Was Bosanquet a Hegelian?

originally published in Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain, No. 31 (1995): 39-60.

William Sweet (St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Canada)

It is generally held that 19th and early 20th century British Idealism was fundamentally Hegelian in character and the term `the British Hegelians' has long been in common usage(1). Yet, particularly in recent years, it has been argued that some of the most influential British idealists were not Hegelians at all. T.H. Green may still be an idealist(2), and F.H. Bradley an `absolute idealist'(3) but, despite traces of Hegelian vocabulary or principles in their work, several scholars now hold that neither ought to be considered a disciple of Hegel.(4) One might well wonder whether this is also true of Bernard Bosanquet, who has generally been regarded as the most Hegelian of the major idealists.(5)

It is unlikely that Bosanquet would be offended in being called a Hegelian. In his metaphysics, his political philosophy and, particularly, his logic, Bosanquet draws on Hegel's insights and arguments.(6) He saw his work as indebted to Hegel (specifically, to a tradition that traced its roots through Hegel, back to Kant, Rousseau and, ultimately, Plato) and, at the beginning of his philosophical career, Bosanquet criticised F.H. Bradley's logic for not having respected the principles laid out by Hegel beforehand.(7) It is no surprise, then, that Bosanquet described Hegel as one of the two "great masters who `sketched the plan'" (the other being Kant).(8)

Still, it is hard to say what, precisely, is it that makes an author a `Hegelian'.(9) Is it the use of Hegel's categories and terminology? Is it that the author is explicitly indebted to Hegel? Is it that the author's work shows an allegiance to Hegel's conclusions and that he sees himself as, at most, completing and extending what Hegel did? One might also ask, what type of Hegelian we have in mind--there are `left Hegelians', `right Hegelians' and so on. Of course, in attempting to trace such an intellectual debt, one must, as far as possible, try to distinguish what is distinctively Hegelian from what is to be found in earlier authors, but taken up by Hegel.

Again, even if Bosanquet might grant that he was a Hegelian, it is not at all obvious what one might infer from this. It is clear that Bosanquet saw his work as more than an extension or application of Hegel's philosophy. But he was not in the habit of accentuating his differences from his predecessors and, given his approach to, and use of, texts in the history of philosophy, it is often difficult to say where exposition and interpretation end and his own theory begins.(10) It is also not easy to determine what exactly did Hegel hold and whether Bosanquet's view of Hegel and of his debt to Hegel was accurate.

I cannot do more than note these concerns here. Nevertheless, one can, I think, go some way in answering the question posed in the title of this paper. I shall focus on three central aspects of Bosanquet's work(11) which bear on (though extend beyond) what I have elsewhere called his `social ontology'(12)--individuality, the state, and the real will. From this, one can see whether there are similar themes and conclusions in Hegel but also determine the influence on Bosanquet of authors prior to, or independent of, Hegel. I will suggest that Hegel supplied a vocabulary and illustrations for several ideas that Bosanquet wished to express. But Bosanquet did not follow Hegel slavishly, did not conform to the general method that Hegel employed, and drew on other authors whenever convenient. Thus, while Bosanquet's debt to Hegel is real and one that he would acknowledge, we should be reluctant to describe him as, fundamentally, a Hegelian.

I (Individuality)

a. Bosanquet

There is no doubt that `individuality' was of central concern to Bosanquet. It was the theme of his two volumes of Gifford Lectures,(13) and it is fundamental to his accounts of logic, morality and politics.(14) But Bosanquet uses the term in a number of different ways.

There is, for example, the sense that he finds in contemporary individualist theories, where the individual is seen as an "atom" (PTS 74) or a "monad without windows"(15)--as a being distinct from and independent of every other being. Yet Bosanquet uses this term in this way only to refer to a view he rejects. For Bosanquet, the nature of an individual is not simply that which it is at some isolated instant, but includes that which it has been and will be "when its growth is completed" (PTS 122; see PIV 129)--or, differently stated, when it reaches its `end'.

Although Bosanquet uses the terms `individuality' and `individual' in other ways, in the main, the sense he prefers is what one might call the `maximalist' view--that of the individual as "a great individuality". Bosanquet suggests, for example, that "[t]rue individuality... is not in the minimisation which forbids further subdivision, but in the maximisation which includes the greatest possible being in an inviolable unity" (PTS 170)--"it is so thoroughly one, so vital and so true to itself, that, like a work of art, the whole of [its] being cannot be separated into parts without ceasing to be what it essentially is" (PTS 74). Not surprisingly, then, one finds texts where Bosanquet says that the `concrete universal' or `the Absolute' is the individual in the strict sense, with the putative consequence that the human being is an individual only in a secondary way(16) and only so far as it approximates this larger notion of `individuality'.

What, then, does Bosanquet think the human person is? Of course, human beings are corporeal beings, but he says that one's corporeal nature and one's material needs and desires are not of ultimate importance. The `material' is significant so far as it is related to `mind'--"[l]ike the `flesh' or the `body' of St. Paul's religious language, the `bodily' or `material' needs and appetites of man are an element of mind..." (PTS 27). Thus, in his discussion of the human person, Bosanquet focuses on `mind' or `spirit'.

Human beings, Bosanquet notes, normally live in community. But the nature of life in community is complex. Not only is there a physical dependence of the individual on goods which can be found only in an environment where there is a division of labour, but there are also intellectual and spiritual supports. Indeed, unlike such authors as Bentham, Mill and Spencer, Bosanquet insists that "we are not to think of the sensuous individual as totally prior in time to the social consciousness" (PTS 137). On Bosanquet's view, "[a]ll individuals are continually reinforced and carried on, beyond their average immediate consciousness, by... the social order" (PTS 142). It is through this order that we learn language, acquire knowledge of moral principles,(17) come to think and to judge--not to mention learn more of the nature and content of reality.

Individuals benefit from this support, however, only so far as they are `recognised' by others. But since the human individual is fundamentally a mind, the community itself is a community of minds, and these minds are "so related as to co-operate and to imply one another" (PTS 195). `Recognition', then, is a matter of simple logic.(18) The relation among human individuals is so strong that "every mind is a mirror... of the whole community from its own peculiar point of view" (PTS 7; cf. PTS 292). In the social order, therefore, there is a "general recognition" (PTS 206) of individuals--though not necessarily a conscious one--where each person is seen as a being able to participate in the realisation of a social and a common good.

How, specifically, is `individuality' realised, and is this account of individuality consistent with our respect for human beings? Bosanquet frequently refers to the `stations' or `positions' a person has in society and to the functions that one must fulfil as part of these stations. But one's `position' is more than one's work.(19) Bosanquet says that "[a] man's station is not merely his trade. His family and his neighbours and the commonwealth are part of it" (KG 121-122). Moreover, one's stations or positions are not determined arbitrarily, but in view of a social and common good and according to his or her talents or capacities. Thus, Bosanquet says that, for human beings, "their true individuality does not lie in their isolation, but in that distinctive act or service by which they pass into unique contributions to the universal" (PTS 170).

