The Expansion of Autonomy: Hegels Pluralistic Philosophy of Action

Hardcover | February 16, 2015

byChristopher Yeomans

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Georg Lukacs wrote that "there is autonomy and 'autonomy.' The one is a moment of life itself, the elevation of its richness and contradictory unity; the other is a rigidification, a barren self-seclusion, a self-imposed banishment from the dynamic overall connection." Though Lukacs' concernwas with the conditions for the possibility of art, his distinction also serves as an apt description of the way that Hegel and Hegelians have contrasted their own interpretations of self-determination with that of Kant. But it has always been difficult to see how elevation is possible withoutseclusion, or how rigidification can be avoided without making the boundaries of the self so malleable that its autonomy looks like a mere cover for the power of external forces. Yeomans explores Hegel's own attempts to grapple with this problem against the background of Kant's attempts, in his theory of virtue, to understand the way that morally autonomous agents can be robust individuals with qualitatively different projects, personal relations, and commitments that arenonetheless infused with a value that demands respect. In a reading that disentangles a number of different threads in Kant's approach, Yeomans shows how Hegel reweaves these threads around the central notions of talent and interest to produce a tapestry of self-determination. Yeomans argues thatthe result is a striking pluralism that identifies three qualitatively distinct forms of agency or accountability and sees each of these forms of agency as being embodied in different social groups in different ways. But there is nonetheless a dynamic unity to the forms because they can all beunderstood as practical attempts to solve the problem of autonomy, and each is thus worthy of respect even from the perspective of other solutions.

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Georg Lukacs wrote that "there is autonomy and 'autonomy.' The one is a moment of life itself, the elevation of its richness and contradictory unity; the other is a rigidification, a barren self-seclusion, a self-imposed banishment from the dynamic overall connection." Though Lukacs' concernwas with the conditions for the possibility ...

Christopher Yeomans is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University. He is the author of Freedom and Reflection: Hegel and the Logic of Agency (OUP, 2011).

other books by Christopher Yeomans

Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.41 × 6.3 × 0.91 inPublished:February 16, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199394547

ISBN - 13:9780199394548

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Table of Contents

AbbreviationsAcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart I: General Framework1. Virtue and Individuality1. Virtue as the Individualization of Duty2. Virtue as Duties that Persons have in Virtue of also Being Animals3. Virtue as the Fight between Reason and the Inclinations4. The Development of Talents as a Duty of Virtue2. The Empty Formalism Objection in the Context of Individualized Virtue3. Fichte and the Problem of Individual Effectiveness4. A Moral Psychology of Talents and Interests1: Talents and Interests2: Subjectivity and ObjectivityPart II: Experiments in Individuality5. The Changing Nature of Objective Content1: The Distinctively Moral Form of Objective Content2: Farmers3: Soldiers6. Talents and the Shaping of Action1: Talent and Intentional Self-Knowledge2: Craft and Industrial Producers3: Scholars7. The Concreteness of the Good1: The Effectiveness of the Good2: The Public Estate3: MerchantsPart III: Conclusion8. Hegelian Self-Determination1: The Reciprocal Inversion of Moral and Material Ends2: Character as Medium and Process of Expression3: Non-Empiricist Action Explanations4: Objective Criteria and DeceptionIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Yeomans' book is a subtle, detailed and original explication of some key ideas having to do with how Hegel's general philosophy of action (or theory of the nature of agency) relates to his social and political philosophy. It is attentive to Hegel's texts, and it ties its discussions into allthe relevant contemporary themes in philosophy. It is very ambitious in its attempt to make Hegel's theory into a real competitor to other views that are currently in wide play in the philosophical world. It will very likely become one of the key texts in the secondary literature on Hegel." --Terry Pinkard, University Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University