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Modernity and Its DiscontentsMaking and Unmaking the Bourgeois from Machiavelli to Bellow$
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Steven B. Smith

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300198393

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300198393.001.0001

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Hegel and the “Bourgeois-Christian World”

Hegel and the “Bourgeois-Christian World”

(p.154) Chapter 8 Hegel and the “Bourgeois-Christian World”
Modernity and Its Discontents

Steven B. Smith

Yale University Press

Hegel represents the apotheosis of the bourgeois world of early modernity in its confidence and optimism. His image of civil society, or burgerliche Gesellschaft, was the site of the rule of law, the market economy, and a world governed by individual self-interest, and free “subjectivity.” Hegel’s historical interpretation of modern civil society drew on the works of modern secular thinkers like David Hume and Adam Smith, but he also traced the modern bourgeois world back to Christianity, with its belief in the freedom and dignity of the individual. He gave modernity a theological interpretation that was furiously resisted by Marx and later Nietzsche. Hegel anticipated many of the problems of the modern marketplace, especially poverty and the creation of a permanently unemployed underclass, but this did not stop him from regarding the modern world as the pinnacle of world history.

Keywords:   Bourgeois, Civil Society (burgerliche Gesellschaft), Education (Bildung), Ferguson, Adam, Hegel, Marx, Karl, Poverty, Smith, Adam, Subjectivity

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