System of Ethical Life

Source: G.W.F. Hegel, System of Ethical Life (1802/3) and First Philosophy of Spirit (Part III of the System of Speculative Philosophy 1803/4) Edited and translated by T.M. Knox;
Published: by State University of New York Press, Albany 1979;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

Table of Contents

1. Absolute Ethical Life on the Basis of Reason
A. First Level: Feeling as Subsumption of Concept under Intuition
B. Second Level: of Infinity and Ideality in Form or in Relation
a) The subsumption of the Concept under Intuition
b) The subsumption of Intuition under the Concept
c) The Level of the Indifference of (a) and (b)
2. The Negative of Freedom or Transgression
3. Ethical Life
First Section: The Constitution of the State
I. Ethical Life as System, at rest
II. Government
A. The Absolute Government
B. Universal Government
a) The first system of Government: System of need
b) The second system of Government: System of justice
c) The third system of Government: System of Discipline
C. Free Government

A Note on the Translation

Of all Hegel’s posthumously published manuscripts, the System der Sittlichkeit is perhaps the most enigmatic. Even German scholars who have studied all of the posthumous publications closely do not seem to dissent from this verdict. For example Haering, who made the most comprehensive study of Hegel’s early writings, says: “It is true that the difficulties of understanding it are quite extraordinary” (Hegel, sein Wollen und sein Werk, ii, 338). For this reason we have not always found it entirely possible to render into clear and intelligible English what is scarcely intelligible in German. It has, nevertheless, seemed to us that the effort was worth making because this essay is the earliest of Hegel’s systematic manuscripts that survives intact, and it represents his mature social thought in embryonic form. Its importance, long recognised by German scholars, has now been made clear to Anglo-Saxon students by Shlomo Avineri (Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State, Cambridge, 1972).

The translation is based on the edition of Georg Lasson (originally published by F. Meiner Verlag in 1913). We have used the second edition, of 1923, and have indicated the pagination of this edition in square brackets in the margin of our text. The original draft for the translation was made by T. M. Knox and it is in essence his work. But we have both gone over it thoroughly, and we now share responsibility for whatever errors and imperfections may still be found in it.

T. M. Knox
H. S. Harris

September 1977

See Also: Who Thinks Abstractly?, c. 1808

Hegel's System of Ethical Life. Andy Blunden

Commentary on the Young Hegel

Herbert Marcuse. Hegel's First System (1802-1806)
Shlomo Avineri. Hegel's Theory of the Modern State
Axel Honneth, Crime and Ethical Life, Hegel's Intersubjectivist Innovation
Georg Lukacs, The Young Hegel

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