This concise but comprehensive book provides an original history of German-language philosophy from the Middle Ages to today. In an accessible narrative that explains complex ideas in clear language, Vittorio Hösle traces the evolution of German philosophy and describes its central influence on other aspects of German culture, including literature, politics, and science.
Starting with the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, the book addresses the philosophical changes brought about by Luther's Reformation, and then presents a detailed account of the classical age of German philosophy, including the work of Leibniz and Kant; the rise of a new form of humanities in Lessing, Hamann, Herder, and Schiller; the early Romantics; and the Idealists Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. The following chapters investigate the collapse of the German synthesis in Schopenhauer, Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche. Turning to the twentieth century, the book explores the rise of analytical philosophy in Frege and the Vienna and Berlin circles; the foundation of the historical sciences in Neo-Kantianism and Dilthey; Husserl’s phenomenology and its radical alteration by Heidegger; the Nazi philosophers Gehlen and Schmitt; and the main West German philosophers, including Gadamer, Jonas, and those of the two Frankfurt schools. Arguing that there was a distinctive German philosophical tradition from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, the book closes by examining why that tradition largely ended in the decades after World War II.
A philosophical history remarkable for its scope, brevity, and lucidity, this is an invaluable book for students of philosophy and anyone interested in German intellectual and cultural history.
Vittorio Hösle is a German-American philosopher and the Paul Kimball Professor of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of many books, including Morals and Politics, God as Reason, and The Philosophical Dialogue.
"Short, lively, and appealing, this book covers the whole of German philosophy, providing clear, crisp outlines laced with humor and vivid imagery. Vittorio Hösle's pithy summaries capture the most important characteristics of German philosophers in a stimulating way. There is nothing quite like this book. It is a literary as much as an intellectual work, and a pleasure to read throughout."--Jonathan Israel, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
"With its engaging style, remarkable clarity, and unusual combination of breadth and brevity, this is a magnificent book and, as far as I know, the only one in any language that surveys the full landscape of German philosophy. Vittorio Hösle evaluates philosophers with a light touch and makes them come alive. This book provides a window into the German tradition that will interest not only philosophers but also students and scholars in a wide range of other fields, including intellectual history, German studies, and religion and theology."--Mark W. Roche, University of Notre Dame
"Vittorio Hösle wrote this book for general readers and he has succeeded. I have rarely encountered such lucid and forceful explanations of complex philosophical arguments; the discussions of Hegel and Heidegger are exemplary."--Chad Wellmon, University of Virginia
"After the publication of Martin Heidegger's Black Notebooks it is more necessary than ever to take stock of German philosophy since the eighteenth century. How is light and shadow distributed, seen from our current standpoint? Which intellectual highroads and byroads lead further--and which ones lead to dead ends or even abysses? Such an inventory is now available. . . . Vittorio Hösle's book A Short History of German Philosophy consists, like each of his works, of an exciting mixture of analysis and polemic."--Die Zeit
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