Early German Philosophy is a comprehensive history of German philosophy from its medieval beginnings to near the end of the eighteenth century. In exploring the spirit of German intellectual life and its distinctiveness from that of other countries, Beck devotes whole chapters to four great philosophers — Nicholas of Cusa, Leibniz, Lessing and Kant — and extensively examines many others, including Albertus Magnus, Meister Eckhart, Paracelsus, Kepler, Mendelssohn, Wolff and Herder.
Questioning explanations of philosophy by the racial or ethnic character of its exponents, Beck’s conclusion is that German philosophy developed as a series of diverse responses to the historical experiences of the German people. The peculiarities of German philosophy must be viewed in the light of German political problems and educational structures. In particular he stresses the importance of the connections between philosophy and Germany’s intellectual, literary, religious, and political history. This key work has been out of print for many years.
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