three sides : 

(a) In the form of its immediate concept, as wedlock. 

() In external existence (Daseiri), in the property and 
goods of the family, and in the care of the same. 

(f) In the bringing up of the children and the dissolution 
of the family. 

A. Wedlock. 


Wedlock contains, as the immediate ethical relation, first the 
moment of natural vitality (Lebendigkdt\ and, indeed, as 
substantial relation, life in its totality, viz., as actuality of 
the species and its process. But, secondly in self-conscious 
ness the implicitly existing unity of the natural sexes, which 
for that reason is only an external unity, is transformed into 
a spiritual one, into self-conscious love. 


Supplementary. Wedlock is essentially an ethical relation. 
Formerly, especially in most treatises on natural rights, it 
has been considered only from the physical side, from what 
it is on its merely natural side. Hence it has been con 
sidered as a sexual relation only, and has remained closed in 
every way to the other characteristics of wedlock. But it is 
just as crude to conceive wedlock as nothing but a civil con 
tract, a conception that occurs even with Kant, for then the 
mutual arbitrary choice makes a compact for the individuals, 
and wedlock is degraded to an ordinary mutual contract. 
A third conception, just as reprehensible, is to hold that 
wedlock is founded on love alon e. For love, being a feeling, 
is always open to chance a form which the ethical must 
not have. Hence wedlock is more closely determined as 
legally ethical love. With this determination, the transient, 
capricious and subjective in the concept of wedlock 


As the subjective point of inception for wedlock, either 
the particular inclination of the two persons entering the 
relation, or the plans and arrangements of the parents, etc., 
appear the more prominent. The objective point of incep 
tion is the free consent of the persons in question, a consent, 
indeed, to be henceforth one person, to resign their natural 
and individual personality for this unity. This is a self- 
limitation in this respect, but also, since in it they gain their 
substantial self-consciousness, it is their liberation. It is 
therefore the objective destiny and ethical duty of man to 
enter the state of wedlock. As to the matter of the external 
point of inception of wedlock, it is, according to its nature, 
accidental, and depends especially on the culture of reflection. 
The two extremes are : either the arrangements of well- 
meaning parents is the first step, and, as a result of the 
prearranged acquaintance, an inclination arises in the persons 


who are being selected for each other for the union of love ; 
or the inclination appears first in the persons in question, as 
diversely constituted as they may be. The former extreme, 
or in general, the way in which the resolve to marry takes its 
beginning, and has the inclination as a result so that at the 
actual marriage both are united, may be considered the more 
ethical way. In the other extreme, the infinitely particular 
individuality gets its pretensions recognized and is connected 
with the subjective principle of the modern world. (See 
above 124.) But in modern dramas and other produc 
tions of art, where sexual love is the fundamental interest, 
there is an element of penetrating chilliness. In the heart 
of the passion presented, through the thorough arbitrariness 
connected with the same, this chilliness is brought about by 
presenting the whole interest as depending on these (persons) 
alone, when, indeed, it may be of infinite importance for 
them but is not of such interest when in its merely natural 

Supplementary. In nations where the feminine sex is 
less respected, the parents arrange marriage as they please, 
without consulting the individuals in question, and these are 
content with this arrangement, since any special definite 
direction of sentiment has as yet no pretensions. The 
maiden desires a husband, and he a wife in general (i. <?., 
without caring for more particular characteristics of the 
desired consort). In other states of society, considerations 
of fortune, connections, and political ends may be the de 
termining factors. Here great hardships are possible, since 
wedlock is made a means for other ends. In modern times, 
on the other hand, the subjective point of inception (falling 
in love) has come to be considered the only one of import 
ance. The moderns imagine that each must wait till his 
hour has struck, and that each can give his love only to one 
certain individual. 



The ethical, in wedlock, consists in the consciousness of 
this unity as a substantial end in love, in trust, and in the 
community of the whole individual existence. 

In this disposition and actuality, the natural sexual im 
pulse is reduced to a mere phase of nature, which perishes 
in the instant of its gratification. Meanwhile the spiritual 
bond, in its right as the substantial essence of wedlock, 
elevated above the caprice of passion and of temporal and 
particular liking, becomes potentially indissoluble. 

That wedlock is not a contract-relation as to its essential 
foundation, has already been noted ( 75), for, from the 
standpoint of contract, which starts from the abstract per 
sonality of independent individuals, wedlock is a contract 
to pass out of and above the sphere of contract. The 
identification of the personalities, through which the family 
is one person, and its members properties, is the ethical 

It is this ethical (social) spirit which, stripped of the 
manifold externality which belongs to spirit in the form 
of a definite individual and in special temporal and well- 
defined secular interests, that is sometimes elevated into a 
pictorial conception and honored as the /<?tf/^r and the like, 
and, in general, gives to wedlock and the family its piety (in 
the Roman sense of the word) and its religious character. 
It is a further abstraction when the divine, the substantial 
in this phase of sentiment is separated from its proper sexual 
side, and from the feeling and the consciousness of spiritual 
unity, and falsely given a separate existence as Platonic love. 
This separation is connected with the monkish view, accord 
ing to which the phase of natural life is determined as some 
thing absolutely negative, and just through this is falsely 
given an infinite importance for itself. 



As the stipulation of contract already contains for itself 
the true transference of property ( 79), so the solemn 
(feierliche) declaration of agreement to accept the ethical 
bonds of wedlock and the corresponding recognition and 
sanction of the same by the family and community (that the 
church also enters as a further party to the union is not to 
be fully considered here), are the formal conclusion and actual 
izing of wedlock. Hence this alliance is ethically constituted 
only when preceded by this ceremony, as the performance of 
its substantial essence, through sign and language, as the 
outward and visible form of the spiritual ( 78). Thereby 
the sensuous sexual element belonging to natural life, re 
ceives, in its ethical relation, the position of a consequence 
(Folge) and accidentally, which belongs to the external form 
of the ethical alliance. But the meaning of this alliance 
itself can be exhausted only in that of mutual love and 
support. . . . 

[Hegel further insists, in this paragraph, upon the neces 
sity of the sacred solemnization of marriage, rather than 
degrading the ceremony to the mechanical work of a civil 
or ecclesiastical clerk, who performs it without any sense 
of its ethical significance. This is only rightly appreciated 
and honored by the sentiment and ceremonies of religious 
people. Wedlock has both great intellectual and ethical 
import and results for both sexes. It elevates both to 
higher labors and aims. A new and broader unity is 
therein accomplished in the sphere of domestic life. It 
becomes a veritable school for ethical culture. He also 
opposes marriage between blood-relations, saying that inti 
macy and similarity of tastes and aims of the couple rather 
succeed than precede wedlock. These should be the ethical 
results of this school of virtue.] 



Wedlock is essentially monogamy, since it is the person 
ality, the immediate, exclusive individuality that devotes 
and surrenders itself to this relation. The truth and the in- 
ternality (the subjective form of substantiality} of this relation 
results, therefore, only from the mutual undivided devotion 
of this personality. This realizes its right to be conscious 
of itself in another, only when the other enters this identity 
as a person, that is, as an atomic individuality. 

Wedlock, and especially monogamy, is one of the abso 
lute principles on which ethicality (/. e., concrete morality) 
of a communal life depends. Hence the institution of wed 
lock is referred as a phase of the divine or heroic founding- 



The family has, as person, its external reality in its prop 
erty, in which it has the specific character of its substantial 
personality only when this property has the form of means 
or possession. 

E. J7ie Possessions of the Family. 


The family has not only property, but with its being a 
universal and enduring person, there comes the need and the 
characteristic of having an enduring and certain estate or 
fortune. The arbitrary phase of abstract property, belong 
ing to the particular needs of the single individual and to 
the self-seeking of the desires, transforms itself here into 
the care and acquisition for a common weal, into an ethical 

The introduction of fixed property appears in the tradi 
tional accounts of the foundation of the State in connection 
with the introduction of marriage, or at least with the 


beginning of a social and orderly life. Wherein further, 
these possessions consist, and how they may gain true 
stability, is a problem that belongs to the sphere of the 
civic community. 

The Education of Children and the Dissolution of the Family. 



Supplementary. Between man and wife the relation of 
love is not yet objective; for, although feeling is the sub 
stantial unity, this has no objectivity. Such an objectivity 
the parents first gain in their children. In these they have 
the totality of their union before themselves. The mother 
loves her husband, and the husband his wife, in their child. 
Both have in the child their love incarnate before them 
selves. While in the family possessions the unity is only in 
an external thing, in the child this unity is in a spiritual 
being, by whom the parents are loved and whom they love. 


The children have a right to be educated and supported 
from the common family possessions. The right of the 
parents to the service of the children, as service, is estab 
lished and limited by the common interest in the cares of 
the family,, The right of the parent to limit the freedom of 
their children exists for the purpose of discipline and educa 
tion. The end of punishment is not justice as such, but is 
of a subjective, moral nature ; its purpose is to deter the 
freedom that is only of uncultured nature [is naturalistic 
only], and to aid and elevate the universal in the child s 
consciousness and will. 

Supplementary. [Hegel further maintains that the child s 
right of education rests upon the necessity of aid in his 


self-development of potential manhood. The parent should 
only require such service from him as promotes this educa 
tion. On the other hand, children should not be permitted 
to do just as they please, though the breaking the will of 
children should not be merely arbitrary. Obedience is to 
be demanded on the ground of the parents larger knowl 
edge of what is best for them. Parents should remember 
that their children are potentially free spiritual beings, and 
so never treat them as slaves or mere soulless things. They 
should make it the primary end to educate them so that 
their ethical substance, and their hearts and wills should 
first come to flower and fruitage in the form of love, confi 
dence and obedience. They should further seek to develop 
in them the sense of independence and free personality, that 
they may in due time be prepared to go out from the natural 
unity of the family and take their places as free and equal 
personalities with their parents in the civil community, form 
ing for themselves new domestic circles. This leads to the 
topic of the Dissolution of the Family-relation^ 


As wedlock, primarily, is only the immediate ethical Idea, 
and hence has its objective actuality in the intimate inter- 
nality of the subjective disposition and feeling, we find in 
this the first contingent element of its existence. Just as 
little as compulsion to enter the state of wedlock is possible, 
just so little can a merely legal, positive bond keep the 
subjects (of wedlock) together, when averse and hostile 
sentiment and actions gain the ascendancy. Hence a 
third ethical authority is necessary that shall secure the 
legal right of wedlock, of ethical substantiality, against the 
bare opinion of such sentimental disposition and against 
the accidence of only temporary moods and the like an 
authority that shall distinguish these temporary moods from 


total estrangement, and decide where the latter occurs, in 
order to be able in such cases to dissolve the marital bonds. 
Supplementary. When, wedlock depends on merely sub 
jective and accidental feeling alone, it can be dissolved. 
The State, on the contrary, is not subject to division and 
dissolution, since it is founded on law. Wedlock ought, 
certainly, to be indissoluble ; but here it comes no farther 
than to the ought. But since wedlock is something ethical 
(belonging to an ethical community), it cannot be dissolved 
arbitrarily, but only through an ethical authority, whether 
this be the church or a court of justice. When the parties 
are totally estranged from each other, as in a case of adultery, 
even the religious authority must allow divorce. 

178- 180. 

[The dissolution of the family thus occurs (i) through the 
death of the parents and the consequent distribution of the 
common property among the natural heirs, (2) through the 
total alienation of the married couple and their consequent 
separation, and (3) in the normal way, through the growth 
and development of the children into maturity.] 

The Transition of the Family into the Civic Community. 


The family transforms itself in a natural way, and espe 
cially through the principle of personality, into a plurality of 
families outside of one another. These families are related 
to one another, in general, as independent concrete persons, 
and consequently in an external manner. Or, the inter 
locked moments (which are as yet undeveloped in their 
concept] in the unity of the family, as the ethical Idea, must 
be allowed independent reality in the concept. This is the 
stage of differentiation. First, abstractly expressed, this gives 
the determination of particularity. This particular refers 


itself, indeed, to universality, but in such a manner that the 
universal becomes as yet only the internal ground which 
consequently exists in a formal and only apparent manner 1 
(scheinende Weise) in the particular. 