Now, it has been claimed that this view threatens the importance and value of human beings. For, if one has no function in a society, how is one an individual? Recall Bosanquet's comment that "man really does not exist as man without some station and duties" (KG 340). It is, perhaps, no surprise that Pringle-Pattison held that Bosanquet "treated the finite individual `almost as a negligible feature of the world'"(20) and that "Bosanquet's theory does not contain the idea of a [finite] self at all".(21)

Still, Bosanquet would reply that the individual is not merely a function or set of functions, and that one's position in society "is simply one reading of the person's actual self and relations in the world in which he lives" (PTS 191, emphasis mine). Bosanquet acknowledges that "it is our nature to be a single self" (LFI 92) and that selfhood is not "a trivial or unreal thing" (PIV 289). `Positions' cannot exist without the persons who fill them, nor without the physical beings who recognise them, nor without the existence of individual consciousnesses in which the `moral end' and the `common good' essential to the existence of these `positions' are to be found.

In short, according to Bosanquet, it is through one's relations with others that one becomes more `complete' and, thereby, is more of an individual (PIV 69).(22) Again, it is so far as persons are related to one another that they have the basis from which to `abstract' what distinguishes them from one another (PTS 201). Individuality, then, is possible only in a society, and a human being can be an individual only within a community.(23)

One might, nevertheless, ask what value human beings have on this account of individuality. Andrew Vincent has argued, for example, that, in `Hegelianism' (and he includes Bosanquet here), the individual citizen is simply an `abstraction'(24), and he asks whether such a being, then, really matters(25).

It is true that, on Bosanquet's view, the finite individual can be seen as an abstraction, for no person can possess all that is characteristic of individuality. But he does not suggest that such a being does not matter. As noted above, he denies that individuals can be reduced to their functions and, while he argues for the centrality of a common good, Bosanquet would not separate this good from the moral and spiritual development of individuals. Indeed, he emphasizes the importance of the specific contributions of individuals to the common good. The individual human being is, then, important. The difficulty with assigning a definite value to finite consciousness by itself is, on Bosanquet's view, simply that it is not fully realised.

b. Hegel

The preceding account of the individual clearly bears several similarities to that found in Hegel, particularly in the Philosophy of Right.(26) Hegel, too, distinguishes different senses of the term `individual': that of the "particular" or "single individual" (Phenomenology §306; §28)(27), found in the classical individualism of Hobbes and Locke, that of the "concrete person" (§182), and that of "substantive individuality" (§324)--or, even, "the universal individual, self-conscious Spirit" (Phenomenology §28).

In this first sense, the `individual' is a being who is "a mere shadowy outline" (Phenomenology §28), whose ends are simply one's private interests (§187)--interests which are different from, and even opposed to, those of others. When Hegel turns to speak of the "concrete person", however, one sees that there is a dimension that is clearly dependent on the community (Phenomenology §28; §306).

It is first at the level of what Hegel calls `civil society' that each person can properly be said both to have the "duties of the station to which he belongs" (§150) and to benefit from social life. Performance of these duties is essential for concrete individuality. Hegel says that one is "to make oneself a member of one of the moments of civil society [i.e., of a class], by one's own act, [and] through one's energy, industry, and skill, to maintain oneself in this position" (§207). But this station or position, Hegel says, is not arbitrarily determined; it is based on one's education and ability.(28) And, as each "actualizes" him or herself in this way, one's subjective or particular will is directed towards a collective goal--sc., the goal of his or her class. We see in this, then, a movement towards the universal. One's work, motivated by "subjective self-seeking turns into a contribution to the satisfaction of the needs of everyone else" (§199). Thus, "the true content and aim of the individual" is "the living of a universal life" (§258 zusatz, 156).

A human being becomes, and is, a person--a "concrete person"--then, only so far as he or she has a function with a series of correlative duties. This station, in turn, exists only within the context of a system--civil society or the state. Hegel concludes, then, that "[t]he rational end of man is life in the state" (§75 addition, p. 242). But this is a system in which all are interdependent and which all recognise. Hegel says that "[i]n the rational organism of the state, each member, by maintaining itself in its own position, eo ipso maintains the others in theirs" (§286). In short, one is an individual only so far as one is a member of civil society (or the state),(29) and `membership' here is determined by mutual recognition (see §40, §70 zusatz).

Yet while subject to an `end', the individual is also necessary to it. For Hegel, reason manifests itself only through living consciousnesses and their products (see §348)(30). He writes that "the universal does not prevail... except along with particular interests" (§260) and that, while "the universal must be furthered..., subjectivity... must obtain its full and living development" (§260 addition). Specifically, while the state "is the end immanent within them,... its strength lies in the unity of its own universal end and aim with the particular interests of individuals" (§261).(31)

c. Comments

There are clearly several parallels between Bosanquet's account of individuality and the human person and that of Hegel.

First, there is the issue of `individuality'. The `individual' in its proper sense is not one that is abstract and `atomic', but one that is `concrete' and reflects the multiplicity of its relations to others. Second, both employ the idea of `position' or `function' when elaborating the nature of the individual. Thus, individuals realize themselves--become more concrete--by fulfilling their functions or doing their duties. Third, we have the idea of recognition. Individuality is rooted in a social (which is fundamentally a `mental') context, where each is related to others. Without such a relation, Hegel says, a human being is not a person (§331 zusatz, 212; see §71 and §40). Fourth, one sees a parallel in their accounts of the role of the finite individual. Although the most appropriate sense of `individual' is the `maximal' sense, this can be realised only in or through finite human beings.

Still, while these parallels exist, there are antecedents in Greek thought for each of them, and there is reason to believe that the inspiration for Bosanquet's view is to be found there.

For example, consider Bosanquet's description of the individual as something `fully developed or realised'. Here, he draws explicitly on the Greek notion of nature as physis or `growth', and the teleology implicit in this account is one that he traces to Aristotle.(32) Bosanquet's claim that the `individual' is, strictly speaking, the concrete individual (if not the concrete universal) is based on ideas found in Plato and Aristotle, and the origins of this notion in Greek philosophy have been recognized by Pringle-Pattison (who refers to "the Aristotelian significance of the concrete universal and the substantive character of individuals"(33)) and by Geoffrey Mure.(34)

The emphasis on the `position' of the individual is one that Bosanquet finds, again, in Plato and Aristotle. In his early commentary on Plato's Republic, he traces `function', `station' or `position' to the notion of ergon.(35) One's function is, as we have seen, based on one's natural capacities, and it is through fulfilling their functions that humans realize themselves. Similarly, it is on this notion of the function of a person that Aristotle builds his account of ethical life (see Nicomachean Ethics, 1097b 25-30), and on which the realization of the individual in part depends.(36)

The idea of `recognition' that one finds in both Bosanquet and Hegel--that individuals must be `recognised' in order to be persons--is also implied in Plato. On Plato's view, each human being has a place in a particular social class, associated with a certain kind of work or labour, and one is not an object of ethical concern apart from this. Recall his comment in the Republic that "[t]reatment... would be wasted on a man who could not live in his ordinary round of duties and was consequently useless to himself and to society".(37) Now, while it is clear that Bosanquet does not draw this conclusion concerning those who cannot fulfil the requirements of their positions in society, he emphasizes, like Plato, that the recognition of one's position is essential to being a person, that it must be authoritative and, hence, that it can take place only within human consciousness (PTS 7).

