Philosophical Legacies: Essays on the Thought of Kant, Hegel, and Their Contemporaries


Immanuel Kant, the Prussian thinker at the forefront of the German Enlightenment, decisively shaped what is arguably the central philosophical legacy of his era, a legacy of critical rationality and ethico-political self-determination. In Philosophical Legacies, Daniel O. Dahlstrom brings exceptional scholarship to an examination of the diversity and lasting influence not only of Kant but also of some of his most prominent contemporary critics.

Dahlstrom makes a thorough study of various authors such as Johan Georg Hamann, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Friedrich Schiller, and later Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. He shows that the legacy of German Idealism remains undeniably relevant today. He examines diverse aspects of these philosophers’ legacies―legacies which continue to find their way into contemporary philosophical debates.

Among the many topics Dahlstrom discusses are the relation of science to ethics and the different modes and conditions of knowledge. He also considers the nature and legitimate reach of aesthetics; the ends of history and art; the place of conscience in ethical life; the religious significance of philosophy and art, and the political potential of art; the roots of ethics in sexual life; the morality of equal opportunity; and the speculative idea of a philosophical responsibility that cannot be deferred.

The essays trace carefully the histories of the influences of earlier thinkers and their legacies upon later thinkers. But the essays engage these histories with a view to indicating, and in some cases critically weighing, the significance of these legacies―spawned by one of the most fertile periods of German thought―for philosophical thinking in the present.


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