The expansion of the family in its transition into another 
principle, happens, in actual history, partly as the quiet 
expansion of a family into a people, a nation, which hence 
has a common natural origin, and partly as the association 
of dispersed family communities, either through military 
force or through voluntary alliance, furthered by common 
needs and by the reciprocal activity necessary for their 

Supplementary. Universality has here as its point of 
inception, the independence of the particular, and, hence 
ethicality appears lost at this stage, since, for consciousness, 
the identity of the family is that which is regarded as the 
first, the divine, the source of duty. But now a condition 
begins in which the particular demands the first place for 
itself, and consequently the primary form of ethical determi 
nation (the domestic life) is abolished. But, in reality, I 
only err in making this demand, for when I believe that I 
hold fast to the particular, the universal and the necessity 
of the interdependence of the universe still remain the first 
and the essential : I am consequently on the stage of 
appearance, and while my particularity continues to deter 
mine me (that is to say, continues to be my purpose), I 
thereby serve the universal, which, in reality, retains the 
final power over me. 

1 In Hegel scheinend, " apparent," does not have the connotation 
false, deceptive, as in English; for with Hegel, ground and appearance are 
categories of equal importance to essence ( Wesen.} Hence the reader 
must understand appearance and apparent as referring to the expression, 
the phenomenalization of the ground, or internal nature, of Wesen. 
This reflexive relation presents at first the loss of ethicality; but, since, as 
essence, it is necessarily phenomenal (must reveal itself as phenomenon), 
it produces the phenomenal world of ethicality (of the ethical Idea), the 
civic community. 



The Civic Community. 


THE concrete person who realizes himself as particular 
end (literally : is himself as particular end), as a total of 
wants with a mixture of natural necessity and arbitrary 
choice, is the special principle of the civic community. But 
here is meant the particular person that has his essence in 
his relation (Beziehung) to other particular persons, so that 
each satisfies and realizes himself as mediated through the 
others, and (hence) at the same time absolutely through the 
form of universality only. This universal or common ele 
ment forms the second principle of civil society. 

Supplementary. The civic community is the difference 
(intermediate stage) that stands between the family and 
the State, even though its evolution follows later than the 
evolution of the State ; since as the intermediate, the civil 
society presupposes the State, as it must have something 
independent to rely on, in order to endure. The creation of 
the civic community belongs, moreover, to the modern world, 
as here first all the determinations of the Idea have received 
their just recognition. When the State is conceived as a 
unity of different persons, but as a unity that is only a 
community (e. g., of interest), there is reference only to the 
determinations of the civic community. Many of the later 
writers on politics and law have not been able to advance 
to any other view of the State. In the civic community 
each one is his own end, all others are nothing to him. 
But, without reference to others, no individual is able to 
realize his end to its full extent ; these others, hence, 
become the means to the end of the particular. But the 
particular aim takes on a form of universality through its 


reference to others, and satisfies itself by simultaneously 
satisfying the weal of others. Because particularity is 
bound up along with the conditions of universality, the 
whole is the ground of mediation in which all individuali 
ties, all talents, all accidence of birth and fortune liberate 
themselves. In this too the currents of all passions empty 
themselves, passions that are ruled only by permeating 
reason. Particularity limited by universality is alone the 
measure through which every particular individual furthers 
his own welfare. Thus the Civic Community is what we 
understand by " the state on its external side " or as 
Government, arising from needs as presented to the under 


The Idea, at this its stage of differentiation, contains the 
phase of existence peculiar to the individual (eigenthumliches 
Dasein), of particularity the right to develop and extend 
one s self in all directions, and also the phase of universality 
its right to prove itself the ground and necessary form of 
particularity, as well as the power over it, and its ultimate 
end. It is the system of an ethicality lost in its extremes 
that makes up the abstract phase of the reality of the Idea 
which here exists as the relative totality and inner necessity 
to this external appearance. 

Supplementary. The ethical concept has here been lost 
in its extremes, and the unmediated unity of the family has 
been disorganized into a collected multitude. The reality 
is, at this stage of externality, the dissolution of the concept, 
the independence of the liberated and existent phases. Yet 
even here men are conditioned by their reciprocal needs and 
welfare. In seeking one s own aim and well-being, a person 
necessarily seeks more universal ones, and, in turn, the 
more universal ones are only attained through this self- 
seeking of each one. . . . 


Abstract of 185. 

This development of the individual personality of all 
citizens sometimes seems to create an arena in which 
rampant individualism begets great excesses, misery and 
moral corruption. In ancient states it led to the destruc 
tion of ethical relations and thus to the downfall of nations. 
These ancient states were founded on such an undeveloped 
form of the universal element that they could find no place 
for individualism. It is only through the Christian religion 
that this principle of subjective freedom, and of the inde 
pendent and infinite worth of the individual has come to its 
just recognition. The task of modern states is to welcome 
this principle and to incorporate it in harmonious unity 
with the larger ethical element. 

On the other hand, it is the task of individualism to learn 
that its real and substantial freedom can only be found in 
the sphere of a common weal and life, where helping others 
is the best form of helping one s own self. 


The individuals are, as citizens of this civic community, 
private persons, who have their own interests as their end. 
Since this end is mediated through the universal, which, 
consequently, appears to the individuals in question as means, 
this end can be attained by them only in so far as they 
themselves determine their will, desires, and acts in a 
universal manner, and make themselves links in the chain 
of this connected whole. As the civic community does not 
exist as such in the consciousness of its members, the 
interest of the Idea lies here in the process of elevating the 
individual and natural elements of the Idea, through the 
necessity of nature as well as through the arbitrariness of 
wants, to formal freedom and formal universality of knowledge 
and will. In other words, this is the process of developing 


subjectivity in its phase of particularity. . . . Hence educa 
tion, in its real essence, is liberation, and that the work of 
the higher liberation. It is the point of transition to that 
infinite subjective substantiality of ethicality, which is no 
longer unmediated and natural, but spiritual, being elevated 
to the form of universality. In the subject this liberation 
is hard toil as compared with the bare subjectivity of mere 
conduct, and with the immediacy of the desires and sub 
jective vanity of feeling and the arbitrariness of inclination. 
That this liberation is hard work causes a good deal of the 
ill favor to which it is subject. But it is through this hard 
work of education, that the subjective will itself gains that 
objectivity in which alone, on its part, it becomes worthy 
and capable of being the actuality of the Idea. 

This form of universality to which particularity has 
developed and elevated itself, and that has effected that 
particularity, becomes true independent existence of indi 
viduality ; and as it gives to universality its adequate content 
and its infinite self-determination, this particularity remains, 
even in ethicality, as infinite, independent, free subjectivity. 
This is the stage which exhibits education as an immanent 
phase of the absolute, and proves its infinite value. We 
may define the man of culture to be a person who can do 
everything that others do, without losing his individuality. 
Culture is the rubbing off of angular peculiarities, and 
enables one to appreciate univeral interests. 

The civic community contains three phases : 

(A) The mediation of the desire and satisfaction of the 
individual through his work and through the work and the 
satisfaction of the wants of all the other individuals, the 
system of wants. 

() The actuality of the immanent universal freedom, the 
protection of property through the administration of justice. 

((7) The precaution exercised against the remnant of 
chance in this system, and the management of the particular 


interests as of something possessed in common, through 
police and the corporations. 

A. The System of Wants 


In its first aspect (zunachsi) particularity, being the 
determined, in general, as over against the universal element 
of the will, is subjective want. These wants gain their objec 
tivity, /. e.j satisfaction, through the means (a) of external 
things, which include the property and products of the wants 
and wills of others, and (b) through the means of activity 
and labor as the mediation of the two sides (the particular 
and universal element). Since the aim of activity is the 
satisfaction of particular subjective wants, and since, in 
relation to these same wants and to the free choice of others, 
the universal realizes itself, we have the appearance of 
rationality in this sphere of the finite in the form of the 
understanding. This is the phase on which the discussion 
here turns, and which constitutes, in this sphere, the recon 
ciling element itself . . . This mutual interaction between 
individuals and society, in a realm of apparently unbridled 
individualism, is quite remarkable. It is like the apparently 
unregulated movement of the heavenly bodies whose law, 
however, can be discovered and understood, 

(a) The Nature of Wants and their Satisfaction. 


The animal has a limited range of ways and means of 
satisfying its likewise limited needs. But man shows even 
in this condition of dependency at once his transcendence 
over dependency, and his universality, first in the multipli 
cation of wants and means, and then through the distinction 
and separation of the concrete want into different parts and 


phases. Thus differentiated and particularized, they become 
abstract wants. 

In the sphere of legal right, it is the person ; in that of 
morality, the subject; in the family, the family-number; in 
the civic community in general, the citizen, the burgher (as 
bourgeois), and here, at the stage of wants (comp. 123, 
note), it is the general conception (Vorstellung} that is called 
man. It is consequently here, and strictly here only, that 
we speak of man, in this sense. 

Supplementary. - The animal is something particular, 
having its instinct and its limited means for satisfaction, 
which are not to be transcended. There are insects that are 
limited to a certain species of plants alone, and though there 
are other animals that have a wider sphere, and can live in 
different climates, they are still limited in comparison with 
the sphere of man. 


Likewise the means for the particularized needs, and, in 
general, the ways of satisfying them, differentiate and multi 
ply themselves, and thus become relative ends and abstract 
needs. Hence we have here an infinite progression of 
multiplication which, in the same measure, consists in dis 
tinguishing these determinations and in judging of the 
suitability of means to their ends ; in other words, it is 

The condition which Englishmen call " comfortable " is 
something inexhaustible, ever leading on to a more com 
fortable one. 


Wants, and the means of satisfying them, become in their 
extraneous forms, at the same time, a set of relations to other 
people, through whose wants and work satisfaction is 
mutually conditioned. The abstraction (see preceding ), 


which becomes a quality of wants and means, becomes also 
a determination of the mutual relation of individuals to one 
another. When recognized, this universal element is the 
phase which gives these individual and abstract needs, 
means, and forms of satisfaction a concrete and social char 


Since in social want, as the connection of immediate or 
natural and of spiritual wants of the general conception, the 
latter, as the universal, is the more important, the phase of 
liberation lies in this social phase in this manner : the stern 
necessity of nature belonging to the wants is lessened, and 
man comes in relation to his own, indeed, to a universal 
significance and to an only self-made necessity. Instead of 
coming in relation only to an external world, he has to do 
with an internal world of contingency and free choice. 

The opinion that when man lived in the so-called state of 
nature, in which he had only so-called simple, natural wants, 
and used only such means for their satisfaction as nature 
chanced to offer, he then, in reference to his needs, lived in 
freedom, is, without reference to the liberation that lies in 
work (of which later), a false view. Natural wants as such 
and their immediate satisfaction represent only a spirituality 
which is submerged in nature, and which is, therefore, rude 
ness and thralldom under nature. Real freedom, however, 
consists only in the reflection of the spiritual upon itself, in 
its differentiation from the natural and in its reflex-spiritual 
determination of nature. 


This liberation is formal, since the particularity of the 
ends remains the fundamental content. The tendency of 
the social state towards unlimited multiplication and special 
ization of wants, means, and enjoyment, which, like the 


differentiation between natural and uncultured wants, has 
no limits, in other words, luxury, is likewise an endless 
augmentation of dependence and distress. These must, in 
order to reduce it to the property of the free will, do battle 
with a matter that presents an endless opposition, that is, do 
battle with external means of different kinds, consequentl) 
they have to do with absolute hardship. 

Supplementary. Diogenes with all his cynicism is strictly 
nothing but the product of the social life of Athens, aixj 
what determined him was the view against which the sagei 
of Athens in general agitated. This view is hence not 
independent, but arose from the social conditions them 
selves, and is, indeed, an unhealthy product of luxury itsell 
Wherever luxury is at its height, there also distress arm 
profligacy are just as great, and cynicism results as tht 
opposition to refinement. 

() The Nature of Labor. 

The mediation that is to prepare and procure for tlto 
particularized wants the adequate and equally particularized 
means, is labor. Its purpose is to specialize the material 
immediately given by nature through the most manifold 
processes for this multitude of ends. It is this formative 
activity that gives to the means their value and appropriate 
ness, so that, in consumption, man is related chiefly to human 
productions. It is human exertions that he consumes. 

