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Hegel is sometimes thought to belong to the latter camp, but Hardimon reminds us that the Philosophyof Right starts with a conception of selfhood in the most abstract possible form par. Unlike "the communitarian view that modern people start out explic- BOOK REVIEWS itly conceiving of themselves in terms of their social roles," Hardimon says, Hegel thinks that "that is where they are supposed to end up" t62, emphasis added , at the end of a process of "reconciliation" through rational reflection, following the path traced out in the Philosophy of Right.

In this way, Hegel aims to show that "it is precisely through their social membership that modern people are able to actualize themselves as individuals" , emphasis altered , and as individuals in a sense that isjust as strong as any that is employed in the contract tradition. This is correct and important.

But when Hardimon turns to Hegel's actual "reconciling " argument, I think that his desire to avoid Hegel's metaphysics leads him to present something that is less cogent than what Hegel in fact left us. Hardimon cites various plausible psychological reasons why social membership in its various forms would be difficult for human individuals like us to do without.

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But presumably no advocate of extreme, anti-"social membership" individualism--from Thrasymachus to Nietzsche--has ever doubted that their ideal can have psychological costs. They simply argue that those costs can be worth paying. Hardimon notes i 58 that Hegel himself has a metaphysical argument, having to do with "spirit," for the indispensability of social membership.

Hegel's Social Philosophy: The Project of Reconciliation (Modern European Philosophy)

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