Finally, Bosanquet's view that `individuality' can be realised only through finite individuals is an extension of the accounts of the relations between parts and wholes in Plato and Aristotle. Recall Plato's discussion in the Republic where the characteristics of the ideal polis (sc., wisdom, courage, temperance and justice) were seen to be those which reflect, and were reflected in, individuals who had the corresponding characteristics or were in the corresponding relations. The characteristics of the polis exist only through the individuals who constitute it, and each individual reflects the characteristics of that class in the polis of which he or she is a member.(38)

While there are parallels in the discussion of individuality and the human person that one finds in Hegel and Bosanquet, these are surely all ideas available to any student of Greek classical thought. Indeed, Bosanquet's recorded debt here is often to Aristotle or Plato rather than Hegel. If Bosanquet is distinctively `Hegelian', it cannot be primarily because of his account of the individual.

II (The State and the Real Will)

a. Bosanquet

A more promising comparison between Bosanquet and Hegel might appear to be found in their respective analyses of society and the state.

Bosanquet sees society as a unity of a number of `natural' institutions--primarily, the family, the neighbourhood, class and the nation-state. He speaks of society as an "individual organism" (PTS 23, quoting Huxley),(39) where each part of it is integrally connected to all the others (PTS 156).(40) Society is neither an accidental association of individuals or institutions nor normally subject to dissolution (PTS 147). Moreover, no particular institution is reducible to any other; each has a distinctive role within the social order, and each is necessary for the development of the human person.

Society exists and functions as "a moral and collective body" (PTS 86) because, Bosanquet says, it is permeated by a set of `dominant ideas'--what he calls the "general" or "real" will(41). These `dominant ideas' are to be found in a society's laws and rules (PTS 174) and even in its traditions and customs (PTS 139).(42) (Bosanquet says that these `ideas' are also present in the habitual action and in the day-to-day experience of all the members of a social group--even if they are not fully conscious of them.) Such `ideas' serve, then, both as a basis for organized activity and as a sign of social unity.

Given this notion of `dominant ideas' and given the preceding account of individuality, it is not surprising that Bosanquet describes society as a "structure of intelligences" (PTS 195). Of course, he does not deny that society consists of institutions that exist in space and time. Society as a whole requires "external apparatus" (PTS 159). Nevertheless, it is "the aspect in space and time of a set of corresponding mental systems in individual minds" (PTS 161) and is "a body which at every point and in every movement expresses the characteristics of a mind" (PTS 6-7).

Social phenomena are, then, "ideal in their nature". They "consist of conscious recognitions, by intelligent beings," (PTS 33) and reflect shared `dominant ideas'. It is because social life and social institutions exist at the level of mind that society is, fundamentally, an organic unity.

Bosanquet's account of the state is inseparable from his general description of society. To begin with, it is important to note that when he refers to the `state', Bosanquet has in mind neither an `ideal' State (PTS 232) nor some particular state but the nation state qua state (FS 274). His professed object is simply to provide a description of the state in much the same way a physiologist might provide a description of a human being (PTS 232), that is, by giving a generic account--an account of the `average' being--but not an idealised one.

Bosanquet describes the state as something that is "territorially determined" little by little (PTS xlviii; see FS 283) and that has a distinctive history. But, while clearly aware of its historical character, Bosanquet would also say that the state is `natural', in the sense that it is implied by the nature of the individual,(43) and that its development is not purely accidental or arbitrary.(44) Because of this, there is no place for a social contract in his analysis.

The function or purpose of all social institutions is to contribute to the realization of what Bosanquet calls "the end"--"the best life" (PTS 188) or "the perfection of human personality" (PTS 189). (He elsewhere describes this as "self-completeness", "self-realisation" and, even, "freedom".(45)) The distinctive contribution of the state to this end is that it establishes and enforces laws and rules.

But while the presence of the state is particularly evident when it is carrying out public functions like the creation and enforcement of law, Bosanquet says that it is more than a legislative power, an executive or a civil service. The state is not simply the government or the "political fabric" (PTS 140; PIV 311; PTS lxii) of society. In fact, it is not a single isolable entity at all. It is, rather, that set of "institutions" (PTS 140) that serves as "ultimate arbiter and regulator, maintainer of mechanical routine, and source of authoritative suggestion" (PTS 173).(46) Its primary functions are to eliminate the obstacles that individuals encounter in working towards the common good, to settle conflicts, and to organise and coordinate social living (PTS lviii).

In order to carry out these functions, Bosanquet does say that the state must have absolute physical power over the individual (see PTS 192; FS 283-284). Still, this power is not ascribed to the state a priori--he refers to its "ultimateness de facto" (PTS 175). A nation state, then, has absolute power over individuals simply because there is no other existing authority outside of or beyond it (such as a world state) to which they could be subject.(47) Nor is this state `absolutist' in the way that totalitarian states are. Bosanquet explicitly asserts that "the state is not the ultimate end of life" (FS 271), and says that, so far as self-government is possible, the arbitrary exercise of absolute power is irrational.(48) In fact, throughout his work he champions both representative government and universal suffrage.(49)

Understood as an institution that "hinders" activity and exercises force, the state has a negative character. But its contribution to the "best life" is also positive. For example, the state may act positively in providing individuals with the means for moral action (PTS 183), even if it cannot itself act morally or directly promote a moral (or spiritual) end (PTS xxxvi)--Bosanquet mentions building schools in order to combat illiteracy (PTS 178). Moreover, through the legal system, the state recognises and protects institutions and individuals, and it is because the state is the authoritative source of the recognition of the `positions' of individuals that it is, ultimately, necessary to the existence of rights. Again, it is through the official recognition of marriages, of the laws governing contracts, and so forth, that the state provides the basis for social life (PTS 257). Finally, Bosanquet argues that the state guarantees and fosters liberty, and that liberty is to be found only in the state (see PTS 230-236)(50).

What is the relation between society and the state? Bosanquet maintains that the justification of both is the same, and that they have the same origin and, in the final analysis, the same end.(51) But it does not follow from this that he conflates the two. As we have seen above, the state is present throughout society as that which recognises, regulates, arbitrates between, coerces and promotes social institutions and individuals. But society and the state are distinct (PTS lxi).(52) One can, for example, speak of social action, which is entirely different from both political and private activity (PTS xxxvii-xxxix) and, where political action is inappropriate or fails, Bosanquet emphasizes that an important role is still to be played by volunteer work.(53)

It is precisely so far as it is "habitually recognised as a unit lawfully exercising force" (PTS 173) that the state is distinguished from society. Clearly, then, social life is impossible without the state, but is not reducible to it. Indeed, there is a reciprocal influence between the two. As the state tries to harmonise and organise social facts into "a rational shape" (PTS 111), it is itself adjusted and harmonised. Thus, the "ultimate and effective adjustments of the claims of individuals, and of the various social groups in which individuals are involved" (PTS 172-173) includes the `rational criticism' of the state as well (see SS 74 and PTS 228). These institutions give "life and meaning to the political whole" (PTS 140). The integral relation between society and the state, then, rather than entrenching the status quo, ensures a continuous development of the state.