Supplementary. The immediate material which does not 
need to be prepared for use by human labor, is insignificant. 
One must earn the very air he breathes, since he must temper 
it to his comfort and safety. Water alone, perhaps, can be 
used in its natural state. The sweat of the human brow 
and the work of the human hand procures for man the 
means for satisfying his wants. 



In the multiplicity of interesting characteristics and 
objects, theoretic culture develops for itself not only a mul 
tiplicity of conceptions and intellectual acquirements, but 
also a mobility and rapidity of the mind in conceiving and 
in passing from one conception to another, and a power of 
grasping involved and universal relations. This is the 
culture of the understanding, along with which goes the 
development of speech. Practical education through labor 
consists in the want that causes it and the habit of being 
occupied with some employment, and, secondly, in the 
limitation of one s activity so as to correspond partly to the 
nature of the material, but more especially to the will of 
others ; lastly, practical culture consists in that habit of 
external activity, and universally valid skill which is gained 
by this training. 

Supplementary. The barbarian is indolent, and distin 
guishes himself from educated man in brooding in an atmos 
phere of stupidity. For practical education consists just in 
the habit, desire and need of productive employment. The 
unskilled workman produces always something else than he 
intended, because he is not master of his own activity. He 
is a skilled workman who brings forth his product as it 
should be, and who finds no discrepancy between his sub 
jective activity and the end attained. 


The universal and objective element in labor is contained, 
however, in the abstraction which causes the differentiation 
of means and of wants, and thereby also differentiates pro 
duction and gives rise to the division of labor. The work of 
the individual becomes simpler by this division and con 
sequently his skill in his abstract work, as well as the amount 
of his production, greater. Hence this abstraction neces- 


sarily brings to perfection at once the skill and the means 
of dependence and the mutual relation of men in the satis 
faction of other wants. The abstraction of production makes 
the work ever more mechanical, thereby finally leading to its 
transference from man to the machine. 

(c) Wealth. 


Because of this dependent and mutual character of work 
and of the satisfaction of wants, the subjective self-seeking 
transforms itself into a contribution to the satisfaction of every 
body s wants, that is, into the mediation of the particular 
through the universal as dialectic movement, so that while 
each one earns, produces and enjoys for himself, he thereby 
also produces and earns for the enjoyment of the rest. 
This necessity, which consists in the perfect interconnection, 
in dependence of all with all, has the form of what is called 
general permanent wealth (see 170), which contains for 
each one the possibility of partaking in the common prop 
erty, through his education and skill, in order to be assured 
of subsistence. On the other hand the individual s earnings, 
mediated by his labor, sustains and increases the common 


The possibility of individuals partaking in the common 
possessions depends, partly on an immediate foundation 
(capital), and partly on the skill of the individuals. This 
skill, in its turn, depends again on capital, and then on the 
chance circumstances of the case. Owing to these diverse 
circumstances the natural unequal bodily and spiritual ten 
dencies and talents are unequally developed. This diversity 
presents itself in this sphere of particularity in all directions 
and at all stages, and has, with other elements of chance 


and arbitrariness, the unequal distribution of property and the 
difference between individuals in skill and attainments as a 
necessary consequence. 

The spirit s objective right to particularity, which is con 
tained in the Idea, not only does not abolish, in the civic 
community, the natural dissimilarity between men, but 
produces it in a spiritual form, and elevates it to a dissimi 
larity of skill, of possessions, and even of intellectual and 
moral development. To oppose to this the demand of 
equality, is characteristic of the empty understanding, that 
mistakes this, its ought, and its abstract conception for the 
real and the rational. This sphere of the particular which 
the universal has adopted attains only relative identity with 
the universal. There still remains in it much of the natural 
and arbitrary particularity, the state of nature. Further, it 
is Reason as immanent in the system of human wants and 
activities that articulates this system into an organic whole 
of different members. 


The infinitely manifold means and their just as infinite 
self-limitation, in the activity of the mutual production and 
exchange, are unified through the permeating universal 
element, and again differentiated into masses with common 
characteristics ; the connected total evolves itself to particular 
systems of wants, of their means and trades, of the kind 
and manners of satisfaction for wants and of the theoretical 
and practical education (systems into which individuals 
naturally enter) ; in short, this organized totality is differ 
entiated into classes of civil society. If the family be 
recognized as the primary basis of states, classes must 
be recognized as the second one. Through them, the 
individual seeks at least relatively broader aims than mere 
private interests. 



Classes thus formed are distinguished as the substantial 
class (agriculturists), the reflective or formative class (arti 
sans), and lastly, the universal class (the learned and 
office-holding class). 


The substantial class has its possessions in the natural 
products of the soil which it cultivates. It must have land 
suitable to be exclusive private property, and demands not 
only chance-gathering of usufruct (as the gathering of wild 
berries, breadfruit, etc.), but objectively formative labor. 
Against the connection of labor and its result with special 
fixed seasons, and the dependence of the crop on the 
variable natural processes, the aim of satisfying wants 
becomes provident care for the future. On account of these 
conditions, the manner of subsistence in this class is but 
little mediated by reflection and individual will. It retains, 
in general, the substantial disposition of an unmediated 
ethicality, depending on confidence (in nature) and on family 
relations. [Hegel continues here to show why the begin 
ning of agriculture should be placed side by side with wed 
lock as the first foundation of the state and its civilization. 
Both agriculture and wedlock are in the nature of limitation 
of the arbitrariness of the individual. Both tend to make 
the mode of life more stable, more dependent on the uni 
versal laws of the spirit than on the particularity and caprice 
of the individual. Hence, the mythologies of the ancients 
represent the introduction of agriculture as a divine deed, 
worthy of being commemorated in religious festivities and 

To be sure, the factory methods of cultivating the soil, 
which, even in Hegel s time began to be prominent, tend to 
obliterate the distinction between the agriculturist and the 


artisan ; but still, Hegel thinks, the patriarchal mode of life 
of the agriculturist is rather gaining than losing vitality. 
Here man lives in unmediated communion with nature. 
The yield of his acres comes to him as a direct gift, for 
which he gives thanks to God. He lives in the confident 
trust that this goodness of God will continue. What he gets 
is enough for him ; he uses it freely, for more is coming. 
This is the old nobility disposition and view of life of this 

In the production of this class, nature is the chief factor 
and man the secondary. In the second class (the forma 
tive), the human intellect is the essential element and 
nature s product only the material. 


(b) The industrial class has as its business the change of 
form of the products of nature, and depends, especially, for 
its subsistence, on its labor and on the use it makes of the 
reflective powers of the intellect, as well as essentially on 
the skill with which it can deal with the wants and work of 
others. For what it possesses and enjoys, it scarce need 
to thank any one but itself, its own activity. This activity 
may be divided as follows : work for individual needs in a 
concrete manner and at the request of individuals, the work 
of the artisan or manual laborers ; work in the more abstract 
form for the sum total of individual wants, but hence for a 
universal need, the work of the manufacturers; and the 
work of exchange of the individualized means of want and 
satisfaction for one another through the common medium 
of exchange, money, in which the abstract value of all 
goods exists as an actuality. This is the work of the 
commercial or trading class. The sense of freedom and of 
order is especially developed in this class, depending, as it 
does, so largely upon its own foresight and intelligence. 



(V) The common, or universal, class has as its business the 
universal, or common interests of the social state. Hence 
this class should be relieved from the direct work for the 
satisfaction of private wants, either by their own private 
fortune or by being compensated by the state, which 
demands their activity. Their private interests should be 
guaranteed to them while they work for the common weal. 


Thus the classes as particularity, having become objective, 
differentiate themselves, according to the concept, into these 
fundamental distinctions. On the other hand, however, the 
question as to which class any particular individual is to 
belong depends to some degree on his natural gifts, nativity, 
and other circumstances. Still, the final and essential deter 
mination rests with the subjective opinion and particular choice 
of the individual. In this sphere, subjective opinion and 
free choice find their right use and honor, so that what here 
happens because of inner necessity is likewise mediated by 
free choice, and has hence, for the subjective consciousness, 
the form of a product of its own will. 

We find here the difference between the practical life of 
the Orient and the Occident, and between the ancient and 
modern world. In the former this division into classes 
arises objectively and necessarily, the principle of subjective 
individuality being thus deprived of its right. For the 
assignment of individuals was there left to the rulers (as in 
the Platonic Republic), or made a mere matter of birth, as 
in the Hindu castes. Thus, not being recognized in the 
organization of the state and so harmonized with it, the 
principle of subjective individuality, which is an essential 
factor of society, is rendered hostile and destructive of the 
social order, and either succeeds in destroying it, as in the 


Grecian States and the Roman Republic, or else, attaining 
power or some sort of religious authority, it results in 
internal corruption and complete degradation, as was the 
case, to a certain extent, among the Lacedemonians and is 
now (1820) being thoroughly illustrated among the Hindus. 
But when this principle is duly recognized in the organization 
and integrated with it, and thus maintained in its right, it 
becomes the very animating principle of civil society, of the 
thinking activity of men and of personal merit and honor. 
The recognition that what is necessary and rational in civil 
society is mediated and brought about through the liberty of 
individual choice, this is what constitutes the ordinary 
idea ( Vorstellung) of freedom. 


The individual acquires actuality by entering into some 
determinate form of existence, the interest and labors of some 
one of these classes, whereby he limits himself exclusively to 
one of the particular spheres of wants. Hence the ethical 
disposition in this sphere is that of rectitude and class honor. 
The object is to make and maintain one s self freely, as a 
member of one phase of the civil community, by one s own 
industry and skill, and to provide for one s self only through 
this mediation with the universal, as well as to be recognized 
herein by one s self and others, as a vital member of society. 
Morality has its proper position in this sphere, where reflec 
tion on one s actions, the end of the particular want and 
welfare is the ruling conception, and where the accidental 
nature of their satisfaction elevates into a duty even a single 
and accidental act of assistance. 

Supplementary. By the principle that man must be some 
thing in particular we understand that he should belong to 
a definite class. It is this which makes this being something 
mean that he then is something substantial. A human 
being that does not belong to one of the classes is only a 


private person and does not partake in the universal element. 
To be sure, the individual may esteem his private personality 
as the highest form of life, and believe that if he should 
enter a class (/. e., take up a trade or profession) he would 
thereby lower himself. This is founded on the false concep 
tion that where anyone gains through his own exertion any 
definite class mode of existence he thereby limits and 
degrades himself. 


The principle of this system of wants is a special form of 
knowing and willing independent universality or of freedom. 
But as this is still in its abstract form it is that of the right 
of property in itself. But this right exists here no longer 
only potentially as in " abstract right ", but as a valid actual 
ity, as the protection of property through the administration of 

B. The Administration of Justice. 

The relative element of the mutual dependence of wants 
and of work for these wants has, primarily, its reflection-into- 
itself\\\ the infinite personality (abstract) justice [legal right]. 
But it is this sphere of the relative itself which, as education, 
gives to legal justice its existence and character of being 
universally acknowledged, known and willed, and, when medi 
ated through this knowing and willing, of having validity 
and objective actuality. 

It belongs to culture (to thought as the consciousness of 
the individual in the form of universality) that the ego be 
conceived as universal Person, in which all are identical. 
Man has so high a worth because he is man, not because he is 
Jew, Catholic, Protestant, German or Italian. This con 
sciousness, to which thought gives validity, is of infinite 


importance, and is faulty only when it settles, as cosmopoli 
tanism, into opposition to the concrete life of the state. 


Objective justice implies on the one hand that it be some 
thing well known, on the other that it have such reality and 
power as to make it recognized as universally valid and 

(a) Right in the Form of Law. 


Just what is implicitly right is, at this stage, explicitly set 
forth in objective form, /. e. it is determined through thought 
for consciousness. As that which is right and valid it is set 
forth as something known, it is the law. Right, or justice, 
becomes through this determination positive (legal) right. 1 

Abstract of Remainder of . 

