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Dr Nathaniel Boyd
Associate Fellow



Nathaniel joined the Department of Politics in September 2019 as an Associate Fellow on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project Rethinking Civil Society: History, Theory, Critique. Nathaniel’s research focuses on the history of political and constitutional thought in Germany 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 the 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. Most recently, Nathaniel has been invited to contribute to a volume on the international law thinker Emer de Vattel as well as to a volume on the concept of crisis by the European Society for the History of Political Thought, of which he is an active member.



I am an historian of political thought of the early modern and modern period, with a particular focus on Germany and Hegel. Subsequent to my PhD (2015), I have developed an academic specialisation in a variety of other interrelated fields: political philosophy, constitutional law and theory, contextualism and conceptual history. This has resulted in a number of academic publications, (e.g. in History of Political Thought and Hobbes Studies). My current monograph (Brill Academic Publishers 2021) is on Hegel’s early writing on the imperial constitution: the Verfassungsschrift.

The research I will carry out at York deals with the reception history of this manuscript in the Weimar period. Part of the new way I propose to look at Hegel’s manuscript first becomes possible by distancing it from the polemics that determined its earlier reception in Weimar. Thus at York I will reconstruct this particular history, which reveals how the Verfassungsschrift was part of a discussion that crossed the disciplines of historicism, constitutional law and legal thought and even reached the highest level of political debate over the Weimar constitution itself. By divorcing Hegel from this interpretation overwhelmingly conditioned by German nationalism and imperialism, my monograph will break new ground in the interpretation of Hegel’s early political thought. Liberated from its Weimar reception, Hegel’s Verfassungsschrift can then be seen in its own context, which I will argue is related to the tradition of imperial public law and the discourses on the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire. My monograph will then show how Hegel’s understanding of imperial politics and the German constitution at the moment of its ultimate collapse definitively shape his universal concept of the state.

Through my project at York, then, I will be able to introduce a Hegel distinct from his interpretation in Weimar where he was viewed as glorifying the power-state above the rule of law and civil society. In this way, this research will contribute more generally to the ‘rethinking’ of civil society and its history.


Selected publications

Monograph (in contract):

Revolution and Empire: Hegel 1798–1803 (provisional title) (Brill Academic Publishers)

Further Publications:

Publications with peer review process:

  1. ‘Hegel’s Hobbes: From the Historical Context of the Constitution to Conscience and Consciousness’, History of Political Thought 40.2 (2019): 327–56.
  2. ‘The Reception of Hobbes in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire: Pufendorf, Christian Thomasius, and Hegel’, Hobbes Studies 32, 1 (2019): 22–45.
  3. ‘Sittlichkeit and Modernity’, Hegel Jahrbuch 11, 2 (forthcoming)

Book chapters:

  1. ‘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 (Brill, forthcoming)
  2. ‘Vattel and the Politics of Reception: 18th and 19th Century French and German Contexts and the History of Political Thought’, in Peter Schröder (ed.), Concepts and Contexts of Vattel’s Political and Legal Thought (Cambridge, forthcoming)

Co-edited volume:

  1. The Autonomy of the Political: Concept, Theory, Form co-edited and introduced with Dr Michele Filippini (Jan van Eyck Academy, 2012)

External activities

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
Associate Fellow
Rethinking Civil Society: History, Theory, Critique
Dept of Politics
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +32 49 3710367