German idealism

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Philosophers of German Idealism. Kant (top left), Fichte (top right), Schelling (bottom left), Hegel (bottom right)

The epoch of German philosophy from Kant to Hegel and Schelling's late work is called German idealism . The publication of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and the death of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1831) are usually regarded as the time frame . German idealism is often regarded as the heyday of German philosophy and is compared with classical Greek philosophy in terms of its importance in the history of philosophy. As an alternative to the term “German Idealism”, this era is therefore often referred to as “Classical German Philosophy”.

At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, German idealism was the predominant philosophical current in Germany, which had set itself the task of creating an overall design ( epistemology , logic , natural philosophy , ethics , political theory and metaphysics ) ( “ System ”) to comprehensively recognize and represent the whole of the world in a “scientific” way.

In dealing with the problems raised by Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason , a wealth of alternating system designs emerged, with the works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte , Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling assuming a central position. German idealism interacted with poetry from the Weimar Classics and Romanticism in many ways.



The term German idealism was not used by its representatives. It was only introduced by its materialistic opponents in the 1840s ; The term did not appear in a neutral meaning until the 1860s.

The term is still controversial to this day, as it puts the idea of ​​a uniformity or successive sequence within this thought movement in the foreground and in doing so moves the conflicts between its representatives into the background. In addition, the choice of words “ German idealism” is a bit misleading, because it was not a purely German phenomenon, but interacted with the philosophies of other national cultures in a wide variety of ways.

The position of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling within this epoch is disputed. The classical view of Richard Kroner understands the thinker Kant as the beginning and Hegel as the end and climax of this movement. For Nicolai Hartmann, on the other hand, German idealism is a “post-Kantian” movement that opposes Kant and his critical approach. Walter Schulz and Harald Holz consider, the latter including Neo-Platonism , ultimately not Hegel, but Schelling as the perfecter of German idealism.

Sometimes the represented variants of idealism are divided into a critical and a speculative idealism . The first variant includes the philosophies of Kant, the early Fichte and early Schelling, the latter includes the late philosophies of Fichte and Schelling and the entire philosophy of Hegel.


The main features of German idealism are the theses of the existence of spiritual entities (beings), an outside world that does not exist independently of the ideas of thinking subjects , and the conviction that human action can be justified from principles of reason . The text form characteristic of this philosophy is the large, systematically structured teaching presentation, which deductively develops the content according to a uniform principle . These representations are characterized by their high density and accuracy. They are not only among the richest and most influential writings in the history of philosophy, but also among the most difficult to access. Many of them have not yet been fully processed.

The philosophy of Kant as a starting point

The philosophy of Kant is the starting point for the philosophy of German idealism. It is generally recognized that the following principle of Kantian philosophy is superior to the principles of all pre-Kantian philosophy: All knowledge on the path of transcendental reflection is anchored in the unity of self-consciousness ( transcendental apperception ). However, Kant left open problems regarding the relationship between intuition and thinking, theoretical and practical reason, subject and object, which German idealism sought to overcome.

In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant had indicated intuition and thought as the two stems of knowledge. The question of their common root was left open by him. The theoretical reason was limited to the range of possible experience and pure appearance. Metaphysics as a science was therefore not possible. Theoretical reason could not give any norms to action and could not justify the unconditional obligation of the moral ought. The moral law was anchored in practical reason alone . Their “ postulates ” ( freedom of will , immortality of the soul, existence of God ) were conceived by Kant as a prerequisite for moral action, but could not expand theoretical knowledge. So both areas fell apart, even though they were supposed to be one and the same reason - in its theoretical and practical function.

The central legacy of Kant was the unexplained relationship between subject and object . Kant's “ Copernican ” insight was that it is not our knowledge that is based on the objects, but, conversely, that the objects are based on the knowledge. At the same time, however, he maintained that human knowledge is not a productive, but a receptive faculty - affected by an unknowable “ thing in itself ”.


Knowledge and knowledge


Kant's theory of knowledge ties in with British empiricism , continental rationalism and sensualistic - materialistic theories of the French Enlightenment . His starting point is the practical question of the Enlightenment, how people can work their way out of their “immaturity that has almost become nature”. Kant initially focuses on a critique of pure reason, which leads to a renewal of epistemology and also contributes to the change in general intellectual culture.

His primary interest is the connection between sensuality and understanding as the two complementary “pillars” of human knowledge. His central question is how a priori knowledge and objective knowledge or "synthetic a priori sentences" are possible. The elements newly introduced by Kant into the epistemological debate are above all:

  1. The theory of space and time as necessary forms of perception. Space and time are objectively valid with regard to all possible objects of the senses and have empirical reality; however, they are not “attached” to things in themselves, but are ascriptions of knowing subjects.
  2. The transcendental deduction of the categories as conditions of the possibility of experience.
  3. The theory of transcendental apperception . The "I think" accompanies all our ideas and represents the condition of the possibility of unity of self-confidence .
  4. The doctrine of schematism , in which the relationship between categories, pure perceptions and sensory data given in the perception is determined.
  5. The theory of the ideas of reason, which have a regulative function, although they exceed the limits of experience (God, freedom and immortality).


Fichte's program is the liberation "from the fetters of things in themselves" and the dissolution of Kant's duality of thinking and the objective world. To this end, inspired by Kant and Carl Leonhard Reinhold , he worked out a systematic approach in his science teaching in various versions from 1794 to 1813 in which he developed a monistic, subject-centered conception of knowledge. Fichte himself sees his theory of science in the Kantian tradition.

While in Kant, however, things as they are in themselves represent a subject-independent source of knowledge and are accepted as the cause of the visual material, Fichte allows reason to “set” itself and its objects out of itself and free from external determination.

For Fichte, the basis of all experience must be “necessary outside of all experience”. For him, this is the knowing ego, which at the same time “posits” its objects, the non-ego, for itself and free from external determination. Fichte sees two systems of explanation in competition with one another: idealism and dogmatism. While dogmatism abstracts from intelligence in favor of the thing-in-itself, idealism, which Fichte's theory of science follows, abstracts from real objects in the interest of saving the freedom of intelligence. For Fichte, the thing in itself is “a mere fiction and has no reality at all”. Fichte, on the other hand, introduces an “I in itself” as the basis of all experience. The difference between the a priori and the a posteriori does not apply to spruce. In the non-ego, the ego has a self-imposed limit which it crosses as soon as it understands that which is not ego as the product of its own actions.


Schelling dealt with epistemological topics up to his great system of transcendental idealism (1800), especially in his writings on natural philosophy. Until then, his thinking revolved around the problem of how the Kantian transcendental philosophy can be expanded in such a way that it retains its closeness to the world that can be experienced and grasps nature in its own reality. In the foreground is the problem of realism, how an objective world "became real for us, how that system and that connection of phenomena found the way to our minds, and how in our ideas they have acquired the necessity with which to think we are absolutely forced ”. Schelling's answer is the thesis of the identity of spirit and nature, the "parallelism of nature with the intelligent". With his work System of Transcendental Idealism , published in 1800, Schelling transformed his transcendental philosophy into identity philosophy. The "knowledge of the absolute and the absolute itself" are one that one arrives at with the help of the "organ" of " intellectual intuition ". Schelling increasingly justifies this knowledge historically and genetically. He calls for “to make the past itself the object of science”. The knowledge of the absolute is a “revelation of primal knowledge”, which “necessarily has a historical side”.


Hegel achieved the closest proximity to an "epistemology" in his Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). In it he rejects Kant's thesis that the thing itself cannot be reached. He develops a process theory of the history of reason and the absolute, which he understands as the self-development of the idea. This is the ultimate reason for the unity of cognition, knowledge and reality.

Hegel shows the path of "natural consciousness", which leads to the unity of object and self-consciousness and thus to "absolute knowledge". In it the separation of subject and object is abolished. For Hegel, the various individual forms of consciousness also have historical correspondences. Consciousness develops in “certain negation” from one level to the next: from “sensual certainty” and the associated mere “meaning” through (deceptive) perception and self-awareness to reason and spirit (morality, education and Morality), religion and art and finally absolute knowledge, philosophy. As the “phenomenology” of the entire process of consciousness, it is the “science of experience of consciousness” or “science of knowledge that appears”.

Reason and the Absolute

The essential problems of German idealism include questions about the nature and efficiency of human reason and its relationship to the absolute . In this field the turn from a critical to a speculative idealism is particularly clear.

German idealism distinguishes between the two faculties of knowledge, reason and understanding. While “understanding” is understood as a discursive faculty related to sensual phenomena, “reason” is regarded as the faculty of knowledge that relates to the totality of the thinkable and knowable, which is often equated with the term “absolute”. The task of philosophy is often understood as the self-knowledge of reason and this is identified with the absolute itself.


The principle of unity of all experiences

The main concern of Kant was the justification of synthetic judgments a priori . For him, in mathematics, these come from the pure intuition of space and time, which itself does not originate in experience, but only enables it. Experience is based on a synthetic unity of appearances. This is established by the categories and is ultimately based on the self-confidence that Kant calls “I think” or “transcendental apperception”.

Reason and ideas

In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant defines reason as a “faculty of principles”, while he regards understanding as a “faculty of rules” (B 356). The understanding has the task of creating a “unity of the appearances” (B 359) and is in this respect a condition for the possibility of experience in general. The task of reason, on the other hand, is to create a "unity of intellectual rules". In this respect, it is not related to objects of experience and therefore not capable of synthetic a priori judgments. The last unity principles represent the unconditioned or the "transcendental ideas":

  • Soul: "the absolute (unconditional) unity of the thinking subject"
  • World: "the absolute unity of the series of conditions of appearance"
  • God: "the absolute unity of the condition of all objects of thought in general" (B 391)

The transcendental ideas, to which Kant ascribes the attribute “absolute” but does not speak of them as “the absolute”, have for him no constitutive but only a regulative meaning. You are supposed to align the various operations of the mind to the last three superordinate unit points. They are to be understood as a "scheme to which no object, not even hypothetically, is directly added, but which only serves to indirectly introduce us to other objects by means of the relationship to this idea, according to their systematic unity" (B. 698). In this sense, they are indispensable for the greatest possible expansion of empirical knowledge and are therefore still in the service of the mind. The “object” to which they refer is, however, not an “object per se”, but an “object in the idea” (B 698). They are located beyond all possible experience, which is why, in principle, no positive or negative ontological statements about them are possible.

In Kant, however, the transcendental ideas play a decisive function for practical reason. Thus the existence of God ultimately represents the necessary condition of the “proportion” of morality and happiness required by human will and must therefore be postulated.