[To posit anything as universal is to think it. Thought, 
in fact, according to Hegel, is always a universalization. 
Hence the great, yet boundless importance of expressed or 
written laws. For written and codified law is not merely an 
expression of what was found formerly in custom and 
opinion. In the very act ot thinking out the life-giving con 
cept of the law, the codifier brings out the universal element 
which before existed only implicitly in custom. Customary 
law has hence a lower value than written law. Its uni 
versality is recognized only in a subjective and accidental 

1 The German words Gesetz, "law," and gesetzt "posited," like 0Ans 
and rldrifjii. in Greek, have of course the same root. Law is something 
posited (gesetzt}, something set down as a universal principle and im 
movable rule. Hegel, who is always fond of utilizing the derivation of 
words, feels therefore that the connection is here self-evident. This 
must be borne in mind in reading the above paragraph, as the English 
cannot preserve the etymological argument. p. M. M. 


way, that is, as far as the chief, judge, jury or mob are able 
or willing to give its latent universality practical validity. 
Hence, the opinion that customary law is more vital than 
codified law, is a grave misconception. Certainly a law 
does not cease to be customary by being written down. 
England s common law is an excellent example of the con 
fused conceptions that rule the present administration of 
justice. Theoretically, it is an unwritten law, the "mores 
majorum " of the English nation ; but, practically, no law is 
more written than the common law. In fact there is no end 
to the writing of it. Every judge and court are supposed 
and expected to found their decisions on the recorded 
decisions of former judges and courts. But, according to 
the theory of the unwritten law, these predecessors did 
nothing but expressed the unwritten law, and this customary 
unwritten law exists just as authoritatively in the present 
court and judge as in any of their predecessors. A similar 
confusion arose in the later Roman administration of 

To refuse to believe that a nation s laws may be 
adequately codified is to offer the greatest possible insult to 
such a nation and to its legal profession.] 

The sun and planets have laws, to be sure, but they know 
them not : likewise the barbarian. It is only when civilized 
man is conscious of his laws, that the arbitrary and accidental 
elements of feeling and opinion, such as revenge and sym 
pathy, are purified from his administration of justice. Con 
flicts, "collisions," and inconsistencies in laws cannot be 
avoided ; these also serve to make the judge to be some 
thing higher than a machine. But to try to avoid conflicts 
of laws, by allowing a wider field for the arbitrary decisions 
of the judge, were a retrogressive step towards chance and 
particularity again. This is, in fact, a great fault of juris 
prudence founded on custom. Digests of decisions, though 
certainly superior to the bare records of the courts, still 


contain so much adventitious and merely historical matter, 
as the English practice shows, that they are far from being 
satisfactory from a philosophical point of view. 


In this identity of implicit (Ansichsein) and explicit 
(Gcsetzseiri), in civil conduct only that which is law is binding 
as right, or justice. Since the characteristic of being expli 
citly set forth contains also the accidental element of the 
private choice and other arbitrary elements, it is quite pos 
sible that that which is law may be quite different in content 
from that which is in itself right. In positive law, we have 
the source of the knowledge of the just in cases of litigation. 
Positive jurisprudence is largely a historical science resting 
upon authority. 


Since justice first arrives at definite existence in the form 
of statute law, it comes into application, as far as its content 
is concerned, in relation to the material furnished by the 
civic community, in its endlessly special and complicated 
relations and forms of property and contract. Further 
material is furnished by the ethical relations depending on 
disposition, love, and confidence, though, naturally, only in 
as far as they contain the element of abstract justice ( 159). 
The moral element and moral commandments, which have 
to do with the will in its most intimate subjectivity and 
particularity, cannot be objects of positive legislation. Still 
further material is furnished by the rights and duties that 
come into existence in the administration of justice itself 
and from the organization of the state and the like. 

Supplementary. As regards the higher relations of wed 
lock, love, religion and the state, legislation can only take 
cognizance of their merely external sides. In this respect 
great difference is found in the legislation of various 


peoples. ... In regard to the oath, however, where the 
matter is left to the conscience of the individual, the courts 
must insist upon strict honesty and truthfulness. 


There is always one essential phase of the law and its 
administration that contains an accidental element. This 
depends on the necessity of the law s being a universal 
decision, that must be applied to particular cases. To 
declare against this accidental element is to utter an abstrac 
tion. The quantitative measure of a punishment, for ex 
ample, can never be made adequate to any speculative 
concept. (Pure reason can never determine the measure of 
punishment.) Whatever the sentence may be, it is, on this 
side, always somewhat arbitrary. This contingent element 
is, however, itself necessary in this sphere and to reason 
against a code on the ground, that it is not perfect, is to 
misunderstand this phase in which no perfection is possible, 
and which hence must be taken as it is. 

(b) The Essential Characteristics (das Daseiri) of the Law. 


The obligation to obey the laws contains, from the side 
of the right of self-consciousness ( 132 with note) the 
(moral) necessity of the laws being made universally known. 

Abstract of Remainder of . 

[To hang the tables of the laws so high over people s 
heads that no citizen can read them, as the tyrant Dionysius 
did, is an injustice and a crime. But what else does a 
government do that hides the law in numberless quartos, 
and in conflicting decisions of courts and opinions of jurists 
yes, even in a foreign language? On the other hand, 


Justinian and other codifiers, however imperfect in their 
work, should justly be praised as the greatest benefactors 
of their nations. 

The legal profession should indeed consider law their 
speciality, but not, as they often do, their monopoly. They 
do, however, often object to the layman s knowing the law 
in the same spirit as the physicists objected to Goethe s 
dissertation on color. He, a poet, invade the territory of 
the physicist ! But one need not be a shoemaker to know 
where the shoe pinches, nor a specialist to understand what 
belongs to the universal interests of mankind. For this 
is the foundation of liberty, the holiest and noblest in man.] 

Abstract of 216. 

[Two characteristics are essential to the public code : 
first, simple universal principles ; and secondly, sufficiently 
explicit application of these principles to the infinite compli 
cations to which human relations are subject. Hence it is 
not to be reckoned a fault that no code can be complete 
in the sense of having a ready-made application to every 
possible case. The only reasonable claim is that all the 
fundamental principles should be plainly expressed. 

One great source of legal confusion is, no doubt, the 
injustice upon which many historical institutions are founded. 
When later ages have tried to read into these institutions a 
rationality that they originally lacked, this misinterpretation 
in favor of justice necessarily complicates the system. The 
change of the Roman law from the narrow national prejudice 
of the republic to the lex gentium and lex naturae of the 
later prudentes, is an example. But the chief cause of the 
necessary incompleteness of a code, lies in the finite nature 
of the subject-matter to which these universal principles 
are to be applied. This must of necessity produce infinite 
progressions in the application. 


To argue against a code on this ground, /. <?., that it 
cannot be completed, is to fail to remember that Le plus 
grand ennemi du lien c est k mieux. No art, no science, 
no undertaking would be worth while, according to such 
reasoning, for nothing can be complete in its application, 
not even geometry. The noblest, grandest, and most 
beautiful were then worthless, since there might be some 
thing more noble, grand and beautiful not yet discovered. 
But a great tree may continually put forth more branches 
and still it is not a new tree ; and it would certainly be 
foolish never to plant a tree because it might get, after 
a while, additional branches.] 


As in the civic community implicit justice becomes law, so 
also my formerly individual unmediated and abstract right is 
transformed, by being recognized, into an element of the 
universal will and knowledge. Acquirement of property and 
all activity relative to it must therefore adopt that form 
which is characteristic of property, in its universal relations. 
Property depends solely on contract and on the legal formalities 
necessary to prove such contract. . . . 

Supplementary. Hegel notes the necessity of the formal 
ities connected with the holding of property in a community. 
In reply to those who would dispense with them, he says, that 
they are the essential element, making explicit and positively 
asserting the existence of property rights. All mere sub 
jectivity has here to give place to this objective form or 
reality, and receive from it security and stability. 


Since property and personality have legal recognition and 
validity in the civic community, law-breaking is not only an 
offence against some subjective-infinite, but against a universal 


principle, whose existence has a sure and strong foundation 
in itself. We arrive here at the point of view that estimates 
the offence according to the dangerous tendencies it has for 
the community (society). Such tendencies certainly add 
to the magnitude of the crime ; but, on the other hand, a 
community whose government feels secure, overlooks the 
external importance of an offence, and practices greater 
clemency in its punishment. 

(f) The Court of Justice. 


When justice, in its legal form, gains actual existence it is 
self-dependent (fur sick) ; that is, stands independent over 
against the particular will and opinion of justice, and has to 
make itself valid as being universal. This recognition and 
realization of justice in the particular cases, without the 
subjective feeling of particular interests, belongs to a public 
power, to the court of justice. As to the historical origin of 
courts of justice and of judges, it matters not whether they 
arose from patriarchal relations, from force or from free 


The right against crime in the form of revenge ( 102) is 
only an implicit right and has not the form of justice, / . e., 
is not just as to its mode of existence. In the place of 
the offended party (the individual), the offended universal 
(the community), which has its characteristic actuality in the 
court, enters, and undertakes the prosecution and punish 
ment of crime. Hereby the penalty of crime ceases to be 
the merely subjective and accidental retaliation of revenge, 
and is transformed into the true reconciliation of justice 
with itself in punishment. This punishment is, from the 
objective side, the reconciliation, through the negation of the 


crime, of the self-restoring law, which thereby gives itself 
valid actuality. From the subjective side of the offender, it 
is the reconciliation of his own law, known by him and 
established for his protection, in whose execution on himself 
he consequently finds the satisfaction of justice, in fact, 
nothing but his own deed. 


The member of the civil community has the right to appeal 
to the courts, as well as the duty to appear in court, and to 
accept his disputed right from the court only (to allow the 
decision of the courts of justice to be supreme and final 
over his disputed rights). 

Supplementary. Every individual must not only have the 
right to appeal to the courts, but must also know the laws, 
else this right would be of little use to him. But it is also 
the duty of the individual to appear in court. In feudal 
times, the powerful nobles often refused to appear, chal 
lenged the court, and acted as if it had been an injustice of 
the courts to demand their appearance. But this is a 
condition that contradicts the true conception of a court of 
justice. In more modern times the prince must recognize 
the authority of the court over himself in private affairs, and 
in free states his cases are generally lost. 


Before courts, justice must have the characteristic of 
being demonstrable. The legal procedure enables both parties 
to bring forward effectively their evidence and legal claims, 
and the judge to get fully acquainted with the case. These 
steps are themselves rights, and hence their manner of pro 
cedure must be legally determined. Therefore procedure is 
an essential part of the science of law. 



Just as the public proclamation of the laws is a right of 
the subjective consciousness, so also is the publicity of the 
administration of justice. It follows from the right of know 
ing the laws, that the possibility of the actualization of the 
laws in particular cases, should be publicly known, both as 
to the course of external events and as to legal principles, 
since the history of a case is a universally valid history ; 
and, though the case, as far as its particular content is 
concerned, is of interest only to the parties in question, its 
universal content is concerned with a principle of justice, 
whose determination touches the interest of all. 

The deliberations of the members of the court among 
themselves, over the case before decision, are expressions 
of opinions and views that are still particular, and conse 
quently not of public nature. 


Judicial activity, as the application of the law to par 
ticular cases, has two sides: first, an ascertaining of the 
nature of the case in its immediate detail, as, for example, 
whether there was a contract or not ; whether a certain 
illegal act has been committed; who has committed it; and, 
in criminal cases, the ascertaining of the thoughts and 
volitions that led to the action, according to their substan 
tial, culpable character ( 119, note); secondly, the sub- 
sumption of the case under the law, whose purpose is to 
restitute justice. In criminal cases, the determination of 
the punishment falls under this head. These two classes 
of decisions, that constitute judicial activity, are two (essen 
tially) different functions. 



The first side, the ascertaining the case in its immediate 
details and qualifications, contains by itself no judicial func 
tion. It is a piece of information such as any educated 
person may have. Since the subjective element of the 
comprehension and intention of the agent (see Part II) is 
essential for the qualification (a true estimate) of an act, and 
since the evidence without this element is not concerned 
with objects of Reason and the abstract understanding, 
but only with details, circumstances, and objects of sense- 
perception and subjective certainty ; and since, hence, such 
evidence contains no absolutely objective determination, 
therefore, the ultimate factor in the decision is the subjective 
conviction and conscience (animi sententia), as in regard to 
the evidence, which depends on what others depose and 
affirm, the oath is the ultimate, though subjective test. 

