Philosophy Seminar - ‘The Making of history—Hegel and the early German constitutionalists’

When:20 Feb 2018, 11:30am - 1pm
Venue:Room LG06, AGSM Building, UNSW Kensington Campus (G27 of campus map)
Who:Philosophy Seminar - School of Humanities & Languages

‘The Making of history—Hegel and the early German constitutionalists'

Speaker: Ludwig Siep (University of Münster)

Abstract:

Two of the most important questions of a philosophy of history are whether there is progress in history and what or who the driving forces of historical development are. The second point, in short the question who “makes” history, was hotly debated throughout the 19th century. If “making” means the execution of a plan and in case of success the fulfilment of a purpose, then there are only very few candidates for the role of “maker” of history. The maker of universal history could either be God – a single god in monotheism or several gods, either together or in conflict – or human beings, either individually or in a group. The present age is confronted with new global responsibilities regarding the preservation of the human race – for instance concerning climate change – or the duty to fight extreme poverty in a great part of the un-industrialized world. These tasks require global collective action in a hitherto unknown way. And this in view of individual and minority rights, democratic and regional self-government and the soft international law not enforceable by a central power. Thus a look into the 19th century debate about the degree to which man is able to “make” history may be useful for the new tasks ahead.

I will discuss the “making of history” according to Hegel’s philosophy in the first part of my talk (1.). I will sketch the split of the Hegelian syntheses and especially the anthropological turn among the left-Hegelians in the second part of my paper (2.). The main interest of my lecture, however, is a turn from philosophy of history to anthropology which radically differs from the Left Hegelian one (3). It took place in the development of early Liberalism or early Constitutionalism especially in Southern Germany. They regarded the Left Hegelians as heirs of Hegel’s “theological” view of history governed by an absolute subject, replacing reason by the human species. Furthermore, the materialistic turn of the Hegelian Left in their view resulted in a deterministic view of history. Such a view left no room for personal freedom and group efforts to change existing power structures and institutions. Instead, history should be seen as a series of collective experiences on the way to modern constitutionalism. This conception of historic experience seems to me of special interest for contemporary practical philosophy. But let us try to remember the Hegelian answer first

About the speaker:

Philosophy Seminar, February 20, 11.30am-1pm

Ludwig Siep is one of the leading Hegel-scholars in the world, and his expertise and publications range from German Idealism, through history of practical     philosophy, to general and applied ethics. He is professor emeritus at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, and holds a Senior Professorship at the     German cluster of excellence Religion und Politik. He has held numerous visiting appointments around the world, and is currently co-editor of Hegel-Studien,     and chair of the Hegel Commission of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts.

 

  Ludwig Siep in Wikipedia: 
  https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Siep

  Ludwig Siep in University of Münster, including his list of publications:
  https://www.uni-muenster.de/PhilSem/mitglieder/siep/siep.html

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