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Cambridge Centre for Political Thought



Inaugural Lecture as Professor of the History of Political Thought

Professor Richard Bourke FBA 




"Hegel and the French Revolution"

Time: 5:30pm, 12th May 2022

Venue: McCrum Lecture Theatre, Bene’t Street, Cambridge CB2 3QN



G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831) has generally been recognised as Europe’s leading political philosopher since Kant. His influence extended across the globe down to the Second World War – not least through his dissident disciple, Karl Marx. Since then, despite intermittent revivals, his importance has tended to be eclipsed by a rising tide of anti-modernist polemic, extending from Heidegger to postmodernism. Central to Hegel’s political thought was his view of the French Revolution. But notwithstanding its pivotal role in the development of his ideas, his reaction to that event has been systematically misconstrued. In presenting a more faithful account of Hegel’s interpretation of his own era, this lecture will place his response to contemporary developments in the context of a series of World Revolutions which framed the meaning of his age. This approach serves to illustrate the unique combination of historical and philosophical reasoning on which Hegel’s thought depended. In the process, reconstructing his arguments raises challenging questions about the applicability of bygone political ideas to later historical periods.


The recording of the lecture is now available here.