David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Espen Hammer (ed.), German Idealism: Contemporary Perspectives. Routledge (2007)
Hegel’s treatment of ‘Moralität’ in both the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Philosophy of Right provides important clues as to how he conceives the recognitive dynamics of modern moral life. As ‘spirit that is certain of itself’, morality as comprehended in the Phenomenology is the final form of spirit [Geist], which, in Hegel’s exposition, follows ‘reason’ which itself had followed ‘consciousness’ and ‘self-consciousness’. Spirit had first been considered in its objective form as an ‘in itself’. This was the ‘true spirit’ of the ethical world of antiquity. As something ‘for itself’, spirit had then been considered in its self-alienated form as ‘culture’ which had culminated in an analysis of modern politics—specifically the political project of ‘absolute freedom’, the French Revolution, and the terroristic consequences that had been so acutely linked to the modern rationalist political project by Schiller. But, as many have pointed out, if Rousseau was the theorist of the modern political struggle for autonomy, Kant had an equally revolutionary conception of moral autonomy, which, like Rousseau, put the idea of a self-legislating will at the centre of thought. Such an internalization of the self-legislating will, however, now reveals the proper object for judgment in terms of the evaluative polarity of good and bad—the will itself. This evaluation becomes the task of conscience. In this paper I examine Hegel’s treatment of the role of conscience in moral judgment in the light of his relationship to Fichte, and interpret it in terms of a broadly conceived pragmatics of reason-giving in moral life implicit in his concept of intersubjective recognition [Anerkennung].
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