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FU-BEST 14: The Promise of German Philosophy: Between Kant and Hegel (Fall only)

InstructorDr. Detlef von Daniels
Credit Points6 ECTS

Fall semester only


German idealism, a movement in German philosophy that began in the 1780s and lasted until the 1840s, has constituted a central element in the development of modern German culture and has left its mark on subsequent philosophical thinking far beyond Germany. It comprises both the promise of the enlightenment period to further the commonwealth of humankind through sciences and humanities but also the seeds of anti-enlightenment thought that blossomed only later on. In this course, we follow the emergence and full deployment of German idealist philosophy from its beginnings in Kant’s theoretical and moral philosophy to Hegel’s grand but fragile synthesis. We also discuss the critique by Schelling and the so-called Young Hegelians (Feuerbach, Stirner), trying to understand the richness as well as the limitations of this tradition of German philosophy.
Besides the historical overview, we pursue two systematic lines of inquiry: On the one hand, we will ask how philosophy reacts to a broader cultural network and can be extended to include contemporary critical discussions (feminist, postcolonial, and black perspectives). On the other hand, we will encounter several answers to the question how radical conversion is possible, from evil to good and from dogmatic to critical philosophy (or vice versa). In times of culture wars and deep political divisions, this problem has a persistent relevance.