Of all the major episodes in Hegel's Rezeptionsgeschichte, British Hegelianism can seem the most foreign and outmoded, to have the least relevance to our current understanding of Hegel's thought. Even today, we are lead back to the Young Hegelians for the problems they pose in reading his work; we can sympathise with the concerns of Peirce, Royce and Dewey that drew them to him, and the interpretative picture they developed; we can take seriously the attempts by Croce and Gentile to bring about their “reforms”, given our contemporary ambivalence to his project; and we can see how in different ways the influence of Hegel on Kojève, Sartre, Lukács and the Frankfurt School have made some of his ideas central to our times. But few feel this sense of identification and illumination on encountering the work of Hegel's British interpreters from the turn of the century; rather, in their writings we seem to find a Hegel that is darker, more distant, more difficult for us to relate to contemporary concerns.
This is not true in every respect, of course. In particular, several recent commentators have stressed how far it is possible to find here a reading and assessment of Hegel's political thought that does connect directly with many current issues, and that in this respect the thought of T H Green, Bernard Bosanquet and Henry Jones is not dead, either as a tradition within political philosophy, or as an interpretative approach to Hegel's theory of the state. Nonetheless, even those who seek to defend the importance of British Hegelianism in this regard clearly recognize that this is a fairly modest claim: for it fails to resurrect and revitalize the more fundamental aspect of the their encounter with Hegel, which was with his metaphysics – on which, as for Hegel, their political theories were based, rather than being primary in themselves. Those concerned with the political thought of the British Hegelians have not tried to take on this wider issue, leaving unchallenged the assumption that in their appropriation of his metaphysics, the British Hegelians have little to offer us either interpretatively or philosophically.