Supplementary. There is no reason to hold that only the 
judge (juristische Richter) should determine the facts in the 
case, for this belongs to common intelligence and not merely 
to legal learning. The decision as to what are the facts in 
the case depends on empirical circumstances, on witnesses of 
the act and the like, and then again on facts from which 
conclusions as to the act in question may be drawn, and that 
make it probable or improbable. Here certainty is sought, 
not a truth in the higher sense, for truth is something 
altogether eternal. This certainty is here the subjective 
conviction, conscience, and the question is, what form this 
certainty should take in the administration of justice. To 
demand confession of the culprit, as is common in German 
courts of justice, has this truth in it, that by so doing the 
subjective self-consciousness is satisfied, since the sentence 
which the judge pronounces should not differ in the 
consciousness of the convicted person, from the sentence of 
his own conscience, and since the judgment does not cease 


to contain an alien element to the transgressor until he has 
confessed his offence. Here is the difficulty however, that the 
transgressor may refuse to confess, and thereby the interests 
of justice be endangered. But, again, if the subjective 
conviction of the judge is to be supreme, there is once more 
a hardship, since man is no longer treated as a free agent. 
This mediation, however, takes place when it is demanded 
that the verdict of guilty or not guilty should come, as from 
the soul of the transgressor, through the verdict of a jury. 1 

The Trial by Jury. 

The right of self-consciousness, the moment of subjective 
freedom, may be considered as the substantial point of view 
in the question of the necessity of public trial and trial by 
jury. To this, the essential of what can be said on the 
score of utility in favor of these institutions, can be reduced. 
From other considerations and upon other grounds, it is quite 
possible to dispute and defend one way or another this or 
that advantage or disadvantage, but, like all reasons of 
forensic argumentation, these arguments are secondary and 
hence not decisive, or else they are taken from other, and 
perhaps higher, spheres of thought. That it were possible to 
administer justice well, perhaps better, with purely juristic 
courts (i. e., courts without juries) than with other institutions, 
does not here concern us ; for if this possibility increased to 
a probability, yes even to a necessity, the right of self -conscious 
ness would ever retain its demands, and not find itself satisfied. 

1 Hegel s substitute of the verdict of a jury for the confession of the 
criminal is clear, if we remember that he is giving an exposition of the 
common consciousness which the criminal implicitly acknowledges. His 
twelve peers state their opinion of the relation of the criminal s particular 
act in regard to the acknowledged common good. P. M. M. 


When the knowledge of jurisprudence (owing to the 
character and scope of this science), the transactions of the 
courts (legal proceedings) and the possibility of legal prose 
cution, become the property of an exclusive class (the legal 
profession); and when the very terminology is in a language 
that is unknown to those of whose rights it treats ; the 
members of the civic community being dependent on their 
own activity, their own knowledge and will, are held as aliens, 
and as minors, in relation to their right, a relation that is really 
a species of serfdom under the legal profession. And this, 
though their rights form not only the most personal and 
intimate, but the substantial and rational element of their 
knowledge and will. 

Even though they have the right to come bodily into court 
(in judicio stare), this is a right of small value when they may 
not be present spiritually with their own intelligence, and the 
justice that they gain, remains for them an external fate. 


In the administration of justice the civic community 
brings itself back to the concept of the unity of the implicitly 
universal with subjective particularity, although the latter is 
found in individual cases and the former in the sense of 
abstract justice. This is effected by the Idea s losing itself 
in the particularity and by its separation into an internal 
and an external moment. The realization of this unity in 
the extension of the whole sphere of particularity, at first 
as relative unification, constitutes the organization for police- 
protection, and in the more limited but more concrete totality, 
the municipal corporation. 

Supplementary. In the civic community the universal is 
only the necessary ; in the social relation of wants, right 
alone, as such, is the fixed. But this right, a limited sphere, 
has reference only to the protection of what I have : right 
as such is welfare, something external. But this welfare is, 


however, in the system of wants, an essential characteristic. 
Consequently the universal, which at first is only the right, 
must spread itself out over the whole field of particularity. 
Justice is something great in the civic community : good 
laws make the state flourish, and free (private) property is a 
fundamental condition for its splendor ; but since I am 
totally entwined in particularity, I have a right to demand 
that in this connected whole (the civic community) my 
particular welfare also, shall be furthered. My welfare, my 
particular interests, must be taken into consideration, and 
this is done by the police-organization and the municipal 

C. The Police and the Municipal Corporation. 


In the system of wants, the subsistence and welfare of each 
individual exists as a possibility whose actuality is conditioned 
by the individual s choice and natural peculiarities, as well 
as by the objective system of wants : through the adminis 
tration of justice the violation of property (property-right) 
and of personality is annulled (is guarded against). The 
right that is actual in particularity contains, however, also 
the demand that the accidental infringements of the rights of 
this or that end shall be abolished, and that undisturbed safety 
of person and property shall be established in the form of the 
assurance of the subsistence and welfare of the individual - 
in other words, justice, or right, as actualized in the par 
ticular, demands that \hzparticular welfare (i. e., the welfare 
of each individual) shall be treated as a right, and shall be 


The aim of the municipal corporation, being limited and 
finite, has its truth in the independent universal end (the 


State) and its absolute actuality. The same, too, is true of 
the police functions. The sphere of the civic community is 
thereby merged into the State. 

City and country the former the location of civic industry, 
that is, of the reflexion that individualizes itself and centres 
in itself ; the latter the location of the ethicality that rests on 
nature, the individuals that mediate their self-preservation in 
relation to other legal persons, and the family, constitute the 
two still ideal phases out of which, as their true ground, 
the State develops. This evolution of unmediated ethicality 
through the differentiations (Entzweiung) of the civic com 
munity to the State, which proves itself their true ground, 
and only such an evolution, or derivation, is the scientific 
demonstration of the concept (Begriff) of the State. Because 
in this evolution the scientific concept of the State appears 
as the result, while it shows itself as the true ground. Hence 
that mediation and that appearance abolish and transform 
themselves into immediacy. In reality, therefore, the State 
is always rather \kzfirst, in which, later, the family, develops 
into the civic community. It is the Idea of the State which 
separates itself into these two moments. In the develop 
ment of the civic community, the ethical substance wins its 
infinite form, which contains the following two phases : 

(i) The infinite differentiation down to the self-dependent 
(fur-sich-seyende) existence-in-itself of self-consciousness ; and 
(2) the form of universality which is in education and culture, 
the form of thought in which the spirit becomes objective 
and actual unto itself in laws and institutions, that is, in its 
thought-out will as organic totality. 



The State. 


THE State is the actuality of the ethical Idea; it is the 
ethical spirit as the manifest (pffenbare) substantial will that 
is fully self-cognizant (sich selbst deutliche), and that thinks 
and knows itself and realizes (vollfuhrt) what it knows and 
in as far as it knows. The State has its immediate existence 
in the ethical life (Sitte) and in the self-consciousness of the 
individual ; in his knowing and doing (in his knowledge and 
activity) it has its mediated existence, just as the individual 
has his substantial freedom in the State as in his own essence, 
seed and product of activity. 

The penates are the intimate, lower gods, the national 
spirit (Athene), the divine that knows and wills itself ; the 
devotion to family ties (pietdt} is ethicality deporting itself 
in feeling : and political virtue is the willing of the conceived 
independent end (of the independent ideal end). 


The State, as the actuality of the substantial will, (which 
actuality it has in the particular selfconsciousness raised to 
its universality) is the independently (an und fur sicJi) rational. 
This substantial unity is absolute, stable end-for-itself 
(Selbstzweck) in which freedom gains its supreme right, 
just as conversely this final end (Endzwecti) has the supreme 
right over against the individuals, whose supreme duty it is to 
be members of the State. 

Abstract of Remainder of . 

As long as the interest of the individual as such is alone the 
final end of human federation, we have only the civic com- 


munity, not the State. Those who confound these two 
concepts ascribe to the State no higher purpose than the 
protection of person and property. But the true State is 
objective spirit, and the individual is not himself, has not 
objectivity and truth, and cannot live an ethical life except 
as a member of the State. To live a universal life, that is, 
to live in organic communion with his neighbors, is the aim 
and purpose of the individual. Rationality in general is the 
union of the universal and particular, and here it is the 
union of objective and subjective freedom. But objective 
freedom is the freedom of the universal substantial will, 
and subjective freedom is that of the individual. Hence 
rationality, or concrete freedom, has the form of activity 
determined by ideal and hence universal laws. Here we 
have nothing to do with the historical origin of the State. 
Prove, if you please, that this or that State began with 
patriarchs or social contract, arose from fear or confidence, 
that the rulers claimed divine right, or ruled by pure force 
of custom ; and you have only shown the historical manner 
in which this or that State appeared, and not at all what the 
State is. Philosophy has to do with the inner thought-out 
concept of all this. 

Rousseau s "social contract" theory has the merit of 
having, both as to form and content, made thought in the 
form of will, the principle of the State. But as he knew of 
no will but the individual will, his universal rational Will 
became nothing but a sum of individual wills ; and con 
sequently his State was founded on nothing better than 
arbitrary choice, inclination, and express, free agreement. 
For results, see the French revolution and what came after 
it. The objective will is the rational State, whether the 
individual recognizes it or not ; and subjective freedom is 
only half of the truth. 

But the State may be falsely founded not only on internal 
particularity, but also on mere external elements, such as 

THE STATE. 19 T . 

the vicissitude of wants, the need of protection, brute force, 
wealth, and the like. Now these are indeed elements in the 
historic development of the State, but certainly not in its 
substance. To mistake such empirical particularities for the 
foundation of the State is to be a degree more superficial 
than Rousseau. Not only is the foundation not universal, 
but it is not even the particular as thought and will, but only 
as empirical particularities. So void of reason is this view, 
which overlooks the infinite and rational elements in the 
State, that it cannot, in its utter lack of thought, even be 
said to be inconsistent with itself. 

Supplementary to 258. 

!- The State in and for itself, is the ethical totality, the 
actualization of freedom ; and actual freedom (freedom 
actually) is the absolute end of Reason. The State is the 
spirit that dwells in the world and realizes itself in the 
world through consciousness, while in nature the spirit 
actualizes itself only as its own other, as dormant spirit. 
Only when present as consciousness, knowing itself as 
existing objectivity, is this spirit the State. When reasoning 
about freedom one must not start from the individual 
self-consciousness, but only from the essential nature of 
self-consciousness, for whether one knows it or not, this 
essence still realizes itself as an independent power in which 
the single individuals are only moments : it is the course of 
God through the world that constitutes the State. Its 
ground is the power of Reason actualizing itself as will. 
When conceiving the State, one must not think of particular 
States, not of particular institutions, but one must much 
rather contemplate the Idea, God as actual on earth (wirk- 
UcK), alone. Every State, though it may be declared 
wretched according to somebody s principles, though this or 
that imperfection in it must be admitted possesses always, 
if it belongs to the developed States of our times, the essen- 


tial elements of its true existence. But since it is easier to 
discover faults than to understand positive characteristics, 
it is easy to fall into the error of overlooking the internal 
organism of the State itself in dwelling upon extrinsic 
phases of it. The State is no work of art, it exists in the 
world, and hence in the sphere of choice, accidence, and 
error. Hence the evil behavior of its members can disfigure 
it in many ways. But the most deformed (hasslichste) human 
being, the criminal, the invalid, and the cripple are still 
always living human beings : the affirmative, life, remains in 
spite of all defects, and here we have to do with this affirm 
ative alone. 


The Idea of the State has (a) immediate actuality, and is 
the individual state as a self-related (sich auf sich beziehendcr) 
organism, /. e., the constitution, or internal national organiza 
tion (inneres Staatsrecht) ; (ft) the Idea passes over into 
the relations of the single State to other States : the inter 
national rights ; and (c) it is the universal Idea as genus and 
absolute power in relation to single states ; it is the spirit, 
which gives itself its actuality in the process of the world s 

Supplementary. The State, as actual, is essentially an 
individual state, and, still more, a particular state. Individ 
uality must be distinguished from particularity. The former 
is a moment of the Idea of the State itself, while particularity 
belongs to history. The States, as such, are independent of 
one another, and, consequently, the relation between them 
can be only external. Hence the need of another synthetic 
power to unite them. This third is the Spirit (of humanity) 
which gives itself actuality in the world s history, and which 
is the absolute judge over single States. Several States 
may, as a federation, form a supremacy over others, and 
confederations, like, for example, the Holy Alliance, may 


be formed, but these are always only relative and limited, 
like "the eternal peace." The only absolute judge who 
ever makes himself valid against the particular is the 
independent spirit who presents himself as the universal 
and as the active genus in the history of the world. (The 
spirit of humanity is the spirit of God as actual on earth.) 