For Fichte, in the early versions of his scientific doctrine, the ego represented something absolute. The form of idealism he represented is therefore often referred to as “subjective idealism”.

Fichte describes the ego as an " act of action ". He understands by it "the primordial activity of knowledge in the self-reference of self-knowledge", i. This means that “the ego both (actively) acts as an agent and is (passively) the product of the action”. For him, the ego is the first principle that justifies itself because one cannot abstract from it without at the same time presupposing it. One arrives at it if determinations are separated from all accidental contents of consciousness for so long “until that which cannot be imagined without and from which nothing else can be separated remains pure” (WL 92).

The three principles

Fichte tries to derive three first principles from this inevitable principle. Fichte assumes the self-identity of the self as the first, absolutely unconditional principle: "I am simply because I am". Fichte arrives at this principle when considering the logical axiom “ ”. Ultimately, this can only be understood through the ego's knowledge of its own identity. The ego is constituted through the so-called "act of action". It is absolute in the sense that it is the cause of itself: “Originally the I simply posits its own being” (WL 98).

Fichte's second principle also goes from a logical axiom: . This sentence is based on the insight that the ego is always opposed to a non-ego.

The third principle is to mediate between the first two sentences. According to Fichte, this mediation is necessary because the proposition of opposition is also posited by the I, so that the I and the non-I are equally posited in the I. This contradiction can only be resolved by the fact that the ego and the not-ego restrict each other, which is only possible through the assumption of a divisible ego and not-ego: "In the ego I oppose the divisible ego with a divisible not-ego" (WL 110 ), both of which represent only “accidents” of the absolute self.


Schelling opposes the “subjective” idealism of Fichte, who had placed the ego at the center of what Schelling called his “reflection system”, with an “objective” idealism.

The starting point is his natural philosophy, in which he wants to show “objectively” reasonable structures in nature. Fichte had only viewed nature as a sum of sensations that are always related to the ego. Schelling wants to save me and nature, subject and object as two equal poles.

For Schelling, nature is not the sum of things or objects, but the principle of objectivity in our imagining and thinking. Based on Baruch de Spinoza , he differentiates between “natura naturata” and “natura naturans” - nature as a product and as productivity. In his system of transcendental idealism he developed the theory of the complementarity of nature and spirit. He declares natural and transcendental philosophy to be two equal and equally original basic sciences of philosophy.

Schelling tries to combine the two aspects of his approach into an "absolute identity system". The difference between subject and object is preceded by an “absolute identity”, a “total indifference of the subjective and the objective” (SW IV 114) as a condition. For him this is given in “absolute reason”.

For Schelling, absolute reason is neither subject nor object; he also calls it the “identity of identity”. He not only posits it as absolute in an epistemological sense, but also regards it as “the absolute” in an ontological sense: “Everything that is is absolute identity itself” (SW IV 119).

In contrast to the reflective mind, absolute reason is the “absolute type of knowledge”. In the intellectual intuition, it enables the general to be seen in particular or the infinite in the finite “to see united into a living unity” (SW IV 361f.).


Hegel recognizes Schelling's basic insight that the absolute cannot be mere subjectivity. But he criticizes his understanding of the absolute as mere identity: nothing concrete can follow from such a concept of the absolute: it is the "night" in which "all cows are black", the "naivety of the void of knowledge" (PG 22) . If the absolute is nothing but pure identity before all difference, then no difference whatsoever can emerge from such absolute identity: it becomes a “night” in which nothing can be differentiated.

Instead, Hegel defines the absolute as the “identity of identity and non-identity” ( difference between Fichte's and Schelling's systems  96). This means that the absolute must be understood as an identity which already includes the non-identity of the other in itself and out of itself, in order to “mediate” itself in the other and by abolishing the other to a fuller reality of itself.

For Hegel the absolute cannot be known through intellectual intuition as was assumed by Fichte and Schelling. He also rejects any immediacy of a mystical or religious nature. Hegel, on the other hand, sets the “effort of the concept” (PG 56). This leads to a capture of reality in a system in which ultimately only the "truth" can be recognized (PG 14); for “the truth is the whole” (PG 24).

In order to gain a scientific standpoint from which a knowledge of the absolute is possible, a path must first be taken for Hegel. This is not external to the standpoint itself, but goes into it as an essential moment. Not the isolated result of the mediation process is “the real whole, but it together with its becoming” (PG 13).

For Hegel, the path to “absolute knowledge” is identical to grasping the absolute. By recognizing it, this recognizes itself. Hegel therefore understands the absolute as a “subject”, not as a rigid substance like Spinoza, against whom he is directed. It is "alive" and essentially characterized by the moments of development and mediation:

"Furthermore, living substance is being, which in truth is the subject or, which means the same thing, which in truth really is, only insofar as it is the movement of self-positing or the mediation of becoming one with oneself."

- PG 23


The natural philosophy of German idealism, which was particularly shaped by Schelling and Hegel, represented the attempt at a unified interpretation of matter and spirit, nature and history. Their common concern is to use the mechanistic paradigm developed by René Descartes and Galileo Galilei in favor of an organicistic conception of reality overcome, whereby the conscious cognitive subject should also play a constitutive role.

As a result of the objectifying method of modern science, the scientific worldview was fragmented. Schelling and Hegel want to overcome this by interpreting the phenomena uncovered by empirical research as structural elements of the self-organization of life in its various forms. Their concern is, against the dualistic and objectifying view of modern science, the “living moment of the organic unity of the whole”, the “presence of reason within nature” and its “only relative 'otherness' compared to consciousness”, that is to emphasize the “common fate of nature and man”.

The background of the idealistic natural philosophies is formed by contemporary epistemological debates about the development of living organisms, which reveal the complexity of natural processes.


In the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science , Kant postulates an “a priori natural science”. According to Kant, investigations of nature can relate to external or internal nature and are then body or soul theory. According to Kant, however, it can only be called science “if the natural laws on which it is based are recognized a priori and are not mere laws of experience”. For Kant, the decisive characteristic of such a transcendental natural science is that it operates with mere mathematical concepts. There is only so much real science in every natural science as mathematics can be applied in it. For him, the classic scientific discipline is mechanics, since he understands it as an a priori discipline. Although he grants the empirical natural sciences its own field, it cannot claim the status of a science for itself.

Kant deduces from this that the empirical natural sciences cannot be called true science. For him, this applies in particular to chemistry, which he understands as “systematic art or experimental theory”, and empirical psychology, to whose subject, the laws of the phenomena of the inner sense, “mathematics is not applicable”.

In the Critique of Judgment , Kant himself recognizes the limits of this earlier concept of natural science and states that "we do not even get to know organized beings and their inner possibilities adequately according to merely mechanical principles of nature, much less can explain ourselves" Kant explains here the concept of natural purpose, which is of fundamental importance for the development of the natural philosophy of Schelling and Hegel. Purposes of nature are not constitutive concepts of the understanding, but have a regulative meaning for the power of judgment, thanks to which the organized beings can be thought of as purposes of nature.

Living organisms are here for Kant in multiple senses cause and effect of themselves. They are at the same time cause and effect of the natural species in which living individuals perpetuate themselves. As individuals grow, they change matter independently in order to then assimilate it. As far as the relation of the part to the whole of a living organism is concerned, it is essential for Kant that, in contrast to a machine, the whole is not external to the part. In the organism the part is produced from the whole and its maintenance depends on the whole as this depends on the part.


How is nature possible at all?

In his first work dedicated to nature, the ideas for a philosophy of nature as an introduction to the study of this science (1797), Schelling is concerned with the question of the "possibility of nature" in general. The emergence of this question itself is for him the result of an original separation between man and nature, with which the emergence of human freedom is essentially connected. According to the model popular in the Enlightenment, Schelling postulates the regaining of the lost original unity between man and nature through freedom. Schelling asks himself how a thing can have an effect on a free being that is not itself a thing. The “system of nature” cannot be explained by mechanicism , because the living organism is not the cause or effect of a thing outside of itself, but it “produces itself, arises from itself” in a movement that constantly returns to itself . As for Kant, for Schelling the characteristic of the living organism to be cause and effect of itself is a necessary interaction between part and whole; it "organizes itself, that is, it is based on a concept".

Nature as an unconscious organism

In 1798 Schelling presented the work Von der Weltseele, a hypothesis of higher physics to explain the general organism. In addition to a treatise on the relationship between the real and the ideal in nature, or the development of the first principles of natural philosophy, I propose the principles of gravity and light . Schelling presents nature here as the result of two opposing forces. There is a positive force of nature that creates and sustains movement and a negative force that pushes all appearances back "into the eternal cycle". These two opposing forces represent a unity for Schelling. In nature there is an “original disposition to organization”, without which there would be no cohesion, only formless matter. It shows itself as the "general educational power" that underlies every living organism.

In his writings First Draft of a System of Natural Philosophy and Introduction to the Draft of a System of Natural Philosophy (1799), Schelling understands nature as the product of its own activity. It organizes itself without depending on the activity of a subject. As an always effective activity, it is always realized in new products.

The individual finite products arise as temporary obstacles to the forward flow of absolute activity and never fully express nature. In ever new attempts, nature strives to become absolute activity and to realize itself in an infinite product. But this cannot happen because it is "inhibited to infinity" due to an inherently opposing force. The realization of the infinite product would mean halting the productivity of life itself.

In the dynamic development process of nature, no natural product ever becomes something solid, but rather reproduces and changes itself permanently. Because of their inner dynamics, natural products change into ever-changing designs in "infinite metamorphoses".

The natural product is the result of the interaction between contraction and expansion of matter. The momentary cessation of this interaction produces the product; its restoration re-starts productivity.

In the system of transcendental idealism (1800) Schelling describes the natural products as "immature intelligence". They represent the basically unsuccessful attempts of nature to interpret itself and to reflect on itself. Nature achieves its ultimate goal of "becoming wholly object to itself" only with the ultimate and ultimate reflection that occurs in human consciousness.

Nature as pain and fear

In the Philosophical Investigations into Human Freedom (1809) and the Ages of the World (1813), Schelling understands nature as a chaotic and dark reality. Natural things have their basis in God's nature, which, although belonging to God, is at the same time different from him.

Nature “emerged from the blind, dark and ineffable of God”. It is “blind will without understanding, which drives the eternal one to beget itself” and forms “the incomprehensible basis” of every reality.

