Skip to Content

Hegel and the Metaphysical Frontiers of Political Theory

By Eric Lee Goodfield

Routledge – 2013 – 256 pages

Series: Routledge Innovations in Political Theory

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartHardback: $145.00
    June 24th 2014


For over one hundred and fifty years G.W.F. Hegel’s ghost has haunted theoretical understanding and practice. His opponents first, and later his defenders, have equally defined their programs against and with his. In this way Hegel’s political thought has both situated and displaced modern political theorizing.

This book takes the reception of Hegel’s political thought as a lens through which contemporary methodological and ideological prerogatives are exposed. It traces the nineteenth century origins of the positivist revolt against Hegel’s legacy forward to political science’s turn away from philosophical tradition in the twentieth century. The book critically reviews the subsequent revisionist trend that has eliminated his metaphysics from contemporary considerations of his political thought. It then moves to re-evaluate their relation and defend their inseparability in his major work on politics: the Philosophy of Right. Against this background, the book concludes with an argument for the inherent metaphysical dimension of political theorizing itself. Goodfield takes Hegel’s reception, representation, as well as rejection in Anglo-American scholarship as a mirror in which its metaphysical presuppositions of the political are exceptionally well reflected. It is through such reflection, he argues, that we may begin to come to terms with them.

This book will be of great interest to students, scholars, and readers of political theory and philosophy, Hegel, metaphysics and the philosophy of the social sciences.


This splendid book embodies a welcome effort to do justice to the ambitious multi-dimensionality of Hegel’s philosophy, particularly with respect to the inseparability of its metaphysical and political aspects. Eric Goodfield fruitfully places Hegel in the context of positivistic revolts against idealistic philosophy in general, and Hegel’s philosophy in particular, in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Among its excellences is its intelligent recuperation of a rich sense of political theory, by contrast with political science’s more positivist inclination. It courageously and deftly takes issue with recent revisionist readings of Hegel in which the metaphysical dimensions have been expurgated. In helping restore a more genuine Hegel, Goodfield offers very thoughtful suggestions for the reassessment of contemporary political thought with an eye to a renewed engagement with the resources of the philosophical tradition. Very warmly recommended.

William Desmond, KU Leuven, Belgium, Villanova University, USA

I am delighted to see Eric Goodfield remind political theorists and metaphysicians alike that Hegel's political theory, like all political theory, involves metaphysical commitments necessarily. All the better that the implicit metaphysics of Hegel's treatment of universality turns out to be Hegel's own metaphysics of universals.

Ruth Porter Groff, Saint Louis University, USA

This book happily pursues the re-emergent and salutary tradition of reading Hegel’s political philosophy explicitly in the light of his larger metaphysical system. At the same time, it effectively situates Hegelian theory securely within its broader intellectual contexts. As such, it makes a notable contribution to the history of political thought.

Peter J. Steinberger, Reed College, USA

In his engaging new book, Eric Goodfield argues persuasively for the significance of metaphysics to Hegel's political thought, and indeed to political thinking more generally. His reconsideration of the metaphysical basis of Hegel's position and the nature of political theory as a whole represents a significant development and contribution. His conclusions are timely and important, and will be of great interest to all those concerned with Hegel's work and with how modern political science and theory have developed, and should be developed in the future.

Robert Stern, University of Sheffield, UK

"[Goodfield’s] book goes beyond existing defenses…by providing a more extensive treatment of Hegel's logic and by attempting to link the position that we should abjure appeals to metaphysics to what he calls the 'liberal-positivist school' of political science… I want to emphasize that he deserves to be commended for laying out the controversy so starkly and pointing to a deeper issue about the role of metaphysics in political theory that is of concern to a wider audience than students of Hegel."

Mark Tunick, Florida Atlantic University, USA


Acknowledgments Introduction Part I Chapter 1. From Feuerbach to Moore: Hegelian Metaphysics and the Origins of Positivist Revolt Chapter 2. Origins of the Prescriptive Challenge: The Behavioral Revolution and the Schism of Political Science and Philosophical Tradition Chapter 3. Negating Negation: 20th Century Revisionism, the Rehabilitation of Hegel’s Political Thought and the Descriptive Challenge Part II Chapter 4. Hegel’s Metaphysics of Thought: Toward a Logic of Universals Chapter 5. Political Dialectic: The Metaphysical Vocation of Political Philosophy Part III Chapter 6. Political Theory and the Metaphysical Presuppositions of Theoretical Reason Bibliography Index

Author Bio

Eric Lee Goodfield is Visiting Assistant Professor at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Name: Hegel and the Metaphysical Frontiers of Political Theory (Hardback)Routledge 
Description: By Eric Lee Goodfield. For over one hundred and fifty years G.W.F. Hegel’s ghost has haunted theoretical understanding and practice. His opponents first, and later his defenders, have equally defined their programs against and with his. In this way...
Categories: Political Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Modern Political Theory, Continental Philosophy, Modern Philosophy (16th Century-18th Century), Philosophy of Social Science, Hegel, Philosophy, Politics & International Relations, Political Theory