Moral Autonomy in Kant and Hegel

  • Heimo E. M. Hofmeister


One can only be surprised to learn that Hegel in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1did not devote even six whole pages to the presentation and critique of Kant’s ethics.2 His History of Philosophy comprises three volumes, totally nearly 1700 pages, and Hegel himself stated once that the Kantian philosophy is the foundation and starting point of modern German philosophy. The general influence of the Kantian works and in particular the influence of Kant’s ethics on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right is well known, and Hegel himself recognized it. This discrepancy between Kant’s influence and Hegel’s overt recognition of it was first pointed out by Karl Ludwig Michelet, the editor of the Lectures on the History of Philosophy. He justified it with a hint about how this book was written: there were additions to the introduction and main text which became more and more extensive and which did not leave Hegel at the end of the semester with sufficient time to cover the period beginning with Kant. 3 Although Hegel’s elaboration of Kant’s ethics is linguistically elegant, it is not philosophically detailed, and if one wishes to shed light on it, he will not be able to do so without the help of certain passages from his other writings, especially from the Phenomenology of Mind and the Philosophy of Right.4


Moral Autonomy Ethical Life Kantian Morality Pure Consciousness Transcendental Philosophy 
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  1. 14.
    CF: R. Kroner, Von Kant bis Hegel (Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr, 1961),166 ff.Google Scholar
  2. 54.
    Cf. B. Liebrucks, sprache und Bewuβtsein (Frankfurt am Main, Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, 1966),3, 605 ff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heimo E. M. Hofmeister
    • 1
  1. 1.The American UniversityUSA

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