notes on hegel’s philosophy of right / §§105-128

philosophy of right v

Part Two / Morality


As we have noticed, for Hegel the will is not only infinite, it is actual and it also a potential for a person as a subject.


That the will of a person can be thought of conceptually and subjectively, and that this same person is a being, the subjectivity of the will is a conceptual entity for a human being. This idea is then able to become formulated and determined into existence as freedom that manifests into a morality that grasps the universality of will.


Not only can the person recognize that his will exists as a determination, he also conceptualizes what to do with it. He, via a conception of a universal will, can subjectively determine to himself a concept of morality that extends to the objective world around him.


Hegel has already covered the abstract qualities of the will, from its “being in itself” as it is in relation toward its “being for itself”, i.e. the actualizations of the potentialities of the will—these are its “formal” aspects in its “infinite self-determination.” This is not exactly the same as conceptuality of the will, whereas someone would still have to recognize a relationship that extends to other people. Dialectically, the will is opposed to this in its conscious finitude and must sublate this negative into a morality toward others (see addition: notice the differentiation between the moral and the ethical. Also be sure to note the differences between Kant’s morality, with respect to his deontological categorical imperative, and Hegel’s limitations on morality in these sections).


Primarily, we recognize that the will has with it an opposition between its subjectivity and its objectivity and these must be sublated conceptually (re: self-determining will).

“In the self-determining will, determinacy is”:

α) selfish, only for itself.

β) wanting to overcome the selfishness.

γ) perhaps this critical opposition will help the selfish will out of his selfishness.


(A) A kind of freedom solidifies determinations. The will could take this as a chance to act morally.


(B) The content of the will, its manifest contingencies, make for the specific determinations of a person. This is universal. These are aspects of the will:

α) the person knows he is willing.

β) the person knows he has to act, since he is willing, yet, his conceptual subjective scheme is not always in conformity with the rest of the world (you can say that again).


(C) I identify with the will of others, and at the same time, I recognize my will working in tandem with theirs—hence, we (hopefully) act with a positive recognition toward others.

“Objectivity contains three moments”, or rather, it’s dialectically triadic:

α) objectivity.


β) concept..


A man is moral in action.

An action is:

α) my externality.

β) working conceptually with the outer world.

γ) working in tandem with others.


Three aspects of the right are made manifest in the will:

(A) I put forth a will for what is right.

(B) The action manifests in its specific contingency:

α) in its intention.

β) in its conceptualization.

(c) The conceptualization of the action is such that, for Hegel, it is made to be universal and objective, whether it is evil or conscientious.

Section 1 / Purpose and Responsibility


A person’s will is made manifest in its contingency, in its finitude, and is defined by his action in the objective world as a “deed” that he is subsequently responsible for.


I am not entirely responsible if something of mine (unattached for my person) accidentally hurts you, but ultimately—in the bigger picture—I am.


The will finds that it wants to act, yet it is still merely finite, while at the same time, it must be able to take responsibility for its actions, and its deeds.


Insofar as we must take responsibility for our actions, we must also recognize that our action have a wide range of consequences. Sometimes these consequences extend beyond the original purpose enough to lose the original intent and from which our responsibility fades.

Section 2 / Intention and Welfare


An action can manifest into an infinite number of configurations. Dialectically, the individual is a sublation of the universal, and these actions have a wide ranging scope. This is where the individual’s intention becomes universalized (see diagram below: the A, B, and C points are the original contingent actions and then notice unique emanations stem from each action). These actions can have the insidious effect of malcontent, e.g. arson or murder etc.



A person’s intentions, seen as universal, are objective and can be said to be rightful products of a thinking person’s will.


For Hegel, a person has willed an action into being and this is universal. The person can take pleasure in the products of his actions—but, is he acting morally in his self-satisfaction?


Yes, your self-satisfaction with a deed can be a means to an end, and for this reason we find nothing beyond your selfish intention.


To what end do your actions serve?

α) to see them through, to promote your contingent will.

β) they can also serve to define finitude of self-gratification (re: vice, opinion, anger, hunger etc.).


Simply because you are self-satisfied in the appeasement of your desires, does not make you any more worthwhile.


The subjective will looks after its welfare and it knows that it has to respect the welfare of others, but if this all there is, with no actualized implementation, then it is mere hypocrisy.


Your corrupt self-righteousness can be invalidated, no matter how much you think it must be otherwise.


There may be occasions whereby we would have to commit a wrong to save a life, re: if it is for done for a right of necessity. Therefore, for such a ‘crime,’ we cannot be made to pay more than we have, as with beneficium competentiae (see footnote: “beneficence of need”).


For Hegel, all of the above serves to designate the finitude of the will in a narrow moralistic sense, i.e. the self-righteous flattery of moral rectitude doesn’t extend beyond it’s selfish desires and modes of well-being—it’s good, it’s alright, but it’s limited.

Aurelio Madrid

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