Issue 54, October 2017
A Review of After Hegel: German Philosophy, 1840-1900
In contrast with the late 19th century German Philosophy, most historians of philosophy emphasize the achievements of the first half of the century. In After Hegel: German Philosophy, 1840-1900, Frederick Beiser stands against this academic current and coins five different narratives, including “the rise of neo-Kantianism”, “the materialism controversy”, “the growth of historicism”, “the root of modern logic”, “the rise of pessimism” to allow readers to reengage with the second half of the 19th century. He takes the responsibility of enlivening the so-called “lost traditions”, and of course, for those readers who have similar taste and interest, this book is their cup of tea. However, if we, by the name of the book, anticipate this work to illustrate a general picture of the “mainstream” philosophical traditions from those times, we may be disappointed. From the academic point of view, this book is certainly well written, with rich references and a comprehensive understanding of the related topics. Through Beiser’s reconstruction of the philosophical controversies, the stiff narratives of the history of philosophy can be softened and refreshed. If the readers themselves are able to incorporate the details provided by the book into the wider historical context and the specific problems in the history of philosophy, the reward can be even bigger.