Hegel, History, and Evil

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North American Philosophical Publications/University of Illinois Press


In the Philosophy of Right, Hegel tells us that what he means by "right" includes not merely morality (Moralität) and ethics (Sittlichkeit) but world history. He even tells us that the right of world history "is the highest right" (PR [White] §33, §33A).2 He tells us that, through interaction with other nations, the spirit of a people realizes itself in world history (PR §33). This can involve a collision of rights, and such collision will mean that one right gets subordinated to another: "Only the right of world spirit is absolute without restriction" (PR [White] §30R).3 It is quite clear, then, that, without understanding spirit's realization in world history, we cannot understand right in its highest sense. That is what I will try to explain in what follows.

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