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9 - Practical Necessity and the ‘Logic’ of Civil Society

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2017

David James
Affiliation:
University of Warwick
David James
Affiliation:
University of Warwick
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Summary

In the Preface to the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel offers a statement concerning the relationship between this text and his Science of Logic, in which he sets out, and seeks to demonstrate the necessity of, the basic logical determinations that govern rational thought as such and form the object of philosophical knowledge at the level of pure thought. This statement reads as follows:

Since I have fully developed the nature of speculative knowledge in my Science of Logic, I have only occasionally added an explanatory comment on procedure and method in the present outline. Given that the subject-matter is concrete and inherently of so varied a nature, I have of course omitted to demonstrate and bring out the logical progression in each and every detail. But on the one hand, it might have been considered superfluous to do so in view of the fact that I have presupposed a familiarity with scientific method [mit der wissenschaftlichen Methode]; and on the other, it will readily be noticed that the work as a whole, like the construction of its parts, is based on the logical spirit. It is also chiefly from this point of view that I would wish this treatise to be understood and judged. For what it deals with is science [Wissenschaft], and in science, the content is essentially inseparable from the form. (PR, Preface 10[12–13])

From this statement it appears that the content of the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, that is to say, the concept of right, is to be regarded as inseparable from the scientific form in which it is presented. This identity of content and form has to do with the way in which the content exhibits a logically necessary structure. Although this identity is not always fully manifest, the concept of right and its various determinations will to some extent exhibit the same logical structure that forms the content or object of speculative logic. Since Hegel singles out the logical progressions described in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, one would expect to find any appeals to the logical necessity described and demonstrated in his speculative logic especially in some of the key transitions that take place within this work. The necessity of such transitions would, therefore, ultimately have to be explained in terms of the idea of logical necessity.

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Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right
A Critical Guide
, pp. 177 - 196
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2017

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