Hegel : the sacrifice of personality and marriage
My dissertation aims to reconcile a tension in Hegel's thought between his condemnation of social practices founded on the alienation of 'personality', and his rejection of the concept of the 'person' as a conceptual foundation of society and endorsement of 'the sacrifice of personality' as a basis for marriage. Reconciling this tension is essential in clarifying Hegel's account of marriage. My dissertation, therefore, focuses on the nature and role of the 'person' in Hegel's philosophical system. I start by examining his rejection of this concept as the basis for society in 'Absolute Freedom and Terror' and 'Legal Status', in the Phenomenology of Spirit I then analyse Hegel's reasons for condemning sacrifices of personality, including suicide, martyrdom, slavery and dependence on others for moral and spiritual guidance. This forms a foil against which I consider his account of marriage and the way in which it is presented as a 'sacrifice of personality'. I separate the account of sacrifice from his 'justification' of the sexual division of labour and evaluate different ways in which the 'sacrifice of personality' might be understood. My intention is to develop an account of marriage which coheres with the central Hegelian concepts of recognition and freedom; and his claims about the value and limitations of 'personality'. I suggest that a coherent account can be given which distinguishes between illegitimate 'sacrifices of personality', such as slavery, and legitimate 'sacrifices', in which many key qualities of 'personality' are retained. Finally, I apply this idea of legitimate 'sacrifice' to the 'ethics of care' approach to moral decision making. I suggest that this account of Hegelian marriage has the potential to ground a modified 'ethics of care', in which some relationships are valued as sources of identity and normativity, whilst other relationships can be criticised as damaging and illegitimate normative sources.