The German Idealism Reader
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The German Idealism Reader

Ideas, Responses, and Legacy

Marina F. Bykova, Marina F. Bykova

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eBook - ePub

The German Idealism Reader

Ideas, Responses, and Legacy

Marina F. Bykova, Marina F. Bykova

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The German Idealism Reader is a comprehensive account of the key ideas and arguments central to German idealists and their immediate critics. Expanding the scope beyond the four best-known representatives - Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel - and including those thinkers often considered as secondary, but who are also crucial for understanding of this period, the Reader presents an influential era in all its philosophical complexity. Through its broad coverage of philosophers and their texts, it offers a complete dynamic picture of the intellectual period and features:
- Selections from key texts by Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel
- Readings from Reinhold, Schiller, Maimon, Schulze, Jacobi, Hölderlin, and Novalis
- Responses to and critiques of German idealist thought by late nineteenth century thinkers, such as Schopenhauer, Feuerbach, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche
- Selections extending beyond the typical focus on epistemology and metaphysics to include ethics, religion, society, and art
- A general introduction and timeline, together with a chronology and bibliography to each thinker and introductory overviews to both thinkers and text With readings carefully selected to illustrate thinkers in dialogue with each other, The German Idealism Reader provides a better appreciation of the philosophical discussions central to the period. This is essential reading for all students of German idealism and the nineteenth-century German and Continental philosophies, as well as to those studying the important movements and periods of European intellectual history.

