RICHARD A DAVIS, Marquette University


Property seems a relatively neglected topic in the history of philosophy. While it is true that it receives mention, and even some measure of critical attention, in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and especially Hume and Locke, with all these it represents but one more issue, alongside other, more important matters. With G. W. F. Hegel, however, property functions as the "primary mode of freedom" and as such forms the very cornerstone of his philosophy of right. This dissertation examines Hegel's notion of property with the intent, one, to achieve an understanding of precisely what it is he believed property to be, and two, to study certain ramifications of this concept. Following the initial, introductory chapter, Chapter II considers, first, Hegel's mention of property in the Phenomenology of Spirit, specifically in the section entitled "Reason as Testing Laws." By making explicit his purpose behind this chapter, it is shown that property is used here solely to illustrate the utter futility of any attempt to prescribe, in one's capacity as an individual, such socioeconomic institutions as private property (or its opposite, communism). Attention is then turned to Hegel's own views of property as they are found in (SECTION)(SECTION)41 through 71 of the Philosophy of Right, the primary source for his thought on this subject. Chapter III describes the role of property in man's acquisition of freedom. Interestingly enough, Hegel's concept of property also seems to provide--in conjunction with this struggle for freedom--the foundations for a theory of education. Property is likewise of crucial importance, according to Hegel, in the formation of personality. The age-old and heretofore unresolved problem of juridical personality is used, in Chapter IV, to illustrate how Hegel's concept of personality, dependent as it is on the will's necessary objectification in property, suffers no such deficiencies as do the fictionalist and realist views of corporate personality. Finally, Chapter V considers the influence Hegel's notion of property had on two English Neo-Hegelians, Bernard Bosanquet and T. H. Green, after which a response is offered in Hegel's behalf to the criticisms Karl Marx levelled against Hegel's exposition of property.

Recommended Citation

DAVIS, RICHARD A, "HEGEL'S CONCEPT OF PROPERTY" (1985). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8604951.