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Law, Community and Ethical Life in Hegel's Early Writings (FMC)



A course on the concepts of law and ethical life or totality (Sittlichkeit) in Hegel’s early writings. We will focus on Hegel’s critiques of ‘positive’, authoritarian law in Christianity and the abstract, moral law in Kant, and his attempts to overcome the alienation of human feeling from the law through the unifying forces of ‘love’, ‘life’ and the totally different lawfulness of concrete ethical communities. Key topics include: the motives for moral action; intersubjectivity; virtue; punishment as the ‘causality of fate’, and Kunst-Religion. Attention will also be given to the programme of aesthetic reason developed with Hölderlin. These themes will then be traced to the concepts of Sittlichkeit and law in Hegel’s ‘Phänomenologie des Geistes’.

Teaching method

Lecture and seminar

Admission requirements

Comprehension of German is a big advantage.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be made available on Blackboard at the start of the course.

Required reading

  • Kant’s Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft;

  • Excerpts from Hegel’s ‘Frühe Schriften’ (Werke in zwanzig Bände, Suhrkamp, volume 1; English translation, ‘Early Theological Writings’, transl. T. M. Knox).

  • Excerpts from the ‘Phänomenologie’ (Suhrkamp, vol. 3).

  • Also selected secondary material for seminar discussions.

Test method

Assessment will be based on active participation in the seminars, including seminar-assignments and oral presentations (20%), and a paper of 4000 – 5000 words (80%) on an assigned topic.

Time table

See: Timetables Philosophy


Dr. H.W. Siemens ( )


Please register for this course on U-twist. See registration procedure




Studiepad: Filosofie van mens en cultuur / Ethiek & Politieke filosofie