Caspar David Friedrich, Evening Landscape with Two Men

Understanding Hegel: Origins of German Idealism

Instructor: Michael Stevenson
BISR Central
68 Jay Street, #425
Brooklyn, NY 11201

German Idealism was one of the most fruitful, prolific, and influential movements in the history of western philosophy. Driven by a passionate group of young intellectuals, the German Idealists drew inspiration from both the political revolution in France and the philosophical revolution of Kant’s “transcendental idealism.” German Idealists sought a “new religion,” grounded in both reason and imagination, in which “freedom and equality will reign among spirits.” From Hegelian dialectic to Marxist materialist critique to existentialism, the movement would prove massively influential in the subsequent development of philosophy, aesthetics, and political theory in the 20th and 21st centuries. How can we understand German Idealism today?

In this class, we’ll focus on several founding texts of German Idealism, primarily the early works of Johann Fichte and Friedrich Schelling, in an effort to understand what was so significant about this movement, and why so much subsequent philosophy felt the need to engage with it. What does “Idealism” mean exactly, and how does it differ from the contemporaneous development of “Romanticism”? How did concepts like the “Absolute” contribute to later Hegelian philosophy and dialectics? Finally, in exploring these texts, we’ll think together about what this philosophy tells us about human freedom and its relationship to nature and reality. 


Course Schedule

Wednesday, 6:30-9:30pm
March 04 — March 25, 2020
4 weeks


Registration Open

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