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German Idealist political philosophy has had a bad press. In popular treatments of the subject, it is often associated with “organicist” conceptions of the state and with the emergence of a pernicious form of nationalism. These associations have contributed to the unfortunate impression that German Idealist political philosophy anticipates, and is congenial to, the doctrines of National Socialism. In this talk, I attempt to provide a corrective to this image by exploring the political thought of philosophers such as J. B. Erhard, J. G. Fichte, and G. W. F. Hegel. I hope to show that many of their ideas are consistent with progressive, liberal thought, and that their work contains valuable resources for thinking about contemporary political issues.
James Clarke is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of York. His research is focused on the moral and political philosophy of German Idealism. He has published several articles on Fichte and Hegel, and is currently managing (with Gabriel Gottlieb) the Arts and Humanities Research Council Network “Reason, Right, and Revolution: Practical Philosophy between Kant and Hegel”.
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