The Two Levels of Reality


Rational: mind, universal, objective, ethical, essential, freedom



Natural: body, particular, subjective, inclination, causation, accidental/contingent,







Hegel's Dialectic: World History is a history of Rational Development


Thesis Anti-Thesis Synthesis, which becomes the next Thesis












Hegel's Theory of Marriage as an Ethical Relationship



1. Marriage as a Natural Relation vs. Marriage as an Ethical Relationship, A Spiritual Bond of Union

Key contrast: Objective/Universal vs. subjective/particular.

Natural relations involve individuals in their particularity. Ethical relations involve individuals in an objective, universal union. Mutual, whole-hearted surrender of individual personality.


2. Objective, Universal Decision vs. the Subjective Inclinations of Two Particularized Individuals

Hegel's extreme anti-individualism "what rests on them [these individuals] may indeed be of infinite importance to them, but is of none whatever in itself."(757)


3. Hegel's Account of the Essence of Marriage: paternalist, monogamous, not with close relatives. Contrast his universal, rational account of monogamy with the contingent, empirical account.











Hegel's Theory of the State

as an Ethical Idea


1. What is the ethical idea of the state? The state is the occasion for individual human beings to become conscious of the universal and to live a universal life. This is true emancipation.


2. Emancipation = Rationality = To Will the Universal.

In this way, we transcend our particular, empirical, individual, existence.


3. What is wrong with State of Nature theories?

Emancipation is a social accomplishment. What is our supreme duty?


The effect of the French Revolution on Hegel was to lead him to reject the democratic model of individual emancipation.


4. Note that even Rousseau's General Will is too subjective (i.e., particular, individualistic) for Hegel. Hegel seeks Objective Will (i.e. Objective Rationality).

Emancipation = Objective Rationality = Merging the individual mind in the Universal Mind.







Hegel's Invisible Hand Theory of History


1. World history is the "interpretation and actualization of the universal mind."(828), not "the verdict of mere might"(828).

It is a development of the self-consciousness of a society of rational and free beings (understood as social beings, not isolated individuals).


2. The "Invisible Hand": While "they are absorbed in their mundane interests, they are all the time the unconscious tools and organs of the world mind at work within them."(828-829)


3. Hegel's Teleological Theory of Rightness/Legitimacy. The universal world mind makes world-historical nations and world-historical actions right. Other nations have no rights.


4. The Four Stages: Oriental, Greek, Roman, and Germanic. Germany represents the final stage in which particular minds merge with Universal Mind.