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The Problem Of Collective Identity:The Instituting We And The Instituted We

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Chapter Summary

The chapter has three parts. First, from Hegel's discussion of the question "Who is to frame a constitution?", a distinction is introduced between two concepts of a social context for action, one atomistic and the other holistic or moral. In the second part, the Hegelian notion of a "spirit of the nation" is explained by reference to Montesquieu, who introduced a social concept of institution-as opposed to a merely political one-when he pointed out that legislators could establish laws, but that they could not establish manners and customs. In the third part, the question is raised whether a group of individuals could establish an institution by an act of collective commitment. It is argued that the exercise of instituting powers requires that an institutional context is already given.

Keywords: collective identity; constitution; Hegel



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