Schelling contrasts the blind will of nature with the “will of love”, thanks to which light and order penetrate nature and God himself becomes personal. In its striving for "light" nature frees itself from its inwardness and goes through the series of its specific formations up to the human being.

For Schelling, however, this process of freedom is inevitably linked to "strife" and "pain". It is the cause of the “fear, horror, even despair” that underlies all life. Schelling turns against all views that “consider the universe to be a wonderful harmony”, since “the real basic material of all life and existence is just the terrible”.

Man as the summit of nature

Schelling regards the human being as the end purpose of creation and the point of contact between the over-being and nature. As the highest being on the scale of natural development, the human being summarizes all the deeper ones and gives them a meaning.

The development towards human beings, like all development of natural organisms, did not take place in a uniformly linear manner, but always as a step forward and a return on one's own tracks. Natural development never happens entirely because of necessary mechanisms, but for reasons that can never be fully grasped by reason. Only human development takes place freely and consciously. This freedom, however, is never guaranteed, because consciousness, because of its roots in the unconscious, always runs the risk of darkening itself in madness.


From Schelling to an independent position

When Hegel came to Jena in 1801, he stood by Schelling's attempt to unite natural and transcendental philosophy in one identity system. In his work, Difference between Fichte's and Schelling's Systems of Philosophy (1801), he differentiates between Fichte's position, which does not allow nature to have an autonomous reality, and Kant's, who admitted the existence of a nature, but this as a mere reality to understand indefinite "object" through the mind.

Hegel agrees with Schelling's position, which contrasts the “subjective subject object with the objective subject object” of natural philosophy and summarizes both in a unit superior to simple subjectivity. The conception of reality as a totality requires that nature become a moment corresponding to the spirit; it is the task of philosophy to think the identity of both.

In the following period in Jena, Hegel tried to work out his insights systematically in a metaphysics of the spirit and in the process increasingly distanced himself from Schelling. In the fragment The Idea of ​​the Absolute Being (1801/02) he embeds his natural philosophy in a philosophy of the absolute. The absolute then objectifies itself in (physical and ethical) nature and returns to itself as spirit in which it recognizes itself. For Hegel, every natural phenomenon is a specific expression of the absolute. The simplest form of existence of the organic is the plant, in which the moments of individuality and generality (genus) are present, but not really separated, since the plant individual in the cycle of his process always identifies with the general. The animal, on the other hand, represents the “perfect organization” in which the moments of the process are organically connected with each other, but are still kept separate and the individual therefore does not immediately dissolve into the species.

In the fragment Logic, Metaphysics, Natural Philosophy , Hegel defines nature for the first time as “the other” of the spirit, a formula that recurs in various variations in later writings of Hegel. Nature is “a biased spirit”, the idea that “has in itself the contradiction of this different, against its essence, of being absolute spirit”.

Furthermore, for Hegel nature is identical with life, but only in a formal sense: it is life “in itself”, but not “for itself”. This formal life is a life equal to itself, quality in general; it is indifferent in relation to plurality, to quantity in general.

Nature as an organism

In the further elaboration of his ideas on natural philosophy, Hegel increasingly understands nature as an organism that unfolds in a teleological process. Its development is also part of the development of reason. The natural world appears at the moment when the idea has come to understand itself as a pure idea and “in the absolute truth of itself decides to freely select the moment of its particularity or the first determination and otherness [...] as nature to dismiss ".

Nature is “representation of the idea itself in a concrete form”. When viewed rationally, the subject does not refer to something alien to it, but to something whose essence it shares. The determination and purpose of natural philosophy consist in the fact that the spirit "finds its own essence, ie the concept in nature, its counterpart in it"; its relation is free vitality, in which the determinations of the concept are given a form. Hegel therefore also describes natural philosophy as the "science of freedom".

On the one hand, natural philosophy relates to the world of experience and the empirical sciences and is not a pure rational activity. On the other hand, it does not explain a “natural” process, but is a general consideration of the emergence of nature from the idea and nature itself in its totality and universality.

Nature is the idea “in the form of otherness”; H. in their outward appearance. In this form, the idea is "inappropriate to itself". In nature the conceptual determinations exist only indifferently and in isolation, the differences remain unconnected and appear as mutually indifferent existences. The highest that nature attains is life, which, however, “as only a natural idea” is at the mercy of the irrational of externality, which is why Hegel also defines nature as “the negative of the idea”. In nature the idea shows the contradiction between the necessity of its conceptual determinations and its uncontrollable empirical contingencies. The conceptual determinations of nature do not interfere with the execution of the particular; the randomness and disorder of their products reveals “the powerlessness of nature”.

Morality and freedom

Moral philosophy is judged very differently by the representatives of German idealism, both in terms of content and in terms of its philosophical value. While it enjoyed the status of an important independent system part, especially with Kant and Fichte, which was developed in extensive works, with Schelling and Hegel it took a back seat.

For Kant and Fichte, morality is the dimension of freedom and thus of the highest interest of reason. For Hegel, “morality” is a chapter in the philosophy of law; He understands it as a mediating element between private law and morality.

In dealing with the Kantian ethics, Schelling tried again and again to find alternative justifications for the validity of moral norms, but never decided to re-establish morality on its own.


In keeping with the tradition of the German school philosophy developed by Christian Wolff in an ideal type, for Kant moral philosophy is an important part of the system of both legal theory and virtue. His main moral-philosophical writings represent the foundation for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Metaphysics of Morals (1797).

Maxims, practical laws, imperatives

In the Critique of Practical Reason , Kant begins with a logic of practical propositions. These are determined by practical principles , that is, “sentences which contain a general determination of the will that has several practical rules under it”. Kant distinguishes between two types of “practical principles”: “maxims” and “practical laws”.

Maxim are general principles of action in which a person formulates his or her view of what is morally correct. They are expressed as guiding principles of this person's lifestyle and are subjective in that the person makes them his own and recognizes them as valid for himself. In contrast, Kant defines practical laws as objective practical principles. They have objective validity and a normative character. They are aimed at people in the imperative mode. For Kant, imperatives are practical, action-guiding sentences that have the illocutionary function of “compelling” a will. Imperatives, with the compulsion expressed in them, are directed towards a will that can be sensually affected. Only beings who are not composed in a purely rational manner, but also have a sensuality and inclinations and desires conditioned by this, are addressees of imperatives. Pure rational beings do not need and mere sensory beings cannot be compelled by imperatives.

Hypothetical and categorical imperatives

Kant distinguishes between different types of imperatives. Most important is the distinction between hypothetical and categorical imperatives. A hypothetical imperative requires an action H on condition that the addressee wants an end Z and the action H is a necessary and available means for it. A hypothetical imperative therefore has the form: "I should do something because I want something else".

A categorical imperative dictates an action as an absolutely sensible and good purpose. Only a categorical imperative can therefore general criterion of “morality”, i.e. H. be of valid normativity. Kant calls this criterion the basic law of pure practical reason . It reads: "Act in such a way that the maxim of your will can at any time also apply as a principle of general legislation". The reasonableness of the maxim is itself the purpose of the action. Since humans are rational beings, humanity is an end in itself. The categorical imperative is therefore also expressed by Kant in the formula: “Act in such a way that you humanity, both in your person and in the person of everyone else, at all times at the same time as an end, never just as a means ”. According to Kant, the categorical imperative is a "fact of reason" that imposes itself on every human being as a rational being in his conscience as a binding moral law. It is the supreme practical law from which all moral duties - towards others and towards oneself - can be derived.


In the transcendental dialectic of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant argues that the question of human freedom leads to antinomic statements. On the one hand we have to accept “causality through freedom”, on the other hand we are forced to categorically presuppose the regularity of nature and the necessity of the laws of nature for the experience of the sensory world. However, according to Kant, both statements are not in a contradictory, but only in a sub-contradictory conflict: they are both true, although they claim to assert the opposite of the competing statement. Kant's resolution of the antinomy of freedom consists in applying the distinction between thing-in-itself and appearance to acting subjects. According to Kant, we can assume without contradiction that an empirical effect in the sensory world of the phenomena has a cause which in turn is not empirical, but an intelligible causality. Whether the distinction is to be interpreted as ontological dualism or descriptive dualism is still controversial in Kant research.

Postulates of Practical Reason

Although for Kant morality and not happiness can be the purpose of moral action, for him the "exact proportion of morality (virtue) and happiness" is a necessary object of the will of rational beings. For Kant, happiness is “the highest good in a possible world”. According to Kant, the necessary conditions for happiness are the existence of God and the immortality of the soul: God as the highest intelligence, who is omniscient, all-benevolent and omnipotent, the cause and thus the guarantor of a morally perfect world, the immortality of the soul as a condition of an infinite progressus "Complete adequacy of attitudes to moral law". The ideas of happiness, immortality, and the existence of God cannot be demonstrated by theoretical reason. In them, however, according to Kant, a fundamental practical interest of pure reason is articulated; they are therefore the subject of a necessary moral belief in reason, “ postulates of pure practical reason”.


Fichte's moral philosophy is to a large extent influenced by Kant's moral philosophy. Like Kant, Fichte also assumes a primacy of practical reason: “Action cannot be derived from being, because the former would thereby be transformed into appearance, but I must not take it for appearance; rather, being is to be derived from doing ”.

For Fichte, the concepts of freedom and action play a central role. For Fichte, freedom is the fundamental human determination. It expresses itself in the actions of the ego ("actions"), which he takes as the starting point of his entire philosophy.

The essential character of the ego, by which it differs from everything that is outside of it, consists for Fichte "in a tendency towards self-activity for the sake of self-activity". This self-activity is limited by a resistant reality, nature. Morality therefore commands that all dependence of the ego on nature and its barriers must be overcome.

As with Kant, freedom and morality belong closely together for Fichte. They are "not two thoughts, one of which would be thought to be dependent on the other, but one and the same thought".

Fichte and Kant support the thesis that the moral law is a categorical imperative. Fichte's modified formulation compared to Kant reads: “Always act according to the best conviction of your duty; or: act according to your conscience ”. With a view to Kant's theory of the expediency of nature, Fichte modified Kant's categorical imperative and gave him a teleological formulation: "act according to your knowledge of the original determinations (the end purposes) of things outside of you".


There is no writing by Schelling that is systematically devoted to morality or morality. Nevertheless, he repeatedly grappled with the prevailing moral justifications, especially those of Kant. Schelling criticized Kant's strong focus on the morality of action, which did not take into account the goals of action. Morality has “no reality itself without a higher end”; it is conceivable “not as the ultimate goal itself”, but only as a means of approaching the ultimate goal. Schelling also criticizes the Kantian connection between morality and happiness as a postulate of practical reason. The ultimate end in itself is not the achievement of happiness, understood as "nature-induced harmony of the objects with the ego", but the "destruction" of the objects as non-ego by the ego.


