Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences
Part III: The Philosophy of Spirit


§ 483

The objective Mind is the absolute Idea, but only existing in posse: and as it is thus on the territory of finitude, its actual rationality retains the aspect of external apparency. The free will finds itself immediately confronted by differences which arise from the circumstance that freedom is its inward function and aim, and is in relation to an external and already subsisting objectivity, which splits up into different heads: viz. anthropological data (i.e. private and personal needs), external things of nature which exist for consciousness, and the ties of relation between individual wills which are conscious of their own diversity and particularity. These aspects constitute the external material for the embodiment of the will.

§ 484.

But the purposive action of this will is to realise its concept, Liberty, in these externally objective aspects, making the latter a world moulded by the former, which in it is thus at home with itself, locked together with it: the concept accordingly perfected to the Idea. Liberty, shaped into the actuality of a world, receives the form of Necessity, the deeper substantial nexus of which is the system or organisation of the principles of liberty, whilst its phenomenal nexus is power or authority, and the sentiment of obedience awakened in consciousness.

§ 485.

This unity of the rational will with the single will (this being the peculiar and immediate medium in which the former is actualised) constitutes the simple actuality of liberty. As it (and its content) belongs to thought, and is the virtual universal, the content has its right and true character only in the form of universality. When invested with this character for the intelligent consciousness, or instituted as an authoritative power, it is a Law. When, on the other hand, the content is freed from the mixedness and fortuitousness, attaching to it in the practical feeling and in impulse, and is set and grafted in the individual will, not in the form of impulse, but in its universality, so as to become its habit, temper, and character, it exists as manner and custom, or Usage.

§ 486.

This 'reality', in general, where free will has existence, is the Law (Right) - the term being taken in a comprehensive sense not merely as the limited juristic law, but as the actual body of all the conditions of freedom. These conditions, in relation to the subjective will, where they, being universal, ought to have and can only have their existence, are its Duties; whereas as its temper and habit they are Manners. What is a right is also a duty, and what is a duty, is also a right. For a mode of existence is a right, only as a consequence of the free substantial will: and the same content of fact, when referred to the will distinguished as subjective and individual, is a duty. It is the same content which the subjective consciousness recognises as a duty, and brings into existence in these several wills. The finitude of the objective will thus creates the semblance of a distinction between rights and duties.

In the phenomenal range right and duty are correlata, at least in the sense that to a right on my part corresponds a duty in someone else. But, in the light of the concept, my right to a thing is not merely possession, but as possession by a person it is property, or legal possession, and it is a duty to possess things as property, i.e. to be as a person. Translated into the phenomenal relationship, viz. relation to another person - this grows into the duty of someone else to respect my right. In the morality of the conscience, duty in general is in me - a free subject - at the same time a right of my subjective will or disposition. But in this individualist moral sphere, there arises the division between what is only inward purpose (disposition or intention), which only has its being in me and is merely subjective duty, and the actualization of that purpose: and with this division a contingency and imperfection which makes the inadequacy of mere individualistic morality. In social ethics these two parts have reached their truth, their absolute unity; although even right and duty return to one another and combine by means of certain adjustments and under the guise of necessity. The rights of the father of the family over its members are equally duties towards them; just as the children's duty of obedience is their right to be educated to the liberty of manhood. The penal judicature of a government, its rights of administration, etc., are no less its duties to punish, to administer, etc.; as the services of the members of the State in dues, military service, etc., are duties and yet their right to the protection of their private property and of the general substantial life in which they have their root. All the aims of society and the State are the private aims of the individuals. But the set of adjustments, by which their duties come back to them as the exercise and enjoyment of right, produces an appearance of diversity: and this diversity is increased by the variety of shapes which value assumes in the course of exchange, though it remains intrinsically the same. Still it holds fundamentally good that he who has no rights has no duties and vice versa.

§ 487.

The free will is:

(A) Itself at first immediate, and hence as a single being- the person: the existence which the person gives to its liberty is property. The Right as Right (law) is formal, abstract right.

(B) When the will is reflected into self, so as to have its existence inside it, and to be thus at the same time characterised as a particular, it is the right of the subjective will, morality of the individual conscience.

(C) When the free will is the substantial will, made actual in the subject and conformable to its concept and rendered a totality of necessity - it is the ethics of actual life in family, civil society, and State.

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