A. Internal Polity or National Organization. 


The State is the actuality of concrete freedom. In con 
crete freedom all personal individuality and its particular 
interests find their complete development and the recogni 
tion of their independent rights (as we have seen them in 
the sphere of the family and of the civil community) in this 
larger unity. This occurs, partly through these individual 
interests being transformed into universal interests, and, 
partly through individuals recognizing in thought and deed 
this universal as being their own substantial spirit, and 
energizing for it as for their own final end. 

Thus, neither is the universal valid or realized without 
the particular interests, intelligence, and will of individuals, 
nor do individuals live only for the latter as private persons, 
but have also an independent will for the universal and an 
activity conscious of this end. The principle of the modern 
State has this enormous strength and depth, that while it 
allows the principle of subjectivity to evolve itself into the 
independent extreme of personal particularity, it, at the same 
time, brings all this back to substantial unity, and thus gains 
the subjective extreme in the substantial unity. 

Supplementary. The Idea of the State in modern times 
has the peculiarity that it constitutes the realization of 
freedom not according to subjective inclination, but accord 
ing to the concept of the will, that is, according to the 
universal and divine element of freedom. Those are 


imperfect States in which the Idea of the State is not yet 
out of the husks, so to speak, in which its particular deter 
minations have not yet come to free independence. In 
the States of classical antiquity, the universal element was 
already present, but the particularity was not yet liberated 
and brought back to universality, /. e., to the common end 
of the whole. The essence of the modern State lies in this, 
that the universal is allied to the full liberty of particularity 
and to the well-being of the individuals. Consequently, the 
interests of the family and the civic community combine 
themselves in the State. But they do so in such a way 
that the universality of the end cannot advance without the 
individual s own knowledge and will, which must retain 
their right. The universal must consequently manifest itself 
in action, but subjectivity must also be fully and vitally 
developed (be developed in all its fulness and life). Only 
when the two elements are preserved in their full force, can 
the State be considered fully articulated and truly organized. 


In reference to the spheres of private rights and private 
welfare, the spheres of the family and the civic commu 
nity, the State is, on the one hand, an external necessity. 
It appears as their own higher power, to whose nature 
their laws, as well as their interests, are subordinated and 
dependent. But on the other hand, the State is the 
immanent end of these lower spheres and has its strength 
in the unity of its universal final aim, and the particular 
interests of the individuals, because they have duties toward 
the State in just so far as they have rights in reference 
to it ( 155). 

Montesquieu, especially, as we have before remarked, 
has grasped and attempted to develop in detail in his 
renowned work, The Spirit of the Law, the thought of the 


dependence of laws (especially those relating to private 
rights) on the definite character of the State. In other 
words, he holds the philosophical view that considers the 
part only in its relation to the whole. 

Duty, primarily, is conduct towards something inde 
pendent, universal, and substantial for me, and on the 
other hand, rights are the determinate existence of this 
substantial element, and hence the side of its particularity 
and of my particular freedom. Hence duty and right 
appear, at the formal stage, as divided among different 
phases and persons. The State, as the ethical sphere, as 
the interpenetration of the substantial and the particular, 
contains the principle that my obligation to the substantial 
is likewise the characteristic form of existence (Daseiti) of 
my particular freedom, that is to say, in the State duty 
and right are united in one and the same relation. 

But further, in the State the different moments (duty and 
right) arrive at their characteristic form and reality, and thus 
the distinction between duty and right reappears. Hence 
they are (just because they are implicitly, (an sich], i. <?., 
formally, identical) distinct as to their content. In the moral 
sphere and in that of private right, the actual necessity of 
the relation is not present, and hence there is only an 
abstract similarity of content ; that which, in this abstract 
sphere, is a right to one ought also to be the right to 
another, and what is one s duty should also be other s 
duty. Such absolute identity of rights and duties exists only 
as similar identity of content in the determination that this 
content is itself the wholly universal principle, that is, the 
One Principle of duty and right, the personal liberty of 
man. Slaves have, therefore, no duties because they have 
no rights, and, conversely, no rights because no duties. 
(We do not here speak of religious duties.) But in the 
concrete Idea developing itself in itself, these its moments 
differentiate themselves, .and in their full determination they 


have also a different content. In the family, the son has 
not rights with the same content as he has duties in relation 
to the father, nor has the citizen rights with the same content 
as duties in relation to prince and government. 

This concept of the union of duty and right is one of the 
most important characteristics of States, and constitutes their 
inner strength. 

The abstract side of duty comes no further than to ignore 
and condemn the particular as an unessential and, in itself, 
unworthy element. But the concrete conception, the Idea, 
shows that the element of particularity is just as essential, 
and hence its satisfaction absolutely necessary. The indi 
vidual must in one way or another, in his performance of 
duty, find his own interests and his own satisfaction or 
recompense ; some right must grow out of his relation to 
the State, by reason of which the universal interest becomes 
his particular interest. Particular interests are surely not to 
be put aside or simply suppressed, but should be harmonized 
with the universal interest. The individual, being a subject 1 
in relation to his duties, finds in their performance, as a 
citizen, protection of his person and property, care for his 
own particular welfare, and the satisfaction of his substantial 
essence, the personal consciousness of being a member of 
this totality. Such fulfilment by citizens of duties, as 
labors and business for the State, constitutes the preservation 
and permanence of the State. But according to the abstract 
view, the universal interest would only be that its work and 
business should be performed as duties. 

Abstract of Supplementary 

Everything depends on the true union of universality and 
particularity in the State. In the ancient States the will 
of the State was absolute, without reference to the subjective 
interests of individuals. The modern State honors the 

1 Subject in && political sense (Unterthan not Subjeki). 


individual. Every duty to the State is also a right of the 
individual. The State is simply the organization of the con 
cept of freedom. It is the universal condition necessary for 
the realization of particular end and individual welfare. 


The actual Idea, the Spirit, divides itself into the two 
ideal spheres of its concept (the family and the civic com 
munity). This is the sphere of its finitude. Here, in order 
to return from this explicit ideality of phases as infinite 
actual spirit, it assigns these spheres the material for this 
its finite actuality. This finite actuality is given to indi 
viduals as a multitude, so that this allotment to particular 
individuals appears to be mediated through circumstances, 
chance, and free choice ( 185 and note). 

Abstract of 263, 264 and 265. 

In place of an abstract of some of these paragraphs, I 
borrow the following expository paraphrase from Dr. Morris 
volume. 1 

" The State, we have said, is the actualization of concrete 
freedom. And this is the same as to say that the State is, 
in its measure, the actualization of the Idea of Man ; that it 
is not simply a contingent means of human perfection, but 
is also this perfection itself ; that, in brief, the State is Man, 
standing relatively 2 complete in that fulness and wholeness 

1 Hegel s Philosophy of History, by Geo. S. Morris, Ph.D. pp. 84-86. 
Griggs & Co. Chicago, 1887. 

2 " Relatively," I say, in order to prevent a possible misconception. 
Relatively, though with an inferior degree of truth, the same may be 
said of the Family which, in the text, is asserted of the State. But, as 
we shall see later, the State itself is organic to a larger life and actuality 
of the human spirit, or of the "idea of man," in universal history; while 
universal history, again, is organic to the perfect consummation of 
humanity through the discovery of the true will of man in the will of 
God, the adoption of the latter as the inviolable norm of human action, 
and the consequent establishment of man in his spiritual perfection and 
completeness as a co-worker with and child of God. 


of developed being which the idea of man as a rational being 
implies. And it is this by virtue of a process which, just 
because it is rather organic than merely mechanical, has the 
form of a process of self-realization. 

To illustrate : The actual tree is such only by virtue 
of a process of growth. In this process the tree becomes 
nothing other than itself, it realizes itself. It does this, 
further, by separating itself into its natural parts or 
members, roots and branches. To each it allows a 
separate or distinct existence, and yet holds them all 
together in the unity of one organic and living whole. We 
may say that the tree disperses or distributes itself among 
its members, and this as the very condition, on the ful 
filment of which, the manifestation of its universal life 
and power, and the actualization of its organic unity (or the 
actualization of the "idea of the tree") irrevocably depend. 
Moreover, the tree is not an after-result of the existence 
of the roots and branches : when they begin to exist, its 
existence also begins. So it is with the State. The roots 
of the State are families, and its branches are the institutions 
of civil society. Its material is individuals. These take 
their places under the mentioned institutions, directed by 
circumstances, by caprice, or by personal choice. The 
element of "subjective freedom" has here its play. But these 
institutions themselves have obviously a universal or general 
character ; and the individual in recognizing them, and in 
maintaining himself in his own chosen place under them, 
recognizes and devotes himself to the service of a universal 
with which, by his own deliberate choice, he has identified 

But the universality of these institutions has its ground 
in, and is the manifestation and reflection of, that ethical 
"universal" which we term the invisible State or nation, 
or, more explicitly, the spirit of the nation, the 
universal spirit of man, as it takes form and declares itself 


in the particular life of the nation. Thus regarded, they 
make up the constitution of the nation ; they are the reason 
of the nation, developed and actualized in particular forms. 
They are, therefore, the steadfast basis of the State ; they 
immediately determine the temper of the individual citizens 
toward the State, and especially their confidence in it ; and 
they are the pillars of the public freedom, since in them 
particular (individual) freedom is realized in a rational form; 
and they thus involve an intrinsic union of freedom and 
necessity, or are, as it were, the living and visible body of 
an interior, organic, and steadfast liberty. 

" But institutions by themselves are impersonal and uncon 
scious. Their existence, as the above comparison of them 
to the branches of a tree implies, is assimilated in kind to 
that of a natural organism. The law of freedom, as exempli 
fied in them alone, is like a natural law, inflexible, unreflecting, 
without shadow of turning. In particular, they contain in 
themselves, as thus viewed and existing, no germ of develop 
ment. They are the phenomena and product of a public 
spirit, which they accordingly implicitly presuppose, and 
which must distinctly declare and develop itself in the form 
of clear, self-knowing intelligence and will, in order that the 
form of necessity under which institutional freedom existed 
may itself be changed to freedom. This spirit we must 
consider and speak of as the true substance of the State." 

Supplementary to 265. 

It has already been noted that the sacredness of the oath, 
and the institutions in which the civic community appears 
as ethical, constitute the stability of the whole (the State). 
p Through these institutions the universal becomes the 
concern of each and every citizen. It all depends on 
this, that the law of reason and the particular freedom of 
individuals penetrate each other, so that my particular end 
becomes identical with the universal; else the State is a 


castle built in the air (else there is absolutely no rational 
foundation for the State). The feeling of self-possession 
(Selbstgefiihl*) of the individual constitutes its actuality, and 
its stability consists in the identity of these two sides of 
its being (universality and particularity). It has often been 
said that the end of the State is the happiness of the 
citizens, and this is, indeed, true. If it goes ill with the 
citizens, if their subjective ends are not satisfied, if they do 
not find that the State, as such, is the mediation of this 
satisfaction, the State stands on a very weak foundation. 


But the spirit is not only actual and objective unto itself as 
this necessity and as a realm of appearance, but also as the 
inner essence and ideality of such appearance. Thus this 
substantial universality is object and end unto itself, and 
this necessity exists hereby just as much in the form of 


The necessity in the ideality of these elements is the 
evolution of the Idea within itself. It is, as subjective sub 
stantiality, the political disposition: and as objective, in 
distinction from the organism of the State, it is the political 
State proper and its constitution. 

Supplementary. The unity of the freedom that knows 
and wills itself, exists primarily as necessity. The sub 
stantial is, at this stage, the subjective existence of the indi 
viduals ; the other phase of the necessity is the organism; 
that is to say, the spirit is a process in itself, articulates 
itself in itself, posits distinctions in itself, through which 
it circulates. 


