Freedom and Independence: A Study of the Political Ideas of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind

Originally published in 1976, this book was written specifically to guide students of political theory who want to understand Hegel’s political ideas as they appear in The Phenomenology of Mind. Professor Shklar’s commentary uses plain language and English translations of references wherever possible. The core of Hegel’s argument is that freedom is the identity of the personal goals of individual citizens and the public ends of the polity as a whole. This is a dynamic process, in which all laws are created by each and all, and in turn expressed and realised in the minds and actions of every member of society. The text emphasises Hegel’s criticism of every type of subjectivity. The failure to recognise the cultural character of all experience is the core of Hegel’s critical review of all past philosophy, and led him to develop his own theory of history and of knowledge as retrospective thinking.

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