No concept is more central to Hegel’s thought than dialectics, and yet none is more contested. Hegel’s critics have commonly invoked dialectics-with its seeming rejection of the law of non-contradiction and its seemingly obscure claims about the structure of reality-to illustrate the fl awed nature of his entire philosophical enterprise.1 Even those sympathetic to Hegel have dismissed his reliance on dialectics, identifying it as the animating principle of a system of metaphysical speculation bereft of merit and credibility.2 This book rejects such views. It is my contention that Hegel’s concept of dialectics is not only intelligible, but that it is material to an appreciation of the meaning and continuing value of his thought. My focus is on Hegel’s practical philosophy, which in Hegel’s thought attends-also for reasons relevant to his conception of dialectics-fi rst and foremost to his conception of social and political philosophy. I argue that appreciation of the meaning and signifi cance of his practical philosophy is illuminated by reference to his dialectical project and his dialectical conception of rationality.