German Philosophy Today: Between Idealism, Romanticism, and Pragmatism

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 44:357-398 (1999)
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In his essayOn the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany, of 1834, Heinrich Heine suggested to his French audience that the German propensity for ‘metaphysical abstractions’ had led many people to condemn philosophy for its failure to have a practical effect, Germany having only had its revolution in thought, while France had its in reality. Heine, albeit somewhat ironically, refuses to join those who condemn philosophy: ‘German philosophy is an important matter, which concerns the whole of humanity, and only the last grandchildren will be able to judge whether we should be blamed or praised for working out our philosophy before our revolution.’ He then makes the following prognosis:the German revolution will not be more mild and more gentle because it was preceded by Kantian critique, Fichtean transcendental idealism and even philosophy of nature. Revolutionary forces have developed via these doctrines which are just waiting for the day when they can break out and fill the world with horror and admiration. … Don't smile at my advice, the advice of a dreamer who warns you about Kantians, Fichteans and philosophers of nature. Don't smile at the fantast who expects the same revolution in the realm of appearance as took place in the realm of spirit. … A play will be performed in Germany in comparison with which the French Revolution could appear just as a harmless idyll.



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Andrew Bowie
Royal Holloway University of London

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Ways of Worldmaking.J. M. Moravcsik - 1978 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 37 (4):483-485.
Knowledge and Human Interests.Richard W. Miller - 1975 - Philosophical Review 84 (2):261.
Pragmatism.Hilary Putnam - 1995 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 95:291.

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