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OGIRISI: a New Journal of African Studies

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Hegel’s contributions to modern individualism and totalitarianism

Fidelis Chuka Aghamelu, Emeka Cyril Ejike

Abstract


The need for reconciliation of individualism and communitarianism in search for an ideal state has been the main preoccupation of social and political philosophers. Unlike other philosophers like Hobbes and Locke that view the individual and the state as being incompatible and therefore seek to achieve some sort of compromise between the two principles, Hegel believes that the individual and the state are mutually independent. For him, individual freedom understood as rational freedom is achieved through the rational institutions of the state. Thus, the state’s institutions must harmonise truly the collective interest with the objective good of individuals. The will of the state, the universal will is the good; it is the realisation of freedom and so is unquestionable. This paper discusses how Hegel reconciles individual freedom with the authority of the state. Besides, it argues that the absolutism of the Hegel’s state tends to restrict individual right and freedom which, in Hegel’s view, must be actualised in the state. Finally, this paper contends that Hegel’s reduction of freedom to rationality tends to encourage indiscriminate utilisation of human reason to create things that can erode human dignity and values. It suggests that the recognition of the place of God in human thought and life would make life meaningful and valuable.




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