Histories of German philosophy in the nineteenth century typically focus on its first half-when Hegel, idealism, and Romanticism dominated. By contrast, the remainder of the century, after Hegel's death, has been relatively neglected because it has been seen as a period of stagnation and decline. But Frederick Beiser argues that the second half of the century was in fact one of the most revolutionary periods in modern philosophy because the nature of philosophy itself was up for grabs and the very absence of certainty led to creativity and the start of a new era. In this innovative concise history of German philosophy from 1840 to 1900, Beiser focuses not on themes or individual thinkers but rather on the period's five great debates: the identity crisis of philosophy, the materialism controversy, the methods and limits of history, the pessimism controversy, and the Ignorabimusstreit. Schopenhauer and Wilhelm Dilthey play important roles in these controversies but so do many neglected figures, including Ludwig Buchner, Eugen Duhring, Eduard von Hartmann, Julius Fraunstaedt, Hermann Lotze, Adolf Trendelenburg, and two women, Agnes Taubert and Olga Pluemacher, who have been completely forgotten in histories of philosophy. The result is a wide-ranging, original, and surprising new account of German philosophy in the critical period between Hegel and the twentieth century.
Frederick C. Beiser is professor of philosophy at Syracuse University. He is the author of many books, including The Fate of Reason, German Idealism, Hegel, and The German Historicist Tradition.
Preface ix Introduction 1 1. A Revolutionary Half Century 1 2. The Standard Narratives 7 3. Method 13 1 The Identity Crisis of Philosophy 15 1. Sources of the Crisis 15 2. Trendelenburg's Philosophia Perennis 19 3. Philosophy as Critique 22 4. Schopenhauer's Revival of Metaphysics 28 5. Rise and Fall of the Neo-Kantian Ideal 36 6. Eduard von Hartmann's Metaphysics of the Sciences 45 7. Dilthey and Worldviews 48 2 The Materialism Controversy 53 1. Context and Causes 53 2. The Controversy Begins: Wagner versus Vogt 56 3. Philosophical Struwwelpeter 62 4. The Bible of Materialism 70 5. Schopenhauer Enters the Fray 77 6. Czolbe's Sensualism 84 7. Friedrich Lange, Neo-Kantian and Materialist Manque 89 3 The ignorabimus Controversy 97 1. Du Bois-Reymond's Speech: Content and Context 97 2. Hartmann's Defense of Metaphysics 104 3. The Materialist Position 108 4. Lange's Defense of Du Bois-Reymond 112 5. Nageli's Methodological Materialism 116 6. Dilthey on the Virtues and Vices of Naturalism 120 7. A Mask and a Martyr 123 8. Haeckel's Last Stand 128 4 Trials and Tribulations of Clio 133 1. History as a Science 133 2. Historical Objectivity? 140 3. The Battle against Positivism 145 4. Positivist Misunderstandings of Historicism 154 5 The Pessimism Controversy 158 1. A Forgotten Controversy 158 2. Schopenhauer's Pessimism 161 3. The Neo-Kantian Crusade 166 4. Duhring on the Value of Life 172 5. Hartmann's Pessimism 184 6. Hartmann's Self-Defense 190 7. The Value of Work 194 8. Aesthetic Redemption 200 9. Love 207 Appendix: Two Forgotten Women Philosophers 217 Further Reading 221 Index 229