The Owl of Minerva 34 (2):139-170 (2003)

Lydia L. Moland
Colby College
Hegel’s “Anthropology” considers components of an agent’s practical identity that are not chosen but rather inherited: components such as the agent’s temperament, talents, and ethnic background. Through a discussion of habit and happiness, Hegel explores how these inherited traits can become part of the agent’s self-determination. I argue that this process provides a model for explaining how we are obligated within roles we do not choose—roles for instance within the family or as citizens of a state. Through evaluation of an inherited role itself and assessment of her own place in it, the agent earns and eventually comes to own her actions within the role. In this way an inherited role, like an inherited trait, can contribute to an agent’s freedom.
Keywords Hegel  Anthropology  practical identity  habit
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DOI owl20033424
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