Love, Ethics, and Emancipation
: The Implications of Conceptions of Human Being and Freedom in Heidegger and Hegel for Critical International Theory

  • Charlie Edward Thame

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is an original contribution to critical international relations theory. Responding to Hartmut Behr's call for the development of more universalistic trajectories of ontological inquiry for contemporary (global) politics and ethics, our original contribution is to establish a 'critical' approach to international theory on a more universalistic meta-theoretical foundation. Proceeding from a philosophical analysis of 'ontological' foundations in influential normative, meta-theoretical, and critical approaches to international theory, we argue for a shift from international theory’s reliance on a shallow ontology of 'things that exist' to a fuller ontology of being, and of human being in particular. After identifying with the left-Hegelian tradition of thought, and establishing that the most compelling and promising advocate of a 'critical' approach to international theory, that of Andrew Linklater, rests on a limited conception of human existence and a thin understanding of human freedom, we explore the implications of conceptions of human being and freedom in the work of Martin Heidegger and Georg W. F. Hegel for critical international theory. Offering an epistemological defence of our universalism through Hegel's phenomenological constructivist approach to knowledge, then demonstrating how this allows us to transcend the schism between foundationalist and anti-foundationalist approaches to normative theory, we premise our own emancipatory cosmopolitanism on a commitment to the human being conceived as 'singularity' rather than subject. Proceeding from a discussion of 'what it means to be' a free human being according to Heidegger and Hegel, we then foreground two aspects of human freedom that have hitherto been obscured in critical international theory and develop a praxeological emancipatory cosmopolitanism on this basis. Rather than rejecting Linklater's emancipatory cosmopolitanism, we call for its 'overcoming,' and demonstrate ways that our meta-theoretical argument can effect international practice by offering 'love' as a guide for ethical and emancipatory praxis and an evaluative tool for critical social theory
Date of Award06 Feb 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SponsorsEconomic and Social Research Council
SupervisorSimona Elena Rentea (Supervisor) & Hidemi Suganami (Supervisor)


  • critical international relations theory
  • critical theory
  • andrew linklater
  • heidegger
  • hegel
  • meta-theory
  • international relations
  • political theory
  • ontology
  • epistemology
  • freedom
  • emancipation
  • ethics
  • subjectivity
  • singularity
  • phenomenology
  • love

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