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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the development of Hegel’s Jena social and political philosophy prior to the publication of the Phenomenology, with a focus on Hegel’s engagement with Fichte. Hegel’s culminating project in his Jena practical philosophy involves synthesizing two social ideals: classical Greek communitarianism and modern liberal individualism. According to Hegel’s conception, the classical communitarian ideal threatens a form of nihilism: the destruction of free, independent subjectivity. The modern individualist ideal, by contrast, threatens atomism: the breakdown of community attachments in favor of the pursuit of private interests. Hegel’s Jena project is to avoid nihilism and atomism by synthesizing the two ideals into one coherent picture of ethical life. Two related conceptual innovations prove crucial to this project: first, the idea that human agency is formed through a struggle for recognition; and second, the idea that modern ethical life is a shape of objective spirit.

Keywords: Hegel, Fichte, ethical life, objective spirit, atomism, nihilism, Jena, social philosophy, political philosophy

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