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Analyse the relationship between state and civil society in Hegel’s Philosophie des Rechts

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  1. Introduction
  2. The methodological framework of Hegel's philosophy des Rechts
  3. The concepts of civil society and state
    1. Civil society
    2. The state
  4. The twofold relationship of civil society and state
    1. Civil society: A transition towards the idea of the state
    2. The integration of civil society into the state
  5. Consequences
    1. A theory of social relations
    2. The impact on religion
  6. Critique
  7. Conclusion
  8. Bibliography

Since the 18th century, the contrasted views of the state in the Anglo-Saxon world and in France diverge on the notion of public interest. Both movements of thought frequently oppose the vision of an aggregate of the particular interests of citizens to the general interest of the nation.
Hegel, in 1820, already stressed the difference between a social order governed by self-interest -civil society- and the universal political order of the state. However, he did not see these two forms of society as incompatible, but rather as a logical linking in the human social development through history. This complex relationship is described in Hegel's principles of political philosophy Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts. In his view, these two forms of social system are correlated on two occasions: First, they are part of an evolution in human society, from family to the state. Second, once the state becomes the prevalent social order, it includes and therefore regulates civil society.
Analysing this double relationship implies to dissect both concepts, Civil Society and State, before depicting their twofold rapport, as well as their position in Hegel's system of thought. This will finally lead to a critical evaluation of Hegel's view of the universal state.
So as to understand Hegel's scheme of reflection, however, it is first necessary to point out the method he adopts in his work. Published in 1817, the Encyclopaedia of Political Sciences is a concentration of Hegel's theory. The Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, a developed section of this work, presents the result of his reflection-rather than the process to achieve it- in the field of political philosophy.

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