Gerashchenko A.I., Gerashchenko I.G. G. Hegel’s philosophy of right in contemporary education

Выпуск журнала: 

УДК 340.12



Gerashchenko A.I., Gerashchenko I.G.

The article contains supporting rationale of the role that G. Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right” and other writings play for modern education. Hegel’s pedagogy is represented in the context of his philosophy. Authors consider contradictory nature of ethical ideal in upbringing. The following issues of G. Hegel’s philosophy of education are analyzed: formation of theoretical thinking, meaning of classical education at gymnasium and at university, methods and methodology of philosophy and philosophy of right teaching, correlation of authoritative and game pedagogics, role of discipline in teaching, etc. Teaching methodology of philosophy of right is shown.

Keywords: G. Hegel’s philosophy of education, G. Hegel’s philosophy of right, authoritative pedagogy, game pedagogy, formation of theoretical thinking, classical education, patriotic upbringing, practical teaching.




Геращенко А.И., Геращенко И.Г.

В статье обоснована роль «Философии права» и других работ Г. Гегеля для современного образования. Гегелевская педагогика показана в контексте его философии. Рассмотрена противоречивость нравственного идеала в воспитании. Проанализированы следующие проблемы философии образования Г. Гегеля: формирование теоретического мышления, значение классического образования в гимназии и университете, методика и методология преподавания философии и философии права, соотношение авторитарной и игровой педагогики, роль дисциплины в обучении и др. Показана методология преподавания философии права.

Ключевые слова: философия образования Г. Гегеля, философия права Г. Гегеля, авторитарная педагогика, игровая педагогика, формирование теоретического мышления, классическое образование, патриотическое воспитание, практическое обучение. 


As far as we know, G.W.F. Hegel didn’t write any specialized books on pedagogy, though, he covered the issues of education almost in all his works. If we collect and analyse all these thoughts, we may acknowledge that he developed a profound concept of philosophy of education. Moreover, Hegel was not only a theoretician of pedagogy, but also practiced it while delivering lectures in the universities of Germany and when occupying Rector’s office of the Grammar School. In his “Philosophy of Right” he succeeded to naturally link range of legal problems and issues of teaching and upbringing. Here he raised the question of correlation of morals and ethics in their dialectic interaction. This question is of great relevance today as far as ethical references of contemporary bringing-up process are lost. G.W.F. Hegel provides the following definition of “pedagogy”: “Pedagogy is an art that makes people moral: it considers human as a natural being and leads the way that may help a human to born again and to turn his first nature into the second, spiritual nature, so that the spiritual element could become a habitat for him” [1, с. 205-206].

Developing his idea, Hegel concludes that moral bringing up goes hand in hand with the formation of philosophical thinking which insists that Spirit is constituted and that it could resist random fantasies. The role of habitat is as follows: moral bringing up gets in flesh and blood of subjective Spirit on a subconscious level in an infant state of the personality’s formation. In contradistinction to I. Kant Hegel draws distinction between morality and ethics. Morality is the manifestation of subjective will and it is connected to formal law, when ethics is exercised at the family level, at the level of civil society and State. The State, in Hegel’s mind, unites ethics and law. 

In his “Philosophy of Right” G.W.F. Hegel pays much attention to patriotic education. Though, his concept of education is included into global general philosophical context. Hegel cites the Pythagorean’s answer to the Father’s question on how to ethically bring up a Son. The answer is as follows: bring him up as a citizen of the state in which good laws function. Proceeding with this theme, a great German philosopher enters a discussion with Jean-Jacques Rousseau that suggested to take a man out of the common contemporary life and to raise him in rural area. Such attempts, in Hegel’s mind, are doomed to failure, as far as they falsely isolate a person who achieves its right only being a citizen of a good state. 