This political disposition is termed patriotism in general, 
as certainty resting in truth (mere subjective certainty 


does not proceed from truth and is nothing but opinion); 
and the will that has become custom is simply the result 
of the institutions existing in the State, as of those in 
which rationality is actually present. So, too, patriotism is 
manifested by activity in harmony with these institutions. 
This disposition is, in general, confidence in the State, which 
may attain to more or less cultured insight. It is the 
consciousness that my substantial and particular interest 
is preserved and contained in the interest and aim of an 
other (here the State) in its relation to me as an individual. 
Hereby the State immediately is no longer an other, a 
stranger to me ; and the ego is free in this consciousness. 

Abstract of Rest of . 

We ought not to understand by patriotism only extraor 
dinary actions and sacrifices. It is essentially that dispo 
sition which is accustomed to recognize the communal life, 
in the ordinary circumstances and relations of life, as the 
substantial foundation and final purpose of all activity. 
But as men find it easier to be magnanimous than just, so 
they also easily convince themselves that they possess that 
heroic patriotism, in order to save themselves the trouble of 
having this everyday patriotism. 

It is very much easier to criticise an institution than to 
understand the truth and necessity at its bottom. In 
questions of religion it is easy to say that this or that is 
superstition, but infinitely harder to understand the truth 
of it. We forget, for our particular interests, that on which 
our whole existence depends. Few of us are conscious of 
the fact when safely passing down a street at night, that 
this safety is the result of an institution ; and if we are, 
we are likely to ascribe it to the mere force of the State, 
when, in reality, the State coheres because of the funda 
mental sense of order which the great majority have. 




Supplementary. The State is an organism, that is, it is 
the evolution of the Idea into all its differentiations or 
different forms or organs of itself. These differentiated 
sides are thus the different powers of the State and its 
affairs and activity, through which the universal continues 
to bring forth itself and maintain itself in a necessary 
manner, in conformity with the Idea (of the State). This 
organism is the political constitution ; T it proceeds eternally 
from the State, as also the State maintains itself through 
the constitution. If the two fall outside of each other ; if 
the two sides become free from each other, there is no 
longer that unity posited which the constitution as an 
organism produces. Here the fable of the stomach and 
the other organs finds its application. For it is the nature 
of an organism that, if its parts do not all merge into 
unison of activity ; if one posits itself as independent, all 
go to destruction. In considering the State, one gets 
nowhere with predicates, principles, and the like, since 
the State must be comprehended as an organism. To 
attempt any other course, is just as idle as to try, by the 
aid of predicates, to comprehend the nature of God, whose 
life I must, much rather, behold (ansckaueti) in its very self. 


That the purpose and end of the State is the universal 
interest as such, and the satisfaction therein of the particular 
interests as to their substance, is (i) the State s abstract 
actuality, or substantiality ; but this is (2) the State s 
necessity when the actuality of the State divides itself in the 

1 By constitution ( Verfassung), Hegel does not refer only to the 
constitution on paper, but to the principle on which and by which the 
State is constituted. 


conceptual distinctions (concept-distinctions) of its activity. 
These distinctions become, through this substantiality, 
really actual and stable determinations, or powers ; (3) but 
this substantiality itself is the self-conscious and self-willing 
spirit, as having passed through the form of culture and educa 
tion. Hence the State knows what it wills, and knows it 
in its universality as something thought. Therefore the 
State acts according to conscious ends, known principles, 
and according to laws that exist not only in themselves 
(implicitly), but also for consciousness ; and, also, in as 
far as its actions have reference to present circumstances 
and conditions, they are determined by the exact acquaint 
ance with such relations. 

It is not too much to say that Hegel always and every 
where shows his deep and vital interest in religion, as one 
of the absolute forms of truth. He is perpetually recurring 
to it and giving extended expositions of its character, 
function and place in the system of absolute truth. We are 
not surprised, therefore, at finding here a long digression 
on the relation of the State to Religion. In place of this 
long translation, however, we deem it of more value to give 
Dr. Morris * very free exposition of Hegel s general view on 
the subject : 

" Is religion the foundation of the State ? Undoubtedly 
it is, and the whole of his Philosophy of the State and of 
History is a progressive demonstration of this truth, and 
of the sense in which it must be understood. The State, 
history, and indeed all natural existence, are the gradual 
actualization or manifestation of an Absolute Reason, 
which can and must exist in its eternal fulness only as 
Absolute Spirit, or God. In the ethical world, in particular, 
we are in process of seeing how each lower grade presup 
poses, as its substantial foundation, proximately the next 
higher one and then absolutely all higher ones. So the 

1 pp. 88 and 89 of volume previously cited. 


Family presupposes or calls for Civil Society, while the 
State is similarly presupposed by both. The particular 
State, again, the nation, with its definite national spirit, is 
organic to, and hence presupposes, a still larger life of the 
human spirit, a life which at once takes up into itself 
and also transcends the limits of separate national exist 
ences, and of which universal history is both the expression 
and the demonstration. 

But man, conceived and known as the spirit immanent 
in universal history, as universal humanity, or Weltgeist, 
is found to be unable to stand alone. He is relative to 
something else, which he presupposes as his substantial 
foundation ; he is not absolute. The whole historic life of 
humanity is organic to, and dependent on, the life and 
operation of the absolute and eternal Spirit, of whose 
thought and will it closes the demonstration, begun at the 
lowest grade of finite existence. 

When the natural and ethical worlds are comprehended 
as the progressive incarnation of reason in reality, God, 
who is the absolute truth, is seen to be the eternal 
presupposition and the omnipresent and actual condition 
of all existence whatever, but most conspicuously of the 
existence of the ethical world. If all things whatsoever 
are, in their degree, the revelation and incarnation of that 
supreme reason in which absolute and eternal Being God, 
Absolute Spirit consists, and if it is thus true of all things 
that they are a present and actual revelation of divine will 
and spiritual being, much more obviously is this true of an 
ethical organism, an historic power, like the State. So 
Hegel declares that the State is divine will, in the form 
of a present (national) spirit, unfolding itself in the actual 
shape and organization of an (ethical) world. 

The whole normal process of history, to which all the life 
of man, in Family, Civil Society, and State is organic, consists 
in the progressive realization of concrete human freedom, 


that is, of the essential spiritual nature of man, through 
the conscious recognition of God as the foundation of all 
the true life of the human spirit, and of the divine will as 
the true substance or content of the human will. In the 
whole process of history, or of the ethical world, humanity 
is progressively learning, and showing that it is learning, 
that its true language is, Lo ! I am come to do thy will, 
O God ! And so the foundation of the State is indeed, 
and in the most radical and comprehensive sense, religion, 
which, says Hegel, has ideally the absolute truth for its 
content. Upon this general truth, both in its generality 
and in its specific applications, our author finds occasion, 
as we shall see, to insist at almost every step in the develop 
ment of the philosophy of history, the spiritual story of 

But when religion is otherwise regarded ; when it is 
identified with immediate feeling, or with an intuition which 
claims exemption from the arduous labor of philosophic 
comprehension ; when, accordingly, it degenerates into 
fanaticism and narrow dogmatism, restricting the presence 
of God in history within the limits of a select religious 
organization, and treating the State as at the best only a 
soulless and godless mechanism, then the claim that 
religion is the foundation of the State must be rejected, 
or rather corrected. Then, especially, must the spiritual 
character of the State and its inherent divine right be 

272- 341, 

It is not necessary, for the purpose of the present volume, 
to give even a resume of Hegel s exposition of the political 
state, as the organized and publicly-expressed will of its 
people. Its articulate form follows from the distinction of 
the universal, the particular, and the individual, and their 
combination in a concrete and living activity. He declares 


that, as to form, that of a constitutional monarchy is the 
peculiar achievement of the modern world, emphasizing 
the constitutional and representative elements as well as 
the monarchical one. We have essentially the same articu 
lation of the three elements in our monarchical democracy, 
and England the same in her democratic monarchy. 

He was specially favorable to the English form, in 
reference to which he uttered his well-known saying that 
the king was "but a dot upon the /." The King or the 
President may equally be the mouth-piece of the personality 
of the State, the crown, or the necessary dot over the z, 
of the whole moral organism of the State. What he 
says about laws, as the express forms of the content of 
substantial freedom ; of the constitution as the express will 
of the people ; of the function and moral temper of the 
officers in the whole department of civil (public) service ; 
of suffrage being restricted to representatives of definite 
interests organized under the commonwealth; of freedom 
and equality; of the double form and worth of public 
opinion, and of war as an ethical factor, is admirable. 

So, too, what he says as to (b) international policy is 
admirable. He recognized that any one national spirit is 
a limited one, that no one State can be the "terrestrial 
god," or realize the full nature of man as a political animal. 
Hence he turns to (c) universal history to find the law of 
the development of man as man. Here he gives his inter 
pretation of the autobiography of humanity, whose indi 
viduals are nations, progressively and consciously realizing 
the idea of freedom, and entering upon their rightful 
heritage. It is thus throughout an ethical consideration of 
universal history, an ethical estimation of the course of 
man s thoughts and deeds, under Divine guidance, to the 
largest and most rational form of self-realization. 


C. Universal History. 

Universal spirit has the element of determinate being in 
several forms : in art, that of sensuous form and symbol, 
in religion, that of sentiment and pictorial conceptions, in 
philosophy, that of pure, free thought ; while in universal 
history it is that of the spiritual actuality of humanity in 
the whole circle of its internal and external activity. The 
history of the world is the judgment of the world, because 
it contains, in its self-dependent universality, all special 
forms the family, civil society, and nation, reduced to 
ideality, / . e. to subordinate but organic members of itself. 
It is the task of the spirit to produce all these special forms. 


Further, universal history is not the mere judgment of its 
own power, /. ., it is not the abstract and irrational necessity 
of blind fate. But inasmuch as it is inherently rational and 
self-conscious, it is rather the evolution of the phases of 
reason and, consequently, of its self-consciousness and 
freedom ; it is the actualization and interpretation of 
universal spirit. 


The true history of the spirit is its own deed, for spirit is 
real only so far as it is activity. And the true deed of spirit 
is to make itself its own object, to comprehend itself in its 
own self-exposition. Such comprehension is its vital prin 
cipal, and the fulfilment of this comprehension is at the 
same time its own alienation (Entausserung) and transition. 
And spirit returning back into itself out of this alienation is 
the spirit of the higher stage in relation to itself as it existed 
in its first comprehension. 


Here arises the question concerning the education and 
perfectibility of the human race. Those who maintain the 
perfectibility of humanity have intuitively anticipated some 
thing of the nature of spirit of its nature to have IVcotfi 
o-eavroV as the law of its being and to thus reach a higher 
stage than that of mere existence. But, for those who deny 
this view, spirit has been a mere name, and history a merely 
superficial play of accidental human passions and struggles. 
Though they professedly hold to faith in a supreme power 
and plan of providence, these terms remain dead con 
ceptions, for they expressly say that the plan of Providence 
forever remains inconceivable and unknowable. 


In this labor of the world-spirit, nations and individuals 
appear in all their special forms, which have their actuality 
and exposition in their whole circle of existence. They are 
conscious of these latter and profoundly interested in them, 
and yet they are, at the same time, the unconscious tools 
and organic phases of that inner labor of the world-spirit. 
They arise and they also vanish in this task of the world- 
spirit, which thereby prepares and works out its transition 
into the next higher stage. 


