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Dr Nathaniel Boyd



Nathaniel joined the Department of Politics and International Relations in September 2019 as an Associate Fellow on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project Rethinking Civil Society: History, Theory, Critique. As of March 2021, he is a post-doctoral researcher on this project. Nathaniel’s research focuses on the history of political and constitutional thought and particularly G.W.F. Hegel’s relation to this tradition.

In 2015, Nathaniel defended his doctorate at Brunel University, which successfully explored Hegel’s concept of estates and its relation to modernity. Since that time he has extended his research by publishing on Hobbes and his reception in the German tradition and Hegel’s interaction with Hobbes in his speculative theory of consciousness.

Furthermore, Nathaniel has forthcoming publications on the international law thinker Emer de Vattel, constituent power and tyranny in Hegel’s Jena writings, as well as a theoretical elaboration on the concept of crisis and its relation to constitutional thought and political Aristotelianism in Hegel’s Verfassungsschrift.

Currently, he is working on a monograph devoted to Hegel’s political thought and its relation to the afterlives of political Aristotelianism.

He is a member of ESHPT and an associate researcher at the Department of Philosophy, the University of Namur where he previously held a postdoctoral research position.



My research over the coming years can be divided into two interrelated streams.

1) The completion of a monograph devoted to Hegel’s political, legal and constitutional thought. 

This stream treats Hegel’s political metaphysics in relation to discourses that have by and large remained outside of the scope of much of the critical literature. Rather than focusing on Hegel’s association to the immediate context of German Idealism – or the Enlightenment and popular philosophy, for that matter – the monograph pursues his connection to the tradition of political Aristotelianism (politica) and how this was transmitted down to his time. In analysing this element of Hegel’s political thought and historical context, the research opens onto a rather diverse field of political inquiry.

Firstly, Hegel’s early constitutional thought is studied in direct connection to the politica tradition, emphasising his conflict with German imperial public law in the epoch the First War of Coalition and Second War of Coalition.

Secondly, the monograph traces how politica was transmitted into the Staatswissenschaften (public law, Policey, cameralism, natural law and post-Kantian speculative legal philosophy). In this way, the gradual theoretical elaboration of Hegel’s Rechtsphilosophie is shown and its connection to these discourses and the remnants of Aristotelianism that they contained.

Lastly, Hegel’s political thought in his Berlin period is contextualised in the disciplinary quarrel between law and philosophy that arose in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. With his Aristotelian inspired ‘architectonic’ or ‘organic state’ – along with his distinctively modern philosophy of subjective freedom – this part of the monograph shows how Hegel attempted to establish a definitive encyclopaedic approach to the different sciences whilst attacking Romanticism and the Historical School of Law in the epoch of the Restoration.

2) The completion of the Cambridge Reader in the History of Political Thought with a volume of translations on the political Aristotelians.

Leaving aside the strictly editorial responsibilities involved in this stream, the research component entails contextualisation, interpretation and translation. Selections and excerpts will be made thematically on the basis of their historical importance for our understanding of the modernisation of Aristotelianism, the focus being on the Holy Roman Empire. In this respect, Hermann Conring’s form of Aristotelianism will be singled out. On the one hand, the eclectic nature of political Aristotelianism will be shown to touch the issue of the persistence of Protestant school philosophy; on the other, reception history will play a central role, which tells us about how and in what way Machiavelli, Bodin and Lipsius were received and in some cases incorporated into a tradition that was slowly being modernised. To this end, the discourse of reason of state and concepts and tropes such as sovereignty, Machiavellism, Tacitism and Lipsianism will be shown to be central categories influencing the later development of politica. Provisionally, the volume of translations will entail excerpts from Clapmar and Chemnitz (arcana), Arnisaeus, Besold and Keckermann, which will then be organised around Conring’s exemplary political thought, the volume aims to provide a complete translation of his De civili prudentia.



Selected publications

In press (chapter): Boyd, N., ‘The Constitution of Crisis: Politics, Decline, and Decision in Hegel’s Verfassungsschrift’, in Cesare Cuttica et al. (eds.), Crisis and Renewal in the History of Political Thought: From Ancient Greece to the Twenty-First-Century (Leiden: Brill, 2021).

In press (chapter): Boyd, N., ‘Tradition and Revolution: Eighteenth Century German and French Contexts and Vattel’s Law of Nations’, in Peter Schröder (ed.), Concepts and Contexts of Vattel’s Political and Legal Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021). 

In press (article): Boyd, N., ‘Sittlichkeit and Modernity’, Hegel Jahrbuch 11, 2 (2021).

In press (article): Boyd, N., ‘Tyranny and Ethical Life: the Tyrant-Legislator and Constituent Power in Hegel’s Political Thought’, Etica e Politica/Ethics and Politics 23, 1 (2021).

2019 (article): Boyd, N., ‘Hegel’s Hobbes: From the Historical Context of the Constitution to Conscience and Consciousness’, History of Political Thought 40, 2, pp. 327–56.

2019 (article): Boyd, N., ‘The Reception of Hobbes in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire: Pufendorf, Christian Thomasius, and Hegel’, Hobbes Studies 32, 1, pp. 22–45.


External activities


ESHPT member

Associate researcher, Department of Philosophy, University of Namur, BE

Invited talks and conferences

2019: Collective Paranoia? The Schmitt/Kojève Debate, Journée d’études ‘Introduction à la lecture de Kojève’, Department of Philosophy, University of Namur BE

2018: A Constitution in ‘Crisis’: Hegel’s Holy Roman Empire and its Depiction in the History of Political Thought, Crisis and Renewal in the History of Political Thought, Fifth International Conference ESHPT, Heidelberg DE

Contact details

Dr Nathaniel Boyd
Rethinking Civil Society: History, Theory, Critique
Department of Politics and International Relations
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +32 49 3710367