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civil society

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P olitical philosophy [German burgerliche Gesellschaft ] A major term in Hegel 's political philosophy for an economic organization of independent persons. Civil society is distinguished from an autonomous and sovereign political state . It includes a system of needs, that is, the institutions and practice involved in the economic activities that meet a variety of needs, the administration of justice , public authority, and corporations. A political state makes one a citizen , while a civil society makes one a bourgeois. In a civil society, the individual pursues his own private good and has equal civil rights. However, there is also a determinate system that guarantees both the freedom of the individual and the harmony of individual needs and the collective needs of the community . Hence civil society characterizes modern ethical life ( Sittlichkeit ). Hegel's original distinction between civil society and the political state helps to understand the central role of the economic market in modern society. “Civil society – an association of members as self-subsistent individuals in a universality which because of their self-subsistence, is only abstract. Their association is brought about by their needs, by the legal systems – the means to security of person and property – and by an external organisation for attaining their particular and common interests.” Hegel, Philosophy ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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