Cover image for Hegel's practical philosophy rational agency as ethical life
Hegel's practical philosophy rational agency as ethical life
Publication Information:
Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Physical Description:
xi, 308 p.
Added Corporate Author:


Material Type
Shelf Number
Ebook XX(1336215.1) 1

On Order



This fresh and original book argues that the central questions in Hegel's practical philosophy are the central questions in modern accounts of freedom: What is freedom, or what would it be to act freely? Is it possible so to act? And how important is leading a free life? Robert Pippin argues that the core of Hegel's answers is a social theory of agency, the view that agency is not exclusively a matter of the self-relation and self-determination of an individual but requires the right sort of engagement with and recognition by others. Using a detailed analysis of key Hegelian texts, he develops this interpretation to reveal the bearing of Hegel's claims on many contemporary issues, including much-discussed core problems in the liberal democratic tradition. His important study will be valuable for all readers who are interested in Hegel's philosophy and in the modern problems of agency and freedom.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In their groundbreaking studies of Hegel's ethical thought, Charles Taylor and Allen Wood largely extracted that thought from Hegel's larger (and supposedly less plausible) speculative metaphysics. In this, the first book-length discussion of Hegel's practical philosophy to appear in the wake of renewed interest in Hegelian metaphysics generated by the work of Robert Brandom and John McDowell, Pippin (Univ. of Chicago) instead takes Hegel's theory of rational agency as an entry point for understanding the larger project. Pippin details the rationale behind Hegel's unconventional approaches to nature and mind, rational agency, and freedom of the will. In conceiving the mind as the awakening of slumbering nature rather than as material or immaterial substance, or rationality as a retrospective "game of giving and asking for reasons" rather than an individual capacity for deliberation, Hegel sought to overcome dualisms that have continued to influence ethics and political philosophy. Pippin is adept in his use of sources (his turn to the Jena Phenomenology in exploring rationality is particularly noteworthy), and remarkably clear in his explanations of difficult texts. This book is crucial for serious students of Hegel's ethical theory. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers. J. A. Gauthier University of Portland

Table of Contents

Part I Spirit
1 Introduction: leading a free life
2 Naturalness and mindedness: Hegel's compatibilism
3 On giving oneself the law
4 The actualization of freedom
Part II Freedom
5 The freedom of the will: Psychological dimensions
6 The freedom of the will: social dimensions
Part III Sociality
7 Hegelian sociality: recognitive status
8 Recognition and politics
9 Institutional rationality
10 Concluding remarks