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Information

Jahr
2019
ISBN
9781474286657
PART 1
Kant and the First Receptions of Critical Philosophy
Chapter 1
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)
Introduction
Immanuel Kant was without a doubt one of the greatest minds of the late eighteenth–early nineteenth century and a philosophical titan of modern times. His work challenged the very foundations of philosophy, and called into question almost every doctrine of metaphysics, ethics, and religion. Nearly every major philosophical movement that emerged after the publication of the Critique of Pure Reason—from German idealism to Early German Romanticism to Hegelianism to Post-Kantianism to Marxism and beyond—was forced to grapple with the issues Kant posed in the work that would mark the turning point in the history of philosophy and serve as the catalyst for its future development.
Born on April 22, 1724, into the household of master harness maker Johann Georg Kant and his wife, Anna Regina Reuter, in Königsberg, Prussia, Immanuel was the second surviving child in the family. Of the nine siblings born before and after Kant, only three sisters and one brother survived beyond early childhood. Perhaps this explains why Kant was so proud of his name’s literal meaning “God is with him.”
As a craftsman, Kant’s father, along with his family, was a member of the guild, and as such he belonged to the “respectable” class. This social standing was enjoyed by the whole family, which lived a relatively comfortable life, at least during Immanuel’s early childhood. Yet their situation worsened as he grew older as his father’s business suffered from declining harness trade in Königsberg.
Although little is known about Kant’s early childhood, as a young boy he first attended the neighborhood’s Hospitalschule that had only one teacher, an unordained minister, from whom the boy learned the very basics of “reading, writing, and arithmetic” (Kuehn 2001, 46). Yet he did not attend this school for long. At age eight, he was sent to Collegium Fridericianum (also known as the Friedrichkolleg), a prestigious gymnasium and model Latin school in his hometown, Königsberg. Like many gymnasia at this time, the Collegium was under the direction of a Protestant sect; this school was controlled by Pietist Lutherans. The institution had a great reputation, especially in preparing children for latter education in theology, but it was a highly regimented institution with a very stiff and unfriendly atmosphere. Kant found the strict environment and narrow curriculum to which he was subjected less than desirable; later he recalled his school years at the Collegium with horror. Perhaps for this reason he later developed a strong enthusiasm for educational reform.
The Collegium helped Kant achieve a great command of Latin, his favorite subject, but he also received a solid preparation in theology which served him well in his further studies at the University. At the same time, he became critical of Pietism and the Pietistic way of life that he, being raised in the Pietist family, would eventually refuse to adopt. Furthermore, Kant’s mature moral and religious views would not only “betray a definite anti-Pietistic bias,” they would also be developed in opposition to Pietism, demonstrating Kant’s strong rejection of Pietistic values and ideals (Kuehn 2001, 54).
In 1740, Kant, at the age of sixteen, graduated from the Collegium and entered the University of Königsberg, commonly known as the Albertina. No record of the course of study Kant declared survived, but with his interest in classics during his final year in the Collegium, it is likely he intended to make study of the classics his occupation. However, one of his fellow classmates later reported that in a theology class they both took, in response to an introductory survey, Kant told the audience that he wanted to become a medical doctor. All of this occurred while many of those close to him assumed he would eventually commit himself to theology.
Kant seemed never to settle on either track; instead he began at university by studying classics, soon followed by a plethora of courses in mathematics, science, and philosophy. Interestingly, his first introduction to philosophy occurred in his first semester at the University. Regardless of the chosen course of study, students in all fields were required to take first courses in philosophy before beginning their “professional preparation.” While at Königsberg, Kant came under the influence of Professor Martin Knutzen, who taught metaphysics and logic. As a Pietist, Knutzen followed the methods introduced by Christian Wolff while criticizing many central tenets of Wolffian philosophy. Hence, despite his appreciation for the Wolffian approach, his position was fundamentalist Christian. In addition to his credentials in philosophy, Knutzen also had a reputation of being well versed in mathematical and scientific disciplines, especially astronomy, reportedly for successfully predicting the 1744 comet’s reappearing.
While Knutzen’s knowledge of scientific and mathematical matters was largely inadequate, he was sound in philosophy and understood current philosophical and religious debates. The courses in philosophy that Knutzen and his colleagues taught at Königsberg undoubtedly provided Kant with all he needed for a solid grounding in the discipline. Moreover, having attentively followed a number of theoretical controversies sparked by various publications of Knutzen and others, Kant also learned a great deal of new and controversial topics that shaped philosophical discussions in contemporary intellectual circles. These discussions motivated Kant’s first work, a treatise entitled Thoughts on the Estimation of Living Forces. Completed in 1746, prior to his university graduation (though it was not published until three years later), this tract is a critical response to the dispute between Leibnizians and Cartesians about the true measure of force. Both the topic of the work and its content clearly demonstrated Kant’s intellectual independence and confidence in his ability to contribute original material to natural philosophy.
By the time Kant graduated from the Albertina, both of his parents had died and he had very little money to support himself. Entirely on his own at the age of twenty-four and facing an uncertain future, he became a private teacher and spent the next six years working for wealthy families in the countryside close to his hometown. He returned to Königsberg in August 1754 in pursuit of a position at his alma mater. Within less than one year, he published two essays, as well as and completed and defended both his Magister dissertation (April 1755) and doctoral thesis (September 1755). He also published (anonymously) Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens, A New Explanation of the First Principles of Metaphysics, in which he proposes an astronomical theory now known as the Kant-Laplace hypothesis. “No longer an unknown quantity,” he was finally installed as a Privatdozent (non-salaried lecturer) and allowed to teach courses at the university. Although Kant was a popular lecturer from the very beginning, it was not an easy way to earn a living; without a University salary, he had to rely entirely on the fees he could collect from students who attended his lectures. It was a difficult period, espec ially the first two or three years when the young lecturer needed to establish himself and develop his reputation in hopes this would lead to a higher position at the University. In addition to lecturing twenty or more hours per week on various subjects, he produced several short essays, including “The False Subtlety of the Four Syllogistic Figures, The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God, and Essay on Maladies of the Mind.”
In 1764, Kant was offered a professorship in poetry, which he declined. He also received offers from the Universities of Erlangen (1769) and Jena (1770), but he continued pursuing his dream of receiving the position of ordinary professor at Königsberg. Finally, after nearly fifteen years of work, including both teaching and writing, in March 1770, Kant was appointed to the professor of Logic and Metaphysics at his alma mater in Königsberg.
After achieving financial stability and job security, Kant became largely “silent.” During the next eleven years, known as the “silent years,” Kant did not publish much. He continued teaching and writing short essays; he even served as dean of his philosophy faculty, but his publication output was minimal. He set all of his mental powers toward finally resolving what he considered the crisis of philosophy. The “‘all-crushing’ critic of metaphysics” (Kuehn 2001, 251), Kant believed it would be futile to attempt to justify the metaphysical claims, because the “highest philosophy cannot advance further than is possible under the guidance which nature has bestowed even upon the most ordinary understanding” (A830/B858).
He formulated these and other relevant ideas in his epoch-making treatise, Critique of Pure Reason (known as the first Critique), the first (A) edition of which was published in 1781. This work served as a ground for Kant’s philosophical system known as Critical philosophy, which he developed and elaborated in a series of books appearing during his next “great decade.” The main works are the Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics (1783), Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), the massively revised second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (1787), and his second and third Critiques—Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790)1 —and then The Metaphysics of Morals (1798). The works Kant produced in the 1780s and early 1790s not only propelled him to fame, but also marked an enormous achievement securing the author’s place in the world philosophy, and confirming him as the revolut...

Inhaltsverzeichnis