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Halkyon Academy

Introduction to German Idealism


The philosophical movement referred to as German Idealism is arguably one of the most important periods in modern philosophy.

The study of this period as a whole is pivotal for anyone wishing to understand Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, and Hölderlin. But it is also crucial for anyone wishing to achieve a more grounded understanding of accelerationism, Marxism, and 20th century phenomenology. 

German Idealism roughly spans from the 1780s to the 1840s.

German Idealism begins with Kant’s critique of reason and his new conception of transcendental idealism and finds its completion in Hegel’s Absolute Idea. 

German Idealism is not grey theory. It depicts rather an epoch in which the dimension of the human stands revealed most fully in all its spiritual glory. 

Thus, to study German Idealism means to delve into the cosmic-spiritual dimension of the human being and his Spirit.

A reawakening of Spirit brought about by Kant’s critical philosophy, which was nothing short of an earthquake - the presupposed unity of being and thought that had moved and sustained Western thinking since Parmenides and Plato was all of a sudden put under scrutiny.

Kant critiqued reason and favoured the understanding. Yet, it did not take long until three youngsters took the stage to articulate the Absolute Idea.

Through the popularisation of figures like Reinhold and Fichte, these three young thinkers came upon the quest to articulate the Absolute Idea again in a post-Kantian world.

Their attempt was to be able again to articulate what seemed unattainable for Kant: the cosmic-spiritual dimension of the human being and nature.

Those three young thinkers were Hölderlin, Schelling, and Hegel who, by an act of fate, happened to be students and roommates in Tübingen together in the late 18th century.

In this course you will learn the trajectory from Kant to Hegel across Fichte, Schelling, and Hölderlin. Central to our investigations via the primary texts will be the possibility of human freedom.

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