Hegel's Philosophy of Freedom

Paul Franco

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Human freedom is the central theme of modern political philosophy, and G. W. F. Hegel offers perhaps the most profound and systematic modern attempt to understand the state as the realization of human freedom. In this comprehensive examination of Hegel’s philosophy of freedom, Paul Franco traces the development of Hegel’s ideas of freedom, situates them within his general philosophical system, and relates them to the larger tradition of modern political philosophy. Franco then applies Hegel’s understanding of liberty to certain problems in contemporary political theory. He argues that Hegel offers a powerful reformulation of liberalism that escapes many of the problematic assumptions of traditional liberal doctrine and yet avoids falling into the romantic and relativistic excesses of a substantial communitarianism.

Devoting the major portion of his attention to Hegel’s masterpiece the Philosophy of Right, published in 1821, Franco provides a clear and nontechnical guide to the challenging arguments Hegel presents. Franco establishes the necessary context within which to understand the work and draws on Hegel’s other writings, including the unpublished lecture notes, to illuminate it. For the Hegel specialist as well as the reader with a more general interest in political philosophy and modern intellectual history, this book offers significant insights into Hegel’s ideas on the theme of human liberty.

Paul Franco is associate professor in the department of government at Bowdoin College. He is the author of The Political Philosophy of Michael Oakeshott, published by Yale University Press.

"Refreshingly clear. The interpretation is subtle, the argument is thoughtful, and the scholarship is excellent."—Robert Pippin, University of Chicago

"This is the best book on Hegel to appear in recent years. Clear and well written, Franco brings Hegel to life for anyone interested in the problem of freedom. Most importantly, it restores the Philosophy of Right to its position as the central text of modern political philosophy."—Steven B. Smith, Yale University

"Clear and well-written. . . . For political science and philosophy teachers, students and scholars. Mind-expanding!"—Southeastern Naturalist

"An eloquent defense of the contemporary relevance of Hegel’s methodological and substantive contributions to liberalism through the lens of idealism. . . . Franco’s exposition is a model of clarity. As such this book should have great utility as a teaching text in graduate courses. It will also be of interest to scholars working in the fields of Hegelian political thought and ethics and within the political theory of modernity in general. Institutional theorists will find provocative thought in Franco’s treatment of Hegel’s idea of the rational state and in his explication of Hegel’s notion of an ethical life."—E. McCoy, The Journal of Politics

"Paul Franco offers us an examination of Hegel’s political philosophy that will surely be welcomed by all scholars in the field. . . . Franco does an excellent job of reconstructing the background Hegel entered when he began writing philosophy. . . . [Franco’s] writing style throughout is easily approachable, a welcome blessing in the notoriously difficult waters of Hegel’s jaron. . . . Crisp and well-tailored for the beginner as well as for those well-acquainted with Hegel’s political thought. I have no doubt that this book will go some way toward provoking important debates on the subject in the future. I recommend Franco’s Hegel’s Philosophy of Freedom to anyone interested in the concept of freedom or in Hegel’s political philosophy."—Thom Brooks, The Owl of Minerva

ISBN: 9780300078329
Publication Date: December 11, 1999
416 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Michael Oakeshott

An Introduction

Paul Franco

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