A response to M.B. Foster's critique of Hegel's political thought

Peddle, David (1992) A response to M.B. Foster's critique of Hegel's political thought. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Michael Beresford Foster's book The Political Philosophies of Plato and Hegel crystallizes much of the criticism which liberal theorists direct against Hegel's political philosophy. In its grasp of the various trends which develop in the course of twentieth century liberalism, Foster's work is, in fact, remarkable. His criticism brings to light the important relationship between liberalism and the “event theory" of action and history. Through writings from Oakeshott to Rorty this relationship has been developed and in Foster's work it appears vividly contrasted with Hegel's views or, more accurately, with a liberal caricature of his views. Foster's work is also remarkable in that, although he brings interesting questions to Hegel's political thought, his criticism thoroughly misrepresents Hegel's argument, merely thrusting a dualistic perspective of his own upon Hegel's dialectical standpoint. As a result he is insensitive to the subtle relationships which Hegel develops, for example, between desire and reason, individual and state, freedom and history, and history and eternity. In every instance Foster assumes the radical separation of these concepts, all the while failing adequately to criticize Hegel's attempts to reconcile their apparent opposition. On the basis of this method Foster resolves that Hegel's political thought is "confused" and results in a totalitarian repression of individual freedom. -- The burden of this thesis is to disentangle Hegel's actual argument from the snarl which Foster creates. To this end I show the dialectical relationships which Hegel establishes between such concepts as "real" and "ideal"; freedom and authority; and state and history. The essential point of this analysis is to show that, for Hegel, all socio-political institutions are in principle manifestations of human freedom. Consequently, I hope to show that the claim that Hegel's political thought develops an authoritarian and repressive state does not hold water.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5736
Item ID: 5736
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 74-77.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: 1992
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Foster, Michael Beresford. Political philosophies of Plato and Hegel; Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831; State, The

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