The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte / Edition 1

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The Fate of Reason is the first general history devoted to the period between Kant and Fichte, one of the most revolutionary and fertile in modern philosophy. The philosophers of this time broke with the two central tenets of the modem Cartesian tradition: the authority of reason and the primacy of epistemology. They also witnessed the decline of the Aufkldrung, the completion of Kant's philosophy, and the beginnings of post-Kantian idealism.

Thanks to Beiser we can newly appreciate the influence of Kant's critics on the development of his philosophy. Beiser brings the controversies, and the personalities who engaged in them, to life and tells a story that has uncanny parallels with the debates of the present.

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Editorial Reviews

Paul Guyer
This is a unique, original, and important work. It undertakes a project never before attempted in English, nor likely soon to be attempted again; nor is there, at least as far as I know, any comparable twentieth-century work in German. This is not, however, because everyone else has thought better of the idea; it can only be because anyone else who ever considered it has been daunted by the magnitude of the task involved. What Beiser has written is the history of German philosophy in the epoch of Kant, a history focused primarily on the issue of the authority of reason. There is a great unity to Beiser's treatment: it presents a picture of a whole generation of philosophical activity in all its richness, greater fish as well as lesser ones included. [The account] is fascinating, because it has rarely been attempted at all and because this generation of German philosophy is the first such generation of professional, university-oriented philosophy in modern times. Thus, Beiser gives us a wonderful glimpse into the origin of our profession as such. The richness of the fabric, the detailed presentation of the views, makes [the movements treated] come alive.
Robert Brandom
The story Beiser's book tells is an absolutely crucial one for anyone who wants to understand Hegel. More than that, the epistemological and metaphiosophical crises it relates are of considerable general contemporary interest. It can and should be read with profit by philosophers with no antecedent interest in German philosophy of the time. I found it very exciting a—'cracking good read' of the sort one finds too seldom in intellectual history.
Allen Wood
This treatment of a neglected chapter in the history of philosophy ranks in thoroughness with the best German sources and is philosophically acute enough to engage the Englishspeaking philosophical reader. The book is very well written and holds the reader's interest extremely well. Beiser has a talent for seeing the lasting philosophical substance behind disputes couched in the language and problems of another age and culture. The mixture of well-handled philosophical substance and fascinating historical detail will make the book attractive to a wide variety of readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674295032
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1993
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 410
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Frederick C. Beiser is Professor of Philosophy at Syracuse University.
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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Kant, Hamann, and the Rise of the Sturm und Drang
    • A. Hamann’s Historical and Philosophical Significance
    • B. The London Conversion and Its Philosophical Consequences
    • C. The Summer of 1759: The Stirrings of the Sturm und Drang
    • D. The Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten
    • E. Kant, Hamann, and the Optimism Controversy
    • F. The Kinderphysik Fiasco
    • G. Aesthetica in nuce and Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics
    • H. The “Metakritik”: Genesis, Contents, and Consequences

  • 2. Jacobi and the Pantheism Controversy
    • A. The Historical Significance of the Pantheism Controversy
    • B. The Rise of Spinozism in Germany, 1680–1786
    • C. The Dispute over Lessing’s Spinozism
    • D. The Philosophical Significance of the Controversy
    • E. Jacobi’s First Critique of Reason
    • F. Jacobi’s Second Critique of Reason
    • G. Jacobi’s Defense of Faith

  • 3. Mendelssohn and the Pantheism Controversy
    • A. Mendelssohn’s Place in the History of Philosophy
    • B. In Defense of Reason
    • C. Mendelssohn’s Nightmare, or, the Method of Orientation
    • D. The Critique of Spinozism and Purified Pantheism
    • E. Mendelssohn’s Covert Critique of Kant

  • 4. Kant, Jacobi, and Wizenmann in Battle
    • A. Thomas Wizenmann’s Resultate
    • B. Kant’s Contribution to the Pantheism Controversy
    • C. Wizenmann’s Reply to Kant
    • D. Jacobi’s Attack on Kant

  • 5. Herder’s Philosophy of Mind
    • A. Herder and the Eighteenth-Century Philosophy of Mind
    • B. Herder on the Origin of Language
    • C. Hamann and Herder’s Debate over the Origin of Language
    • D. Herder’s Genetic Method
    • E. The Principles of Herder’s Vitalism
    • F. Kant’s Quarrel with Herder
    • G. The Kant–Herder Controversy and the Origins of the Third Kritik
    • H. Herder and the Pantheism Controversy

  • 6. The Attack of the Lockeans
    • A. Popularphilosophie: A Sketch of a Movement
    • B. Highlights of the Lockean Campaign against Kant
    • C. The Garve Affair
    • D. Two Early Critics: C.G. Selle and D. Tiedemann
    • E. The Lockean Ringleader, J.C. Feder
    • F. Feder’s Circle: A.G. Tittel and A. Weishaupt
    • G. The Good Pastor Pistorius

  • 7. The Revenge of the Wolffians
    • A. Leitmotivs of the Wolffian Campaign
    • B. Revolution versus Reaction
    • C. The Wolffian Defense of Metaphysics
    • D. The Thorn in Kant’s Side, J.A. Ulrich
    • E. The Scrooge of Tübingen, J.F. Flatt
    • F. Platner’s Meta-Critical Skepticism
    • G. The Eberhard Controversy
    • H. The Consequences of the Wolfflan Campaign

  • 8. Reinhold’s Elementarphilosophie
    • A. Reinhold’s Historical Significance
    • B. Reinhold’s Early Quarrel with Kant
    • C. Reinhold’s Briefe and Conversion to the Critical Philosophy
    • D. The Path toward the Elementarphilosophie
    • E. Reinhold’s Critique of Kant and the Aims of the Elementarphilosophie
    • F. Reinhold’s Methodology
    • G. Reinhold’s Phenomenological Project
    • H. Reinhold’s Proposition of Consciousness and the New Theory of Representation
    • I. The Crisis of the Elementarphilosophie

  • 9. Schulze’s Skepticism
    • A. Schulze’s Historical Significance and Influence
    • B. Schulze’s Meta-Critical Skepticism
    • C. The Critique of Reinhold
    • D. The Meta-Critique of Kant
    • E. Strengths and Weaknesses of Schulze’s Skepticism

  • 10. Maimon’s Critical Philosophy
    • A. Maimon’s Historical Significance and the Question of the Unity of His Thought
    • B. Maimon’s Skepticism
    • C. The Idea of an Infinite Understanding
    • D. The Theory of Differentials
    • E. The New Theory of Space and Time
    • F. The Critical Middle Path
    • G. The Elimination of the Thing-in-Itself
    • H. Maimon’s Transcendental Logic
    • I. The Principle of Determinability
    • J. Maimon’s Controversy with Reinhold
    • K. Maimon versus Schulze

  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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