Love and Politics

Re-interpreting Hegel

By Alice Ormiston

Subjects: Political Theory, Political Philosophy, Hegel, German Idealism
Series: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies
Paperback : 9780791460689, 174 pages, April 2004
Hardcover : 9780791460672, 174 pages, April 2004

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Table of contents


Introduction: Hegel in the Context of Modernity

1. "The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate": Toward a Reconsideration of the Role of Love in Hegel


Hegel's Critique of Reflective Rationality
Love as the Overcoming of Reflective Rationality
The Failure of Love as Overcoming
Conclusion: Love, Will, and the Task of the Mature Philosophy


2. From Christianity to Conscience: The Role of Love in Hegel's Phenomenology


Toward a Philosophy of Unity: Hegel and the Transcendental Intuition
Phenomenology of Spirit: The Journey of the Modern Will
Conclusion: The Inadequacy of Intuition as a Philosophical Standpoint
Appendix: The Negative Trajectory of Enlightenment Consciousness


3. Philosophy of Right: The Final Reconciliation of Love and Reason


The Philosophical Standpoint: From Intuition to Notion
The Relationship between Experience and Notional Philosophy
Love and Logic in The Philosophy of Right
Appendix: Hegel and the Woman Question


4. The Historical "Failure" of Ethical Life: A View from Within Hegel


The Historical "Failure" of Ethical Life: The Split between Love and the Will
Hegel's Explanation of the "Failure"
Hegel's Explanation and the Problems of Our Time


5. Hegel and the Dual Task of Today


Select Bibliography


Argues that love plays an essential—if often implicit—role in Hegel's mature theory of moral subjectivity and political community.


Alice Ormiston's Love and Politics argues that modern politics is rooted not merely in the pursuit of power, but that it is essentially underpinned by the experience of love. Hegel understood love as a principle that unites reason and emotion, and self and other, and that provides the foundation for a deep sense of connectedness to the world and for genuine acts of autonomy. Through an original and highly accessible interpretation of Hegel's works, Ormiston shows how the modern commitment to individual rights and freedoms can only be adequately understood by reference to the experience of love that lies at the foundation of the modern subject and its political expression in acts of conscience. Hegel's thought thus joins forces with feminist arguments for an embodied theory of the subject and for a focus on empathy in political reasoning, with republican concerns about democracy and civic education, and with postmodern concerns about the otherness of certain experiences and forms of knowledge. Ormiston's book offers a developed concept of the subject that can serve as a foundation for resistance to problems of our time, including atomism and instrumental rationality, the ills of an unfettered capitalism, and the reality of a radical evil.

Alice Ormiston is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Carleton University.


"…Ormiston offers a fresh and important perspective that Hegel scholars will surely welcome … [this] book is an invaluable contribution for giving the role of love in Hegel's philosophy the attention it is due, and for breaking a path for scholars to develop this interpretation further. " — Clio

"Ormiston's account of the implicit, presupposed role of love in the progression of reflective consciousness in the Phenomenology, and in the objective unfolding of the modern will in the Philosophy of Right, is highly persuasive. " — Perspectives on Politics

"…Alice Ormiston argues … that the concrete experience of being in love is in fact a central underpinning of all legitimate political institutions, and that the fact that we tend to downplay its political relevance … is in fact a symptom of a political order that has forgotten its own origins. " — University of Toronto Quarterly

"I like how Ormiston argues that the fundamental concept of Hegel's social philosophy is not recognition, as is often held, but reconciliation, which is ultimately an act of love. I found this to be entirely persuasive. " — John McCumber, author of The Company of Words: Hegel, Language, and Systematic Philosophy

"By focusing on love, Ormiston presents a coherent, well-argued reading of important texts from different periods in Hegel's philosophical development. " — Peter G. Stillman, editor of Hegel's Philosophy of Spirit