notes on hegel’s philosophy of right / §§34-43

notes on the philosophy of right ii

Part 1 / Abstract Right


For Hegel the abstract conceptualization of the will is immediate in its determinacy as it develops. Whereas, in a moral sense, the will has to act in opposition to its abstract potential, it is universal toward its own determinacy as that of a person (in society, as an individual). Think of a progression from universality → particularity → individuality.


The potentiality of the will is its universal character in the person. When I (a person) recognize this determinacy in its content (re: how the drives are manifested), this is how my finitude is revealed. In my finitude (within my limitations) I am connected to the universal, this is a universal aspect of who I am. A person has the ability to make what he becomes. This is his universal finitude, and this aspires to the infinite.


Our contingent personality has the right as its innate potential. Since we can recognize that the will’s formal contents expose our finitude as our limitations, we can recognize and respect this in others (idea possibly via Fichte).


The elements of the will are present it its content (its manifestations), yet this is not the whole of our personality. Our rights and freedom are only parts of the whole of who we are.


For Hegel, the concept of right in its abstract sense is only a possibility of what cannot be done. Presumably, this means that what can be done is limited by what cannot be done.


A person’s relation to the world is in opposition to his subjective willing. Personality sublates exteriority to become an individual existence.


The immediacy of right is freedom:

A. …abstract will owns this right (we have the right to possess things).

B. …a person has the ability to recognize this in others, as he recognizes himself (contractual arrangements).

C. …a person also sees himself as different (hence, this is where we disagree with others, we see them as wrong and then we chose to commit violent, petty and/or white-collar crimes upon them).

Section 1 / Property


To externalize his freedom, a person has to extend himself in opposition to the infinite will (as a wish to become it). Because of this, he must simultaneously recognize that the world does not automatically correspond to this (reality check!).


There is a vivid difference between the personal freedom of our spirit and the external world that thwarts this (re: we are all up against the thing-ness of the world in its immediacy and in its harsh externality).


The conceptual immediacy of the person naturally (and eventually) has to commune with the external world. His products, science, art, religion, etc. are examples of this mediation with the externality of things. As he is able to control these things, these objects become salient expressions of Spirit.

Aurelio Madrid

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