Given the preceding account, we can see better Bosanquet's view of both the relation between the state and the finite individual. Bosanquet holds that, when we understand the `natural' character of the state and that, like individuals, it exists on the level of mind, there can be no question of one being related to the other as end to means, or vice versa.(54) Individuals and the state, Bosanquet says, are the same thing, seen from different points of view; they are "but a single web of content which in its totality is society and in its differentiations are the individuals (PTS 168). Indeed, the state is "the individual mind writ large" (PTS 143).

Finally, what is it that legitimates the state? This leads to the third point of comparison suggested between Bosanquet and Hegel--namely, the `general' or `real will'.

As noted above, for Bosanquet, it is through life in the state that human beings become genuine individuals. But the authority of the state is based on more than its utility. Bosanquet holds that where there is shared history or cooperation among persons in view of a common good, one finds the presence of certain `dominant ideas'--the general will. Now, Bosanquet accepts the principle that an individual is ultimately subject only to him or herself (PTS 134). But, as each individual's `real will' is the general will, he or she is subject to it. Consequently, the state has moral legitimacy because it is a reflection of the individual's `real' (or--what amounts to the same thing--the `general') will.

One's `real will', Bosanquet argues, is never present completely in an individual's consciousness, just as human nature is never present completely in any one human being. For a full articulation of one's will, an individual must go beyond him or herself to the `system of intelligences' in which he or she lives and acts. This `system' is, as we have seen, organized social life. Thus, in answer to the question, "How can individuals know what their `real wills' require of them?", Bosanquet replies that "[t]he social system under which we live... represents the general will" (PTS 186). As a result, the exercise of power by the state is morally legitimate since it is a reflection of the nature and the will of each human person, and the state can demand a person's obedience, even if that person has not explicitly accepted its authority (PTS 119, n. 2).(55)

b. Hegel

Bosanquet's account of the state and society no doubt sounds familiar to those acquainted with Hegel's political thought. Consider, for example, their respective approaches to political philosophy. For Hegel, as with Bosanquet(56), the purpose of philosophy is to understand, not to prescribe. Thus, Hegel writes, the Philosophy of Right "cannot consist in teaching the state what it ought to be; it can only show how the state, the ethical universe, is to be understood" (Preface, p. 11). Moreover, both note the centrality of the state in their descriptions of ethical life. And they also agree that, to describe ethical life in its entirety, one must talk not just about the state but about civil society--though it is important to keep these entities distinct.

Specifically, for Hegel, civil society has as its end "the security and protection of property and personal freedom" (§258 zusatz). Here, there is a focus on private ends, and citizens see law as something coming from outside themselves. The state, however, is different from this. For Hegel, the state is "an organism in which firmly fixed distinct powers, laws, and [`ethical'] institutions have been developed" (§270 zusatz, 166, emphasis mine). Nevertheless, a state is not the same as a political regime. Hegel notes that oriental despotisms (§270 zusatz, 173) and the regimes of the middle ages were not true states; they were `aggregates' (§278 zusatz, 180; see §269 addition and §308) and lacked genuine unity. The state is, then, a principle of unity and coordination, which is in, but which goes beyond, each part. As a result, it allows human beings to lead a life in common.

Despite the differences between them, civil society leads to the state. Hegel says: "[i]n the course of the actual attainment of selfish ends [i.e., in civil society]... there is formed a system of complete interdependence, wherein the livelihood, happiness, and legal status of one man is interwoven with the livelihood, happiness, and rights of all... only in this system are they [i.e., "individual happiness, &c."] actualized and secured" (§183). Civil society is, in other words, an underdeveloped form of the state (see §157), and "laws and interests [of the family and civil society] are subordinate to it and dependent on it" (§261). This relation to other `ethical institutions' explains why, on Hegel's account, the state is absolute.

To say that the state is absolute, however, is not to say that it exercises its power arbitrarily. The model of the state that Hegel gives is that of a constitutional monarchy(57)--though what is important to recognise here is not so much the form of government as how it is intended that it function.

Yet, as with Bosanquet, in addition to an `empirical' description of the state, one finds a `psychical' or `ontological' account. Hegel refers to the state as "absolutely rational" and as "the actuality of concrete freedom" (§260). Or, again, it is "mind objectified"--it is "the actuality of the substantial will which it possesses in the particular self-consciousness once that consciousness has been raised to consciousness of its universality" (§258). Or, yet again, Hegel refers to it as "der Geist des Volkes"--"the mind of a nation" (§274)--which "is both the law permeating all relationships within the state and also at the same time the manners and consciousness of its citizens" (§274).

Thus, Hegel would say that the state is a stage in the development of mind (cf. Phenomenology), and that it exists, not only within institutions, but within the consciousness of its citizens (§273). To see the state as `mind' also allows us to understand how it can be a product of a dynamic (i.e., dialectical) process--i.e., a process of `self determination', with moments of universality, particularity and, finally, with the state, individuality (§272).

The relation between the state and the individual is at the level of consciousness. Hegel speaks of the state as "the end immanent within" the individual (§261), but in the sense that "individuals can attain their ends only in so far as they themselves determine their knowing, willing, and acting in a universal way and make themselves links in this chain of social connexions" (§187). Moreover, it is important to recognize the relationship between the state and human liberty. When Hegel writes that the state is "the actuality of concrete freedom" (§260; see §261 addition), he is underlining the claim that real freedom is possible only within a social order and where there is a common good. The state, then, is not only the condition for liberty, but it also must respect liberty.

Accordingly, the state is a relation between the minds of persons, in view of the realization of freedom (§258 zusatz, 156)--not in view of the protection of private property or even life. And, given the relation in Hegel between `mind' and `will' (§4), Hegel will also say that the state is a will--"the divine will, in the sense that it is mind present on earth, unfolding itself to be the actual shape and organization of a world" (§270 zusatz, 166). Indeed, the state seems to be more of a metaphysical entity than an empirical one, and it is this dual character of the state that has provoked the criticism that Hegel's analysis is ambiguous.

It is here that Hegel would distinguish between the state simpliciter and the state as Idea (see §258, addition, p. 279). The state simpliciter is the state as it exists--and we can, Hegel says, have states that are imperfect: "the state is no ideal work of art... and bad behaviour may disfigure it in many respects" (§258, addition). But there is also the Idea of the state. Existing nations may have `moments' of this Idea, but the Idea of the state--the state being completely that which a state is--is not to be found among the countries of his time.

The legitimacy of the state is rooted in its relation to mind or will (§219 zusatz)(58)--specifically, in the substantial (§258) or absolute will--which is sometimes identified with `reason' (§301 zusatz, 196). Will is, for Hegel, the source of authority or legitimacy. It is in saying `I will' that "all activity and actuality" begins (§279 zusatz, 181), and laws command and demand our obedience, because they reflect `will'. This substantial will is the will of the human individual; "...it is the basic moment of personality, abstract at the start in immediate rights, which has matured itself through its various forms of subjectivity". But, Hegel continues, "now--at the stage of absolute rights, of the state, of the completely concrete objectivity of the will--[it] has become the personality of the state..." (§279, zusatz, 181). (The substantial will is not, however, to be understood as a `faculty' of some ideal state.)

