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Infinite Autonomy

The Divided Individual in the Political Thought of G. W. F. Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche

Jeffrey Church

Publication Year: 2011

G. W. F. Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche are often considered the philosophical antipodes of the nineteenth century. In Infinite Autonomy, Jeffrey Church draws on the thinking of both Hegel and Nietzsche to assess the modern Western defense of individuality—to consider whether we were right to reject the ancient model of community above the individual. The theoretical and practical implications of this project are important, because the proper defense of the individual allows for the survival of modern liberal institutions in the face of non-Western critics who value communal goals at the expense of individual rights. By drawing from Hegelian and Nietzschean ideas of autonomy, Church finds a third way for the individual—what he calls the “historical individual,” which goes beyond the disagreements of the ancients and the moderns while nonetheless incorporating their distinctive contributions.

Published by: Penn State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

I began thinking about a project on the modern individual several years ago as a way to get to the bottom of the disputes between liberalism and its many critics. I found that the claims and counterclaims—about individual rights, the liberal community...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xx

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Introduction

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pp. 1-7

Within each modern liberal regime, there are considerable disagreements about every manner of policy issue, every step in foreign affairs, every vision of the nation’s future. Yet one feature of modern life is shared by even the bitterest political...

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Chapter 1: Three Concepts of Individuality

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pp. 8-24

Individuality is in many ways the foundational modern concept. Consider by way of illustration the derivative character of individuality in “premodern” societies, which are founded and sustained based on appeals to supraindividual entities or ideals...

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Chapter 2: Hegel's Defense of Individuality

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pp. 25-55

Hegel may seem to be a strange choice as a champion of individuality. He does, after all, liken the state to a “substance” and individuals to its “accidents” (PR 145Z). Leading a proper ethical life, Hegel argues, “consists in fulfilling the duties imposed...

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Chapter 3: Hegel on the Ethical Individual

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pp. 56-83

In the last chapter, we saw that, in contrast to the traditional understanding of Hegel, our Hegel is a defender of a robust form of individualism, both in terms of an individual’s right to follow only those laws he has given himself...

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Chapter 4: Hegel on the Modern Political Individual

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pp. 84-110

Hegel offers a refreshingly unusual defense of individuality on the basis of what fulfills human subjectivity, or rather, what perfects the distinctively human. Neither the whimsical particularisms of an individual nor the ascetic rationalism...

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Chapter 5: Nietzsche's Defense of Individuality

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pp. 111-139

Perhaps the most pervasive theme across Nietzsche’s corpus is the problem and promise of individuality. In Nietzsche, unlike Hegel, one need not read too far before encountering his celebration of the individual and his tremendous fears...

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Chapter 6: Nietzsche on the Redemptive Individual

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pp. 140-169

In the previous chapter, I articulated and defended Nietzsche’s view of individuality, while also bringing out how much Nietzsche’s view shares in common with Hegel’s. Though this self-narrating individual may seem to be a radically solitary...

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Chapter 7: Nietzsche on the Antipolitical Individual

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pp. 170-198

In the previous chapter, we saw that for Nietzsche human beings become individuals through ethical activity, through the redemption of community. The task of this chapter is to investigate the historical and political conditions for the right...

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Conclusion

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pp. 199-210

This book has been an effort to articulate and defend the strand of modern individuality developed by the German philosophers Hegel and Nietzsche. This task is important for a number of reasons. First, Western liberalism is at bottom justified...

Notes

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pp. 211-248

References

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pp. 249-258

Index

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pp. 259-270

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271052342
E-ISBN-10: 0271052341
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271050751
Print-ISBN-10: 0271050756

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, -- 1844-1900 -- Political and social views.
  • Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, -- 1770-1831 -- Political and social views.
  • Individuality.
  • Autonomy.
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