Freedom and Tradition in Hegel
Reconsidering Anthropology, Ethics, and Religion
Thomas A. Lewis
“Written with admirable clarity, this important contribution to Hegel scholarship is lively, argumentative, and substantial.” —Stephen Crites, Wesleyan University
Freedom and Tradition in Hegel stands at the intersection of three vital currents in contemporary ethics: debates over philosophical anthropology and its significance for ethics, reevaluations of tradition and modernity, and a resurgence of interest in Hegel. Thomas A. Lewis engages these three streams of thought in light of Hegel’s recently published Vorlesungen über die Philosophie des Geistes. Drawing extensively on these lectures, Lewis addresses an important lacuna in Hegelian scholarship by first providing a systematic analysis of Hegel’s philosophical anthropology and then examining its fundamental role in Hegel’s ethical and religious thought.
Lewis contends that Hegel’s anthropology seeks to account for both the ongoing significance of the religious and philosophical traditions in which we are raised and our ability to transcend these traditions. Pursuing the implications of the integral role of practice in Hegel’s anthropology, Lewis argues for a more progressive interpretation of Hegel’s ethics and a “Hegelian” critique of Hegel’s most problematic statements on political and social issues. Lewis concludes that Hegel offers a powerful strategy for reconciling freedom and tradition.
This fresh interpretation of Hegel’s work provides a challenging new perspective on his ethical and religious thought. It will be of significant value to students and scholars in religious studies, philosophy, and political theory.
THOMAS A. LEWIS is assistant professor in the Committee on the Study of Religion and the Divinity School at Harvard University.
“Central to the purpose of this book is an examination of Hegel’s conception of ethics. This examination is most welcome because between Hugh Reyburn’s early The Ethical Theory of Hegel and Allen Wood’s more recent Hegel’s Ethical Thought . . . there has not been a great amount of attention given directly to the significance of ethics in Hegel’s system. Lewis’s work is carefully grounded in current Hegel scholarship and should serve to open up new avenues for the consideration of Hegel’s ethical-political thought. It makes Hegel’s views accessible in such a way that we may hope that those working in contemporary ethics find reason to reconsider, or consider for the first time, the insights into ethical life that Hegel offers.” — Journal of the History of Philosophy
“[H]is book is an outstanding contribution to the current research on Hegel. . . . Lewis’s study is a very valuable and important piece of scholarship which cannot be ignored in the further debate and deserves a wide readership amongst Hegel-scholars and contemporary philosophers alike.” — Ars Disputandi
“Drawing extensively on Hegel’s recently published Vorlesungen über die Philosophie des Geistes, he ‘addresses an important lacuna in Hegelian scholarship by first providing a systematic analysis of Hegel’s philosophical anthropology and then examining its fundamental role in Hegel’s ethical and religious thought.’ ” — Theology Digest
“This book sets out to fill a lacuna in the received picture of Hegel’s thought, namely, the lack of secondary attention to the moment of ‘subjective Spirit’ in the development of the system. . . . Lewis’s approach is careful and deliberative, and will do much to help scholars to a more adequate understanding of this central figure in modern thought.” —_Scottish Journal of Theology_