DOI: 10.30443/POI2019-0003

Individual, People, Sovereignty. Hegel and the Foundations of the Modern World

Emiliano Alessandroni


«If a determinate content, some determinate being, is presupposed, this being, since it is determinate, stands in manifold reference to another content. It is not a matter of indifference to it whether a certain other content to which it refers is or is not, for only through such a referring is it essentially what it is». This dialectical perspective, expressed by Hegel in the Science of Logic, finds its correspondence both in his aesthetic view and in his political philosophy. The universal in art comes to manifest its essence only when it is able to descend and materialize itself in particular individualities. Conversely, moving into the field of political philosophy, it could be argued that the individual acquires ethicality only after recognition of the value of the State, whose elevation to an ethical level, in turn, cannot take place without the recognition of the value of the individual. Similarly, international law can only arise on the recognition of national sovereignties and the latter acquire their value only after mutual recognition and prior recognition of international law. In Hegel, this dialectic approach runs through all the Elements of the Philosophy of Law and characterizes, not only the explanation of the individual / state relationship and of the national / supranational nexus, but also the formulation of concepts such as people, morals, property. The way in which the German philosopher problematizes these notions allows them to redeem their tendential subordination to the logic of the abstract intellect (their easy sliding into ideology) and can therefore constitute an effective antidote against those instrumental uses of them through which, then as now, the most important (or more genuinely universal) achievements of the modern world are being called into question.

Key-words: Individual, State, Sovereignty, Cosmopolitanism, People

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E. Alessandroni, Individuo, popolo, sovranità. Hegel e i fondamenti del mondo moderno