History and patriotism in Hegel's rechtsphilosophie

History of Political Thought 28 (3):496-591 (2007)

Lydia L. Moland
Colby College
In his description of patriotism in the Philosophy of Right, Hegel essentially neglects contemporary patriotism's defining characteristic, namely loyalty to or pride in one's country. I argue that the historical context of patriotism explains this neglect. German patriotism during Hegel's lifetime encompassed disparate political trends, including an emphasis on engagement in local community, attention to political ideals, and burgeoning nationalism. Hegel's comments on patriotism incorporate the first two trends; Hegel broadly rejected the later, nationalist trend. I also claim that Hegel's comments on patriotism in his lectures on Rechtsphilosophie enhance our understanding of Hegel's political philosophy generally: in the lectures, the connection between patriotism and good government becomes explicit; the need for local civic engagement becomes clearer; we understand better the place of sentiment in a citizen's attitude towards the state. I also argue that Hegel differentiates between true patriotism, which protects individuality within the state, and inferior forms of patriotism that threaten modern political life as Hegel understands it
Keywords Hegel  patriotism  political philosophy  nationalism
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