This picture of the state as an organism possessing a `will' and this account of the substantial or universal will are, Hegel insists, foreshadowed in Rousseau's notion of the `general will'. In both Hegel and Rousseau, the will has the same function. But the difference between them, Hegel claims (§259), is not merely in name--that one speaks of a `universal will' and the other of a `general will'. The difference is ultimately how to determine what this will is. By Rousseau's emphasis on voting to determine the general will, Hegel says that Rousseau has fallen into the same trap as his individualist forbearers--that the `general will' becomes nothing but a `will of all' or a collection of individual wills--and that this cannot serve as an adequate basis for the legitimacy of the state.

The state, then, is neither the expression of a private will (§75; §281) nor the product of an agreement or founded on a social contract (§178). It is, rather, based on the substantial will, and it is this that is the source of political obligation.

c. Comments

It seems clear that there are several important parallels between Bosanquet's account of the nature of the state and the basis of its legitimacy and that which one finds in Hegel. But there are, as well, a number of differences.

Bosanquet, like Hegel, is interested in providing an analytical and general account of the state and he defends Hegel's political philosophy from a number of "misapprehensions" (see PTS 230-237).(59) There are also a number of parallels in their respective analyses of the state. Both refer to the state as an `organism' and as existing on the level of mind. One finds similarities in their enumeration and classification of the institutions that constitute ethical life, and there are also correspondences in their descriptions of the nature and function of the state (e.g., that it is more than a legislative power, that it guarantees and fosters liberty, that it is the `real' individual, that it provides a context in which every person has a distinctive function and role, and that it is absolute in power and is the ultimate moral authority). Not surprisingly, one sees, as well, similarities in the kinds of criticisms advanced against them.

There are also parallels in their descriptions of the relationships among society, the state, and the individual. Society seems to be inseparable from the state, and individuals have their station and, ultimately, their very identity within the state. And finally (for our purposes) one sees a resemblance between their explanations of the legitimacy of the state. For both Hegel and Bosanquet, `will' represents rationality par excellence and serves as the basis for the state.

Can one say, then, as L.T. Hobhouse(60), J.H. Randall and others have, that Bosanquet's account of the state is "definitely Hegelian"?(61)

To begin with, one must be cautious in making any comparison between Bosanquet and Hegel concerning the nature of, and relation between, society and the state. One reason for this is that Hegel's `civil society' is not Bosanquet's `society', nor does Bosanquet always refer to the state in the way in which Hegel does. For example, Bosanquet does not consider `society' to be some incomplete articulation of the principles which lead to the state, as in Hegel (see §157), but something that exists at the same time as the state. Moreover, while Bosanquet's state, like Hegel's, can be one that is less than ideal, Bosanquet does not speak of it as an "Idea" or as "the culmination of objective spirit". Whenever Bosanquet refers to the state, he intends his remarks to be either descriptive or analytical.

Understandably, then, the relation that Bosanquet describes between society and the state is not that found in Hegel. For Hegel, the `move' from civil society to the state was a dialectical one (see §262 and §157 where civil society is described as a "moment" leading to the state)--from a situation of incompleteness to completeness.(62) In Bosanquet, the relation is a reciprocal one,(63) for the state not only provides for `ultimate adjustment' and `rational criticism' of individuals and institutions (PTS 172-3), but, as noted above, is itself the object of such adjustment and criticism. Again, Bosanquet does not see `progress as due to self-contradiction in earlier systems'(64)--though he does see a gradual working out of contradictions in this reciprocal process. There is, Bosanquet suggests, a "nisus" to coherence (PIV 54) throughout reality, but it is not a dialectical one. The absence of three-fold relations in Bosanquet is conspicuous.

Consider a second point: while both Bosanquet and Hegel affirm that the state is grounded in `will', it was to Rousseau that Bosanquet turned for his description of the `real will' and of the relation between the will and the state. Bosanquet does draw on Hegel, but it is neither for the `psychological foundation' of a general or real will, nor for an explanation of how the state is a product of `will'. It is, rather, just for a description of how one might discern the general will--namely, through an inspection of the various "ethical institutions" that Bosanquet saw as present in "ethical life". And yet even here Bosanquet holds that, though Rousseau may not have freed himself entirely from some of the individualist presuppositions of his predecessors (PTS 85), his account of the `legislator' could be adapted so as to provide another mechanism for determining this will. In fact, despite his general adoption of Hegel's critique of Rousseau,(65) Bosanquet would argue that there was no fundamental incompatibility between Rousseau's "general will" and Hegel's "substantial will".

There are also several differences between each's account of the relation between the individual will and the legitimacy of the state. It is by examining what is involved in individual acts of will(66) and in the content of individual experience that Bosanquet believes one can show the necessity and the legitimacy of the state; his argument is not derived (as it is in Hegel) from the Idea of the State.(67) Again, Bosanquet's understanding of social institutions is not as Hegelian as might first appear. It is true that, in his description of ethical life, one finds the terminology of the Hegelian stages of family, society and the state. But these categories can, of course, also be found in Aristotle's Politics. Indeed, so far as he is concerned with the `logic' or nature of these institutions, Bosanquet's non-dialectical account seems closer to that of Aristotle than that of Hegel. He does not hesitate to refer to four or five, rather than three, `ethical ideas' as elements of ethical life--adding the institutions of neighbourhood and of position or social class- (the former being absent in Hegel's account). And it should be no surprise that the relation between these institutions is different from that presented by Hegel (e.g., the family, society and the state are not just stages in the development of mind, but concurrent institutions in ethical life.)

One might argue, however, that, despite these differences in their accounts of the legitimacy of the state, Bosanquet and Hegel agree at least on this point: the non-contractual character of the state. But again, while Bosanquet would no doubt endorse Hegel's arguments against the existence of a social contract, he has his own reasons. He rejects the possibility of a social contract because the state is `natural'--that is, implied by the nature of the human person. This claim is in keeping with Bosanquet's understanding of `nature', discussed above--an understanding based on Greek thought and, particularly, that of Aristotle.(68) Since society is `natural' and `organic', and so far as the state is necessary for social life, the state is itself `natural'. Throughout this account, Bosanquet explicitly acknowledges, not Hegel, but the Greeks and Rousseau.

There are other characteristics common to Bosanquet's and Hegel's analyses of the state, but these, too, may be found in authors prior to Hegel. For example, the description of the state as rational and as the `real individual' can be traced to Plato's analysis of the polis. Of course, Bosanquet differs from Plato (for he explicitly denies that he is talking about an ideal state) but, because he claimed that the basic principles of the state will be present in at least some degree in any set of existing authoritative institutions,(69) he also differs from Hegel.(70) Again, when it comes to the relation of the human person to the state, Bosanquet would never say, as Hegel does, that "the rational end of man is life in the state"--in fact, he denies this. Bosanquet's account of the state is clearly distinct from Hegel's.

