‘Was wir so wissen, weiß das Gewöhnliche Bewußtsein nicht…’. Zum Motiv der Bewusstlosigkeit in Hegels Philosophie des Rechts

Di Markus Gante

In: Critique: Hegel and Contemporary Critical Theory LII , No. 1 ( 2023 )

Sezione Saggi / Articles


This article examines the functional role of unconscious elements in Hegel’s philosophy of right. The central idea is that the functional role of unconscious presuppositions within human sociality poses a problem for a critical theory which strives towards the transparency of the social order or, in other terms, the denaturalization of ideology. (1) In section one, I argue that the conception of knowledge within objective spirit is presented as constitutively untransparent to itself. (2) In section two, I discuss what knowledge without any presupposition, namely that of philosophy, could describe with regard to its social implications. (3) This leads me to propose, in section three, that it is a helpful way to understand the difference between objective and absolute spirit not as two different realms of spirit, but rather as two perspectives on the social order. (4) This paper concludes by relating this to the discourse on the notion of ideology in critical theory, arguing that both stances, objective spirit as functionally stabilizing the social order, and absolute spirit as destabilizing the social order are irreducible parts of our social lives.