Starting with the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, the book addresses the philosophical changes brought about by Luther's Reformation, and then presents a detailed account of the classical age of German philosophy, including the work of Leibniz and Kant; the rise of a new form of humanities in Lessing, Hamann, Herder, and Schiller; the early Romantics; and the Idealists Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. The following chapters investigate the collapse of the German synthesis in Schopenhauer, Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche. Turning to the twentieth century, the book explores the rise of analytical philosophy in Frege and the Vienna and Berlin circles; the foundation of the historical sciences in Neo-Kantianism and Dilthey; Husserl’s phenomenology and its radical alteration by Heidegger; the Nazi philosophers Gehlen and Schmitt; and the main West German philosophers, including Gadamer, Jonas, and those of the two Frankfurt schools. Arguing that there was a distinctive German philosophical tradition from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, the book closes by examining why that tradition largely ended in the decades after World War II.
A philosophical history remarkable for its scope, brevity, and lucidity, this is an invaluable book for students of philosophy and anyone interested in German intellectual and cultural history.
Thora Ilin Bayer focuses on the meaning of Cassirer’s claim that philosophy is not itself a symbolic form but the thought around which all aspects of human activity are seen as a whole. Underlying the symbolic forms are Cassirer’s two metaphysical principles, spirit (Geist) and life, which interact to produce the reality of the human world. Bayer shows how these two principles of Cassirer’s early philosophy are connected with the phenomenology of his later philosophy, which centers on his conception of “basis phenomena”—self, will, and work.