Admittedly, differences between Bosanquet and Hegel, and the significance of Bosanquet's debt to Plato, have been noted by others--though these accounts are not without their difficulties. Some insist that, where Bosanquet claims to be expressing Hegelian views, he is actually "Platonizing Hegel"(71). Others add that it is precisely so far as Bosanquet remains close to Plato and fails to follow Hegel that his own political philosophy is weakened. Thus, Peter Robbins has claimed that Bosanquet "allows insufficient weight, [even] by Hegelian standards, to civil society and the subjective element... There is no moment in Bosanquet's state of sheer subjectivity... His state looks more like Plato's `republic' than Hegel's Rechtstaat, with economic life reduced to a realm of sheer physical necessity and emptied of all moral or rational significance."(72)

Such a reading, however, not only misrepresents Bosanquet's explicit views, but also overlooks the influences of Rousseau and Kant in his thought.(73) In Rousseau, Bosanquet says, we find "the actual revival of the full idea of human nature" (PTS 12) that one finds first in Plato. But Bosanquet turns to Rousseau precisely because he believed that Greek classical philosophy did not guarantee the value of the human individual. In fact, it was Rousseau's emphasis on liberty as the essence and quality of the human person that Bosanquet found to be particularly pertinent to the question of the nature of state action (see PTS 218 and 221). Again, Bosanquet's emphasis on the moral development of the human individual and on limiting the state from directly promoting morality clearly reflects his reading of Kant. Indeed, "the best life" that Bosanquet describes as the `end' of the individual and of the state alike, approximates, he believes, what Kant referred to as "the kingdom of ends".(74) Clearly, Bosanquet is aware of the limitations in Plato's account of the nature and value of the human person and, to this extent, he turns to Rousseau and Kant for solutions. He is a disciple of Plato, but not an uncritical one.

In short, some of the terms employed by Bosanquet in his theory of the state are unlike those found in Hegel, and those that they share are sometimes employed differently. Their respective starting points are dissimilar, and the philosophical methods they use are distinct. As much as Bosanquet recognized the genius of Hegel "in appreciating Greek political ideas", he still referred to the Hegelian analysis of objective spirit as "a magnified edition of Plato's Republic" (PTS 237), and noted that it was left to "English life... [and "to thinkers versed in Anglo-Saxon self-government"] to intensify these ideas" (PTS xlvii).

If we wish to locate the inspiration for Bosanquet's account of the state, we must, I think, take at face value his remark that "the theory of the State... is primarily the outcome of Greek life and thought" (PTS xlvii), and that "there is no sound political philosophy which is not an embodiment of Plato's conception" (PTS 6)(75). It is no coincidence that one of Bosanquet's earliest works was a commentary on Plato's Republic.(76) So Bosanquet recognized Hegel's work as an important restatement and development of classical Greek thought, but saw that it was the latter that was central and that there was more to be said on these topics than Hegel ever did. Thus, claims like those of Randall--"that Bosanquet's liberal social theory developed directly out of Hegel"(77)--cannot be sustained. This is not to deny that Hegel had an influence on Bosanquet; it is, rather, to underline that Bosanquet's account is, nevertheless, neither distinctively nor primarily that of Hegel.(78)

III (Conclusion)

What I have been concerned to argue here is that, despite a number of apparent parallels between Bosanquet and Hegel, it does not follow that Bosanquet is simply following or extending Hegel's work. Some of these parallels are so only prima facie and others, while real, are accounted for by Bosanquet and Hegel both being influenced by a common source. I have noted as well that, in several places, their respective analyses and methods are quite distinct. It seems, therefore, that the best account of the relation between them is that Bosanquet drew on Hegel for an elaboration of principles found in earlier authors, particularly Plato and Aristotle and, to a lesser degree, Kant and Rousseau. It is classical Greek philosophy that is fundamental to Bosanquet's work, and more recent authors were influential mainly because they articulated or developed the insights of the Greeks.(79) Bosanquet himself saw his greatest "teacher" to be Plato.(80)

Bosanquet did consider Hegel to be the preeminent representative of the ideas of the Greek classical tradition. But, particularly in his accounts of the individual, the will and the state, Bosanquet's debt to Hegel is more to the latter's illustrations than to his original insights. For this reason, then, one ought to be reluctant in describing Bosanquet as a Hegelian, even if he would not be so hesitant himself.


1. For example, Peter Robbins uses the term as the title of his survey of British idealist political thought (The British Hegelians, 1875-1925, New York, 1982).

2. G.R.G. Mure, A Study of Hegel's Logic, Oxford: Clarendon, 1950, p. 368.

3. F.C. Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 8, Pt. 1, Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1966, pp. 215-216.

4. It is increasingly accepted that Green is not a Hegelian (see Geoffrey Thomas, The Moral Philosophy of T.H. Green, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987, pp. 2, 6, 45-54), and Peter Nicholson has argued at length that Bradley was not Hegelian--or, at least, not as Hegelian as usually held. See Peter P. Nicholson, The Political Philosophy of the British Idealists: Selected Studies, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990.

5. Jonathan Robinson, "Bradley and Bosanquet," in Idealistic Studies, 10 (1980): 1-23, and G.R.G. Mure, An Introduction to Hegel, Oxford: Clarendon, 1940, pp. 163-4.

6. Bosanquet also translated Hegel into English--sc., the Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of Fine Art, London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Co, 1866.

7. Anthony Manser, Bradley's Logic, Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1983, p. 198.

8. J.H. Muirhead, Bernard Bosanquet and his Friends, London, 1935, p. 21.

9. In one of the standard studies of 19th-century idealism (Neo-Hegelianism, London: Heath Cranton, Ltd., 1927), Hiralal Haldar confesses that "I do not know whether Neo-Hegelianism is the right name to give to the movement." But he insists that, "[w]hat must not be forgotten, however, is that the writers who may be said to belong to this school are in no sense disciples of Hegel. They have, no doubt, been strongly influenced by him, but each of them is a very independent thinker who has his own distinctive way of apprehending and expressing the central truths of idealism" (Preface, p. v). For further discussion of this term (concerning an earlier era), see John Edward Toews, Hegelianism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

10. See, for example, Chapters 9 and 10 of The Philosophical Theory of the State.

11. The main texts that will be referred to here are The Philosophical Theory of the State (PTS), London, 1899; 4th ed., 1923; The Principle of Individuality and Value (PIV), London, 1912; The Value and Destiny of the Individual (VDI), London, 1913; "The Function of the State in Promoting the Unity of Mankind" (FS), (in Social and International Ideals: Being Studies in Patriotism, London, 1917, pp. 270-301), and Some Suggestions in Ethics (SS), London, 1918.

12. See my Idealism and Rights: The Social Ontology of Human Rights in the Political Thought of Bernard Bosanquet, Lanham, MD: University of America Press (forthcoming).

13. See my "L'individu et les droits de la personne selon Maritain et Bosanquet," In Études Maritainiennes / Maritain Studies, No. 6 (juin 1990): 141-166, esp. pp. 157-158.

