Volume 41, 1998
Remarks on Hegel’s Philosophy of Law
Constitutional paideia designates a form of constitutionalism that construes a nation’s constitution essentially in terms of ongoing processes of collective self-formation. This paper explores the notion of constitutional paideia as formulated by Hegel, who explicitly defines constitutionalism with categories of Bildung. The paper’s strategy is to present Hegel’ position in light of questions that can be raised about it. The paper advances three central theses: (1) in spite (and perhaps because) of his historico-culturist approach to law, Hegel is a theoretician of constitutional paideia; (2) despite construing constitutionalism in terms of ongoing processes of popular self-interpretation, Hegel does not vitiate the distinction between law and politics deemed so central to constitutional theory; and (3) despite construing constitutionalism in terms of self-formative processes of a particular culture, Hegel does not jettison the normativity and trans-contextualism long associated with modern constitutional theory. The paper concludes with some observations on the contemporary significance of Hegelian constitutionalism.