The right of kids for education, as Hegel states, stems from the fact that a human is not from nature somebody who he must be. The main aspect of bringing up here is discipline, which meaning is about breaking the self-will of a child, destruction of his naturalness and sensitivity. The only kindness is not something that is helpful here, for education presumes some violence over the natural state of the kid. Evil, in accordance with Hegel’s though, is the active side of kindness which represents the dialectics of the mentioned above ethical notions. The goal of violence applied in bringing up is about subjection of a kid to the will of the parents, who play a role of carriers of general in relation to the particular. Unless someone teaches a kid in such a way that a sense of obedience is generated in him, this sense gives a birth to the desire to become a grown-up, then children cheeky and immodest. 

G.W.F. Hegel is severe upon game concepts in pedagogic which had been widely spread across Europe in his time. The major defect of such pedagogy, as Hegel sees it, is that game approach reduces relevance of the kid’s bringing up. The authority of pedagogue gets lost, and the kid starts to perceive him as a fellow game participant. In Hegel’s thought, game pedagogic represents the incomplete as complete, i.e. game process is taken as initial and finite step of bringing up. 

Passion to game concepts within pedagogic has proven its hazardous character for contemporary education. American and European experience of 1960s has discovered the following consistent pattern: the more freedom was provided to the student, the harder it was for him to get socialized. The children’s relationships with pedagogues were more tolerable, than they could be within authoritative pedagogic, but after graduation youngsters turned out to be less ready for real life. They couldn’t compete with persons of their age, felt them irrelevant and in the end got addicted to alcohol and drugs. That period also faced a splash of suicides among young people [10]. 

Hegel’s concept of education, outlined in his “Philosophy of Right”, proceeds from the self-development of absolute spirit: in this process, it splits apart in opposite elements, not owning authentic Variety, and then these elements get connected in the unity of contradictions at the level of general. Analysing process of ancient folks’ education, Hegel concludes on the inner functioning of Spirit that leads to their progress. In this connection, he criticizes the point of view that education demolishes natural state and simplicity of ancient folks’ morals and manners, promoting the complication of life and, finally, the growth of delinquency. Natural naivety of savage humans and kids cannot be a restriction, and the goal of education is about the achievement of common definitions of ethics after the overcoming of intimate naturalness. Education, in Hegel’s mind, is the immanent element of Absolute and it owns it particular limitless value.

Analysing dialectics of the common and the particular in right, G.W.F. Hegel states, that the goal of a state is about common interest which incorporates manifold of particular interests. Meanwhile substantiality of right is the knowing and willing Spirit that has gone through the form of education. In fact, education and bringing up refer to unit subjects. From the philosophical standpoint Spirit, taken in its essence, educates and brings up itself on its own. That is an absolute form of self-education of the Spirit. The basic means of education within the State are religion and science. Before the formation of the State the most important mean of education was represented by mythology which was determined as pedagogic of humanity by Hegel.

Great German dialectician considers the system of education in close relation with age-specific peculiarities, highlighting inner contradictions of each age. So, child age he determines as natural harmony of subject himself and the outer world, as the age when contradictions hasn’t developed yet, and the kid lives in the state of innocence, in love with his parents, not suffering for extended periods of time. A youngster sets himself up against the world around, considers his own subjectivity determinant, and these contradictions are superficial. Adult perceives the greatness of the outer world and state, and therefore obeys their laws and strives for bagging the best seat. His contradictory nature is inner and essential, as far as he brings it into correlation with the contradictions of reality. In old age, the interest toward the object of activity of and contradictions get lost [2, с. 81-82].

Being an advocate of authoritative pedagogic, Hegel pays much attention to the role of discipline in the pedagogical process. Though, there are different approaches within the bounds of authoritative pedagogic. Hegel is a shining representative of dialectical approach, which does not put aside any of the contradictions, but unites them into the synthesis of diversities. And so, bringing up becomes the dialectical unity of game and work, freedom and discipline, education and self-education, critics and dogmatism, etc. Hegel constantly repeats that obedience is the beginning of any wisdom, because to learn to command, a kid must develop the skill of obedience. Discipline is called on to break the self-will of a child as the parent of evil. Dialectics is that not to turn a kid’s independent thinking over the perch when disciplining it. Personal thinking is the source of all the further development. And that represents the ideological constituent of education [8].

