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Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory


THE content of a truly philosophical work does not
remain
unchanged with time. If its concepts have an essential
bearing upon the aims and interests of men, a
fundamental
change in the historical situation will make them see
its
teachings in a new light. In our time, the rise of
Fascism
calls for a reinterpretation of Hegel's philosophy. We
hope
that the analysis offered here will demonstrate that
Hegel's
basic concepts are hostile to the tendencies that have
led
into Fascist theory and practice.
We have devoted the first part of the book to a survey
of the structure of Hegel's system. At the same time,
we
have tried to go beyond mere restatement and to
elucidate
those implications of Hegel's ideas that identify them
closely with the later developments in European
thought,
particularly with the Marxian theory.
Hegel's critical and rational standards, and especially
his dialectics, had to come into conflict with the
prevailing
social reality. For this reason, his system could well
be
called a negative philosophy, the name given to it by
its
contemporary opponents. To counteract its destructive
tendencies, there arose, in the decade following
Hegel's
death, a positive philosophy which undertook to
subordi-
nate reason to the authority of established fact. The
strug-
gle that developed between the negative and positive
philosophy offers, as we haVe attempted to show in the
second part of this book, many clues for understanding
the rise of modern social theory in Europe.
There is in Hegel a keen insight into the locale of
pro-
gressive ideas and movements. He attributed to the
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