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Pecca Fortiter for the Sake of Morality? Making Sense of Wrong in Hegel’s System of Right*

  • Alexander T. Englert (a1)

Abstract

The goal of this paper is to clarify the role ‘wrong’ plays in Hegel’s system of right, as both a form of freedom and the transition to morality. Two approaches will be examined to explore wrong in practical philosophical terms: First, one could take the transition to be descriptive in nature. The transition describes wrong as a realized fact of the human condition that one inherits from the outset. Second, one could see it as prescriptive. Actual wrongdoing would be essential for the subject’s progression to becoming moral. Though both are most likely the case, emphasis is given to the latter since it represents the actualization of potential. Furthermore, it will be suggested that wrong plays a similar role as that which alienation does in the Phenomenology of Spirit; both bridge the will as abstract personality with the moral point of view.

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Footnotes

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I would like to express my gratitude, first, to Dean Moyar who commented on earlier drafts and challenged me to make my ideas clearer. Second, I wish to thank Eckart Förster whose guidance led me to passages that proved of great use in refining my ideas. Finally, I am thankful for the comments of an anonymous reviewer who spurred me to reflect more deeply on my position and who inspired significant improvements in the final draft.

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References

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Bernstein, J. M. (1997), ‘Conscience and Transgression: The Exemplarity of Tragic Action’ in G. K. Browning (ed.), Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: A Reappraisal. London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 79-97.
Brandom, R. (2002), Tales of the Mighty Dead. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Förster, E. (2012), The Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy: A Systematic Reconstruction, trans. Brady Bowman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hegel, G. W. F. (1991), Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 1819-1820, ed. A. Wood, trans. H. B. Nisbet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hegel, G. W. F. (2006), Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, One Volume Edition: The Lectures of 1827, ed. P. C. Hodgson, trans. R. F. Brown, P. C. Hodgson and J. M. Stewart. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Hegel, G. W. F. (2010), Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. T. Pinkard. Available online at: http://terrypinkard.weebly.com/phenomenology-of-spirit-page.html
Hegel, G. W. F. (2000), Vorlesungen über die Philosophie des Rechts: 1819-20, eds. E. Angehrn, M. Bondeli and H. N. Seelman. Hamburg: Felix Meiner.
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Mohr, G. (1997), ‘Unrecht und Strafe’ in L. Siep (ed.), Klassiker Auslegen: Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 95-124.
Neuhouser, F. (2000), Foundations of Hegel’s Social Theory: Actualizing Freedom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Pinkard, T. (2012), Hegel’s Naturalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Quante, M. (2004), Hegel’s Concept of Action, trans. D. Moyar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Strawson, P. (1959), Individuals. New York: Routledge.
Vieweg, K. (2012), Das Denken der Freiheit. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag.
Wood, A. (1990), Hegel’s Ethical Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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