Concrete Freedom - A Holistic Reading of a Hegelian Concept

When:22 May 2018, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Chancellery, Committee Room 4
Who:Loughlin Gleeson (UNSW Sydney)
Loughlin Gleeson


In this paper, I will set out a holistic reading of Hegel’s concept of ‘concrete freedom’. By freedom in concreto Hegel means, neither the absence of undue external interference as a necessary precondition of individual free choice (Hobbes; Section 1) nor rational self-determination made possible through the strict adherence to the moral law and its putative universally valid normative criteria (Kant; 2), but rather a relational achievement obtaining between self and other wherein the former is genuinely reconciled with the latter, or in Hegel’s terms ‘with itself’ or ‘at home’ in it (3). On my holistic reading of Hegel, our relation to those others upon which we are necessarily dependent applies in a highly differentiated manner to: (i) one’s psycho-physiology or internal nature; (ii) external nature; (iii) other subjects; and (iv) social reality and in particular the norms, customs and institutions of which it is comprised (4). Such an approach arguably encompasses all of the dimensions—namely, the ‘subjective’, ‘natural’, ‘intersubjective’ and ‘social’—required for a complete picture of concrete human freedom.


Loughlin Gleeson is a Ph.D candidate in philosophy at UNSW. Having completed an honours project on Axel Honneth, he is currently working on a dissertation on Hegel and his concept of ‘concrete freedom.’

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