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the necessary context within which to understand the work and draws on Hegel’s other writings, including the unpublished lecture notes, to illuminate it.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.
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