In Hegel's system, morality plays the role of mediating between the abstract objectivity of private law and the concrete objectivity of morality. Hegel adopts the Kantian critique of the “principle of happiness” as a guideline for human action; he justifies this by stating that the “principle of happiness” would lead to a sacrifice of justice: an intention of my own good as well as the good of others - in which case it is called a moral intention in particular - cannot justify an unlawful act.

Hegel deals most violently with the relationship between morality and morality in Kant. In contrast to Kant, for Hegel pure practical reason cannot produce any real generalization; Rather, it only creates abstract universality and is incapable of comprehending the multiplicity of determinations of reality.

Religion and concept of God


In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant wants to “save knowledge in order to make room for faith”. He decidedly rejects all traditional proofs of God because “we can never get beyond the limits of possible experience”. In addition, in the theory of antinomies in the Critique of Pure Reason , he tries to show that theoretical reason becomes entangled in contradictions when thinking about the concept of God.

Nonetheless, Kant maintains that the concept of God represents “a necessary concept of reason” for theoretical reason. Only the concept of God enables a systematic connection of the knowledge in that it grasps the "idea of ​​an all of reality (omnitudo realitatis)".

In addition to this regulative function for theoretical reason, the concept of God is particularly important for practical reason. For Kant, the moral obligation is determined exclusively by reason and not by theology and religion. According to the doctrine of the ideal of the highest good, however, we should believe in God and a future life, because only under this condition we can hope for a happiness corresponding to happiness.

For Kant, evil arises from an unreasonable use of freedom. It consists in the fact that the observance of the moral law is not recognized as the highest maxim and the order of the maxims is deliberately perverted. Contrary to the common “enlightening depotentation of evil”, for Kant evil - he also speaks of “radical evil” - belongs to the original nature of man. Only God is able to make up for and forgive this inevitable lack of our nature.

Kant develops an a priori religion of reason, which he distinguishes from the historical biblical belief in revelation - although he recognizes this as essentially reasonable. The religion of reason represents the criterion for the reasonableness of every revealed religion; only on its basis can we decide what is to be recognized in it and what is not.


The philosophical theology and religious teaching of the early Fichte is strongly based on that of Kant.

Like the latter, he assumes that the determination of the will may only occur through the law of practical reason, but the state of happiness can only be established through God. For Fichte, God is the lawgiver of all laws of reason, including the moral law. The knowledge of God is possible for man in two ways: in the self-consciousness of the moral law and in the experience of the causality of God in the world of the senses. In biblical revelation God announces himself to us as the moral lawgiver. Its acceptance presupposes human freedom and must therefore not be forced. A knowledge of the nature of God is not possible in principle. “God is entirely supersensible: the concept of him arises purely and only from pure a priori reason”.

In his writings from the time of the atheism dispute , Fichte goes so far that he rejects God as a being, existent for himself who would be the cause of the moral order: “There is no reason in reason to leave that moral world order, and by means of a conclusion from the grounded to the ground, to accept a special being as the cause of it ”. Fichte identifies God as the “act of action” of the moral law understood by the transcendental ego. In it we experience our “destiny that is above all sensuality, something absolutely obligatory”. For Fichte, this cannot arise from sensual experience, but is the basis of all our experiences.

In his later writings (since 1800), above all in the theory of science (1804) and in the lectures The Instruction for Blessed Life (1806), Fichte further elaborates the “comprehensible incomprehensibility” of God as the basic figure of his transcendental ontology.

The experience of the absolute, Fichte speaks of the “glow of light”, is only possible indirectly, as the form of apprehension is “annihilated” by the matter of apprehension. By setting the concept and at the same time eliminating it, the light can show itself in the intuition. Through the annihilation of the concept, light creates an incomprehensible being that exists for itself. The annihilation of the concept lies on the side of the subjective consciousness, and its annihilation means at the same time the annihilation of the ego in pure light.

In his instruction to the blessed life , Fichte completely rejects the possibility of grasping the absolute objectively and further develops the philosophy of feeling and belief adopted by Jacobi . Reflective thinking, which Fichte worked out in his science studies as the basic figure of thinking of the absolute, in the end stands in its own way. As knowledge it only has an image of the absolute and does not come to being itself. The limits of reflexive thinking can only be dissolved through mystical intuition. Fichte speaks here of a “being beyond the concept”, in that man is ultimately “the absolute itself”.

For Fichte, access to the absolute is only possible in love, which he describes as an “affect of being”. “Love is the source of all certainty; and all truth and all reality ”. It manifests in different levels of consciousness. At its highest level, it leads to a radical “self-destruction” of egoism; only in this way is the mystical union with absolute being possible. Moral autonomy stands in the way of love because it does not allow "the real innermost and deepest root of existence" to develop and inhibits the revelation of divine life.


In the lectures on the method of academic study (1803), Schelling sees religion primarily as a historical event, and theology therefore as a historical science. While the gods primarily show themselves in nature in ancient mythologies, the Christian god reveals himself in history.

In Christianity, the historical representation of the idea of ​​God is incumbent on the institution of the church, which as the finite symbol of the perception of the infinite is supposed to be a “living work of art”.

The exoteric expression of the infinite in the Church corresponds to the more esoteric inner expression in the subjective symbolism of mysticism. For Schelling, the entire history of the church is ultimately to be understood as a dispute about the relationship between exoteric and esoteric representation.

Decisive for the course and division of history are not external criteria such as ruling dynasties, forms of government or economic modes, but the "higher" history of the spirit, which is shown in the historical manifestations of the absolute. With the historical event Jesus Christ, the end of ancient mythology came and a new age began. Jesus not only marks the essential content of Christianity, but also a turning point in the philosophy of history.


Concept of religion in early Hegel

The early Hegel differentiated between theology as a scientific knowledge of God and religion as a subjective relationship to God. Like Kant, he connects religion with moral action. He is convinced that the idea of ​​morality is greatly reinforced by the idea of ​​God.

Hegel emphasizes against Kant that religion must not be reduced to reason. Sensual sensations and the "good urges" play an important role in her. The Kantian religion, which only puts moral purposes in the foreground, is not able to take on the task of a "popular religion". For Hegel, the Christian religion is a belief in authority that is based on the veneration of the special personality of Jesus and is based on a belief in miracles. In the process, the moral laws lose their autonomy, since they are only declared to be valid because they are derived from divine authority. The church replaces pure morality with a “compulsory right” and strengthens man's dependence on the superior power of God.

Empirical and speculative knowledge of God

In his lectures on the philosophy of religion , Hegel understands religion primarily as "the relationship of the subject of subjective consciousness to God who is spirit". For Hegel there are basically two ways that lead to the understanding of religion and God, an "empirical" and a "speculative" one.

The empirical approach to God is that of ordinary consciousness. As a philosophical position, he was mainly represented by Schleiermacher and Jacobi. For this point of view, the being of God is given in religious feeling as immediate knowledge. On the other hand, Hegel objects that there cannot be any direct knowledge: “Everything that is direct is also mediated”.

Feeling as the highest point of subjectivity must be gradually abandoned and merge into the speculative apprehension of God. The first stage of this is the “imagination”, which Hegel defines as “an image [...] that is raised in the form of generality, of thought”. Since the idea is still connected with the sensual, it is not sufficient to adequately grasp the being and essence of God. The next stage is the standpoint of reflective thinking, which for Hegel was represented primarily by Kant and Fichte in contemporary philosophy. In it, God is thought of as something completely beyond the finite subject. Reflexive thinking becomes entangled in a contradiction when it tries to grasp the relationship between the finite and the infinite. God is degraded to the object of longing and ought, which Hegel describes as the level of "unhappy consciousness". Only in the speculative thinking of reason is the opposition of the finite and the infinite resolved and their dialectical unity recognized: “The finite has the infinite to itself and vice versa. The infinite is only through the negation of the finite. The infinite is [...] only as the finite. "

Evidence of God

For Hegel, the Kantian criticism of the proofs of God shows that reflexive thinking is not able to understand the essence of God. However, it is based on a false clinging to the idea of ​​only finite knowledge.

Hegel polemicises against the Kantian doctrine of postulates that in it God is made dependent on the subject. He emphasizes that nothing stands in the way of God's knowledge of God. For Hegel, the proofs of God are ways of elevating the human spirit to God, which take place in two ways: While the cosmological and the physicotheological proof are based on finite existence, the ontological proof is based on God and understands itself as the elevation of man through the action that comes towards the contrary God. For Hegel, the ontological proof of God is “the only true one” because in it the concept of God is identified with being. The term is “being, it cancels out its subjectivity and is objectified”.

Subject of the philosophy of religion

For Hegel, the object of the philosophy of religion is the religious consciousness of man and thus God himself. For him, the subjective relationship to God cannot be viewed separately from God. Religion is the subjective action of man, which has its basis in the action of God: "A religion is the product of the divine spirit, not the invention of man, but the production of the divine activity, creation in this." The religious man has a fundamental role, since God can only gain his self-confidence by means of the finite spirit: “God is only God insofar as he knows himself; knowing oneself is [...] a self-confidence in people. "

With God, religion has the same content as philosophy. Both differ only in the form: while in religion God is present “only in the form of the idea”, philosophy transforms “that which is in the form of the idea into the form of the concept”.


Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi subjected idealism to sharp criticism at the time of its creation . Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels formulated a materialistic criticism of the efforts at “idealism” and its alleged restriction to “the realm of thought” in Die Deutsche Ideologie , but referred above all to the second generation of Hegelian students, the so-called Young Hegelians .

The tremendous challenge of the Hegelian system to all subsequent thinkers consists in its claim to perfection. What Hegel announces as his undertaking in the preface to his phenomenology of the spirit is nothing less than the systematic conclusion of all philosophy:

“The true form in which truth exists can only be its scientific system. To work to ensure that philosophy comes closer to the form of science - the goal of being able to discard its name of love for knowledge and to be real knowledge - is what I set before myself. "

With this perfection, however, philosophy as a whole becomes precarious. Hegel's tremendous act of violence, removing the entire philosophical tradition in his system and locating it in it, leaves little room for anything else. At the same time, Hegel's system also has its open position, which consists primarily of the question of the status of the finite. At every stage of the dialectical movement, the illusory is left behind as the untrue and not in accordance with the concept. In it, on the unaccountable proper law of this most particular contingent - d. H. merely accidental - to insist and to take the place of the finite subject in relation to the absolute is the way for many of Hegel's successors ( Søren Kierkegaard , Martin Heidegger , Karl Marx ) to revise the Hegelian enterprise.

