This acknowledged classic is one of the most important works on nineteenth-century philosophy and intellectual history, and a philosophical and cultural history of that century and its impact upon the twentieth. Beginning with an examination of the relationship between Hegel and Goethe, Lvwith discusses how Hegel's students, particularly Marx and Kierkegaard, interpreted----or reinterpreted----their master's thought, and proceeds with an in-depth assessment of the other important philosophers, from Feuerbach, Stirner, and Schelling to Nietzsche.
Oscar Wilde once mused over a varnished skull in someone's library and piped, "Death, how Gothic- life, how Greek." These two strains riddle Western civilization, and Oscar was being witty about it, while Germany's Karl Lowith, in his brilliant book, is being very... German. Yet if reading his book is like entering the tomb of intellect, the tomb itself is a splendid storehouse. The work encompasses 19th century German romanticism and Europe's bourgeois-Christian ethos. Under the Gothic (and other names can define it) is Hegel's nether-world of absolutism, the reconciliation between philosophy, religion, art and the state. Representing the neo-Greek revival is, of course, Nietzsche. Bertrand Russell dismissed both; Herr Lowith (not even bothering to dismiss Russell) subjects them to an amazingly minute screening, probably the most structurally impressive they and their revolutionary redefinitions of man have received. The whole book, moreover, bulges with cultural offshoots and conflicting schools, from Goethe's nature-humanism to such left-wing Hegelians as Ruge, Bauer and Strauss. In addition, there are discussions of Marx, Stirner and Kierkegaard often as penetratingly aphoristic as those given the star performers. A whole century of ideological developments, of, in fact, all the dominations under which the world uneasily lies today, is here sorted out, studied and synthesized. A "last word" book. Essential. (Kirkus Reviews)