Hegel’s Alternative to Nationalism

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All of the major German Idealists perceived a gap between ideals and social reality. Kant sought to bridge this gap through an institutional design that forced self-interest to track the public good. Fichte embraced cultural nationalism, according to which, to overcome the gap between ideals and reality, a nation must revive and strengthen its original culture. Hegel’s solution, in contrast, rests on the idea of ethical habituation. For Hegel, the institutions of a well-designed social order encourage the habits and virtues needed for the successful reproduction of that order. The article reflects on the implications of these contrasts for the prospects of liberal democracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-377
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Review
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • cultural nationalism
  • ethical habituation
  • Fichte
  • German Idealism
  • Hegel


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