The role of German Idealism in the history of philosophy
After the Greco-Roman, the Medieval Scholastic, the Classical Rationalistic and the Empiricist philosophies, the fifth major school of Western Philosophy is German Idealism. German Idealism is essentially Kant (1724-1804) and the great post-Kantian thinkers Fichte (1762-1812), Hegel (1770-1831) and Schelling (1775-1854). It has three major realizations or better, opens up three major perspectives: 1. Kant breaks with dogmatic rationalism yet constructs a new apriorism, i.e. a metaphysical foundation of human finitude. 2. Hegel, mediated by Fichte, widens and deepens reason’s sway and conceptualizes the historical world. 3. Schelling rejects Hegel’s absolute philosophy and shows the irreducibility of existence and evil yet tries to integrate them into a rational system. German Idealism, so to say, lays the groundwork, negatively, for Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and, positively, for Phenomenology from Husserl to Heidegger and Lévinas.
Professor Miklos Vetö, author of De Kant à Schelling (1998-2000) and other major works concerned with the interpretation and legacy of German Idealism, taught at Yale, Abidjan, Rennes and Poitiers universities. He is an external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Honorary Fellow of Philosophy at Australian Catholic University. His most recent major work is L’Élargissement de la métaphysique (2012) and its companion volume, Explorations métaphysiques. These texts, representing a lifetime of study in the history of German Idealism, make an original contribution to metaphysics in its wake.