Receptions of German idealism in Europe

Already at the time of its creation, German idealism was perceived as an intellectual stimulus - approvingly or as an occasion for criticism - in numerous European countries and received in different forms under the respective conditions of national cultures. This was done first in Great Britain and France. In Great Britain (England and Scotland) one primarily dealt with the metaphysical aspects of the philosophy of Kant and of German idealism. Interest in the political aspects of German idealism only arose there at the end of the 18th century with the rise of economic liberalism and moral individualism. In France, on the other hand, the philosophy of Kant and the early writings of Fichte were directly incorporated into the national political debate. It was only very slowly that one began to deal with the theoretical content of the idealistic philosophical approaches that one tried to integrate into the national sensualistic tradition. In addition, the French reception of German idealism had an important mediation function in the first half of the 19th century. For a long time, the French translations, commentaries and interpretations of the works of German Idealism were the only sources of their reception in Italy and Spain.

Great Britain and Ireland

Early reception in England

German idealism was initially received in England outside the universities. Unlike in Scotland, in England these did not play a major role in cultural debates and public opinion-forming. The first discussion of Kant came in 1787 in The English Magazine , where he was associated with heresy. In 1786 the Kant student Friedrich August Nitsch (1767-1813) published several anonymous articles on Kant in The English Review , until he finally published a systematic work in 1796 with the work A General and Introductory View of Professor Kant's Principles concerning man, the world and the deity Introduction to the work of Kant.

John Richardson became an important translator of the Kantian works. In 1798/99 he published two volumes containing about 20 essays and treatises by Kant, including all of Kant's writings on the philosophy of history and the philosophy of politics. In 1799 he published the English translation of To Eternal Peace and the Metaphysics of Morals . In 1819 he also translated Kant's Logic and the Prolegomena . The first English edition of the Critique of Pure Reason did not appear until 1813 in the translation by Francis Haywood.

One of the most important recipients of the philosophy of German idealism - especially Kant and Schellings - was Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834). Together with his friend William Wordsworth (1770-1850) he founded the Romantic Movement in England after he had got to know the philosophy of Kant and especially Schelling at the University of Göttingen in Germany in 1798 .

While Coleridge established the strong influence of German idealism on the general culture of the 19th century in England, Thomas Hill Green (1836–1882) was responsible for ensuring that German idealism became the dominant doctrine among English professional philosophers for a period of 30 years .

Early reception in Scotland

In Scotland the philosophy of Kant in particular was received with great interest. The attempt was made again and again to combine the Kantian apriorism with the predominant Scottish common sense philosophy . Its main representative was Thomas Reid (1710–1796), who aimed to overcome Hume's skepticism with his work Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense .

The first signs of a Scottish reception of Kant can be found in the Philosophical Essays (1810) by Dugald Stewarts (1753-1828). With Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) and Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856), the influence of German idealism in the fields of art and philosophy in Scotland increased, with Hegel's philosophy, especially his idea of ​​the absolute, in general was negative. Thomas Carlyle instrumentalized the Kantian form of transcendentalism to combat the philosophy of the Enlightenment, which in his eyes was linked to materialism, hedonism and utilitarianism. In his essay State of German Literature (1827), he praised Kant for starting out from within and going over to the outside, instead of following Locke's path of establishing a philosophy based on sensory experience. William Hamilton linked the philosophies of Kant and Reid by identifying common sense with reason. He rejected Kant's theory of experience, according to which the mind cannot acquire any direct knowledge of the nature of external appearance, and defended Reid's foundation of philosophy through faith.

James Frederick Ferrier (1808–64) was the first Scottish thinker who was interested in the systematic development of idealism. His starting points were above all the theories of Schelling and Hegel. Ferrier held the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews from 1845 until the year of his death . He opposed the intuitionism propagated by the common sense philosophy and paved the way for the systematic idea of ​​German idealism.

Upswing and end of the idealistic movement

In the last quarter of the 19th century, British idealism experienced an enormous boom. It represented a reaction by Scottish and English philosophers to the serious upheavals in Victorian society at that time, which became increasingly fragmented in connection with advancing industrialization . On the other hand, new scientific discoveries, such as Darwin's theory of evolution in particular, questioned traditional religious beliefs and led to the emergence of individualistic, materialistic and atomistic tendencies.

In order to counteract these phenomena of the crisis, social reformers such as Thomas Hill Green (1836–1882) first looked at German idealism. The work of James Hutchison Stirling (1820–1909), who influenced an entire generation of students at Oxford, became very important. In 1865 his work The Secret of Hegel appeared , the first large study of Hegel in Great Britain, which contributed significantly to the flourishing of Hegelianism. William Wallace (1843-1897), Green's successor as professor of moral philosophy at Oxford , also played an important role in the spread of Hegelianism . In 1874 he published a translation of Hegel's logic as it was contained in his encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences . In 1894, Hegel's Philosophy of Spirit was translated from the third part of the encyclopedia .

Edward Caird (1835–1908), professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow, was influential in both England and Scotland as a supporter of British absolute idealism. His acclaimed work A Critical Account of the Philosophy of Kant was published in a revised edition in two volumes in 1877 and 1889 under the title The Critical Philosophy of Kant . In 1883 he published his short monograph Hegel , which is still considered one of the best introductions to Hegel's thought.

The last philosophers who, before and in parallel with the breakthrough of analytical philosophy in Great Britain, mainly referred to the German tradition were Francis Herbert Bradley (1846–1924) in Oxford, John McTaggart (1866–1925) in Cambridge and Bernard Bosanquet (1848–1924) 1923) in Scotland. Important works in this tradition are the study Appearance and Reality (1893) by Bradley, the Studies on Hegel's Dialectic (1886), Studies in Hegelian Cosmology (1901) and Commentary on Hegel's Logic (1910) by McTaggart and the Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of fine arts (1886) by Bosanquet.

With the beginning of the analytical movement in Great Britain, especially in Cambridge, at the beginning of the 20th century, interest in German idealism decreased there and reached its low point at the beginning of the First World War.

Reception in Ireland

In Ireland, the study of German idealism, which concentrated particularly on Kant and Hegel, was, in contrast to other European countries, limited to the universities. The reception related mainly to the understanding of the texts; no neo-Kantian or neo-Hegelian schools were formed.

The center for the study of German idealism was Trinity College , founded in 1592 , the oldest university in Ireland. Kant's philosophy was introduced there in the 1860s and quickly took root. John Pentlan Mahaffy (1839-1919) was essential to this development. Between 1872 and 1874 his 3-volume Kant monograph, Kant's Critical Philosophy for English Readers , was published, which is still used today among English-speaking students.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the period of Kant research in Trinity College was over; interest turned to Hegel. Henry Stewart Macran (1867–1937) translated the second part of Hegel's Science of Logic (the “subjective logic”) into two volumes in 1912 and 1929 . Both volumes were provided with introductions against the prevailing empiricism. Macran inspired many other Hegel researchers during his long teaching career at Trinity College. The most important of these , Walter Terence Stace (1886–1967), wrote The Philosophy of Hegel (1923) in 1923, which is still the only comprehensive English-language commentary on the first part of Hegel's encyclopedia . With Macran's retirement, German idealism at Trinity College quickly lost its importance; as early as the 1930s, the college resumed its empirical tradition with the continuation of Berkeley research.


Early Kant reception

In France, Kant's philosophy was received within a narrow circle as early as 1775 (in particular his Dissertatio de mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis forma et principia ). In addition to the University of Strasbourg , the French publications of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin also played an important role. Since the fall of Robespierre in 1794, interest in the introduction of the Kantian philosophy in France increased. An important motive was to realize the "authentic" goals of the Enlightenment by eliminating its atheistic, materialistic and skeptical tendencies. An important representative of this movement was Louis-Ferdinand Huber (1764–1804). In 1796 he published anonymously in the Moniteur Universel , the leading political newspaper during the revolutionary period, a summary of the Kantian text On Eternal Peace , which received a strong response in France.

In 1800 then Nicolas-Louis François de Neufchâteau (1750-1828) published the first anthology written in French with texts by Kant, which was published in two volumes under the title Conservateur ou recueil de morceaux inédites d'histoire, de politique, de litterature et de philosophy appeared. Towards the end of the 18th century, the political and philosophical journals Le Magasin encyclopédique , La Décade philosophique and Le Spectateur du Nord also played an important role in the French reception of Kant .

With the work Philosophy de Kant published in 1801 , ou principes fondamentaux de la philosophie transcendantale by Charles de Villers (1765–1815), who worked for the journal Le Spectateur du Nord , the reception of Kant in France fundamentally changed. In it Villers distanced himself for the first time from the prevailing tradition in France of Locke's empiricism and Condillac 's sensualism and opposed this with Kant's epistemology.

Victor Cousin and the Spread of German Idealism

Victor Cousin (1792–1867), the founder of the modern French higher education system, was of great importance for the spread of German idealism in the 19th century . Since 1815 he gave his philosophical lectures on the philosophy of German idealism at the Sorbonne . It was initially strongly influenced by Fichte's idea of ​​a science of sciences , then by Schelling's natural philosophy. In the 1820s he drew his attention in particular to Hegel, whom he met several times in person in Berlin and with whom he was in correspondence. Cousin's 1827 translation of Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann's Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie (1820), his Cours d'histoire de la philosophie moderne (1841), his Leçons de philosophie sur Kant (1842), and his Histoire generale de la philosophie ( 1864).

Under the influence of Cousins, the French universities began to focus on the German language in the mid-1830s, and many of the classics of German idealism were translated into French. Important stations were the translation of Kant's Critique of Judgment and Critique of Practical Reason by Jules Barni (1818–1878), Fichte's Instruction on the Blessed Life by Francisque Bouillier (1813–1899), Schelling's System of Transcendental Idealism and Fichte's Basis for the Doctrine of Science by Paul Grimblot, Hegel's Encyclopedia by Augusto Vera (1813–1885), Fichte's Determination of the Scholar by Michel Nicolas (1810–1866) and Kant's Critique of Pure Reason by Claude Joseph Tissot (1801–1876).

