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Thank you Germany: Part 033: German philosophy has a special reputation


It all began with “German Idealism”: Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel, Friedrich Hölderlin, Schlegel, Novalis and many others established the special world fame of German philosophy. The Germans can also be proud of their Romanticism. This does not only mean a special mood at a private candlelight dinner. An important current of its own in philosophy and art also emerged during the Romantic era. German writers, philosophers and artists created works of world renown during this period. They continue to inspire many thinkers, writers and painters around the world today.

Anyone interested in culture cannot avoid works from Germany. Many tourists visit the country to follow in the footsteps of these great thinkers, to see the original of a particular painting on site or to pay a visit to the birthplace of a great personality. The thinkers of German Idealism laid theoretical foundations that many scientific disciplines could not do without. Even if not every philosophical school still relies on the insights of that time today, almost all important thinkers have dealt with them. Even French post-structuralism would be inconceivable without Hegel’s fundamental works. Thinkers in France have also benefited considerably from their engagement with the works from Germany.

Germany can be proud of these important works. Those who live here and speak the language also have the advantage of being able to read the fundamental works in the original text. Today, there are annotated editions of many works in Germany. In these, the text is edited accurately and historically-critically. Following the text, there is a scholarly commentary or an introduction that facilitates access. Those who depend on working with such works thus receive important information and a solid textual basis. But also for people who want to gain access out of pure curiosity or personal interest, the annotated editions offer an optimal basis. If you already live in Germany, you should not miss the opportunity to do so.

The important works reflect the philosophy of the time at its intellectual peak. The texts are not always as difficult to read as their reputation claims. Once you have read into a thinker, you can usually follow his formulations very well. The German philosophers are distinguished by their very precise language. Everything is precisely defined here and the text is based on a trained methodical approach. But the spirit of the times can also be easily understood through the images of the time. That is why they are a popular genre all over the world. Even advertising picks up some ideas from art history. So it is not uncommon for a trained eye to discover references to images from so-called high culture in everyday culture. Many of these images were created by artists from Germany.

Although the country is not as old as Roman antiquity, it can nevertheless look back on considerable cultural achievements. These can be enjoyed no matter what country you come from. You simply have to love Germany for that.

Last updated on 6. February 2023

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