Jasper Jans (University of Groningen)

Jasper Jans is part of a panel discussion with Arnold Veenkamp and Rieks Bruins Slot concerning Hegel's Conception of the State and its Relevance Today.

Abstract of 'Hegel's Constitutional Monarchy and Modern Republicansm: An Attempt at Reconciliation'

In order to investigate if Hegel's philosophy concerning the modern state is compatible with modern republicanism, I will try to substitute the (hereditary) moment of invidual will with a non-hereditary official. I argue that Hegel's rational state can be construed as some sort of republic without doing injustice to his philosophical system. I will show that even though Hegel constructs his constitutional monarchy in opposition to democratic republicanism, he does not take this to imply that the modern state must necessarily be a monarchy in the sense that the word is conventionally applied, namely a state with one hereditary ruler. According to Hegel, conventional monarchies do also not apply to his conception of the rational state, for they lack "depth and concrete rationality." Rather, the Hegelian state is a new conception that supersedes these ancient constitutions.

Having opened the option of a new kind of monarchy, I will show that for Hegel the word "monarchy" connotes a state with a single head of state who has obtained this position through a non-arbitrary procedure of selection. Firstly, the monarch's position is defined so strictly that Hegel admits that the monarch's personality is no matter of importance. After all, in a reasonable state the moment of the individual will is hardly a source of political power. The monarch is to do no more than to dot the i's and to sign his name, and thereby to express the universal will. Combined with the fact that the reasons he provides to justify a hereditary monarch can also be used to validate a non-hereditary monarch as long as it were selected by non-arbitrary means, this means that it is indeed possible that Hegel's state can be a republic. I will conclude, nevertheless, that this republic is hardly desirable today.

I was born on December 20, 1984 in Groningen. After graduating from Winkler Prins public high school in 2002 I studied History at the University of Groningen. After receiving my propaedeutic I changed my major to American Studies. In 2005 I received my BA-degree, and decided to return to the study of History. Instead of pursuing a Master's degree, though, I again enrolled in the History department's Bachelor's program as well as in the Philosophy of a Specific Domain program offered by the Institute of Philosophy. In the former I try to focus on the history of ideas, whereas in the latter my focus is on the history of philosophy. I hope to finish both this summer.