After Hegel: German Philosophy, 1840-1900 by Frederick C. Beiser

By Frederick C. Beiser

Histories of German philosophy within the 19th century ordinarily concentrate on its first half--when Hegel, idealism, and Romanticism ruled. in contrast, the rest of the century, after Hegel's demise, has been rather overlooked since it has been obvious as a interval of stagnation and decline. yet Frederick Beiser argues that the second one 1/2 the century was once in reality probably the most progressive classes in sleek philosophy as the nature of philosophy itself used to be up for grabs and the very absence of sure bet resulted in creativity and the beginning of a brand new period.

In this cutting edge concise heritage of German philosophy from 1840 to 1900, Beiser focuses now not on topics or person thinkers yet quite at the period's 5 nice debates: the id situation of philosophy, the materialism controversy, the equipment and boundaries of background, the pessimism controversy, and the "Ignorabimusstreit." Schopenhauer and Wilhelm Dilthey play vital roles in those controversies yet so do many ignored figures, together with Ludwig Buchner, Eugen Duhring, Eduard von Hartmann, Julius Fraunstaedt, Hermann Lotze, Adolf Trendelenburg, and ladies, Agnes Taubert and Olga Pluemacher, who've been thoroughly forgotten in histories of philosophy.

The result's a wide-ranging, unique, and mind-blowing new account of German philosophy within the severe interval among Hegel and the 20 th century."

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20 In a first approach, what Hegel accomplishes here may strike us as a simple reversal of Kant: instead of the gap separating forever the subject from the substantial Thing, we get their identity (the Absolute qua substance = subject). , the purely negative gesture of limiting phenomena without providing any positive content which would fill out the space beyond the limit. For that reason, we must be very attentive if we are not to miss what Hegel has in mind when he insists that the Absolute has to be conceived also as subject, not only as substance: the standard notion ofthe gradual becoming-subject of the substance (of the Hactive" subject leaving its Himprinf' on the substance, molding it, mediating it, expressing in it his subjective content) is here doubly misleading.

Contingent and ultimately indifferent. 32 From Subject to Substance . , the crucial dimension of what Hegel calls '"'subject" (as opposed to empirical individuals), becomes visible the moment one traverses the path '"'from substance to subject" in the opposite direction. What we have in mind here is the reproach usually addressed to Hegel by his nominalist adversaries, from Feuerbach and young Marx onwards, whose basic premise is that '"'actually existing individuals" realize their potentials in the social network of their mutual relationships ('"'the essence of man is the totality ofhis social relationships," as Marx put it).

This may be called the cunning ofreason - that it sets the passions to work for itself, while that which develops its existence through such impulsion pays the penalty, and suffers loss. .. The particular is for the most part of too trifling value as compared with the general: individuals are sacrificed and abandoned. The Idea pays the penalty of determinate existence and corruptibility, not from itself, but from the passions of individuals. 37 This quotation from Hegel's The Philosophy of History fits perfectly the common notion of the "cunning of reason": individuals who follow their particular aims are unknowingly instruments of the realization of the Divine plan.

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After Hegel: German Philosophy, 1840-1900 by Frederick C. Beiser
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