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German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism Hardcover – September 16, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0521663267 ISBN-10: 0521663261

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Published a little more than two years ago, Pinkard's Hegel: A Biography has quickly become the standard life in English of the world's major Romantic-era philosopher, not least because of its magisterial explications of the finer points of Hegel's thought, along with its extremely forthright judiciousness about the life. To have another work from Pinkard, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, in so short a time is remarkable. Pinkard takes readers-carefully, succinctly and in a manner sensitive to the political and social ferment of the time-on a journey through the most important hundred years in philosophy since the Renaissance. Beginning with the Kantian revolution in human understanding of its own knowledge (the ethical and political consequences that result from it), Pinkard walks readers through the philosophical chaos that reigned through the 1790s, when Hegel was at university with Halderlin and Schelling and the German states were in upheaval, through to Hegel's "completion" of Kant's project (announced with 1807's Phenomenology of Spirit) and Schopenhauer's version of idealism (mirrored in Kierkegaard's pessimism). In Pinkard's hands, what could be just names come alive as men and ideas that have much to teach us about our own beliefs about how to live. As he writes of Hegel's phenomenology, "it was to provide an education, a bildung, a formation for its readership so that they could grasp who they had become (namely, a people individually and collectively `called' to be free), why they had become those people, and why that had been necessary."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Pinkard does an incredible job of explaining Hegel's strictly philosophical ideas and largely overcomes the barrier of Hegel's notoriously obscure style." The New York Times Book Review

"...Pinkard offers a moving account of a precarious and harried life, interspersing it with lucid and not unduly long accounts of the main arguments of Hegel's works....Mr. Pinkard has written engrossingly of a supreme instance of the life dedicated to thinking." The Washington Times

"Pinkard takes readers-carefully, succinctly and in a manner sensitive to the political and social ferment of the time-on a journey through the most important hundred years in philosophy since the Renaissance...In Pinkard's hands, what could be just names come alive as men and ideas that have much to teach us about our own beliefs about how to live." Publishers Weekly

  • Advance Praise... "Terry Pinkard has given us a welcome, fresh look at the post-Kantian aftermath in nineeenth-century thought. German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism is that rare book that can serve as both a lucid, engaging introduction and trustworthy guide, as well as an original, insightful, important contribution to scholarship." Robert Pippin, University of Chicago

    "[A]n important history of German idealism.... Recommended." Choice

    "Throughout the study, Pinkard's attention to historical detail is impressive; he presents a portrait of an entire century of German intellectual thought, which, to risk understatement, is no small task." Philosophy Today, Elizabeth MillÂn-Zaibert
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    Product Details

    • Hardcover: 396 pages
    • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 16, 2002)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0521663261
    • ISBN-13: 978-0521663267
    • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
    • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,764,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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    Customer Reviews

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    53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 2003
    Format: Paperback
    I have to say this book is an indispensable guide for gaining a background in the philosophy of German idealism. If you read this book, you will learn about the philosophical problems that Kant, Fichte, and Hegel among others were grappling with well enough to be able to describe much of terminology in their philosophical treatises. Also the author's very clear writing style will help you learn the philosophy without a massive headache. This is the real strength of the book because other volumes treating the same topic are are often so dense and confusing that they won't be useful to a beginner. The other strength of the book is that it makes the philosophy relevant by illustrating its impact on German political and cultural identity. One such insight reveals the way the Holy Roman Empire's class of intellectual elites appropriated Kant's Critique of Pure Reason for political ends. These men used the philosophical work to challenge their rulers' claims to absolute authority. By paying attention to German idealism's cultural connections, Terry Pinkard has shown Kant's philosophy to be an important contribution to the social changes of its time rather than merely a set of abstract questions about the nature of reality to be discussed late-at-night by bored college students.
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    23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By New Age of Barbarism on October 10, 2004
    Format: Paperback
    _German Philosophy 1760 - 1860: The Legacy of Idealism_ by Terry Pinkard is a unique book which examines the sorts of philosophical systems being proposed in Germany during that time period. Although at first Germany was not united, philosophy came to take on a unique German flavor, often meaning little more than the opaqueness of the language. For a generation of disenfranchised youth, Goethe captured the spirit of the times in his novel (with mistranslated title), _The Sorrows of Young Werther_. The first part of this book deals with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, who created a "Copernican revolution" in philosophical thought with the writing of his three _Critiques_. Kant provided the foundation that many youth of the period were seeking in terms of philosophical thought. The second part of this book deals with post-Kantians, many of them founders of the Romantic movement, who took off from Kant's philosophy in the _Critiques_. Two issues played a central role for these early post-Kantian figures, one being the French Revolution and the other being the issue of Spinoza's pantheism (and alleged atheism). Two early individuals involved in the controversy over Spinoza were Jacobi, who argued against both Kant and Spinoza and is often associated with a dark kind of irrationalism, and Reinhold who defended Kant against these claims in the 1780s. In the 1790s, Fichte came to play an important role in philosophy, extending the thought of Kant with a form of subjectivism in his _Wissenschaftslehre_. The 1790s also witnessed the Romantic appropriation of Kantianism. Many of these early Romantics wrote for the journal _Athenaum_.Read more ›
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    25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Crowe on January 23, 2005
    Format: Paperback
    As in his lauded biography of Hegel, Pinkard does an amazing job in this book. To those "analytic" philosophers, still under the influence of the cavalier early 20th century rejection of the idealist tradition by Russel et. al., this is a must read. Pinkard presents detailed, cogent, and clear reconstructions of the key positions of the most important philosophers in Germany between Kant and Schopenhauer. Being a Hegel scholar, he understandably devotes a great deal of attention to Hegel's work. But, other figures, included the neglected early Romantics and the later Schelling, are given fair and lucid consideration. Pinkard's work (along with that of some other recent scholars) is a clarion call - the German tradition needs to be taken seriously, and needs to be treated in a fashion that is freed from the post-modernist humbug that it, in part, inspired. If only there were more books like this!
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    9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Hooper on June 12, 2008
    Format: Paperback
    PInkard's book is probably the most modern of the introductions to the period in that this interpretation is the onemost free of all of the metaphysical and epistemological focus that was so frequent in texts on German Idealism even up until the early 90s. Even Beiser's excellent introduction to this period still maintains some threads to older interpretations, but he does make these explicit. PInkard's text provides us with a unique narrative that links all of the texts together: the so-called "Kantian Paradox". This paradox poses the question: if we choose to be self-legislating, what influenced us to make the choice to be self-legislating (and this something would have had to be an external influence). In contrast to Beiser, whose link is the question of how to prove the reality of the external world, Pinkard promotes freedom (self-legislation) to be the main challenge that the Idealists (and Romantics) tried to answer (although he does readily admit the myriad of other issues that drove them forward).
    His introduction to Kant is brief, being only 100 odd pages, but it contains some of the most lucid and insightful exegesis of Kant's system in the English speaking world. I particularly like how he cast Kant, and Transcendental Idealism as a whole, not as an epistemological theory (what has come to be called 'Weak Transcendental Idealism), but as a theory that poses the following thesis: nothing escapes the workings of reason ('Strong Transcendental Idealism'). His discussion of the third critique, which he references throughout the book, shows the rarely emphasised insight that this work was the starting point for the departures and adaptations post-Kantians would instigate and develop.
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