Understanding German Idealism

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Overview

Understanding German Idealism provides an accessible introduction to the philosophical movement that emerged in 1781, with the publication of Kant's monumental Critique of Pure Reason, and ended fifty years later, with Hegel's death. The thinkers of this period, and the themes they developed, revolutionized almost every area of philosophy and had an impact that continues to be felt across the humanities and social sciences today.

Notoriously complex, the central texts of German Idealism have challenged the most capable and patient interpreters. Understanding German Idealism aims to convey the significance of this philosophical movement while avoiding its obscurity. It gives readers a clear understanding of the problems that motivated Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel and the solutions that they proposed. The book outlines the main ideas of transcendental idealism before exploring how the later German Idealists attempted to carry out the Kantian project more rigorously than Kant himself, striving to develop a fully self-critical and rational philosophy, in order to determine the meaning and sustain the possibility of a free and rational modern life. The book concludes with an assessment of the most important early criticisms of German Idealism and the philosophical alternatives to which they led, including romanticism, Marxism, existentialism and naturalism.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Will Dudley is associate professor, philosophy, Williams College (Michigan).

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: modernity, rationality and freedom 2. Kant: transcendental idealism 3. Skeptical challenges and the development of transcendental idealism 4. Fichte: toward a scientific and systematic idealism 5. Schelling: idealism and the absolute 6. Hegel: systematic philosophy without foundations 7. Conclusion: rationality, freedom, modernity? Questions for discussion and revision Further reading Index
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