L’eticità come oggettivarsi dello spirito. A proposito dell’identità di reale e razionale nella filosofia del diritto di Hegel


This paper reconstructs what the famous sentence “what is rational is actual /and what is actual is rational” specifically means within the Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. The two traditional and antithetical interpretations of these words share one main point: both transpose them on the level of the Philosophy of History. Haym does this from a conservative perspective. He regards the Hegelian saying as an immediate justification for existence. Gans and, more recently, Ilting do this from a liberal perspective. They find the idea of the progressive realization of rationality in history in the Hegelian saying. The latter interpretation seems to be attested in some alternative formulations provided by Hegel in his lectures (where “real” and “actual” are linked by “wird” or “muß sein”, not by “ist”). Hegel’s words, however, do not directly refer to the Philosophy of History. They concern in the first place the structure of ethical life (Sittlichkeit). This is confirmed by the recurring reference to the category of “idea”. Ethical life is the process through which ethical substance – i.e. the ensemble of the substantial determinations that structure everyone’s life – is realized through the self-conscious action of individuals. This action is the objectifying of the spirit and is always a finite action. Through this very manifold contingency, the “brightly coloured covering” of men’s being busy, the substance emerges as the “universal way of their acting”. This process turns into a whole series of specific differences that structure several spheres of action and existence, whose compresence must be governed. As it is always open to error and not logically deducible, this process turns the identity of rational and actual, in the Philosophy of Right, into an ethical-political problem.