In his major work Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, Hegel deals with the notion of the person, personality and interpersonality, fundamental law, property, the formation of nature as self-creation and the formation of external nature, appropriation, intellectual property, contracts and lies. Using these, he discusses sustainability and describes the process by which humans come to own things, i.e., to appropriate and shape nature. Appropriation has the following moments: a) the moment of immediate physical grasp; b) the moment of creation; c) the moment of denomination. From Hegel’s point of view, so-called elementary things (water, air) cannot be part of property: these goods are the preconditions of human existence. Hegel left behind no developed concept of sustainability, but he did sketch the essential contours of this key issue for the twenty-first century. His insights into the shaping of the world around us (Um-Welt), or the surrounding nature, are of particular importance because they address an existential problem that was not as clearly manifested in Hegel’s time and therefore has not received as much attention as it does today – despite the considerable environmental damage that was already occurring in Hegel’s time.
Sustainable development, G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of law, Property, Nature, Naturalness