Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Philosophy | Western Political Thought

G.W. Hegel's Philosophy

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Philosophy | Western Political Thought


GWF Hegel’s philosophy of right is widely considered to be one of the most important works to the history of political philosophy. He was a German Philosopher who is known for his contributions to political philosophy. Similarly, he developed a complex and fine view of politics and the state, which is often known as Hegelianism”. 

Basic Biography

  1. Hegal was born on 27 Aughust 1770 AD in Stuttgard, Wurttemberg (now Germany). His family called him Wilhelm
  2. His father's name was Georg Lundwing. His father was a secretary to the revenue office at the court of the Duke of Wurttemberg. 
  3. His mother Maria Magdalena Louisa was the daughter of a lawyer at the High Court of Justice at Wurttemberg court. She died when Hegal was 13 years old. 
  4. Hegel had a younger sister, her name was Christiane Luise and a brother George Ludwig, who died fighting as an officer for Napoleon’s Army in the Russian campaign in 1812 AD. 


Hegel lived during a time of measured political development and he was influenced by the French Revolution (1789-1799 AD) and Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815 AD). 

Early Education 

As a teenager, he read and wrote a lot. His education focused on Enlightenment Principles and Classical Greek/ Roman Studies. He also studied Classics, Philosophy and Theological at the University of Tubingen. 

Early Job

  1. He became a house tutor to an aristocratic and wealthy wine merchant family in  Frankfurt with the help of his friend Holderlin. 
  2. After he quit his job, he came to Bamberg where he became editor to the local newspaper “Bamberger Zeitung” with the help of his friend Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer who financially supported Hegel and used his political influence to help him obtain multiple positions. 
  3. In 1818, Hegel became the Chair of Philosophy at the University of Berlin. Hegel published “Elements of the Philosophy of Rights” at Berlin University. 

Important Work

His most important book is The Phenomenology of Spirit, published in 1807. 

The most important work of Hegel is the Science of Logic, which was published in 1812 and 1816. 

To Read Jeremy Bentham's Theory of Utilitarianism Click here

Hegel’s Theory of Dialectic


  1. During Hegel’s lifetime, Germany was not a unified state. It was a collection of small states and territories with a lack of centralized authority.
  2. The Napoleonic Wars had destabilized the political order of Europe, and the Congress of Vienna (1815) had recognized the political boundaries of the continent. 


  1. Hegel's theory of Dialectic is similar to the Dialectic theory of Karl Marx. The Hegelian dialectic theory is a method of reasoning. It is the process of triadic development in which a thesis (an initial idea or concept) is opposed by an antithesis (a competing or opposing idea) and these two opposing ideas are then reconciled through a synthesis (a resolution or integration of the opposing ideas).
  2. Hegel believed that dialectic was a natural process that occurred throughout history and in all areas of human knowledge and activity, including politics, economics, art, and religion. 
  3. He argued that the dialectic is the driving force behind historical progress and the evolution of human consciousness. 

Concept of Freedom in Hegel’s Philosophy

  1. Hegel’s philosophy is first and foremost about freedom. 
  2. Hegel believed that true freedom is the realization of one’s innate potential and that it can only be achieved through the state.
  3. He believed that the state provides the framework within which individuals can achieve self-realization and that it is a necessary instrument for the realization of human freedom.
  4. For Hegel, freedom is not simply the absence of external constraints, but rather it is the ability to realize one’s own potential. 
  5. He also believed that freedom is a dialectical process, it means that it is achieved through the resolution of conflicts and contradictions. 
  6. He argued that individuals are only truly free when they can transcend their own particular interests and connect with the universal interests of the state and society.

Hegel’s Concept of the State

  1. According to Hegel, the state is a necessary and rational institution that serves as the embodiment of the “Spirit” or “Reason” of a society.
  2. He argued that the state is a necessary instrument for the realization of human freedom and that it provides the framework within which individuals can achieve self-realization.
  3. According to Hegel, the state is a living organism that is constantly evolving and it reflects the historical and cultural context in which it exists.
  4. The state is the product of a dialectic process in which different social and political forces interact and come into conflict. 
  5. He believed that the state should be an active agent of social and political change and that it should play a role in promoting the welfare and well-being of its citizens.
  6. The state is the highest expression of human freedom and rationality. 

Hegel’s Concept of Family and Society

  1. In Hegel’s view, the family is the basic unit of society and it is the foundation of all social institutions. It is the first institution through which individuals learn to interact with others. 
  2. Hegel believed that civil society and economic interactions between individuals and groups. He argued that civil society is a necessary intermediary between the state and the individual. 
  3. Hegel believed that the relationship between the family and civil society is dialectical, meaning that the two institutions are in a constant state of interaction and conflict.
  4. He argued that the family is the source of the individual’s moral and ethical values, while civil society is the source of the individual’s material needs and self-interests.
  5. He believed that the state must balance the demands of the family and civil society. It must find a way to reconcile the conflicting interests of these two institutions.

Hegel’s Concept of Law

  1. He believed that law is a rational and necessary aspect of the state, that it plays a crucial role in the realization of human freedom, and that law should be based on reason. It should be grounded in the principles of justice and fairness.
  2. He believed that law should be universal and impartial. It should apply equally to all the citizens. The state should be a “Rechtsstaat” in which the rule of law is upheld and individual rights are protected.
  3. He believed that the law should be an expression of the will of the people and it should reflect the values and beliefs of the community.

Hegel’s Concept of Punishment

  1. According to him, punishment is a necessary aspect of the state. It plays a crucial role in the realization of justice and the preservation of social order.
  2. Punishment should be proportionate to the crime, based on the principles of justice and fairness.
  3. He also believed that the state should play an active role in the administration of justice.

Hegel’s Concept of Property

  1. He believed that property is a fundamental right and that it is necessary for the realization of human freedom. Property is a necessary condition for the development of individual freedom.
  2. It is necessary for the preservation of social order
  3. It is the key component of the social and economic interactions between individuals and groups. 
  4. He argued that property is a means by which individuals can assert autonomy and that it is necessary for the realization of human potential.

Hegel’s Concept of War and International Relations

  1. According to Hegel, war is a necessary aspect of human progress. It serves as an important function in the development of human consciousness and the evolution of the state.
  2. Hegel also believed that war serves as the preservation of the state. Through which the state maintains its power and authority.
  3. He believed that war is a means by which the state maintains its sovereignty against foreign aggression. 


  1. Hegel’s philosophy is challenged by many scholars and philosophers in various aspects of his ideas. Some of the points are the following:
  2. Hegels’s concept of the state is overly idealistic and that it neglects the realities of political power.
  3. Hegel’s concept of dialectic has also been criticized for being overly deterministic and for neglecting the role of human agency and free will.
  4. His concept of state is overly centralized. It ignores the importance of local and regional governance. 

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