Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

Heinrich, Dieter. Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism, ed. David S.  Pacini, 2003


… Three of [Hegel’s philosophical period’s] contributions continue to have a bearing on the ways in which we think today.

First, in Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s Science of Knowledge, the romatic theory of art and poetry originated, which was the first modern poetic theory in terms of which we can still interpret many works of art from the nineteenth century. The early romantics considered themselves to be students of Fichte. They felt that without being deeply versed in Fichte’s Science of Knowledge, it would have been impossible to develop the kind of poetry they were writing.

Second, Marxism is the product of the collapse of Hegel’s philosophy. This alone would be a sufficient reason to study this period. In fact, that is what Marx himself claimed more than 150 years ago. While the philosophers of the new wave of empiricism and positivism in Europe were virtually ignoring Hegel, Marx did not. Instead, he maintained that he was the only one who did not Hegel as a “dead dog.” (This is a phrase stemming from Lessing, who opined that we should not treat Spinoza as a dead dog, as many had in the eighteenth century.) By virtue of his willingness to take Hegel seriously, Marx was able to write Das Kapital.

Third, existentialism is the product of the collapse of idealism, and it is impossible to understand any basic doctrine of Kierkegaard without knowing both Hegel and Fichte. One can even say the existentialism is the philosophy of mind isolated from the philosophy of nature and history. Marxism is the philosophy of history and society isolated from the Hegelian and Fichtean philosophy of mind. So the universal claim of the Hegelian system is that it integrated at least aspects of theories that became equally influential, and continuously so, after its collapse. Therefore, understanding Hegel’s system is a precondition for understanding what happened afterward.

Available on Amazon