In his Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel gives an account of the modern social world as consisting of three institutions: the family, civil society, and the state. Focusing on modern civil society, I plan to discuss one of several ways in which human need is affected by this institution-- specifically, how human need undergoes a process of infinite multiplication and particularization through the understanding of each individual. I then will go on to discuss what I believe to be the main advantages and disadvantages of the infinite multiplication and particularization in modern civil society.
[...] Unlike “insects which are tied to a specific plant,” the human individual is given the ability through its understanding to transcend such “limiting factor[s],” and achieve a greater particularity The insect is a slave to its natural immediacy, whereas the human individual is not, for his understanding's multiplication and particularization of his needs, a restraining influence on desire” through Hegel's reasoning that when an individual use of many things” the “pressure to obtain any one of these which might need is less strong.” And so, when a human individual is hungry, for example, he does not simply grab at the first edible substance like an animal would but rather usually waits and controls himself until he comes upon that particular food of his choosing. [...]
[...] Although Macht may regulate prices to provide for their basic subsistence, these groups are still unable to join corporations and acquire “that feeling of right, integrity, and honor which comes from supporting oneself by one's own activity” and from one's membership in a corporation Being excluded from creating the kind of identities which would give them qualitative satisfaction, the poor and day-laborers are stuck in the same cycle of quantitative needs, misery, and corruption as the “imposers of false needs” Along with these two groups, Hegel implies in his Jena lectures that even machine laborers are also in a position where they cannot form the kind of identities of finding pride and honor in their work and self-support, for “through the work of the machine, the human being becomes more and more machine-like, dull [and] spirit-less” (p.444). Yet while Hegel does offer some possible solutions as to the alleviation of poverty, poverty itself is an intrinsic part of modern civil society due to the aforementioned contingencies of civil society. And then there is still the same qualitative satisfaction deficiency with the day-laborers, machine workers, and even the “imposers of false needs.” The multiplication and particularization of human need in modern civil society, then, even with all its [...]
[...] With such abstraction in place, individuals no longer provide for other particular individuals, for specific faces and names, but for social need and humanity in the abstract; the shoemaker does not make shoes for specific individuals but for people, for society, in general Whether the individual is Jewish or Catholic, German or Italian is of no consequence in modern civil society, because racism and prejudice have no role of importance as far as their limiting an individual by providing obstacles as he goes about satisfying his particular needs are concerned. [...]
[...] Another possible disadvantage of the multiplication and particularization of human needs is that the individual does not create these new needs as often as “those who seek to profit from [the particular need's] emergence” Though Hegel only brushes upon this topic lightly, the imposing of needs on individuals by others implies a kind of inequality among individuals where some people in modern civil society have the power to control or even brainwash other people for economic gain. Knowing that they are manipulating people by creating or artificial needs, should these individuals not, through their participation in corporations, find a conflict between their acquirement of honor and self-respect and their manipulation of other individuals? [...]
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