"Acting on" instead of" stepping back": Hegel's conception of the relation between motivations and the free will

Contrastes: Revista Interdisciplinar de Filosofía 15 (cialidad y subjetividad humanas):377-387 (2010)
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Abstract
One of the most important elements of Hegel’s philosophical anthropology is his moral psychology. In particular, his understanding of the relation between motivations and reason plays a crucial intermediate role in connecting his anthropological meditations on the complete nature of the human being with his political theory of actualized freedom. Whereas recent important work on Hegel’s moral psychology has detected a Kantian distinction between natural desires and the rational perspective, the activity of practical reason actually takes place within motivations themselves on Hegel’s view. The exercise of the free, rational will is best understood in terms of its role in shaping the experience of malleable, indeterminate motivations. Rather than stepping back, the free agent on Hegel’s account delves further into the motivation, acting on it in the dual sense of being guided by and transforming it. This is what it means for Hegel to conceive of agency as self-expression while maintaining the centrality of reason for Free Will. Hegel says that when we go further into the motivations in this way, we should stop speaking of motivation in terms of drives and instead begin speaking of character.
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