notes on hegel’s philosophy of right / §§ 10-30

student lecture notes hegel phil of right


For Hegel, the will is immediate and in-itself or it is a concept that is for-itself, meaning that the will is a potential and it can also be actualized, this actualization does look different than the simple will in-itself. The will in-itself is finite. A shallow view of the will (re: understanding) only can grasp the will as being in-itself, a mere potentiality. Understanding sees the will as limited (abstract) and not connected it to the ideas of truth and freedom.


The will in-itself is free and the self-determining parts as the drives, desires and inclinations, constitute its content (the particulars). In this way, the will does not have its complete rational form and is finite. The finitude of our individual desires is not equivalent to the infinite of the rational that extends itself beyond the instance of each person.


The content (drive) is immediate in the will as universal and it is individualized in each person (re: resolutions and decisions). How the contents of the will are determined against indeterminacy individualizes us.


The finitude of consciousness is the difference between us as human, i.e. our decisions are part of who we are as specific individuals. Only when the will becomes rational does it rise to the universal blend of content and form, whereas the form (the rational) provides the structure to the content (drive).


The infinite will is self-reflective, although it has control over its content it is still tied to them. The ‘I’ is made for this determination from content (drive) to form (reason).


This section seems to be Hegel’s attack on common conceptions of freedom as merely arbitrary (?). This arbitrary view is abstract (partial) and is determinate on externality. “Being able to do as one pleases” is too elementary. Common reflection only allows the will to be manifested by the outside world. The will is rational and therefore not entirely arbitrary.


The will is bound in the actual choices it makes.


Hegel wants to include the arbitrary as a contradiction (opposed to) conflicting drives, whereas one wins out over the other.


For Hegel, man is inherently evil and so he needs to “liberate” himself toward God and away from his originally base nature.


For man’s drives to be purified, they must be freed from their base nature. The drives can become rational in content to be made into a science, morality, ownership, sociability and love.


When reflection (intelligence) is applied to the content (drives), via happiness, it can bring about a formal (rational) universality—hence education.


Once we are able to make the content (drive) of the will rational (re: infinite form), the will is free not only in-itself (potential), but also for-itself (actualized), thus becoming something closer to an ideation or conceptualization of truth. Freedom is willed by its own content.


The object of will in-itself is freedom and this becomes universal and infinite as it is actualized, presumably within the constraints of our own specific actuality, in our specific place in the world.


Will, under Hegel’s rationalism, is completely free in reference to itself. Perhaps because we can only be free when we have acknowledged that we can think and conceptualize for ourselves?


Hegel’s ‘speculative’ rationalism calls for the very limitations of will to be included within the structure of will’s becoming. To become universal, real-world limitations have to be superseded by the will. This kind of universality is not abstract (partial) it has to be realized within the individual—therefore it is concrete (real).


The subjective will is threefold: it is pure form, and pure certainty (purely rational?); it contains the arbitrary contingent content of our drives; and it is one-sided.


The objective will is threefold: it can conceptualize itself as objective will; it lacks the infinite because it’s looking outside for its determinations; its existence is external only. But, for Hegel, the objective and subjective are not separable.


For Hegel, it is rational to suggest that freedom should see itself as an object.


The will overcomes the contradiction between the objective and subjective and this is essential to its idea, or ultimate conceptualization, of it.


The right, by definition, is a manifestation of the will as free in the purely rational ways described above.§30The “right is utterly sacred” according to Hegel, as it becomes fully developed and actualized freedom.

Aurelio Madrid

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