Hegel's Theory of Liberation


Authors
Christoph Menke
Goethe University Frankfurt
Abstract
The freedom of spirit, Hegel claims, consists in “the emancipation of spirit from all those forms of being that do not conform to its concepts.” That is, freedom must be understood as “liberation [Befreiung].” The paper explores this claim by starting with Hegel’s critique of the (Kantian) understanding of freedom as autonomy. In this critique Hegel shows that norms or “laws” have to be thought of as “being”—not as “posited.” This is convincing, but it leaves open the question of the relation between law and freedom (i.e., the very question that the concept of autonomy was meant to solve). In its second part the paper claims that Hegel’s solution to this problem consists in the analysis of freedom as the “historical” process of “social” transformation. While social norms ordinarily or habitually exist in the form of a second nature—according to Hegel, this is the form they necessarily take on in their social reality—, the act of liberation radically changes their mode of being: liberation is the momentary and transitory act of the ontological transformation of social norms from nature into freedom
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DOI 10.5840/symposium20131712
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