The Ethics of Patriotism: Hegel and the Sentiment of the Citizen


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The 19th-century German philosopher Hegel’s ethical philosophy gives great importance to patriotism: he sometimes seems to claim that ethical action is synonymous with duty to the state. I believe, however, that this is a misconstrual of Hegel’s position. In this chapter, I elucidate Hegel’s use of word patriotism. I investigate his own political experience—from the German Romantic movement to Napoleon’s rise and fall—influenced his sentiments towards the state. I also demonstrate how connotations of patriotism during Hegel’s time influenced his use of the term. Finally, I claim that Hegel provides a powerful model for describing the importance of citizenship in contemporary ethical life.


Arts and Humanities | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Philosophy

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