German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, by Frederick C. Beiser

By Frederick C. Beiser

One of many only a few money owed in English of German idealism, this formidable paintings advances and revises our knowing of either the historical past and the concept of the classical interval of German philosophy. As he lines the constitution and evolution of idealism as a doctrine, Frederick Beiser exposes a powerful goal, or realist, pressure working from Kant to Hegel and identifies the an important function of the early romantics—Hölderlin, Schlegel, and Novalis—as the founders of absolute idealism.


[A] fantastic new book...That Beiser manages to maintain the reader afloat as he steers via such deep and turbulent waters merits the top compliment. Expository writing of unfailing lucidity is supported via connection with an unrivalled variety of sources...I realized anything from this booklet on virtually each page...For an individual in any respect heavily attracted to the subject this can be now where to begin. (Michael Rosen occasions Literary complement 2003-01-24)

Frederick Beiser's new paintings offers English readers [with] a accomplished and masterly rationalization of the principal forces that formed the real philosophical move often called German idealism. German Idealism is definitely written, exquisitely argued, and copiously researched. It simply outdistances a lot of the German scholarship and should function a benchmark for destiny English language scholarship. it's a must-read for students of the sphere, a invaluable, available advisor for the , and a priceless source for all historians of philosophy. (Grant Kaplan overview of Metaphysics 2005-08-01)

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Extra info for German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, 1781-1801

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Ironically, the problem with this dispute is not that it has been too extreme, but that it has not been extreme enough. 10 It is as if Schelling’s and Hegel’s absolute idealism, and Marburg neoKantianism, never existed. This has had two troublesome consequences. 11 Second, some also fail to take a stand on some of the most basic issues; they have ignored, for example, such questions as the status of the categories and the eliminability of the transcendental subject What has motivated the recent intense debate about Kant’s subjectivism Introduction: Kant and the Problem of Subjectivism 25 has been the underlying assumption that if one recognizes both the subjectivist and objectivist elements of Kant’s transcendental idealism one must also admit its incoherence.

Kant developed his theory to avoid the chief problems of competing theories. There were three predominant theories of mental–physical interaction in mid-eighteenth-century Germany: occasionalism, preestablished harmony, and physical influx. The chief problem with occasionalism and the preestablished harmony is that they could not explain the apparent interaction between substances, which seemed to be not only a fact of experience but also a requirement of Newton’s physics. 12 By forbidding interaction between intrinsic properties, and by limiting it to extrinsic ones, Kant believed that he had avoided the main problems of both theories.

But the subjectivists are perfectly aware of these realistic aspects of Kant’s system; they argue, however, that they are incompatible with his more fundamental principles. Hence they stress the subjectivist premise behind Kant’s empirical realism: the identification of material objects with representations; and they point out that Kant’s belief in the reality of things-in-themselves is inconsistent with his critical teaching that we cannot know anything beyond experience. If Kant were only consistent, the subjectivists contend, there would be very little difference between his idealism and Berkeley’s.

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