Philistine spirit of today’s political age

September 19, 2013

When Joe Hockey, the Liberal Party opposition Treasury spokesman, ridiculed an Australian Research Council-funded project on the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel (“The God of Hegel’s Post-Kantian Idealism” by Paul Redding), it represented more than unwarranted interference with academic freedom (“Tony Abbott win leads to humanities funding fears”, 9 September): Hockey also displayed an inability to comprehend the meaning and importance of Hegel’s thought. After all, the philosopher’s works feature among mankind’s most important books.

Hegel was the first philosopher to develop a comprehensive thesis on civil society’s structure at the dawn of modernity. For him, it starts with the family and includes churches, corporations and civic institutions such as political parties. Hegel saw the state’s role as providing a police force, defence and social welfare for citizens. In all of that, religion has its place as an institution of civil society, not as something belonging to families or the state. Research projects into Hegel are not “wasteful” but rather improve our understanding of the constitution of modern societies.

The great philosopher was exposed to Prussian censorship during his lifetime. Today, Hockey and Australia’s Coalition government appear to be fostering the same censorious spirit. Regardless, Hegel’s writings remain highly relevant for civil society, and it is for this reason that they remain popular around the world. Scientific research into his work needs to be conducted unhindered by the politicians.

Thomas Klikauer
University of Western Sydney

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe University
See all jobs

Most Commented

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham