Frederick C. Beiser presents the first book to be written on two of the most important idealist philosophers in Germany after Hegel: Adolf Trendelenburg and Rudolf Lotze. Beiser addresses every aspect of their philosophy-- logic, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics--and traces their intellectual development from their youth until their death.
This is the first full study in English of the German historicist tradition. Frederick C. Beiser surveys the major German thinkers on history from the middle of the eighteenth century until the early twentieth century, providing an introduction to each thinker and the main issues in interpreting and appraising his thought. The volume offers new interpretations of well-known philosophers such as Johann Gottfried Herder and Max Weber, and introduces others who are scarcely known at all, including J. A. Chladenius, (...) Justus Möser, Heinrich Rickert, and Emil Lask. Beyond an exploration of the historical and intellectual context of each thinker, Beiser illuminates the sources and reasons for the movement of German historicism—one of the great revolutions in modern Western thought, and the source of our historical understanding of the human world. (shrink)
Neo-Kantianism was an important movement in German philosophy of the late 19th century: Frederick Beiser traces its development back to the late 18th century, and explains its rise as a response to three major developments in German culture: the collapse of speculative idealism; the materialism controversy; and the identity crisis of philosophy.
Weltschmerz is a study of the pessimism that dominated German philosophy in the second half of the nineteenth century. Pessimism was essentially the theory that life is not worth living, and was introduced into German philosophy by Schopenhauer. Frederick C. Beiser examines the intense and long controversy that arose from Schopenhauer's pessimism, which changed the agenda of philosophy in Germany away from the logic of the sciences and toward an examination of the value of life. He examines the major (...) defenders of pessimism and its chief critics, especially Eugen Dühring and the neo-Kantians. The pessimism dispute of the second half of the century has been largely ignored in secondary literature and this book is a first attempt since the 1880s to re-examine it and to analyze the important philosophical issues raised by it. The dispute concerned the most fundamental philosophical issue of them all: whether life is worth living. (shrink)
Following Wiggins’ seminal article, On Being in the Same Place at the Same Time, this article presents the first comprehensive account of the relation of material constitution, an asymmetrical, transitive relation which totally orders distinct ‘entities’ (individuals, pluralities or masses of stuff) which ‘spatially coincide.’ Their coincidence in space is explained by a recursive definition of ‘complete-composition’, weaker than strict mereological indiscernibility, which also explains the variety of logically independent similarities in such cases. This account is ‘analytical’, dealing with ‘putative’ (...) cases in general. The main strategy is to rationally reconstruct Aristotle’s notion of material cause. It is developed more fully with a theory of how to justify admitting generable and perishable things into the natural world, in The Kinds of Things: A Theory of Personal Identity Based on Transcendental Argument (Open Court, 1996). (shrink)
The Sovereignty of Reason is a survey of the rule of faith controversy in seventeenth-century England. It examines the arguments by which reason eventually became the sovereign standard of truth in religion and politics, and how it triumphed over its rivals: Scripture, inspiration, and apostolic tradition. Frederick Beiser argues that the main threat to the authority of reason in seventeenth-century England came not only from dissident groups but chiefly from the Protestant theology of the Church of England. The triumph (...) of reason was the result of a new theology rather than the development of natural philosophy, which upheld the orthodox Protestant dualism between the heavenly and earthly. Rationalism arose from a break with the traditional Protestant answers to problems of salvation, ecclesiastical polity, and the true faith. Although the early English rationalists were not able to defend all their claims on behalf of reason, they developed a moral and pragmatic defense of reason that is still of interest today. Beiser's book is a detailed examination of some neglected figures of early modern philosophy, who were crucial in the development of modern rationalism. There are chapters devoted to Richard Hooker, the Great Tew Circle, the Cambridge Platonists, the early ethical rationalists, and the free-thinkers John Toland and Anthony Collins. (shrink)
This article discusses the historical background to the concept of normativity which has a wide use in contemporary philosophy. It locates the origin of that concept in the Southwestern Neo-Kantian school, the writings of Windelband, Rickert and Lask. The Southwestern school made the concept of normativity central to epistemology, ethics and the interpretation of German idealism. It was their solution to the threats of psycologism and historicism. However, Windelband, Rickert and Lask found difficulties with the concept which eventually forced them (...) to abandon it. These difficulties might be of interest to contemporary philosophers who find the concept of normativity appealing. (shrink)
Few thinkers are more controversial in the history of philosophy than Hegel. He has been dismissed as a charlatan and obscurantist, but also praised as one of the greatest thinkers in modern philosophy. No one interested in philosophy can afford to ignore him. This volume considers all the major aspects of Hegel's work: epistemology, logic, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of history, philosophy of religion. Special attention is devoted to problems in the interpretation of Hegel: the unity of the Phenomenology (...) of Spirit; the value of the dialectical method; the status of his logic; the nature of his politics. A final group of chapters treats Hegel's complex historical legacy: the development of Hegelianism and its growth into a left and right-wing school; the relation of Hegel and Marx; and the subtle connections between Hegel and contemporary analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Against current non-metaphysical interpretations, I argue that Naturphilosophie is central to Hegel’s philosophy. This is so for three reasons. First, it was crucial to Hegel’s program to create a holistic culture. Second, Naturphilosophie is pivotal to absolute idealism, Hegel’s characteristic philosophical doctrine. Third, the idea of organic development, so central to Naturphilosophie, is pervasive throughout Hegel’s system. This idea is essential to Hegel’s concepts of spirit, dialectic, and identity-in-difference. Finally, I take issue with the neo-Kantian critique of Hegel’s Naturphilosophie on (...) the grounds that it fails to appreciate the underlying motive behind Hegel’s system: the attempt to resolve the aporia of Kant’s epistemology.Author Keywords: Naturphilosophie; Absolute idealism; Organicism; Alienation; Subjective idealism; Dualism. (shrink)
In the preface to his Philosophy of Right Hegel maintains that a philosophy is its own time apprehended in thought. It is not the philosopher's business to create an imaginary world of his own. His task is to understand the present and actual as subsuming the past in itself, as the culmination of a process of development.
In this intricately crafted history by Frederick C. Beiser, the neo-Kantian philosophy is not merely a doctrine or an approach to philosophical questions; it is also a strategy. From the beginning, the neo-Kantians were concerned to establish the independence, relevance, and power of philosophy. The historical situation of the neo-Kantian tradition is distinct from ours. On Beiser's telling, the historical context only puts into sharper focus how much their predicament is ours and how many of their preoccupations we share.