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19th Century (German) Philosophy: Hegel and his Legacy Instructor: John Hymers


Hegel, whose system claimed to sum up all the possibilities of Western thought, dominates 19th century German philosophy. We will begin our encounter with Hegel’s drive to systematicity through a brief overview of Kant’s critical philosophy and a quick survey of Fichte and Schelling. After a thorough overview of Hegel’s dialectical method of philosophy, especially as laid out in the Logic, we will turn to the inevitable breakdown of the Hegelian system, as expressed in the works of Feuerbach, Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard.

Material Goals:

- To gain a basic familiarity with the issues and genesis of 19th century philosophy - To understand the contemporary influence of 19th century philosophy

Formal Goals:

- To learn how to read texts critically - To understand how thinkers develop their thoughts through dialogue with, and opposition to, other thinkers


Short lectures followed by guided discussion. If class size permits, the discussions will be based on student presentations of the daily readings.


2 short papers (5-7 pp.), a midterm, and a final examination. Each is worth 25 percent of the final grade. Weekly readings from Hegel will be assigned, and they will form the basis of the papers.

Required Texts:

Hegel, G.W.F. The Hegel Reader. Ed. Stephen Houlgate. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.
Kierkegaard, S. The Kierkegaard Reader. Ed. J. Chamberlain and J. Rée. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.
Nietzsche, F. The Basic Writings of Nietzsche. Ed. P. Gay. New York: Random House, 2000. Reprint of the Kaufmann edition, with a new Introduction.
Schopenhauer, A.Essays and Aphorisms. Ed. R. J. Hollingdale. London: Penguin, 1970.
The Young Hegelians. Ed. L. Stepelevich. Buffalo: Humanity Books, 1998.
Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Ed. and trans. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. More economical editions also available.

Selections Recommended from the following:

Desmond, W. Beyond Hegel and Dialectic. Albany: SUNY, 1992.
Schopenhauer, A. The World as Will and Representation. Vol. 1. Trans. E. F. J. Payne New York: Dover, 1969. (Esp. the Appendix: “Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy,” pp. 413 ff.)

Course Outline


Critical Philosophy
Synthetic Apriori Propositions
Transcendental Deduction
Dualism: Phenomenon and Noumenon
Readings: Critique of Pure Reason, 127-152; 172-200.

Fichte and Schelling:

The bridge from Kant to Hegel
Readings: The Hegel Reader, 40-43.


Overcoming of Kantian Dualism
Hegel’s breakthrough: the Good Infinity
The Logic as the essence of the Dialectic
Readings: The Hegel Reader, 125-250.


Hegel and Demythologization
Readings: The Young Hegelians, 21-52.


Feuerbach the Hegelian
The Break with Hegel
Anti-theological development of Hegelian philosophy
Stirner’s attack on Feuerbach
Readings: The Young Hegelians, 95-128; 129-155; 156-172; 335-354.


The Break with Feuerbach
Dialectical Materialism
Readings: “Theses on Feuerbach” (Handout); The Young Hegelians, 307-309; 310- 322.


Qualified Return to Kant
Will and Representation
Readings: Essays and Aphorisms, 55-79; recommended: World as Will and Representation, 413-534.


Overcoming Metaphysics
Western Nihilism
Will to Power
Dionysius vs. The Crucified
Readings: Basic Writings, 179-436; Handouts.


Irony, Anxiety, and Fragments
Readings: Kierkegaard Reader, 27-52; 173-210; 224-285.

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