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Men and citizens in international relations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2009


Since Rousseau political theorists have had frequent recourse to a contrast between the fragmented nature of modern social and political life and the allegedly communitarian character of the Greek polis. At the heart of this opposition was the belief that the polis represented a condition of unsurpassable harmony in which citizens identified freely and spontaneously with their public institutions. Unlike their ancient counterparts, modern citizens exhibited less identification with their public world than resolution to advance their separate individual interests and pursue their private conceptions of the good. Nevertheless, the disintegration of the polis was not depicted in the language of unqualified loss. History had not been simply an unmitigated fall, because the individual's claim to scrutinize the law of the polis on rational grounds involved a significant advance in man's self-consciousness. The positive aspect of its decline was man's transcendence of a parochial culture in which neither the right of individual freedom nor the principle of human equality had been recognized. If the modern world had lost the spontaneous form of community enjoyed by the ancients, it surpassed that world in its understanding and expression of freedom.

Research Article
Copyright © British International Studies Association 1981

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1. The principal exponent of this view was Hegel; see The Philosophy of History (New York, 1956), esp. pp. 252–3Google Scholar and The Philosophy of Right (Oxford, 1952)Google Scholar, paras 260–1, esp. Additions. For a fuller account see Plant, R., Hegel (London, 1973)Google Scholar, ch. 1, and Taylor, C., Hegel (Cambridge, 1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, chs. 14–15.

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34. Pufendorf Two Books on the Duty of Man and Citizen, op. cit. p. 121 and 14C

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50. Charles Taylor refers to this doctrine as ‘expressivism’, op. cit. esp. pp. 13–29, and pp. 547–552 for its application to Marx's thought.

51. Hegel, op. cit. para 145; Marx, Theses on Fenerbach, Sixth thesis.

52. Hegel, op. cit. Addition to the Preface; The Philosophy of History, p. 54.

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57. Ibid. p. 231.

58. Ibid. pp. 239–40.

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60. Hegel, The Philosophy of History, op. cit. pp. 251–3.

61. For extended discussion of this theme, see Plant op. cit. Schiller's statement is a classic summary: ‘If the manifold potentialities in man were ever to be developed, there was no other way but to pit them the one against the other. This antagonism of faculties and functions is the great instrument of civilisation — but it is the only instrument. ’ Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (Oxford, 1967)Google Scholar, Letter VI, sec. 12.

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