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British Journal for the History of Philosophy


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It is widely acknowledged that Hegel holds the view that a rational social order needs to reconcile us to our status as natural beings, with bodily needs and desires. But while this general view is well-known, one of its most surprising implications is rarely explored: namely the implication that, for Hegel, a rational social order also has to reconcile us to the inevitable fate of everything natural and organic – it needs to reconcile ourselves to our own mortality. This paper explains this largely unknown dimension of Hegel’s view, as well as its implications for contemporary social philosophy. The main contemporary upshot is going to be that Hegel’s argument can be read as presenting the case for a ‘politics of mortality’: for a type of social critique that holds society to the standard of how easy it makes it for social members to face death with a reconciled attitude.


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