The Owl of Minerva

Volume 51, Issue 1/2, 2020

Davide BarileOrcid-ID
Pages 35-57

History and the International Order in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

For a long time, the sections of the Philosophy of Right dedicated to the relations among states have been neglected by contemporary International Relations theories. However, especially since the end of the Cold War, this discipline has finally reconsidered Hegel’s theory, in particular by stressing two aspects: the thesis of an ”end of history” implied in it; and, more generally, the primacy of the state in international politics. This paper suggests a different interpretation. It argues that, in order to really understand Hegel’s theory of international relations, it is necessary to consider how it is related to the momentous changes that occurred in the wake of the French Revolution and to previous philosophical developments in the Age of Enlightenment. Indeed, the convergence of these two aspects in his own philosophy of history should suggest that, according to Hegel, by the early nineteenth century international politics had finally entered a new era in which states would still interact as the foremost actors, but would be bound nonetheless by an unprecedented awareness of their historical character.