14. In addition to the texts noted above, see also Bosanquet's Psychology of the Moral Self, London, 1897.

15. Psychology, p. 9.

16. See Bosanquet, "Do Finite Individuals Possess a Substantive or Adjectival Mode of Being?", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s. XVIII (1917-1918):479-506; reprinted, with a response to his critics, A. Seth Pringle-Pattison, G.F. Stout and R.B. Haldane, in Life and Finite Individuality (LFI), (ed. H. Wildon Carr), Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, supp. vol. 1 (1918): 75-102; 179-194.

17. See Psychology, pp. 87-88, 94. The capacity of an individual to acquire and to use a moral language as depending on the social community was also noted by Bradley. (See David Crossley, "Bradley on the Absolute Rights of the State over the Individual", in Éthique et droits fondamentaux / Ethics and Basic Rights, (ed. Guy Lafrance), "Collection Philosophica", Ottawa: Presses de l'Université d'Ottawa, 1989, pp. 138-144, p. 140.)

18. As an illustration of how recognition works, Bosanquet provides the example of the relation between the pupils and teachers in a school (PTS 159-161). For the elaboration of his argument, see my "Liberalism, Bosanquet and the Theory of the State," in Liberalism, Oppression and Empowerment, Yeager Hudson and Creighton Peden (eds.), Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1994.

19. Bosanquet's view seems to be that being a person by itself entails a position. Thus, he speaks of "the finite intelligent human being" as having "the duty and position... of coming to himself and awakening to his own nature and his unity... a greater mind and will" (Bosanquet, "The Meaning of Teleology," in Proceedings of the British Academy, II (1905-1906): 235-245, at p. 245). See also PTS 191-2 and "The Kingdom of God on Earth" (KG), in Science and Philosophy and Other Essays by the late Bernard Bosanquet, (eds. J.H. Muirhead and R.C. Bosanquet), London, 1927, at pp. 342-4.

20. Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, The Idea of God in the Light of Recent Philosophy, Oxford, 1920, cited in Andrew Vincent, "The Individual in Hegelian Thought," in Idealistic Studies, 12 (1982):156-168, p. 163.

21. See Pringle-Pattison's contribution to the symposium on "Do Finite Individuals Possess a Substantive or an Adjectival Mode of Being?", in Life and Finite Individuality, (ed. H. Wildon Carr), Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, supp. vol. I, (1918): 103-126, p. 109.

22. See Psychology, p. 51: "Self-consciousness... is for the most part social."

23. See also Bradley, Ethical Studies (ES), 2nd ed., Oxford, 1927, p. 168. The individual "into whose essence his community with others does not enter, who does not include relations to others in his very being is, we say, a fiction...". Stefan Collini outlines the background and some of the difficulties of this position in "Sociology and Idealism in Britain: 1880-1920," Archives européennes de sociologie, 19 (1978): 3-50, pp. 11-12.

24. Vincent, p. 157.

25. See Vincent, p. 166, on value.

26. Unless otherwise indicated, all subsequent references to Hegel are to Hegel's Philosophy of Right, tr. T.M. Knox, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1945.

27. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, tr. A.V. Miller, Oxford, 1977.

28. "[I]t becomes open to him, on the strength of his skill, to enter any class for which he is qualified..." (§308 zusatz, 201).

29. Hegel writes that "it is only as one of its [i.e., the state's] members that the individual himself has objectivity, genuine individuality and an ethical life" (§258 zusatz, 156).

30. See §258 on the relation of the substantial will to the particular self-consciousness. See also Charles Taylor, Hegel, Cambridge, 1975, pp. 379-80, quoting Die Vernunft in die Geschichte, ed. J. Hoffmeister, Hamburg, 1955, p. 112. (This is very close to Bosanquet's own phrasing, though there is no evidence that Bosanquet had access to this text).

31. Still, the value of physical individuals by themselves may seem rather doubtful. Their contribution to world history is real, but they are "the unconscious tools and organs of the world mind at work within them" (§344) and, for this contribution, "they receive no honour or thanks either from their contemporaries or from public opinion in later ages" (§348).

32. Bosanquet says that, on Aristotle's view, the `end' is both "the completion of a positive whole which is developing through a process, and the cessation of the process itself" (PIV 124), though it is the former sense which is fundamental (PIV 129; see PIV 135).

33. Vincent, p. 163.

34. Mure, An Introduction to Hegel, pp. 42-43 and 32-33.

35. A Companion to Plato's Republic for English Readers: Being a Commentary adapted to Davies and Vaughan's Translation, New York: Macmillan, 1895, pp. 63, 82. One finds this view also underlying Plato's account of the happiness of the guardians, discussed at the beginning of Book IV of the Republic.

36. For a discussion of the relation of the Aristotelian and Bradlean notions, see David Crossley, "Self-Realization as Perfection in Bradley's Ethical Studies," Idealistic Studies, VII (1977): 199-220.

37. Republic 407e. See The Republic of Plato, tr. F.M. Cornford, Oxford, 1941, p. 97.

38. One might add that there are, in fact, differences in each's account of the value of the individual. On Hegel's view (and, similarly, Bradley's [see Essays on Truth and Reality, Oxford, 1914, pp. 243-4]), the biological individual appears to have little, if any, inherent value. For Bosanquet, however, "[t]he will or character which is the atmosphere of values and shares their quality is itself a value... [and has] a value of its own" (SS 132) and that "we have an undeniable human value of a distinct and universal type, in which there cannot be a human creature who is not a partaker in some mode or degree" (SS 77). Again, in his essay, "Unvisited Tombs," (Some Suggestions in Ethics, ch. 4), Bosanquet reminds his reader of the value of the contribution of the `anonymous' individual to the social good, and he repeats this view--that individuals characterise the world "as permanent qualifications" (LFI 101)--throughout his work.

39. For a similar view, see Bradley, ES 162, 173-174, n. 1

40. Frederick Philip Harris, The Neo-Idealist Political Theory: Its Continuity with the British Tradition. New York: King's Crown Press, 1944, p. 40.

41. See my discussion of this controversial notion in Idealism and Rights, op. cit.

42. On this point, see Bradley's similar view (ES 174).

43. According to Bosanquet, "[i]f you start with a human being as he is in fact, and try to devise what will furnish him with... a stable purpose capable of doing justice to his capacities... you will be driven on by the necessity of the facts at least as far as the State" (PTS 140).

44. Thus, Bosanquet says that "...there is logic underneath the apparent accident..." (PTS 172), and this `logic' is related to the "unity of communal experience" (FS 283). See also FS 275.

45. See SS 58, 148 and 159.

46. This, Bosanquet writes, is the "distinctive attribute" or work of the state (See PTS 174-175).

47. For Bosanquet's scepticism about the possibility of effective international political organizations, see "The Wisdom of Naaman's Servants," in Social and International Ideals: Being Studies in Patriotism, London: Macmillan, 1917, pp. 302-320, esp. pp. 314-315, and FS.) It was, interestingly, a scepticism shared by Bertrand Russell (FS 282, n. 1; FS 293). But, by 1919, Bosanquet does seem to hold out some hope for a `world-State' (FS 294) or "League of Nations" (PTS lix). This question is discussed by Peter P. Nicholson in "Philosophical Idealism and International Politics: A Reply to Dr. Savigear," British Journal of International Studies, 2 (1976): 76-83, pp. 78-79.

