Hegel’s Philosophy of Right


FRIDAYS, 6:00-8:00 PM


Russell Dale

Hegel’s philosophy has had a great influence on much of what has happened in the world since his time (1770 – 1831) and is crucial to understanding much of modern social thought and philosophy as well as to understanding Marxism and the socialist tradition in its varied aspects.

Hegel’s Philosophy of Right is Hegel’s political and ethical theory in its most mature form. It is essential for understanding Hegel’s overall project and therefore it is essential for understanding the works of Marx and Engels as well. Marx’s first book-length work, in fact, was Critique of Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right”, which is generally taken to be the work which marks the beginning of Marx’s break from Hegelianism and the start of his own mature conceptions. (We will read be reading this work of Marx’s in a class next year, so this current course will be excellent preparation for that.)

This term we will read and discuss the entirety of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right over 12 weeks. The course will start with an historical and philosophical introduction so that nobody will be lost, even if they have not studied much philosophy before. An important part of our discussion will be the socially reactionary conclusions that Hegel ultimately drew, while at the same time Hegel’s work became inspirational for so many radical and progressive thinkers as well, including Marx and Engels. We will give special attention to and treatment of the fact that Hegel had white-supremacist, racist views, and played an important role in the development of the pseudo-science of biological race theory. We will look at what these views mean for the tradition of thought that stems from Hegel, which includes some of the greatest thinkers of African descent in the twentieth century, such as W. E. B. DuBois, C. L. R. James, Frantz Fanon and others.

We will be reading the edition of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right translated by T. M. Knox, and published by Oxford University Press. (Arrangements will be made for students who cannot afford to buy a copy of this book which costs about $17 new online.)

Russell Dale is an activist and a philosopher. He teaches philosophy at Lehman College, CUNY. He taught classes on Hegel and various other topics for the last six years. Russell is also on the Manuscript Collective and Editorial Board of the Marxist journal Science & Society, as well as on the Local Station Board of radio station WBAI, 99.5 FM (wbai.org).


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