Hegel developed his own concept of formation of a youngster’s independent theoretical thinking. He suggested starting the process of teaching from the most abstract things that can be perceived by the kid’s spirit. Such things are letters. They represent some abstraction which understanding cannot be achieved by the most highly developed animals. Language is sensible-supersensible formation that to its greatest height contributes to the development of thinking. Extremely contradictious is the transition from representation to thinking that happens in child age. Formation of theoretical thinking is closely connected to the passing to supersensible world. Hegel recommended admitting the child to supersensible world from the very childhood so that he couldn’t withdraw into his own subjectivity and didn’t stick at the stage of representations. 

Great German philosopher paid increased attention to the role of critics in pedagogic process. Critical method, developed by I. Kant, is in demand in the age of tolerance and consensus. Criticism of Hegel in the sphere of education was, firstly, levelled at rational approach towards the formation of the kid’s thinking. He criticizes actors of the age of Enlightenment for them absolutizing mind and aiming all their enlightening activity at the popularization of philosophical knowledge. Meanwhile, in Hegel’s thought, philosophy is something esoteric which lies outside the scope of common sense and, therefore, it’s not developed for most people. Popularization doesn’t play any role here, as far as it leads to the simplification and misrepresentation of the philosophical thought; “concerning the common sense the world of philosophy in itself and for itself is a turned over world” [3, с. 280].

In this context, the German thinker opposes philosophical polemic which, in his mind, simplifies philosophy, displaying it in newspapers. Hegel creates the notion “immanent critics” which is about criticizing your opponent at the conceptual level not performing any hits on him. Immanent critics can be applied in education when old-fashioned scientific theories are not rejected but take worthy place in the history of scientific ideas. For instance, legal thoughts of antiquity should not be criticized, but should be analysed in the social context of present time. But all these thoughts become the stage of the objective legal thinking’s development. In this way theory of law cannot be studied out of the historic context. 

Much attention Hegel pays to methodology and methods of school teaching. He is the supporter of classic teaching based on essays of the Greeks and the Romans. In his thought, true methodology of education “makes old things take a new place in relation to the whole, and in this way, both saves the essential and changes, and updates it” [4, p. 399]. Studying ancient languages and literature in gymnasium are relevant not in their individual capacity but as the method of getting familiar with world culture. Pedagogue must show his students that ancient authors today can be read originally. He must use the historic approach not misrepresenting the ideas of primary sources, as it’s done in American pedagogy. The form of serving the materials is changed when the essential characteristics of ancient texts are left as they are. 

G.W.F. Hegel repeatedly points to the relevance of improvement of national schools that provide students with minimum level of knowledge. But event in this context German humanist is the supporter of classical education. He clearly understands that national school should not be transformed into parochial one. Being a consistent supporter of secular education, Hegel sees cons of religious system of education though giving credit for the necessity of moral’s formation on the base of the Christian faith. 

In Hegel’s philosophy of education, a strict distinction is drawn between theoretical and practical teaching. Theoretical education is not only the collect of knowledge, but the universality of points of view letting judge anything without sticking to subjective interest. The object of cognition should be studied in its free self-independence. Therefore, a not educated man can only directly contemplate, he judges to quickly not understanding anything. An educated man strives to perceive the objective in his freedom, at the same time realizing the limits of his ability to make assertions. Practical education is connected to the necessity of human’s self-preservation, so it demands a man to satisfy human givens when acting in a sensible way and keeping a sense of proportion that is in the bounds of these givens’ necessity [5, с. 62-64].

