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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
February 2023
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Book description

Friedrich Jacobi held a position of unparalleled importance in the golden age of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century intellectual history. Nonetheless, the range and style of his thought and its expression has always posed interpretative challenges that continue to hinder his reception. This volume introduces and evaluates Jacobi's pivotal place in the history of ideas. It explores his role in catalyzing the close of the Enlightenment through his critique of reason, how he shaped the reception of Kant's critical philosophy and the subsequent development of German idealism, his effect on the development of Romanticism and religion through his emphasis on feeling, and his influence in shaping the emergence of existentialism. This volume serves as an authoritative resource for one of the most important yet underappreciated figures in modern European intellectual history. It also recasts our understanding of Fichte, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and others in light of his influence and impact.


‘In the past fifty years, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi has proved his great importance for the study of German philosophy in its great formative years (1780–1830). Jacobi was behind every important controversy and he was a central influence upon every major thinker of the era. Despite his great importance, the anglophone world has been very slow to appreciate Jacobi. Now, with Alexander Hampton’s excellent anthology, we can say that it has finally got up to speed. This volume contains first-rate articles by some fifteen specialists on every aspect of Jacobi’s thought; it is indispensable for every student of Jacobi and German Idealism.’

Frederick C. Beiser - Professor of Philosophy, Syracuse University

‘Despite his enormous importance for the development of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German intellectual history, F. H. Jacobi remains a relatively under-explored figure within anglophone philosophical scholarship. This volume makes a significant contribution to remedying that gap, with a cross-disciplinary set of essays exploring Jacobi’s role in central debates over issues such as scepticism, nihilism, and the relation between faith and reason. A vital new resource for those interested in key debates that shaped Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment German thought.’

Allen Speight - Professor of Philosophy, Boston University

‘In recent years, philosophy in the Anglo-American world has broadened its scope to include consideration of more than just the work of Kant and Hegel from the ‘classical’ German tradition. Fichte, Schelling, and the ‘early German Romantics’ are now quite well established as part of contemporary philosophical debate. The work of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743–1819), in contrast, has been largely absent from much of that debate. As this volume shows, Jacobi was a crucial figure in the development of German Idealist and Romantic philosophy, and German theology, who also plays an important, but often neglected, role in subsequent debates. This collection of essays will serve as a valuable introduction to an original and provocative thinker.’

Andrew Bowie - Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and German, Royal Holloway University of London

‘This exciting volume honors George DiGiovanni, professor of philosophy at McGill University, whose pathbreaking translation of Jacobi’s philosophical and literary work launched the 18th-century German intellectual's reception in the Anglophone world. The volume’s 15 essays, all excellent … This welcome collection will further understanding of Jacobi and of modernity … Highly recommended.’

E. Millán Source: Choice

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