48. Andrew Vincent and Raymond Plant, Philosophy, Politics and Citizenship: the Life and Thought of the British Idealists, Oxford, 1984, p. 104 and footnote 50.

49. See PTS Chapter 3 and Nicholson, 1990, p. 214. Nicholson also notes that "[d]emocracy is the political and social system best able to allow Bosanquet's social logic to work itself out and the General Will to emerge" (op. cit., pp. 217-218).

50. Bosanquet cites Kant (PTS 226; see Kant, Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Rechtslehre [1797] in Die Metaphysik der Sitten, 2. Teil, 1. Abschnitt, ed. Benzion Kellermann, in Kant's Werke, Band 7, ed. Ernst Cassirer, (Berlin, 1916), S 47, p. 122), noting that the "free mind" cannot exist "[e]xcept by expressing itself in relation to an ordered life" (PTS 236). By `liberty', then, Bosanquet does not mean simply allowing individuals to do as they choose. `Liberty' means having the opportunity to be "the best that we have it in us to be", that is, to realise ourselves (PTS 119). Thus, the freedom or self-realisation of an individual is something objective and distinct from what he or she may want; it is, Bosanquet would point out, rather what he or she needs.

51. But see Bosanquet's letter to MacIver, where he says that "the good for man... is not... the end of any [other?] [sic] social institution". Still, Bosanquet is not thinking of `ethical ideas' here, but specific social groups, such as the church, and he acknowledges that even "each of them" [have] a limited aim making for good life; none has for its aim good life as such" (quoted in Harris, p. 68).

52. See also PIV 311 and the letters to MacIver cited in Harris, pp. 68-70.

53. Stefan Collini, "Hobhouse, Bosanquet and the State: Philosophical Idealism and Political Argument in England: 1880-1918," Past and Present, 72 (1976): 86-111, p. 95.

54. See Bosanquet's essay, "Hegel's Theory of the Political Organism," in Mind, n.s. Vol. VII, No. 25 (1898):1-14. This is largely a response to J.M.E. McTaggart, "The Conception of Society as an Organism," in International Journal of Ethics, VII (1896-97): 414-434 (reprinted, with minor revisions, as Chapter 7 of Studies in Hegelian Cosmology, Cambridge, 1901).

55. See ES 184.

56. "The object of political philosophy is to understand what a State is, and it is not necessary for this purpose that the State which is analysed... be `ideal'..." (PTS 232).

57. For an argument that this was not merely fortuitous or unnecessary, but essential, to Hegel's project, see Alan Brudner, "Constitutional Monarchy as the Divine Regime: Hegel's Theory of the Just State," in History of Political Thought, II (1981): 119-140.

58. Shlomo Avinieri, Hegel's Theory of the Modern State, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972, p. 183, referring to §258, addition.

59. Bosanquet notes in FS that he is "a good deal surprised that nearly all recent critics have stumbled... in this simple matter of interpretation", and that Hegel himself pointed out the difference between talking about "states" and talking about "the state" (See Philosophy of Right, §258 zusatz, 156). Bosanquet asks whether his critics would "find the same difficulty in the title of a book on `the heart' or `the steam engine'" (FS 274-275).

60. Leonard T. Hobhouse, The Metaphysical Theory of the State, London, 1918.

61. Randall, p. 97.

62. Though, according to G.A. Kelly, Hegel does hold that state and society are mutually supportive or reciprocal, and that "both rehearse a secularizing dialectic" (Hegel's Retreat from Eleusis: studies in political thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978, p. 115; see also pp. 111-2).

63. Robbins refers to the British idealists' "anaemic reciprocity" as replacing Hegel's dialectic (p. 76).

64. George Sabine, A History of Political Theory. 4th ed., Hinsdale, IL: The Dryden Press, 1973, p. 585.

65. Hegel criticised Rousseau's account of the "general will", arguing that (i) while Rousseau formally distinguishes the "general will" from "the will of all", in the end they are conflated, and (ii), that Rousseau fails to see that the universal will is identical to the will of the state in law and in actually existing institutions.

66. While he does not explicitly address this question, I am indebted here to Adam von Trott's article, "B. Bosanquet und der Einfluß Hegels auf die englische Staatsphilosophie," Zeitschrift für Deutsche Kulturphilosophie, (Tübingen), Vol. 4, No. 2 (1938):193-199.

67. See von Trott, p. 198.

68. See Politics, Book I, Chapter 2, 1252b 30-33: "[f]or what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature..." (tr. Benjamin Jowett, in The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon, New York: Random House, 1941).

69. "It would then be easy to show... that the principles which will have been recognised as operative in the freest states known to history, are and have been, in various degrees, at the root of the common life of every state or community which has held together effectively enough to be treated as in any sense a political whole" (PTS 50, emphasis mine).

70. See Hegel's comments concerning the regimes of feudal times, noted above.

71. Robbins, p. 75. Bosanquet has also been accused (e.g., by A.E. Taylor) of Hegelianizing the Platonic tradition (Robbins, p. 75 and note 17 and Taylor, The Faith of a Moralist, London, 1930, series 1, pp. 241-243).

72. Robbins, p. 76. See also Mure's comparison of Plato and Hegel in The Philosophy of Hegel, p. 170 and Hegel at §262, addition, p. 280. As Steven Smith writes (in Hegel's Critique of Liberalism: Rights in Context, University of Chicago Press, 1989), "the core of the modern state is, then, respect for the person, or `free personality', as such. This is very different... from the Greek world" (p. 212).

73. In fact, von Trott says that Bosanquet depends less than Hegel on the Greco-Roman tradition and more on that arising from the Reformation--i.e., that of secular natural law and the moral/religious atmosphere of England (op. cit., p. 195).

74. "The Kingdom of God on Earth," op. cit.

75. R.M. MacIver has described Bosanquet's theory as "an applied hellenism" ("Society and the State," in Philosophical Review, XX (1911): 30-45, p. 34). Similarly, while acknowledging the "Hegelian" character of Bosanquet (p. 305), a near contemporary, Robert Murray, describes Bosanquet as a "Platonist" (Studies in the English Social and Political Thinkers of the 19th Century, Cambridge, 1929, p. 311).

76. See Bosanquet's A Companion to Plato's Republic for English Readers, op. cit.

77. Randall, p. 98.

78. Even when one turns to Bosanquet's major metaphysical works, there are more references to F.H. Bradley or T.H. Green than to Hegel.

79. The continuity of British idealism with Greek philosophy has been signalled by J.H. Muirhead in The Platonic Tradition in Anglo-Saxon Philosophy, London: Allen and Unwin, 1931. The "revival of Plato" in 19th century Britain is also discussed in Frank M. Turner's The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981. (Turner's cursory account describes Bosanquet as a disciple of "Platonic regimentation" [op. cit., p. 440].)

80. See Muirhead, Friends, p. 21.