HEGEL: FROM CIVIL SOCIETY TO STATE
Liberalism, the movement that appeared triumphant at the end of the wars of the French Revolution, had its counterpoint in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel ( 1770- 1831), a thinker whose influence beyond his lifetime was incalculable.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the structure of a state, understood as its juridical organization, seemed determinant to many observers. This structure permitted the normal functioning of civil life--restraining diverse social forces, assuring the general welfare, managing public finances, and legitimizing the governing elite's rule over the majority. Kant had understood that justice provided a state's foundation, and that civil rights assured the liberty of its citizens; to this Fichte had added the concept that the state was the organ of collective security and therefore had an objective rationality. Hegel, however, viewed the state as the entity that overcame the conflicts of civil society by synthesizing objective social reality with the individual.
As a young man Hegel watched French revolutionary developments with sympathy. He pursued a university career, dedicating himself to philosophy and political thought. In 1807 he published his most famous philosophical work, The Phenomenology of the Spirit, and later he produced a number of other influential works. After he died in 1831 his students published several other works drawn from his lectures.
Although a sympathizer of the French Revolution, Hegel came to criticize it primarily because of his own conception of the state. A salient example