Self-comprehension and personhood: an examination of the normative basis of Hegel’s political philosophy

Carter, Timothy Robert (2016) Self-comprehension and personhood: an examination of the normative basis of Hegel’s political philosophy. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis defends a novel interpretation of the normative foundations of Hegel’s mature social and political philosophy. It argues that autonomous agency is grounded in a drive to comprehend ourselves, which gives us an aim to which we are inescapably committed as agents. It argues that this aim ultimately makes it rational to cultivate and act out of a feeling of “ethical love”, which is a positive evaluative attitude towards the goods of other individuals that, in turn, implies a commitment to the social and political institutions Hegel outlines in his theory of Sittlichkeit, or ethical life. Ethical love is the ultimate way in which individuals make themselves comprehensible to themselves; ethical life is the way in which they express that love. It is for this reason that acting autonomously ultimately requires participating in such institutions. I suggest that this interpretation avoids some of the shortcomings of alternative approaches to this matter.
Chapter 1 introduces the notion of autonomous agency as underpinned by a drive towards self-comprehension. In chapter 2, I argue that this drive operates both with respect to our individual identities (our “characters”) and developmentally, over time, in that agents characterised by this drive are led ultimately to conceive of themselves as “persons”, in Hegel’s technical sense: as agents who are rationally compelled to recognise others. In chapters 3 and 4, I show that there is a tension between these two aspects of our identities, and that Hegel’s theory of objective mind is effectively the working out of this tension.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General) > B0790 Modern (1450/1660-) > B0808 Special topics and schools of philosophy
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 20 May 2016 12:30
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:49

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