Much attention G.W.F. Hegel pays to the issue of philosophy and law teaching. Premises of philosophical culture within the studying at gymnasium are represented by classical views of ancient ones and religious beliefs. The most important subjects in the process of philosophical and legal thinking formation, in Hegel’s mind, are empirical psychology, initial elements of logic, evidencing God’s being and problems of ethics related to the terms of will’s nature, freedom, right and responsibilities [6, с. 569-572]. At that very time Hegel didn’t recommend studying history and theory of philosophy at gymnasium, fairly guessing that students’ intellection is not ready for perceiving such tough information.

Great German dialectician tends to repeat that true knowledge may be provided only in systemic view. So, he sharply and negatively treats attempts to teach philosophy and right fragmentary. Widely occurring preconception not only of philosophical education of the day, but of all pedagogy on the whole, in Hegel’s thought, is the point that material, thanks to which self-thinking develops, is not relevant during the evolution of that very self-thinking, and that allegedly teaching is opposite to independent thinking. Pedagogues often suppose that self-thinking is about continuous excogitation. Unlikeness becomes the criterion of creativity. Ostensibly, everyone should have his own system of thinking that differs from thinking systems of others. Hegel categorically denies that point. He thinks that philosophy as propaedeutic science taught at universities “must provide formal education and exercise for the mind. And that is possible in the train of absolute relief from the fictitious thanks to distinctness of notions and consistent methodical way” [7, с. 424].

Hegel rightly opposed the organization of philosophy and law to philology. The issues of language do not exhaust the diversity of the named disciplines. Real problems of present time hide behind scientific language, and these problems need philosophical and legal understanding. Students must study problems of vital importance at the theoretical level in the process of getting education. It will allow them not only to develop the theoretical thinking, but to channel it towards the solving of true social problems [9, с. 132].



1. Гегель Г. Философия права. М.: Мысль, 1990. 526 с.

2. Гегель Г. Энциклопедия философских наук. Т.3. М.: Мысль, 1977. 471 с.

3. Гегель Г. О сущности философской критики вообще и ее отношении к современному состоянию философии в частности // Работы разных лет. Т.1. М.: Мысль, 1972. С. 268-284.

4. Гегель Г. Речи директора гимназии // Работы разных лет. Т.1. М.: Мысль, 1972. С. 395-416.

5. Гегель Г. Философская пропедевтика // Работы разных лет. Т.2. М.: Мысль, 1973. С. 7-209.

6. Гегель Г. О преподавании философии в гимназиях // Работы разных лет. Т.1. М.: Мысль, 1972. С. 563-574.

7. Гегель Г. О преподавании философии в университетах // Работы разных лет. Т.1. М.: Мысль, 1972. С. 417-425.

8. Геращенко И.Г. Философско-педагогическая и социологическая концепция А.А. Зиновьева [Электронный ресурс] // Studia Humanitatis. 2016. № 4. URL: (дата обращения: 02.09.2017). 

9. Геращенко И.Г., Геращенко А.И. П.И.Новгородцев о проблемах преподавания истории и философии права // Право и образование. 2017. № 7. С. 130-136.

10. Геращенко И.Г., Геращенко Н.В. Проблемы дистанционного образования: методологический аспект [Электронный ресурс] // Studia Humanitatis. 2017. № 2. URL: (дата обращения: 02.09.2017).


Data about the authors: 

Gerashchenko Alena Igorevna – student of Faculty of Law, National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia).

Gerashchenko Igor Germanovich – Doctor of Philosophical Sciences, Professor of Humanities and Informational Technologies Department, Volgograd Cooperative Institute (branch office) of the Russian University of Cooperation (Volgograd, Russia).

Сведения об авторах: 

Геращенко Алена Игоревна – студентка факультета права Национального исследовательского университета «Высшая школа экономики» (Москва, Россия).

Геращенко Игорь Германович – доктор философских наук, профессор кафедры гуманитарных дисциплин и информационных технологий Волгоградского кооперативного института (филиала) Российского университета кооперации (Волгоград, Россия).