The philosophy of Hegel was mainly through the work of Joseph Willm (1790-1853), Sur la philosophie de Hegel (1835), Auguste Ott ( Hegel et la philosophie allemande ) and Louis Prévost ( Hegel, exposition de sa doctrine , 1844) one made available to a wide audience. These were supplemented by the works of the Italian philosopher Augusto Vera, who emigrated to France. In 1855 his Introduction a la philosophie de Hegel appeared , 1859–1878 nine volumes with commentaries and translations of Hegel's encyclopedia and his lectures on the philosophy of religion .

Schelling's works, on the other hand, were only fragmentarily translated in the 19th century, for example the system of transcendental idealism by Paul Grimblot in 1842. One of the most important pioneers of Schelling's reception was Jean-Gaspard-Félix Ravaisson (1813–1900), who himself had studied with Schelling in Munich. Schelling's natural philosophy served him as a model that he could oppose to the positivistic understanding of nature.

Fichte's philosophy was helped by the history of philosophy ( Histoire de La Philosophie Allemand ) published by Joseph Willm in 1847 , which was mainly dedicated to Fichte.

Hegel's reception in the 19th and 20th centuries

In the second half of the 19th century, interest in Hegel had shifted from his theoretical philosophy to his political theory and legal philosophy. While Hegel's reception was neglected at the beginning of the 20th century, it received a new impetus with the 1931 Hegel study by Jean Wahl (1888–1974), Le Malheur de la conscience dans la philosophie de Hegel . In it Wahl showed the existentialist dimensions of the phenomenology of the mind . In the years 1939–1941, Jean Hyppolite (1907–1968) translated the phenomenology of the mind , with which interest in France finally concentrated on this work. A Hegel renaissance followed, which should soon also influence existentialism . Of great importance were the lectures held by Alexandre Kojève (1902–1968) at the École des Hautes Études from 1933–1939 on the phenomenology of the mind , which focused heavily on the “ master-servant dialectic”. The trigger of this dialectic in Hegel's philosophy is the fear of death, which already forms the basis of the existentialist debates in Jaspers and Heidegger.

In the post-war period, Kojève's lectures influenced the thinking and work of many French intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) L'Etre et le Néant (1943). The commentary on the phenomenology of the mind by Jean Hyppolite, published in 1946 under the title Genèse et Structure de la Phenomenology de l'esprit , which emphasized the historical-anthropological aspects of phenomenology , also became important. In 1941 his student André Kaan (1906–1971) translated Hegel's philosophy of law. In the late 1940s, Vladimir Jankélévitch (1904–1985) presented a translation of the Science of Logic . In the late 1950s, Jean Gibelin completed the translation of Hegel's History of Philosophy and almost all of Hegel's lectures.


Early Kant reception

The early Italian reception of Kant was strongly influenced by that in France. For a long time, Kant's works were conveyed through the Latin translation Immanuelis Kantii opera ad philosophiam criticam , published 1796–1798 ; the first Italian translation of a work by Kant, the Critique of Pure Reason , was only made in the years 1820–1822 by Vincenzo Mantovani (1773–1832).

Francesco Soave (1743–1806) was the first to make Kant's philosophy known in Italy in his work La filosofia di Kant esposta ed esaminata (1803), in which he primarily opposed the danger of supposed skepticism, atheism and egoism in Kant. Another early recipient of Kantian philosophy was Pasquale Galluppi (1770–1846). In his "Philosophical Essay on the Critique of Knowledge" ( Saggio filosofico sulla critica della conoscenza , 1819) and the "Philosophical Letters" ( Lettere filosofiche su le vicende della filosofia relativamente a 'principii delle conoscenze umane da Cartesio sino a Kant inclusivamente , 1827) criticized he considers the theoretical philosophy of Kant to be dogmatic and skeptical. He expanded this criticism in his “Philosophical Considerations on Transcendental Idealism and Absolute Rationalism” ( Considerazioni filosofiche sull'idealismo trascendentale e sul razionalismo assoluto ) of 1839, where he warned of the “nihilistic consequences” of the Kantian transcendental philosophy. In the critical Kant debate of those years, the Neapolitan mathematician Ottavio Colecchi (1773–1847) defended Kant. In particular, his ethics was considered to be the highest achievement of modern philosophy.

Early Hegel reception

In the second half of the 19th century, Bertrando Spaventa (1817–1883) introduced a more comprehensive reception of German idealism in Italy by comparing the German and Italian philosophical traditions. In the so-called “circle thesis”, which he had already formulated in his “Studies on the Philosophy of Hegel” ( Studi sulla filosofia di Hegel ), he took the view that the Italian philosophers of the Renaissance ( Bruno , Vanini , Campanella and Vico ) had determined the beginning of modern times. After that, the center of philosophy with Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel shifted to Germany for some time , only to return to Italy with the philosophers of the Risorgimento ( Rosmini , Gioberti ). Here the circle of modern philosophy was closed again.

At the center of Spaventa's interest was initially Hegel's philosophy, especially the phenomenology of mind and logic . In his work "The First Categories of Hegelian Logic" ( Le prime categorie della logica di Hegel , 1864) he defined the phenomenology of the mind as the necessary condition for access to the Hegelian system. A gradual approach to Fichte's philosophy took place in “Logic and Metaphysics” ( Logica e metafisica , 1867), where he reworked Hegel's logic in the sense of Fichte's subject philosophy.

Another important early Hegel recipient in Italy was Augusto Vera (1813–1885). After a career as a disseminator and translator of Hegel's philosophy in France, England and Belgium, he was appointed to the University of Naples in 1862 to take over the chair for the history of philosophy. Here he devoted himself to the systematic interpretation and commentary on Hegel's philosophy, concentrating primarily on his encyclopedia , which for him constituted the systematic unity and value of Hegel's philosophy in general.

In addition, Francesco De Sanctis (1817–1883), Antonio Tari (1809–1884) and Marianna Florenzi Waddington (1802–1870) should be mentioned as early Italian Hegel recipients . Francesco De Sanctis referred in his 1858 work Critica del principio dell'estetica hegeliana mainly to the aesthetic positions of Hegel, Antonio Tari and Marianna Florenzi Waddington mainly to his philosophy of religion.

In the 1870s, Hegel's philosophy in Italy was increasingly supplanted by the emerging positivism and neo-Kantianism ( Neo-Cantismo ). Antonio Labriola (1843–1904), the first propagator of Marxism in Italy, who defended Hegelian philosophy against the emerging new currents, was an exception .

Neocantianism and Neoidealism

The Italian Neokantianismus ( Neokantismo ) went first from the students of Spaventa, who were strongly influenced by positivism. Francesco Fiorentino (1834–1884) tried in the last years of his work a synthesis between positivism and idealism. Felice Tocco (1845–1911) concentrated above all on Kant's contributions to natural philosophy and the importance of the Critique of Pure Reason for the natural sciences. Filippo Masci (1844–1892) tried to reconcile the subjective a prioriity of the forms of knowledge postulated by Kant with the objectivity of experience.

Of great importance in the first half of the 20th century was the interpretation of Kant and Neo-Kantianism through Italian Neoidealism with Benedetto Croce (1866–1952) and Giovanni Gentile (1875–1944). But both were best known for their renaissance of Hegel's philosophy. Together they published the magazine La Critica from 1903–1925 as the organ of the spread of neoidealism. The break between them occurred under the fascist government, when Gentile became the regime's official cultural exponent, while Croce became a symbol of Italian anti-fascism.

For Benedetto Croce, who initially tended to Marxian historical materialism under the influence of his teacher Labriola, one of the greatest merits of Hegel's philosophy was the methodological foundation of the autonomy of philosophy in logic . The Hegelian idea of ​​the identity of history and philosophy acquired central importance for him, which is why his philosophy was also referred to as "historicism" ( storicismo ).

Giovanni Gentile devoted himself to the refutation of positivism together with Croce after an initial examination of Marxism. He saw in the Hegelian philosophy the realization of a metaphysics of spirit as intended by Kant, but not realized. Gentile called his own systematic philosophy " actualism ". This should be a program of the reform of the Hegelian dialectic, through which the rigid Hegelian categories are revived.

After the Second World War

After 1945, neoidealism gradually lost its influence in Italy and was replaced by a trend critical of Hegel that was strongly oriented towards Fichte's philosophy of freedom. Luigi Pareyson (1918–1991), who was shaped by existentialism and gave strong impetus to research on Kant, Fichte and Schelling, is considered to be the initiator of this movement . In his work Fichte. Il sistema della libertà (1950) he criticized the Hegelian conception of history based on Fichte. Antonio Massolo (1911–1966) should also be mentioned, who was particularly interested in the relationship between Fichte and Kant ( Fichte e la filosofia , 1948).


Early Kant reception up to Spanish neo-Kantianism

As in Italy, the first news about Kant and the transcendental philosophy in Spain came from French recipients. The most important sources for dealing with German philosophy were the historical-philosophical accounts of Victor Cousin ( Cours de l'histoire de la philosophie moderne , 1841) and his students (e.g. Joseph Willms Histoire de la philosophie allemande depuis Kant jusqu 'à Hegel , 1846–1849).

Jaime Balmes (1810–1848) became one of the most influential Spanish philosophers of the 19th century. In his Cartas a un escéptico en matéria de religón ( Letters to a Skeptic , 1841) and his Filosofía Fundamental (1846) he made basic elements of theoretical Kantian philosophy more widely known in the 1840s, although he made Kant's idealism in the name of a common sense -Philosophy criticized. Other important Spanish Kant recipients of this time are José María Rey y Heredia (1818–1861), Teoría Transcendental de las Cantidades Imaginarias (1855), Nicolás Salmerón (1838–1908), La Filosofia Novísima en Alemania (1866), Don Patricio de Azcarte (180–1866), Esposición histórico-crítica de los Sistemas Filosóficos Modernos (1861) and Zeferino Gonzalez (1831–1894), Bishop of Cordoba, Historia de la filosofia (1879).

Since the 1870s, under the influence of German Neo-Kantianism, Kant was studied from a new perspective. The most famous neo-Kantian in Spain was José del Perojo y Figueras (1850–1908), a student of Kuno Fischer. His most important works include the Ensayos sobre el Movimiento intelectual en Alemania ( contributions on the intellectual movement in Germany ), Kant y los filosófos contemporáneos ( Schopenhauer and Kant and the contemporary philosophers ), and above all El Objeto de la filosophia en nuestros tiempos, published in 1875 ( The subject of philosophy in our times ). With this work, with the inclusion of Kant's theoretical philosophy, philosophical thinking was to be reconciled with positive scientific thinking. Perojo also founded the magazine Revista Contemporánea in 1875 , which became an important medium for the spread of Neo-Kantianism and positivism in Spain. In 1883 he published the first Spanish translation of the Critique of Pure Reason from German.


The further development of idealism in Spain was driven by the reception of the German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781–1832). Krause represented a pantheistic idealism; The ultimate motivation in history was for him the moral perfection of mankind to the point of being godlike.

The most important Spanish recipient of Krause's philosophy was Julian Sanz del Rio (1814–1869), who had got to know it while studying in Heidelberg. After his return to Spain, Sanz del Rio devoted himself intensively to studying and translating Krause's works and gathered a first group of "Krausistas" around him. Since 1854, Sanz del Rio held the chair in the history of philosophy at the Central University of Madrid and was able to spread his worldview both through his lectures and through the many articles he published in the Revista Española de Ambos Mundos and the Gazeta de Madrid .

The Krausismo ( Krausismo ) renewed the Spanish culture of the 19th century that still predominantly adhered to this period of scholasticism. From 1869 he became a politically liberal movement. Krausism reached its first peak in the years of the First Spanish Republic (1873–1874), when Krausists held the most important state offices together with Hegelians, such as Francisco Giner de los Ríos (1839–1915), Nicolás Salmerón y Alonso (1837–1908) ) and Gumersindo de Azcarate y Menendez (1840-1917). After the fall of the republic, they founded the Institución Libre de Enseñanza , a private, free university that played an important role in the education of later generations of Spanish intellectuals.

With the rise of positivism in Spain in the last quarter of the 19th century, Krausism merged with it to form what is known as Krausopositivismo . Its main characteristic was the combination of experience and speculation. Krausist positivism played an important role in the introduction of the social sciences in Spain. The first supporter of this new trend was Nicolás Salmerón, who applied Krausopositivismo to the field of physiological psychology. Other outstanding representatives are Urbano González Serrano (1848–1904) and Julián Besteiro y Fernandez (1870–1940).

The reception of Hegel's philosophy of law

Like knowledge of Kant, knowledge of Hegel in Spain was also fed from the French cousin school. The Hegelian philosophy was able to assert itself mainly within the sphere of law, partly also in the consideration of Spanish history.

The Hegelian philosophy first attracted a lot of attention from José Contero y Ramirez (1791–1857), who presented it at the University of Seville in the years 1851–1857, based on the works of Joseph Willms. An oral tradition of commenting on Hegel's legal philosophy established itself there. Contero's student Diego Alvarez de Gonzalez (1826-1865) took up the Hegelian dialectic, which he applied to both the law and the interpretation of the history of Spain. Another representative of Hegel's philosophy in Seville was the radical republican Francisco Escudero y Perosso (1828–1874). His pupil Antonio Benitez de Lugo (1841–1897) became one of the most important propagators of Hegel's philosophy, and he continued to develop it coherently in his works in the fields of history and law.

After the fall of the republic, some Hegelians were active in the service of the Restoration, especially Antonio Maria Fabie y Escudero (1834–1899) and Rafael Montoro y Valdes (1852–1833), the last important representatives of Spanish Hegelianism in the 19th century. In his anti-positivism analysis of materialism ( Examen del materialismo moderno , 1875), Escudero explained to what extent Hegel's absolute idealism was indispensable for Christianity. In his work on the state of legal doctrine ( Estado actual de la ciencia del derecho , 1879) he developed his Hegelian legal philosophy on the basis of an analysis of the family and the state, which he regarded as subordinate provisions of the absolute idea.

Most important works

1781 Kant (1724–1804): Critique of Pure Reason
1787 Friedrich Jacobi (1743-1810): David Hume on faith, or idealism and realism
1790 Kant: Critique of Judgment
1790 Salomon Maimon (1753–1800): Attempt on the transcendental philosophy
1791 Karl Leonhard Reinhold (1757-1823): About the foundation of philosophical knowledge
1792 Gottlob Ernst Schulze (1761–1833): Aenesidemus
1794 Fichte (1762–1814): the basis of all science
1795 Schelling (1775–1854): About the self as a principle of philosophy or about the unconditional in human knowledge
Schelling: Letters on Dogmatism and Criticism
1797 Fichte: Basics of natural law according to the principles of scientific theory
Schelling: Ideas for a philosophy of nature
1798 Spruce: system of ethics
1799 Schelling: First draft for a system of natural philosophy
1800 Schelling: system of transcendental idealism
1801 Hegel (1770–1831): The difference between Fichte's and Schelling's systems of philosophy
1807 Hegel: Phenomenology of Spirit
1809 Schelling: Philosophical investigations into the nature of human freedom
1812-16 Hegel: Science of Logic
1817 Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences
1820 Hegel: Basic lines of the philosophy of law


  • Matthew C. Altman (Ed.): The Palgrave Handbook of German Idealism , Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2014
  • Karl Ameriks (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism , Cambridge University Press 2002
  • Frederick C Beiser: German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism , 1781-1801, Harvard University Press 2009
  • Rüdiger Bubner (Ed.): German Idealism , Stuttgart 1978
  • Will Dudley: Understanding German Idealism , Acumen Publishing 2007
  • Eckart Förster : The 25 Years of Philosophy, Vittorio Klostermann 2011
  • Gerhard Gamm: Der Deutsche Idealismus , Reclam, Ditzingen 1997, ISBN 3-15-009655-3 .
  • Espen Hammer (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism. Contemporary Perspectives , Routledge 2007
  • Dieter Henrich : Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism , Harvard University Press 2009
  • Reinhard Hiltscher: Introduction to the philosophy of German idealism . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2016, ISBN 9783534267385
  • Rolf-Peter Horstmann: The limits of reason. An investigation into the goals and motives of German idealism . 3rd edition. Verlag Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M. 2004, ISBN 978-3-465-03360-8 .
  • Walter Jaeschke , Andreas Arndt : The classical German philosophy after Kant: Systems of pure reason and its criticism 1785 - 1845. Beck, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3406630460
  • Walter Jaeschke, Andreas Arndt: The Philosophy of Modern Times 3. Classical German Philosophy from Fichte to Hegel . History of Philosophy Vol. IX, 2, Beck, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3406551345
  • Terry Pinkard: German Philosophy 1760-1860. The Legacy of Idealism , Cambridge University Press 2002
  • Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2005, ISBN 3-476-02118-1 . ( Introduction ; PDF; 242 kB)
  • Hans Jörg Sandkühler: Idealism with a practical purpose. Studies on Kant, Schelling and Hegel , Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 2013, ISBN 978-3-631-64089-0
  • Robert C. Solomon, Kathleen M. Higgins (Eds.): Routledge History of Philosophy Volume VI: The Age of German Idealism , Routledge 1993

Web links


AA Kant's collected writings. Edited by of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, Berlin 1900–1955, 1966 ff.
SW JG Fichte, Werke, Berlin 1971 (photomechanical reprint of: Johann Gottlieb Fichte's entire works, edited by IH Fichte, Berlin 1845/46 and Johann Gottlieb Fichte's posthumous works, edited by IH Fichte, Bonn 1834/35).
SW FWJ von Schelling's complete works. Edited by KFA Schelling. 1st section: 10 volumes (= IX); 2nd section: 4 vols. (= XI-XIV), Stuttgart / Augsburg 1856–61. After the original edition in a new arrangement, ed. v. M. Schröter, 6 main volumes, 6 supplementary volumes, Munich 1927 ff., 2nd edition 1958 ff.
HW GWF Hegel, works in twenty volumes. Theory work edition. New edition based on the works from 1832–1845, Frankfurt / M. 1971.
MR GWF Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, ed. v. G. Lasson, Hamburg 1966.
  1. So z. B. Walter Jaeschke and Andreas Arndt in their standard work: The classical German philosophy according to Kant: Systems of pure reason and its criticism 1785 - 1845. Beck, Munich 2012
  2. See Karl Marx / Friedrich Engels ; The Holy Family or Critique of Critical Criticism , 1845.
  3. See e.g. E.g .: FA Langes: History of Materialism , 1865
  4. See R. Kroner, From Kant to Hegel , 1921–24
  5. Nicolai Hartmann: The Philosophy of German Idealism , 3rd edition, Berlin / New York 1974
  6. Walter Schulz: The completion of German idealism in the late philosophy of Schelling , 2nd edition, Pfullingen 1975
  7. See e.g. B. Detlev Petzold, in Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , 22.
  8. Kant: Critique of Pure Reason B 74 ff / A 50 f.
  9. For the following cf. Hans Jörg Sandkühler, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , p. 89
  10. ^ Fichte: System der Sittenlehre , § 13, SW IV, p. 156
  11. Cf. Maciej Potepa, Lothar Knatz, Hans Jörg Sandkühler, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , p. 94
  12. ^ Fichte: First introduction to the science of science , in: Fichte, J. G: First and second introduction to the science of science , ed. v. F. Medicus, Hamburg 1961, p. 10 f.
  13. ^ Fichte: First introduction to the science of science , in: Fichte, J. G: First and second introduction to the science of science , ed. v. F. Medicus, Hamburg 1961, p. 12 ff.
  14. ^ Fichte: First introduction to the science of science , in: Fichte, J. G: First and second introduction to the science of science , ed. v. F. Medicus, Hamburg 1961, p. 14
  15. ^ Fichte: First introduction to the science of science , in: Fichte, J. G: First and second introduction to the science of science , ed. v. F. Medicus, Hamburg 1961, p. 34
  16. An introduction to the development of Schelling's epistemological positions is given by Hans Jörg Sandkühler, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , pp. 101–110
  17. Schelling: Introduction to the Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (1797), SW II, p. 29 f.
  18. See Schelling: System des transzendentalen Idealismus (1800), SW III, pp. 339–342.
  19. Schelling: Further representations from the System of Philosophy (1803), SW IV, p. 361 f.
  20. Schelling: Lectures on the method of academic study (1802), SW V, p. 226 f.
  21. Schelling: Lectures on the Method of Academic Study (1800), SW V, p. 282.
  22. An introduction to the development of Schelling's epistemological positions is given by Hans Jörg Sandkühler, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , pp. 110–117
  23. Hegel: Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), HW 3, p. 591
  24. Handbook of German Idealism, 95f.
  25. On the basic conditions of the natural philosophy of German idealism cf. Gian Franco Frigo, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , pp. 121–123
  26. ^ Gian Franco Frigo, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , S. 140f.
  27. William Harvey : Exercitationes de generatione animalium (1651), Antoni van Leeuwenhoek : Observations concerning various little Animals, in great numbers discover'd (1677), Abraham Trembley : Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire d'un genre de Polypes d ' eau douce, à bra en forme de cornes (1744), John Turberville Needham : A Summary of some late Observations upon the Generation, Composition, and Decomposition of Animal and vegetable Substances (1750), Caspar Friedrich Wolff : Theoria generationis (1759), Johann Friedrich Blumenbach : About the educational instinct and the procreation business , Göttingen 2nd edition 1789, Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon : Histoire des animaux (1785)
  28. Kant: Metaphysical Beginnings of Natural Science (1786), AA IV, p. 468
  29. Kant: Metaphysical Beginnings of Natural Science (1786), AA IV, p. 470
  30. Kant: Metaphysical Beginnings of Natural Science (1786), AA IV, p. 473
  31. Kant: Metaphysical Beginnings of Natural Science (1786), AA IV, p. 471
  32. Kant: Critique of Judgment (1790), AA V, p. 400
  33. See Kant: Critique of Judgment (1790), AA V, p. 375
  34. See Kant: Critique of Judgment (1790), AA V, p. 371
  35. Schelling: Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (1797), SW II, p. 11
  36. Schelling: Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (1797), SW II, p. 12
  37. Schelling: Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (1797), SW II, p. 40
  38. Schelling: Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (1797), SW II, p. 41
  39. In the following, abbreviated to world soul
  40. Schelling: Weltseele (1798), SW II, p. 381
  41. Schelling: Weltseele (1798), SW II, p. 381
  42. Schelling: Weltseele (1798), SW II, p. 565
  43. Schelling: Weltseele (1798), SW II, p. 566
  44. Schelling: First draft of a system of natural philosophy (1799), SW III, p. 13 f.
  45. a b Schelling: First draft of a system of natural philosophy (1799), SW III, p. 16
  46. Schelling: Introduction to the draft of a System de Naturphilosophie (1799), SW III, p. 300
  47. Schelling: System des transzendentalen Idealismus (1800), SW III, p. 341
  48. Schelling: Philosophical investigations into the nature of human freedom and the objects connected with it (1809), SW VII, p. 375
  49. Schelling: The age of the world. Fragment. (From the handwritten estate) , SW VIII, p. 244
  50. Schelling: Philosophical investigations into the nature of human freedom and the objects connected with it (1809), SW VII, p. 359f.
  51. Schelling: Philosophical investigations into the nature of human freedom and the objects connected with it (1809), SW VII, p. 395f.
  52. Schelling: The age of the world. Fragment. (From the handwritten estate) , SW VIII, p. 279
  53. Schelling: The age of the world. Fragment. (From the handwritten estate) , SW VIII, pp. 327, 335
  54. Schelling: The age of the world. Fragment. (From the handwritten estate) , SW VIII, p. 339
  55. Schelling: Representation of the natural process. Fragment of a lecture on the principles of philosophy, given in Berlin in the winter of 1843/44 , SW X, p. 377
  56. Schelling: Representation of the natural process. Fragment of a lecture on the principles of philosophy, given in Berlin in the winter of 1843/44 , SW X, p. 378
  57. Schelling: Weltalter , SW VIII, p. 297.
  58. Hegel: difference of Fichte and Schelling system philosophy (1801), GW IV, p 69th
  59. Hegel: Difference between the Fichte and Schelling systems of philosophy (1801), GW IV, p. 7
  60. ^ Hegel: The Idea of ​​the Absolute Being , GW V, p. 262f.
  61. Hegel: Jenaer Systementauten I. Fragments from lecture manuscripts on the philosophy of nature and spirit (1803/04), GW VI, p. 193
  62. Hegel: Jenaer Systementauten I. Fragments from lecture manuscripts on the philosophy of nature and spirit (1803/04), GW VI, p. 205
  63. Hegel: Jenaer Systementauten I. Fragments from lecture manuscripts on the philosophy of nature and spirit (1803/04), GW VI, pp. 208f.
  64. ^ Hegel: System designs II: Logic, Metaphysics, Natural Philosophy , GW VII, p. 186
  65. Hegel: System Designs II: Logic, Metaphysics, Natural Philosophy , GW VII, p. 179
  66. Hegel: System Design II: Logic, Metaphysics, Natural Philosophy , GW VII, p. 181
  67. Cf. Hegel: Lectures on the History of Philosophy , Ed. CL Michelet, 2nd part, 2nd verb. Ed., Berlin 1842, p. 303.
  68. Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in the Outline (1830), HW 9, § 244.
  69. Hegel: Natural Philosophy . Vol. 1. The lecture from 1819/20, in connection with K.-H. Ilting ed. v. M. Gies, Napoli 1980, p. 7.
  70. ^ Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in the Outline (1830), HW 9, § 246 addition, p. 23
  71. Hegel: Natural Philosophy. Vol. 1. The lecture of 1819/20 , p. 6; see. also Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in the Outline (1830), HW 9, § 245 addition, p. 14.
  72. Hegel: Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences in the Outline (1830), HW 9, § 246 addition, p. 20
  73. Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in the Outline (1830), HW 9, § 247
  74. Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in the Outline (1830), HW 9, § 248 u. Note
  75. Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in the Outline (1830), HW 9, § 249 note.
  76. Hegel: Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences in the Outline (1830), HW 9, § 248 addition, p. 30 f.
  77. Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in the Outline (1830), HW 9, § 250 u. Note
  78. Kant: Critique of Practical Reason (1788), § 1, AA V, p. 19
  79. Kant: Critique of Practical Reason (1788), § 1
  80. ^ Georg Mohr, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , p. 147
  81. Kant: Basis for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), AA IV, p. 444
  82. Kant: Critique of Practical Reason (1788), § 7
  83. Kant: Critique of Practical Reason (1788), § 7, AA V, p. 30
  84. Kant: Basis for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), AA IV, p. 430.
  85. Kant: Basis for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), AA IV, p. 429.
  86. Kant: Basis for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), AA IV, p. 31.
  87. Kant: Critique of Pure Reason (1781/87), B 572 / A 544
  88. Cf. Georg Mohr, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , p. 152
  89. Kant: Critique of Practical Reason (1788), AA V, p. 110
  90. a b Georg Mohr, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , p. 153
  91. ^ Fichte: System der Sittenlehre , § 3, SW IV, p. 54
  92. ^ Fichte: System der Sittenlehre , SW IV, p. 29.
  93. ^ Fichte: System der Sittenlehre , SW IV, p. 53f.
  94. ^ Fichte: System der Sittenlehre , § 13, p. 156
  95. ^ Fichte: System der Sittenlehre , § 3, SW IV, p. 69
  96. Schelling: Vom Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie (1795) , SW I, p. 196 f.
  97. Hegel: Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (1820), §§ 125–126, HW 7, p. 236 f.
  98. See Jean-François Kervégan, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , p. 163
  99. Kant: Critique of Pure Reason , B XXX
  100. Kant: Critique of Pure Reason , B XX, XXI
  101. Kant: Critique of Pure Reason , B 604, A 576.
  102. Cf. Georg Mohr: Kant's foundation of critical philosophy , Frankfurt / M. 2004, p. 367.
  103. Maciej Potepa, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , p. 252
  104. Kant: Religion within the Limits of Mere Reason (1793), AA VI, p. 13.
  105. An introduction to Fichte's concept of religion and God is provided by Maciej Potepa, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , pp. 255–264
  106. ^ Fichte: Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation (1792), SW V, p. 55
  107. ^ Fichte: Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation (1792), SW V, p. 137
  108. ^ Fichte and Forberg: Development of the concept of religion , in: F. Medicus (Hrsg.): JG Fichte: Selected works in six volumes , Darmstadt, vol. 3, p. 186.
  109. Cf. PL ​​Austria: Fichte's philosophical religion in the instruction for blessed life . In: A. Franz / WG Jacobs (ed.): Religion and God in Modern Thinking , Paderborn / Munich / Vienna 2000; W. Janke: On the image of the absolute. Fundamentals of Fichte's phenomenology , Berlin / New York. 1993, p. 34.
  110. ^ Fichte: Wissenschaftslehre (1804), 4th lecture, SW X, p. 146.
  111. ^ Fichte: Wissenschaftslehre (1804), 4th lecture, SW X, p. 148.
  112. Cf. PL ​​Austria: Fichte's philosophical religion in the instruction for blessed life , p. 112
  113. Fichte, Instructions for blessed life (1806), SW V, p. 453f.
  114. Fichte, Instructions for blessed life (1806), SW V, p. 541
  115. Cf. Maciej Potepa, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , p. 264
  116. Schelling: Lectures on the Method of Academic Study (1803), SW V, p. 293
  117. Schelling: Lectures on the Method of Academic Study (1803), SW V, p. 295
  118. On Hegel's philosophy of religion and its history of development, cf. introductory Maciej Potepa, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , pp. 283-292, more detailed in Walter Jaeschke: Die Religionsphilosophie Hegel , Darmstadt 1983, Walter Jaeschke: Die Vernunft in der Religion , Stuttgart 1986
  119. Hegel: Early Writings , HW 1, p. 16 f.
  120. ^ Hegel: Early writings , HW 1, p. 85
  121. ^ Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , HR I, p. 66
  122. Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , HR I, p. 83
  123. Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , HR I, p. 91
  124. ^ Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , HR I, p. 115
  125. Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , HR I, p. 121
  126. Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , HR I, p. 146
  127. Hegel: Lectures on the Evidence of God's Existence , ed. v. G. Lasson 1930 (reprint Hamburg 1966), p. 49
  128. Hegel: Lectures on the Evidence of God's Existence , ed. v. G. Lasson 1930 (reprint Hamburg 1966), p. 172
  129. Hegel: Lectures on the Evidence of God's Existence , ed. v. G. Lasson 1930 (reprint Hamburg 1966), p. 175
  130. Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , HR I, p. 44
  131. Hegel: Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences (1830), § 565, HW 10, p. 374.
  132. Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , HR I, p. 299
  133. Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion , HR I, p. 295
  134. Cf. Matteo Vincenzo d'Alfonso, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , p. 355f.
  135. On reception in Great Britain and Ireland cf. Matteo Vincenzo d'Alfonso, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , pp. 356–364
  136. On reception in France cf. Matteo Vincenzo d'Alfonso, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , pp. 364–368
  137. On reception in Italy cf. Matteo Vincenzo d'Alfonso, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , pp. 368–373
  138. On reception in Spain cf. Matteo Vincenzo d'Alfonso, in: Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Handbuch Deutscher Idealismus , pp. 373–377
  139. Overview based on Will Dudley: Understanding German Idealism , Acumen Publishing 2007, pp. 204f.