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After Hegel

After Hegel: German Philosophy, 1840-1900

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    After Hegel
    Book Description:

    Histories of German philosophy in the nineteenth century typically focus on its first half-when Hegel, idealism, and Romanticism dominated. By contrast, the remainder of the century, after Hegel's death, has been relatively neglected because it has been seen as a period of stagnation and decline. But Frederick Beiser argues that the second half of the century was in fact one of the most revolutionary periods in modern philosophy because the nature of philosophy itself was up for grabs and the very absence of certainty led to creativity and the start of a new era. In this innovative concise history of German philosophy from 1840 to 1900, Beiser focuses not on themes or individual thinkers but rather on the period's five great debates: the identity crisis of philosophy, the materialism controversy, the methods and limits of history, the pessimism controversy, and theIgnorabimusstreit. Schopenhauer and Wilhelm Dilthey play important roles in these controversies but so do many neglected figures, including Ludwig Büchner, Eugen Dühring, Eduard von Hartmann, Julius Fraunstaedt, Hermann Lotze, Adolf Trendelenburg, and two women, Agnes Taubert and Olga Pluemacher, who have been completely forgotten in histories of philosophy. The result is a wide-ranging, original, and surprising new account of German philosophy in the critical period between Hegel and the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5253-6
    Subjects: Philosophy, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
    (pp. 1-14)

    This book is about German philosophy from 1840 to 1900. All periodizations are artificial, and this one is no exception. But there are still good reasons for choosing these dates. 1900 is the beginning of a new century, one more complex, tragic, and modern than any preceding it. 1840 is significant because it marks both an end and a beginning. It is the end of the classic phase of Hegelianism, whose fortunes were tied to the Prussian Reform Movement, which came to a close in 1840 with the deaths of Friedrich Wilhelm III and his reformist minister Baron von Altenstein.¹...

    (pp. 15-52)

    Beginning in the 1840s, the decade after Hegel’s death, philosophers began to suffer a severe “identity crisis.”¹ They could no longer define their discipline in the traditional terms widely accepted in the first decades of the nineteenth century. So they began to ask themselves some very hard questions. What is philosophy? What is its purpose? And how does it differ from the empirical sciences?

    Before the 1840s, philosophers felt no need to raise such basic questions. The speculative idealist tradition seemed to have provided clear and convincing answers to them. That tradition, from Reinhold to Hegel, had a very definite...

    (pp. 53-96)

    Although largely forgotten today, the so-called “materialism controversy” was one of the most important intellectual disputes of the second half of the nineteenth century. The dispute began in the 1850s, and its shock waves reverberated until the end of the century. We understand little of German philosophy in the second half of the nineteenth century unless we know the chief issues posed by this controversy and the major responses to them.

    The main question posed by the materialism controversy was whether modern natural science, whose authority and prestige were now beyond question, necessarily leads to materialism. Materialism was generally understood...

    (pp. 97-132)

    On August 14, 1872, Emil Du Bois-Reymond, Rector of Berlin University and one of the most prominent physiologists of his age, gave a lecture to the forty-fifthVersammlung deutscher Naturforscher und Ärtzein Leipzig. It was an auspicious occasion for a lecture: before such an eminent body, the lecturer had the best audience for testing his views and the best opportunity for publicizing them. Du Bois-Reymond’s lecture, entitledÜber die Grenzen des Naturerkennens,¹ was an attempt to take stock of the achievements of natural science in his age: how far it had gone, how far it could go, and what...

    (pp. 133-157)

    The nineteenth century is often dubbed “the age of history,” just as the eighteenth century is often called “the age of reason.” These names are clichés, of course, but they also have their core of truth. There are various reasons for calling the nineteenth century “the age of history.” It is primarily because, at the beginning of the century, people were much more conscious of history as a force shaping society and state. One major lesson of the French Revolution was that people could not create societies and states according to the mandates of pure reason alone, and that social...

    (pp. 158-216)

    In the 1960s budding young philosophers were told that philosophy does not have anything to do with the question of the meaning or value of life. That was a popular misconception about philosophy—so we were told—that we should get out of our heads right away, because philosophy is essentially a science, a technical discipline concerned with the logic of language. Philosophers who towed this positivist line in the 1960s will be pleased to know that nearly a century earlier many neo-Kantians and positivists held a similar conception of their discipline. They will be less pleased to know, however,...

    (pp. 217-220)
    (pp. 221-228)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 229-232)