Civil Society's Role In Ethical Life

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To look at the role Civil Society plays in Ethical Life, it is necessary to first look at how Hegel understands Ethical Life as contributing to his notion of freedom. Ethical Life stands opposed to Abstract Right and Morality as the domain within that triad in which right is observable—and thus given objective form. It is the domain of right in which “concrete” action (§144) performed by concrete individuals, embodying the ethical will, can exist. It is, in short, the manifestation of right. Hegel puts it himself thusly: “Ethical Life is the Idea of freedom” (§144), suggesting that Ethical Life is the realm in which freedom is actualised. Ethical Life is the objective sphere of right, and as such is composed of social institutions. Those institutions are themselves borne of and composed of individuals who embody the subjective ethical will, so the institutions and thus the entirety of Ethical Life…show more content…
Given that the institutions have determinate sway over the individual, and that the normative ideals are held in a closer relationship to the individual, their presence, it could be presumed, would be felt. Hegel is clear, that while the duties the institutions place upon the individual are no more divisible than one’s own “substantial being” (§148), the only constraint one may feel is on “abstract” freedom (§146), which, indeed, doesn’t really count for much since avoiding responsibility does not necessitate any sense of freedom, neither does doing what one pleases. Instead, Hegel notes that the individual “finds [their] liberation in duty” (§149), because the roles given to the individual through the course of their development mould the individual in their own shape, so much so that the individual becomes the identical embodiment of those institutions, and their ethical ideals. For Hegel, the aim of these institutions is to produce a habit of ethical action within the
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