Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Smith, Steven


“Hegel’s Institutional Enlightenment: A Study of the Political Institutions of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” examines how Hegel responded to Prussian feudal elites who employed the ideas of “liberty” and “parliaments” to advance their interests. In contrast to other scholars who argue that Hegel sought to moderate the radical individualism of bourgeois liberalism, this work finds that he is instead better understood as responding to aristocratic liberalism. This approach frames Hegel’s political thought as a response to feudal reaction and the rise of Junker-led agrarian capitalism rather than problems of bourgeois and industrial society per se. I demonstrate how Hegel had the Prussian landed aristocracy in mind when he defended seemingly anti- democratic institutions like the monarchy, bureaucracy, and the Estates to insulate the power of the bureaucrats in government from Junker influence.