Practical p[h]ilosophy and modernity : a study on the formation of Hegel's thought
According to Hegel, philosophy should comprehend its own time in thoughts. Hegel meets this "need of philosophy", as he calls it, by constructing a massive and very consequential system in which he claims to explicate the fundamental principles of the modern age as a result of a historical development. The present study aims at analyzing Hegel's conception of modernity as a philosophical problem. It concentrates on his early practical philosophy, in which Hegel seeks to establish a synthesis of Platonic and Aristotelian thought and modern theories. He considers this synthesis necessary because he cannot approve of the modern differentiation between ethics, political sciences, economics and jurispudence, each of which studies society from a viewpoint if its own. Instead, he works out a normative presentation of modem society as a unity, comprising its various institutions, norms and values, and considers them against the demands of reason and life itself. The study analyzes the formation of this construction and its development up until the year 1807 when Hegel left Jena. It concentrates especially on the changes that have taken place, since antiquity, in the notion of labor and its theoretical status. Being well aware of the division of labor and the exchange of goods as underlying principles of modem society, Hegel maintains that the classical model of practical philosophy, articulating ethical and political praxis within a polis, cannot be applied as such. The study analyzes the formation of Hegel's modem equivalent for this model. After postulating first a somewhat anachronistic ethical substance and founding it metaphysically on the notion of ethical nature, he gradually develops a practical philosophy based on his dialectical metaphysics of subjectivity and spirit. He recognizes the principles of subjective freedom and individuality fundamental in modernity, while being simultaneously critical of their actual historical forms. The study also explicates some of the particular qualities of Hegel's practical philosophy in his Jena period as compared to his later philosophy of spirit, and defends its significance for the present discussions concerning the foundations of ethics and political philosophy. ...
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