Hegel on Economics and Freedom [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 42 (1):152-153 (1988)
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Disenchantment with liberalism and Marxism figures strongly in recent social commentaries like Habits of the Heart. This collection of seven contest entries, ably edited and introduced by William Maker, engages Hegel in these current debates. Hegel's regard for and uneasiness with the free-wheeling marketplace are timely. Raymond Plant notes that reading political economists like Steuart aged Hegel's early captivation with Greek culture to a respect for the principle of particularity, embodied in Christianity, Enlightenment, and modern commerce. Freedom lacks content without the billowing of subjectivity in civil society. But does civil society possess the resources to mitigate the split between private and public, profit and patriotism? Can Hegel's deeply contextual approach--situating commodity exchange within ethical life between family and state--provide an alternative to laissez-faire, Marxism, and the welfare state?



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