Germany's political and cultural past from ancient times through World War II has dimmed the legacy of its Enlightenment, which these days is far outshone by those of France and Scotland. In this book, T. J. Reed clears the dust away from eighteenth-century Germany, bringing the likes of Kant, Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, and Gotthold Lessing into a coherent and focused beam that shines within European intellectual history and reasserts the important role of Germany's Enlightenment. Reed looks closely at the arguments, achievements, conflicts, and controversies of these major thinkers and how their development of a lucid and active liberal thinking matured in the late eighteenth century into an imaginative branching that ran through philosophy, theology, literature, historiography, science, and politics. He traces the various pathways of their thought and how one engendered another, from the principle of thinking for oneself to the development of a critical epistemology; from literature's assessment of the past to the formulation of a poetic ideal of human development.
Ultimately, Reed shows how the ideas of the German Enlightenment have proven their value in modern secular democracies and are still of great relevance despite their frequent dismissal to us in the twenty-first century.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 404 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
"From philosophy to politics, and from literature to theology, from science to pedagogy, and from jurisprudence to historiography, Reed dazzles and instructs with his examples of liberal ideas. There is perhaps no other book on the subject, and certainly none so brief, which affords so fully rounded a picture of the age. Every page affords fresh insights. Enlightened rulers such as Frederick the Great and Joseph II are discussed alongside proselytizing writers like Christoph Martin Wieland and Karl Philip Moritz, or innovative thinkers such as the pedagogue Johann Bernhard Basedow and the inventor of the modem university, Wilhelm von Humboldt. Against the view that the Enlightenment failed, Reed amasses overwhelming testimony that it succeeded. Indeed, one of the great virtues of his book lies in its demonstrating the credibility of the Enlightenment's goals, by means of which he disposes of the mantra that the subsequent German catastrophe was inevitable."
--Times Literary Supplement
"Set out in vigorous prose which combine incisiveness with nuance. Light in Germany is written with all the combative trenchancy which distinguished the author's twenty-year editorship of this magazine. It is based on deep familiarity with the literature of the period, and it is intellectually exhilarating to read."--Oxford Magazine