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Freedom and autonomy - Term Paper Example

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The growth of freedom culminates in an individual’s full acceptance of the political rule of the state, because the ideals of mutual recognition are naturally engraved in the constitution of the sovereign state (Hegel 22). In other words, the basic interest or self-identity of every individual is attributed with ethical value in the general legitimacy and wisdom of the state. Hegel hence places the will to freedom in the historically actual agency of the supreme state. Hegel believes that the state represents the realization of social freedom. This essay analyzes the argument of Hegel that freedom is only possible within the state. The Hegelian Idea of Freedom Hegel argues that the final stage of consciousness, which he largely associates with national consciousness, is the acceptance that human beings are naturally free. According to Hegel, it is only through the nation-state—which he defines as a cultural aggregation of people—that freedom is realized. Hegel makes use of the concept ‘rational’ to refer to aspects that advance freedom; in history, the advancement of freedom expresses itself through the nation-state. The importance of a state does not depend on its distinctiveness or individuality that should then be safeguarded at all costs. A nation-state is an institution within which individuals can better attain freedom. Nation-states and their different features are exercised by world spirit to realize an increasingly actual achievement of freedom (Hegel 101-102). This advancement of freedom, Hegel argues, occurs in phases because different states embody different phases of the realization of freedom. A particular state can merely represent one phase of world history. Once the role of a state in world history has ended, it ceases to be a part of world history. And it also ceases to guarantee individual freedom. According to Hegel, only nation-states can play a role in world history. He argues that world history only concerns nation-states because nation-states are the only means toward freedom. World history is the story of humankind’s movement toward freedom. Hegel believes that the objective of world history is for every individual to attain real freedom. Freedom can only be realized through the state, specifically, in a society where the wellbeing of individuals is embraced but individuals also create their own goals on behalf of the greater good (Hegel 22). Therefore a world-historical nation is an assemblage of culturally connected individuals, enclosed in a state, which further promotes the realization of freedom. According to Hegel, nations that have not played a role in world history have no history in this regard. He then tried to determine whether nations have played a role in the achievement of freedom. Hegel shows how the individual remains autonomous in a state. He uses the concept of recognition as a central ideal for evaluating the legitimacy of the state and other social institutions. Individuals should feel and see that their interests are respected and integrated in their institutions, which consequently strengthens their enthusiasm to relate to and give up certain privileges for the benefit of these institutions (Hegel 44-45). Hegel identifies in the notion of recognition an essence of ordering a system of social institutions, progressing from situations of unfreedom through a string of negotiations that promote the utmost ...Show more
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Yufei Ma Phil 204 Professor Andrew J. Mitchell Analysis of Hegel’s Conception of Freedom Introduction Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel believes that freedom is not merely an introspective aspect of moral grounds, but arises through one’s social relationship with other people…
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