Justice and virtue, violence and vice, talents and their 
deeds, small and great passions, guilt and innocence, the 
glory of individuals and nations, independence, the fortunes 
and misfortunes of empires and individuals have their 
definite significance and worth in this sphere of conscious 
actuality and find therein their judgment and their still 
imperfect justice. But the history of the world lies beyond 
all such points of view. In it, that necessary phase of the 
Idea of the world-spirit, which is at any time existent, 
receives its absolute right: people, with all their deeds, who 


live in this phase, receive their completion, their fortune and 


History is the formation of spirit into deed, into the form 
of immediate natural actuality. Hence the phases of the 
development are present as immediate natural principles. 
And because of their being merely natural, they are various 
and disconnected. Hence each people has its own peculiar 
natural principle its geographical and anthropological 


The world-spirit, in its onward march, hands over to each 
people the task of working out its own peculiar vocation. 
Thus in universal history each nation in turn, is for that 
epoch (and it can make such an epoch only once), dominant. 
Against this absolute right to be the bearer of the present 
stage of the development of the world-spirit, the spirits of 
the other nations are absolutely without right, and they, 
as well as those whose epochs are passed, count no longer 
in universal history. The special history of any world- 
historical nation contains, partly the development of its 
genius from its infantile state to its bloom, when it attains 
to free ethical self-consciousness and holds the wheel of the 
world s destiny ; partly, it also contains the period of its 
downfall and destruction. For thus the rise of a higher 
principle appears as only the abrogation and the fulfilment 
of its own earlier form. . . . 


At the head of all great historical events we find 
individuals who accomplish the essential destiny of a 
people or an epoch. As tools of the world-spirit, they do 
the deed without conscious design of its full significance 


and consequences. Their contemporaries and even pos 
terity may decline to bestow due honor upon them for the 
deed. But the true view of their mission, gives them their 
part in immortal renown. 


A people is not directly a State. The transition of a 
clan, horde, tribe or multitude into the make-up of a state 
constitutes the formal realization of the Idea as such in it. 
A people is potentially ethical substance, but unless it is 
formed into State it lacks the determinate being which fixed 
laws can give it, both for itself and others, and, hence, can 
have no recognition and can assert no sovereignty. 


It is the absolute right of the Idea to appear in laws 
and objective institutions, springing from wedlock and 
agriculture, whether the form of this realization appears as 
divine legislation and grace, or as violence and wrong. 
Such right is the right of heroes to found states. 


Hence it also happens that civilized nations consider and 
treat such nations as represent a lower stage, as barbarians, 
esteeming their rights as- inferior and their independence 
as merely nominal. Their wars are of significance in the 
world-history, only as representing the element of the 
struggle for recognition. 


The genii of peoples as concrete Ideas, have their truth 
and character in the Absolute Idea. They stand around the 
throne of the world-spirit as the executors of its realization, 
and as witnesses and ornaments of its glory. As world- 


spirit it is only its own deed of coming to itself to 
conscious knowledge of its own being and mission of 
freedom. There are four marked principles of the forma 
tion of this self-consciousness in the course of its freedom, 
i. e., the four world-historical empires. 

These are: (i) The Oriental, (2) the Greek, (3) the 
Roman and (4) the Germanic Empires. 


In the first of these it (the world-spirit) has the form 
of substantial spirit, in which all individuality remains 
suppressed and without the right of existence. 

The second principle is the knowledge of this substantial 
spirit. It is the positive content and fulfilment and inde 
pendency as the vital form of the world-spirit, which is 
beautiful ethical individuality. 

The third is the self-involution of this knowledge and 
independence to abstract universality. It thus renders all 
objectivity spiritless and comes into infinite opposition to it. 

The principle of the fourth form is that of the change 
of this opposition of Spirit, so as to receive inwardly its 
own truth and concrete nature, and to be reconciled with 
objectivity, and thus to be at home with itself in the sphere 
of the secular. This change also involves its creating and 
knowing its truth as thought and as the real definite world. 
It involves this, because it is spirit which has overcome its 
opposition to secular objectivity and returned, ladened with 
all the spoils of victory, to universal Spirit. 

This division gives the skeleton outlines, which Hegel s 
Philosophy of History clothes with all the vitality of the 
spirit of God, as the spirit of humanity. This work is 
already so well known in translation 1 as to render un- 

1 Lectures on the Philosophy of History, by G. W. F. Hegel, translated 
by J. Sibree, M.A. Bohn s Philosophical Library, 1861. 


necessary more than commendatory reference to it. We, 
however, select a few paragraphs as the fitting close of 
this volume on Hegel s Ethics : 

&The History of the world is the progress of man in the 
consciousness of freedom. ... It is the discipline of the 
uncontrolled natural will, bringing it into obedience to a 
universal principle and conferring subjective freedom. . . . 
The Orientals knew that one is free, who was only a despot 
not a free man. The Greeks and Romans knew that some 
are free, not man as such. The Germanic nations, under 
the influence of Christianity, were the first to attain the 
consciousness that man, as man, is free that it is the 
freedom of spirit which constitutes his essence. . . . But 
to introduce this principle into the various relations of the 
actual wofld, involves, besides its simple implantation, a 
severe and lengthened process of education. \ix 

"The spirit of God lives in the Church, but it is in the 
world, as a yet inharmonious material, that spirit is to 
be realized. The world, or secular business, cannot be 
repudiated, and ultimately the discovery is made that spirit 
finds the goal of its struggle and its harmonization in that 
very sphere which it made the object of its resistance it 
finds that secular pursuits are a spiritual occupation." 2 

"This fourth phase of World-History answers to the 
old age of man s life. The old age of nature, however, is 
weakness ; but the old age of spirit is its perfect maturity 
and strength, in which it returns to unity with itself, but in 
its fully developed character as spirit. This fourth phase 
begins with the Reconciliation presented in Christianity 
but only in the germ, without national or political develop 
ment." 3 

After portraying the terrible but wholesome discipline of 
the middle ages, under the two iron rods of ecclesiastical 
power and serfdom, he says : 

1 pp. 19 and no. 2 p. 368. 8 p. 115. 


" Humanity has now attained the consciousness of a real 
internal harmonization of spirit and a good conscience in 
regard to actuality to secular life. The human spirit has 
come to stand on its own basis. In the self-consciousness 
to which man has thus advanced, there is no revolt against 
the Divine, but a manifestation of that better subjectivity 
which recognizes the Divine in its own being ; which is 
imbued with the Good and the True, and which directs 
its activities to the general and liberal objects bearing the 
stamp of rationality and beauty." 1 

In speaking of the Reformation, he says : "This is the 
essence of the Reformation : man, in his very nature, is 
destined to be free." 2 

In showing how the modern spirit has taken up and 
made its own "the absolute inwardness of soul," and yet 
demands the surrendering of one s mere private subjectivity 
to substantial truth, required by Christianity, he says : 

" In the proclamation of these principles is unfurled the 
new and final standard round which the nations rally 
the banner of Free Spirit, independent, while finding its life 
in the truth and enjoying its independence only in the 
truth. This is the banner which we bear and under which 
we serve. Time has no other work to do than the formal 
imbuing of the world with this principle, in bringing the 
Reconciliation implicit in Christianity into objective and 
explicit realization. . . . This is the sense in which we 
must understand the State to be based on Religion. States 
and Laws are nothing else than Religion manifesting itself 
in the actual relations of the secular world." 3 

"Secular life is the positive and definite embodiment of 
the Spiritual Kingdom the Kingdom of Will manifesting 
itself in outward existence. . . . That which is just and 
moral belongs to the essential, independent and intrinsically 
universal will ; and, if we would know what is right, we 

1 P- 425- 2 p. 434- 3 p- 434- 


must abstract all subjective inclinations and desires, /. <?., we 
must know what the Will is in itself. The Will is free only 
when it does not will anything alien to itself (as universal) 
but wills itself alone wills the Will (universal)." 1 

Then, after making most trenchant criticism of this 
principle when applied in the abstract way which led to 
"the Age of Reason," the French Revolution and the 
Aufkldrung, ruthlessly destroying all the holy web of human 
institutions, he says : 

"It is a false principle, that the fetters which bind 
justice and liberty can be broken without the emancipation 
of the Conscience that there can be a Revolution with 
out a Reformation. . . . Mere external power can affect 
nothing in the long run : Napoleon could no more coerce 
Spain into freedom than Phillip II. could force Holland 
into slavery." 2 

" In the Protestant world there is no sacred or religious 
conscience in a state of separation from or, perhaps, even 
of hostility to secular right. This is the point attained by 
the modern Consciousness. . . . Objective freedom the 
laws of real freedom demand the subjugation of the 
arbitrary, formal, subjective will. Yet while the objective 
is the rational for man, there is the further demand that 
insight and conviction correspond with the Reason which 
the objective embodies. Thus we have the other essential 
element subjective freedom also realized." 

"That the History of the World, with all the changing 
scenes which its annals present, is this process of the 
development and actualization of Spirit this is the true 
Theodicy, the justification of God in History. Only this 
insight can reconcile the human spirit with the course of 
Universal History viz., that what has happened and is 
happening each day is not only not without God, but that 
it is essentially His work." 4 

1 p. 461. 2 p-4?2. 3 p-4?6. * p- 477- 


Abstractness, vice of, 11, 27. 
Aufklarung, ethics of the, 20. 

Chinese morality, 13. 
Church and state, 47, 203. 
City and country, 188. 
Classes of civil society, 170-174. 
Community, the civic, 159, 187. 
Conscience, 116-133. 

private, 117. 

the true, 120. 
Contract, 33, 89. 
Corporation, the municipal, 187. 
Crime, 34, 94. 

Culpability, 108. 

Dialectical method, 28. 

Divorce, 156. 

Duty for duty s sake, 14. 

Education of the race, 208. 

of children, 208. 

End, the, sanctifies the means, 128. 
Ethicality, n, 39, 67, 135. 
Ethics, absolute, 53, 204. 

Christian, 56. 
Evil, moral, 37, 122. 

origin of, 123. 

Family, the, 41, 148. 

Fichte, 7, 17. 

Finality in morals impossible, 51. 

Fraud, 94. 

Freedom, steps in progress of, 52. 

Green, T. H., 51. 

Hegel, a Moses, 15. 

biographical sketch of, 1-8. 

method of, 27. 

relation of to previous ethical 

thought, 8, 22. 
History, universal, 207. 

epochs in, 209. 
Hypocrisy, 127. 

Intention, the right of, no. 
Irony, 131. 

Jacobi, 14, 129. 

Jury, trial by, 185. 

Justice, administration of, 174. 

courts of, 181. 

Kant, criticism of, 9, 16, 36. 

Key words, 57. 

Know thyself [Tv&di <reaur6v], 10. 

Labor, nature of, 166. 
division of, 167. 
Logic (Hegel s) as metaphysics, 23. 
Love, 148. 

Man, how good and evil by nature. 

Marriage, 42, 90, 150. 

ethical duty of, 1 50. 

solemnization of, 153. 
Monarchy, 206, 



Montesquieu, 194. 
Morality, n, 36, 67, 102. 

laws of, 142. 
Morris, Prof. Geo. S., 30. 

quoted, 197, 211. 
Mulford, Rev. Dr. E. 44. 

Nature, philosophy of, 24. 

Pascal, 126. 

Patriotism, 200. 

Pedagogue, the right of the, 144. 

Person, the abstract, 32, 72. 

Personality, 73. 

Philosophy, the task of, 63. 

Police, 187, 

Possessions, 82, 84. 

Probabilism, 127. 

Property, 33, 76, 154. 

equality of, not rational, 80. 
Punishment, 34, 95. 

false theories of, 98. 
Purpose and culpability, 108. 

Rationalism, eighteenth century. 


Reformation, the, 213. 
Religion and the state, 47, 203. 
Revenge, 99. 

Revolution, the French, 214. 
Right, abstract, 32, 71, 75. 

of necessity, 114. 
Rousseau, 190. 

Royce, Prof. Josiah, VIII., 2. 

Schelling, 7, 19. 

Secular affairs, sacredness of, 212, 


Slavery, 33, 88. 
State, the, 44. 

an organism, 198, 202. 

ancient and modern, 196. 

and individuals, 198. 

and institutions, 198. 

and religion, 203. 

and the church, 47. 

distinguished from civil so 

ciety, 189. 

rights and duties in, 195. 
Spirit, the philosophy of, 26. 

the testimony of the, 137. 
Station, my, and its duties, 14. 
Stirling, Dr. J. H., V., VIII., 3. 
Suicide, wrong, 87. 
Superstition, 87. 

Theodicy, Hegel s, 214. 
Virtue, talk about, empty, 140. 

Wants and their satisfaction, 163. 
Wealth, 1 68. 

impossibility of equality of, 


Wedlock, 149. 
Will, the, as thought, 64. 

as infinite and free, 65. 
Wrong, 91. 

M /\ 


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