One of the very few accounts in English of German idealism, this ambitious work advances and revises our understanding of both the history and the thought of the classical period of German philosophy. As he traces the structure and evolution of idealism as a doctrine, Frederick Beiser exposes a strong objective, or realist, strain running from Kant to Hegel and identifies the crucial role of the early romantics―Hölderlin, Schlegel, and Novalis―as the founders of absolute idealism.
“German idealism” is a common phrase in literary, historical, and philosophical circles. Broadly, it designates the philosophical doctrines initiated by Kant and then continued by Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. But, beyond this very general definition, it is difficult to give the phrase a more precise meaning. That is not very surprising. What idealism means in Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel has been a matter of discussion and dispute for centuries. The present study continues that discussion and dispute.