Hegel Bulletin 33 (2):23-35 (2012)

Thom Brooks
Durham University
Hegel'sPhilosophy of Rightis more than a major work of political and legal philosophy; it is a battleground for two different interpretive approaches. MyHegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Rightargues that these approaches are mistaken about their differences and that one approach offers a more compelling interpretation ofHegel's Philosophy of Rightthan the other. I will briefly outline my defence of the systematic reading of thePhilosophy of Rightbefore replying to the constructive criticisms raised by Redding, Rosen and Wood.There are two different interpretative approaches to understanding Hegel'sPhilosophy of Right. These are the metaphysical and the non-metaphysical readings. The former often highlight Hegel's insistence that some political states may be considered more ‘true’ or ‘actual’ than others. This reading also often emphasises the special place of religion in Hegel's philosophical system, for example. In contrast, the non-metaphysical reading argues that such an interpretation is not only unattractive, but perhaps even unnecessary because Hegel's views on ‘actuality’ and ‘actualization’ are less controversial than traditional metaphysical readings of Hegel's philosophy have claimed. Commentators must choose between these competing camps and interpretations of Hegel's work are conceived within these approaches. Importantly, each reading claims that its approach best captures Hegel's philosophical importance. But would Hegel endorse either the metaphysical or non-metaphysical reading?The problem is that this debate rests on a central misconception about Hegel's philosophy. The debate is characterized as a disagreement about the role and perhaps the very existence of metaphysics in Hegel's philosophy. But this is a false impression. It is virtually nowhere in doubt that metaphysics is present in Hegel's philosophy, including hisPhilosophy of Right. Therefore, the debate between a ‘metaphysical’ and ‘non-metaphysical’ reading of Hegel's works is not a debate about whether these works contain metaphysics. The characterization of the debate invites a false impression about what is at stake.
Keywords Hegel  Philosophy of Right  Brooks  Systematic reading
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DOI 10.1017/s0263523200000483
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References found in this work BETA

Phenomenology of Spirit.G. W. F. Hegel & A. V. Miller - 1977 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (4):268-271.
Punishment.Thom Brooks - 2010 - Oxford Bibliographies Online.
Hegel and the Philosophy of Right.Dudley Knowles - 2003 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 65 (1):153-154.

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