Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne
Hegel's historical and political thought can best be understood if we understand its relationship to Rousseau's political theory and Kant's philosophy of history. Hegel's conception of the modem state closely resembles Rousseau's ideal community which was based upon rational freedom realized through a general will and reinforced by custom and tradition which shaped the character and interests of the citizens. However, Rousseau's community was utopian-it could not be realized in the modem world. It was incompatible with commerce and trade which promote particular interest and thus corrupt custom and erode the general will. These matters will be discussed in Section III. To explain the possibility of the ideal state in the modern worid, Hegel turns to Kant's philosophy of history where commerce, trade, and confliccing particular interests themselves lead to what morality the categorical imperative or the general will-would demand. Kant's ideal state, however, completely lacks custom, tradition, and community-what Hegel calls "Sittlichkeit." These matters will be discussed in Section II.
Kain, P. J. "Hegel's Political Theory and Philosophy of History," Clio, 17 (1988): 345-68.
Reprinted in G.W.F. Hegel: Critical Assessments. Ed. R. Stern. London: Routledge, 1993, Vol. I.