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actuality (Hegel)

Subject Philosophy

People Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


M etaphysics [German, Wirklichkeit , from wirken , to be active, or effectual] In the preface to Philosophy of Right , Hegel claimed that “what is rational is actual, and what is actual is rational.” This has been criticized as a conservative doctrine that allows no attack on existing political systems and institutions, however tyrannical or perverse they might be. But this response is based on a mistaken understanding of Hegel's notion of actuality. Hegel employed the standard contrast between actuality and possibility or potentiality , but also contrasted actuality to mere existence or appearance, so that not everything existing is actual. In his Logic , actuality is the unity of existence and essence , of inward reality and out-ward reality. Something actual is fully developed according to the inner rationality of the species to which it belongs. For Hegel, everything has its own teleological necessity and can be said to be actual only when this necessity has been fully worked out. Hence, an infant, although it exists, is not actual with respect to the essence of human species. “Actuality is the unity, become immediate, of essence with existence, or of inward with out-ward.” Hegel, Logic ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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