Johann Gottfried von Herder is one of the most important transitionary figures in German philosophy. Perhaps along with Fichte, Herder was actually one of the most influential philosophers after Kant but largely forgotten in the Kant to Hegel canonical study that dominates most philosophical departments and continental surveys. Nonetheless, Herder was instrumental in pioneering the … Continue reading Johann Gottfried von Herder’s Philosophy of “Kultur”
Georg W.F. Hegel is the most influential and consequential philosopher of modernity. In this half hour lecture (37 minutes, actually), I provide a concise summary of the whole of Hegel's systematic philosophy by bringing together his Phenomenology of Spirit; Elements of the Philosophy of Right; Lectures on the Philosophy of History. In reading Hegel we … Continue reading Understand Hegel in a Half Hour!
There are two great stories concerning Hegel and Napoleon. The first, undeniably fantastical and romantic, is that Hegel was finishing up his draft manuscript of the Phenomenology of Spirit as the Battle of Jena roared behind him as he escaped the hellfire of the morning; the second, true, relates to Hegel’s encounter with Napoleon which … Continue reading Hegel and Napoleon: On Heroes and the Sublime in History
While Johann Fichte and Friedrich Schelling were luminaries of German idealism in their time, the most famous son of German Idealism known to posterity is Georg W.F. Hegel. Hegel did not share the same early fame as Fichte and Schelling and only became a major figure in German philosophy with the publication of his famous … Continue reading German Idealism, From Kant to Hegel, Part 5: Hegel
While influenced by Kant and Fichte, Schelling deviates from them insofar that he does not start with mind (as Kant and Fichte) but with nature (per Goethe). Therefore, Schelling’s axiomatic foundation is not the mind, the rational (or transcendental) but the natural; nature. The mind, for Schelling, is an outgrowth of the forces of conflict … Continue reading German Idealism, From Kant to Hegel, Part 4: Friedrich Schelling
Two figures stand in importance to understanding Schelling; Johann von Herder and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Herder is important for having recontextualized and published his philosophy of consciousness through the “Great Chain of Being.” The Great Chain of Being was an ancient Greek to Christian understanding of wholeness in the world. Man, of course, being … Continue reading German Idealism, From Kant to Hegel, Part 3: Herder and Goethe
Johann Fichte was a student of Kant’s philosophy. Although little known in the English-speaking world, Fichte was one of the most important philosophers in 1790s and early 1800s until his death in 1814. If English-speakers have any awareness of Fichte, it will likely be through his “Address to the German Nation,” given during the Napoleonic … Continue reading German Idealism, From Kant to Hegel, Part 2: Johann Fichte
The world of philosophy that German Idealism is responding and reacting against is the world of the so-called new science, Enlightenment philosophy, which can roughly be said to have begun with the publication of Sir Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum, the New Science, in 1620. Tied to the new science is Rene Descartes and his Meditations … Continue reading German Idealism, From Kant to Hegel, Part 1: Kant