German idealism

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC095-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 17, 2024, from

List of works

Collected works, critical editions and English translations can be found in the entries on individual philosopher throughout the Encylopedia. Below are listed some texts of particular importance for the historical development of German idealism.

  • Behler, E. (1985) Fichte, Jacobi and Schelling: Philosophy of German Idealism, New York: Continuum.

    (Contains translations of Fichte’s Sun-Clear Report and Jacobi’s Letter to Fichte, both relevant to the controversy about whether Idealism has atheistic and nihilistic implications, as well as important writings by Schelling on aesthetics, the philosophy of nature and the difficulties facing any philosophical account of the freedom to do evil.)

  • Giovanni, G. di and Harris, H. (1985) Between Kant and Hegel: Texts in the Development of Post-Kantian Idealism, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

    (Contains translated and annotated extracts from important texts by Reinhold, Aenesidemus, Maimon and Beck that were pivotal in the debate between sceptical and systematic interpretations of Kant, as well as articles from the Critical Journal of Hegel and Schelling, dating from their early alliance.)

  • Hegel, G.W.F. (1807) Phänomenologie des Geistes (Phenomenology of Spirit), trans. A.V. Miller, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.

    (Hegel’s early attempt to complete Kant’s revolution by leading the reader through a series of dualistic forms of consciousness, representing the history of human thought, until the reader reaches the standpoint of absolute knowledge by seeing the dialectical development of each form into the next, and the dialectical development of the entire series into knowledge free of dualism.)

  • Hegel, G.W.F., Schelling, F.W. J. von, Hölderlin, J.C.F. (1796) Das älteste Systemprogram; Studien zur Frühgeschichte des deutschen Idealismus, ed. R. Bubner, Bonn: Bouvier, 1973; trans. as The Oldest System Programme of German Idealism, in E. Behler (ed.) Fichte, Jacobi and Schelling: Philosophy of German Idealism, New York: Continuum, 1985.

    (Written in Hegel’s hand but of disputed authorship, this provides a remarkable glimpse of the origins of German idealism; for interpretation and reception-history see F.-P. Hansen’s ‘Das älteste Systemprogram’: Rezeptionsgeschichte und Interpretation, Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1989. The Bubner volume contains useful German articles on the content and authorship of the manuscript.)

  • Jacobi, F. (1785–1815) The Main Philosophical Writings and the Novel Allwill, trans. G. di Giovanni, Montreal and Kingston, London, Buffalo, NY: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994.

    (Collection of important texts, with an introduction, notes and bibliography. Although Jacobi was not, strictly speaking, a German idealist, many of his ideas greatly influenced Idealism. For example, the Idealists should be understood as accepting his criticism of Kant’s conception of the thing-in-itself, and as inspired by the Spinozism he brought to their attention, although Jacobi himself publicized Spinozism only in order to reject it.)

  • Kant, I. (1799) ‘Erklärung in Beziehung auf Fichtes Wissenschaftslehre’ (Open Letter on Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre), in Kant: Philosophical Correspondence, 1759–99, ed. and trans. A. Zweig, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1967, 253–254.

    (Kant publicly repudiates Fichte and Beck for claiming that the correct interpretation of his writings would be understood only from a special standpoint, according to the spirit and not the letter. Implicitly repudiated are Schelling, Hegel and all others who distinguish, in their own ways, between the letter and the spirit of Kant’s philosophy.)

  • Maimon, S. (1790) ‘Versuch über die Transcendentalphilosophie mit einem Anhang über die symbolische Erkenntnis und Anmerkungen’ (Essay on Transcendental Philosophy with an Appendix on Symbolic Cognition and Annotations), in S. Maimon, Gesammelte Werke, ed. V. Verra, Heidelberg: G. Olms, 1965–75, vol. 2.

    (An influential work that presses the case against various Kantian dualisms with great clarity, and proposes a monistic solution whereby the dualisms afflicting the finite, human mind represent an imperfect yet necessary stage on the way towards the realization of the infinite, divine mind.)

  • Simpson, D. (1984) German Aesthetic and Literary Criticism: Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    (Contains texts relevant to the philosophy of art and literature.)

References and further reading

  • Beiser, F. (1987) The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    (Indispensable account of the immediate reaction to Kant’s revolution.)

  • Beiser, F. (1992) Enlightenment, Revolution and Romanticism: The Formation of Modern German Political Thought, 1792–1800, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    (Important account of the political dimension of early Idealism.)

  • Breazeale, D. (1981) ‘Fichte’s Aenesidemus Review and the Transformation of German Idealism’, Review of Metaphysics 34: 545–568.

    (Clear, accessible account of the important role of sceptical challenges to Kant and Reinhold in the development of Fichte’s thought.)

  • Breazeale, D. (1982) ‘Between Kant and Fichte: Karl Leonhard Reinhold’s “Elementary Philosophy’’’, Review of Metaphysics 35: 785–822.

    (Clear, accessible account of this neglected philosopher’s important contribution to early German idealism: the idea of completing Kant’s revolution through systematization.)

  • Cassirer, E. (1917) Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit (The Problem of Knowledge in the Philosophy and Science of the Modern Age), vol. 2, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

    (Classic study of the development from Kant to Hegel, challenging the traditional view of that development as leading inexorably to Hegel; a useful corrective to Kroner.)

  • Henrich, D. (1997) The Course of Remembrance and Other Essays on Hölderlin, ed E. Förster, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    (Important collection of essays by a leading German researcher, reporting groundbreaking work on the origins of German idealism at the University of Jena, and focusing on some neglected but influential figures.)

  • Kroner, R. (1921) Von Kant bis Hegel (From Kant to Hegel), Tübingen: JCB Mohr, 3rd edn.

    (The classic account of German idealism as a dialectic culminating in Hegel.)

  • Nauern, F.-G. (1971) Revolution, Idealism and Human Freedom: Schelling, Hölderlin and Hegel and the Crisis of Early German Idealism, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

    (Accessible account of the early thought of three important figures who studied together at the Tübingen theological seminary at the time of the French revolution.)

  • Royce, J. (1919) Lectures on modern idealism, foreword by J.E. Smith, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1964.

    (A classic, if rather outdated, account of German idealism by a major US philosopher of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.)

  • Solomon, R. (1981) Introducing the German idealists: mock interviews with Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Reinhold, Jacobi, Schlegel, and a letter from Schopenhauer, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.

    (Accessible introduction to some important figures in German idealism.)

  • Solomon, R. and Higgins, K. (1993) The Age of German Idealism, London and New York: Routledge.

    (Accessible and useful collection of articles on individual thinkers, well suited to beginners.)

  • Taylor, C. (1979) Hegel and Modern Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    (Illuminating and accessible account of the cultural and social background against which German idealism developed.)

Citing this article:
Franks, Paul. Bibliography. German idealism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC095-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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