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Goethe, Kant, and Hegel: Discovering the Mind. Volume one. Paperback – January 1, 1991


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Goethe, Kant, and Hegel: Discovering the Mind. Volume one. + Freud, Adler, and Jung: Discovering the Mind (Discovering the Mind S) + Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Buber: Discovering the Mind
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers (January 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 088738370X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887383700
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ivan Soll, who provides the introduction, was a student of Kaufmann and is now professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin. He has written widely on Hegel and German philosophical thought.



Walter Kaufmann (1921-1980) was professor of philosophy at Princeton University from 1947 until his death. He had visiting appointments at Columbia, Cornell, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington among others. His books include The Future of the Humanities, Religion from Tolstoy to Camus, and the three volume series entitled Discovering the Mind.


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Customer Reviews

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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Stewart (bas@inforamp.net) on November 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Goethe, Kant, Hegel is the first book of the Discovering the mind trilogy. This trilogy was Kaufmann's final work. The ideas discussed in this book are not new to his work but rather make it more complete. All of Kaufmann's work taken together forms an organic seamless whole.
In this book as with his others Kaufmann is interested in uncovering, exploring, defining and evaluating what is the essence of being human. He also extends this search beyond mere identifying to an exploration of what he considers are the human qualities worthy of cultivation and represent the best of humanity. To my knowledge his approach of a philosophical study of individuals breaks some original ground and because Kaufmann is building on previous work he is hugely successful in this task. This book should be a classic, recognized for its pioneering effort toward discovery of the mind (Kaufmann's definition of mind here is a "term for feeling and intelligence, reason and emotion, perception and will). Not only is it scholarly (in the best sense of the word) but it has a clear vision that Kaufmann is able to communicate clearly.
It is not enough for Kaufmann to present compelling reasons why life is most meaningful when meaning and purpose come from within, nor that the autonomous life (he discusses autonomy at length in Without guilt or Justice) is the key to finding that meaning. Kaufmann knows that even a dictator and tyrant can become such a person. Kaufmann goes on to articulate his vision of morality (a theme developed in his earlier work- The Faith of a Heretic).
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on October 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ever since I tried to read it in college, philosophy has repelled me, or rather, I was unwilling to make the effort to get through the classic texts because they were so poorly written and abstruce. Nonetheless, I always felt that this area was a hole in my learning and that I should have made more effort in it. As such, it was an enormous pleasure to find Kaufmann: he writes with an enormous clarity and grace, and to my delight, he is as disgusted with the poor writing style of modern philosphers as was I. And he had the authority to say it, which I could never claim!

This volume introduces the reader to three great minds, which Kaufmann sees as leading to the great psychologists if the 20C. First, with Goethe, we find a man who broke new ground in the investigation of human psychology, bringing a poets depth and eloquence to bear. It is so exciting and well written that Kaufmann makes the reader want to learn German and then specialize in Goethe. He is seen as an ideal of bringing poetry to the study of the mind, a tradition that waited until Freud to be renewed. Second, he examines Kant, whom he respects but sees as a rather dry intellect, and alas, as the one who began the tradition of sloppily and hastily written modern philosophy. But his critique goes much farther than that as we see Kant turn the mind into something abstract, immutable, and that neither evolves nor reflects the context into which it is born. This sets philoophical inquiry into psychology, in my interpretation, on a long and infertile road that took the poetry out of the study of the mind. Finally, with Hegel, Kaufmann sees the reintroduction of certain notions of evolution and context, but still in a way that lacks poetry.

This is a fascinating interpretation and it is so beautifully written that many will enjoy as did I. Warmly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wold on March 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book by a well known philosopher is purportedly about "discovering the mind"-- an important aim in philosophy!
However, very little of the book addresses its topic. Kaufmann tends to get lost in digressions concerning the text, biographical details, etc.
He claims that these details are important but never really gets to the point.
He never really defines what he means by "mind" or goes into much detail on how Goethe, Kant or Hegel define or develop the concept.
He tends to be repetitious, repeating the same criticisms of Kant again and again-- without any clear exposition of Kant's thinking.

Nonetheless I rated it three stars because it is generally clearly written and provides some useful information about these philosophers. I even ordered the other two volumes in the series to see if he gets anywhere in the later books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andy Hahn on January 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As with volume two of this series Kaufmann provides a clear insightful analysis of German philosophical writing in the 19th century. Kaufmann’s command of the German and English language is of immense value in being able to provide a clear analysis of his subject. Again his approach in this volume is to demonstrate how these individuals came to provide a clearer understanding of human reasoning and basic psychology.

With the three important German authors he only comes across favorably to Goethe. He takes Kant and Hegel to task for the obscurity of their writing style. He blames Kant for introducing this type of writing into German philosophy. He does recognize the brilliance of Kant and Hegel. He goes into the background of these men highlighting the impact on their thoughts and writing. It is noteworthy that Kaufmann resists the tide of popular opinion in regard to Kant and Hegel and dares to bring their obvious shortcomings into sharp focus.

I found this volume helpful in clarifying issues with philosophy in general. His criticism of struggling to find meaning where none actually exists can save a person from hours of futility.
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