Georg W. F. Hegel

Pierre Hassner, "Georg W. F. Hegel," History of Political Philosophy, ed. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, University of Chicago Press, 1987 (3rd. edition).


Against the attitude of a moral, religious, or intellectual consciousness which attempts to take refuge in the inner life and to reject the “sound and fury” of political realities, Hegel justifies political life as such. It is only in and by the state that the individual gains his true reality, for it is only in and by it that he comes to universality. Only the state can act universally by instituting laws. Morality, which seeks universality, can be actualized only be being incarnated in institutions and manners. Manners or morals (Sittlichkeit) are “the life of the state in the individuals.” It is in devotion to the state that the individual goes beyond his primitive spontaneous selfishness; it is the state’s activity of instruction which gives him a training and an education.