German idealism and its consequences


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

The Transformation of Modern Thought – Philosophy, psychoanalysis, culture

Course code: 81

Year of study: Not specified

Course principal:
Assoc. Prof. Frank Ruda, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 30 hours

Course type: general elective 

Languages: Slovene, English

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminars, discussion classes 


Course syllabus


None required.


Content (Syllabus outline):

1. German Idealism and metaphysics:

  • What is metaphysics?
  • Critical and post-critical metaphysics
  • Being and Nothing
  • Essence and appearance
  • What is a concept?


2. German Idealism and politics:

  • Conceptions of subjectivity and their political implications
  • Event and the constitution of a subject
  • Event and philosophy
  • Classifications of subjects / philosophies


3. German Idealism and science:

  • What science?
  • Ontology and formalization
  • The category of the impossible
  • Ontology and mathematics


4. German Idealism and love

  • Thinking the other
  • Philosophy, God and Religion
  • Philosophy and christianity
  • German Idealism’s ethical thought


5. German Idealism and art:

  • What is aesthetics?
  • What is a sensual appearance of an idea?
  • Art and subjectivity


6. The Actuality of German Idealism

  • Kant today?
  • Fichte today?
  • Schelling today?
  • Hegel today?



  • Johan Gottlieb Fichte, Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre and Other Writings (1797-1800), Cambridge: Hackett Publishing 1994.
  • Johan Gottlieb Fichte, The Science of Knowledge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1982.
  • G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1977.
  • G.W.F. Hegel, Science of Logic, New York: Humanity Books 1969.
  • G.W.F. Hegel, Outlines of the Philosophy of Right, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2008.
  • G.W.F. Hegel, Lectures on Fine Art, Vol. I-III, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1998-2015.
  • Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press 1999.
  • Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2001.
  • Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2001.
  • Immanuel Kant, Political Writings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1991.
  • F.W.J. Schelling, Philosophical Investigation into the Essence of Human Freedom, New York: Suny Press 2007.
  • F.W.F. Schelling, The Philosophy of Art, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1989.
  • F.W.J. Schelling, Ages of the World, New York: Suny Press 2000.


Secondary sources:

  • Alain Badiou, Theory of the Subject, London / New York: Verso 2009.
  • Rebecca Comay, Mourning Sickness: Hegel and the French Revolution, Stanford: Stanford University Press 2011.
  • Eckart Förster, The Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy: A Systematic Reconstruction, Harvard: Harvard University Press 2012.
  • Dieter Henrich, Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism, Harvard: Harvard University Press 2008.
  • Jean Hyppolite, Logic and Existence, New York: State University of New York Press 1997.
  • Jacques Lacan, “Kant with Sade”, in: Ecrit. The First Complete Edition in English, ed. by Bruce Fink, New York / London: W.W. Norton & Company 2006,, pp. 645-670.
  • Jean-Luc Nancy, Hegel. The Restlessness of the Negative, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 2002.
  • Robert B. Pippin, Hegel’s Idealism: The Satisfaction of Self-Consciousness, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1989.
  • Slavoj Žižek, Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism, London / New York: Verso 2013.
  • Alenka Zupančič, Ethics of the Real: Kant and Lacan, London / New York: Verso 2000.


Objectives and competences:

At its beginning and in its own self-description what is commonly referred to as German Idealism claimed to be the first real metaphysics ever consistently developed in the history of philosophy. In this way Kant thought to have embarked on a journey whose end will finally overcome traditional dogmatic metaphysics as well as the scepticism (toward metaphysics) it provoked. Just two and a half decades later, Hegel will already announce the end, not only of (this new kind of) philosophy, but also of politics, art and history. What has been called the “25 years of philosophy” (E. Förster), that is “German Idealism” marks one of the liveliest, yet also densest and most convoluted moments in the history of philosophy. This course will introduce into the thought and the contemporary relevance of the thinkers that belong to the philosophical tradition of German Idealism (mainly Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel). It will have a threefold objective:

  1. To introduce and discuss by recourse to the enlisted philosophers what was lacking (or not) in the philosophies before Kant and raise the question of what changed with the so called Copernican Revolution in philosophy and its aftermath.
  2. To introduce and discuss in detail the implications and consequences that one the most crucial revolutions in the history of philosophy had not only for philosophy but also for understanding politics, art, love and science.
  3. 3. To raise the question not if there is anything meaningful for us to find in Kant, Hegel, Fichte or Schelling, but rather how do conceive of our contemporary situation from the respective perspective of these thinkers. This will be done by focussing inter alia on the reception of the political Ur-event of the time of German Idealism, namely the French Revolution, and by relating it to the history of failed revolutions and their outcome in the 20th century.


Students will learn in these lecture classes, what it means or can mean to think about their own present situation and the present political and artistic condition with Hegel, Kant et al. This will be done by showing how and why what appears to be a mere particular moment in the history of an academic discipline ultimately has far reaching and transformative repercussions on the very condition of possibility of thought as such.


Intended learning outcomes:

Students use the knowledge acquired in the course to write a piece of academic writing that can serve as a draft of a dissertation chapter or a research article.


Learning and teaching methods:

Types of learning/teaching:

  • Frontal teaching
  • Independent students work
  • e-learning


Teaching methods:

  • Explanation
  • Conversation/discussion/debate
  • Work with texts
  • Case studies
  • Different presentation



  • 80 % Long written assignments
  • 20 % Final examination (written/oral)


Contemporary philosophy and modernist literature

Assist. Prof. Rok Benčin, Ph.D.,


Critical Aesthetics and Twentieth-Century Art

Prof. Aleš Erjavec, Ph. D. ,

Prof. Lev Kreft, Ph. D. ,


Formation of the Concepts

Assist. Prof. Aleš Bunta, Ph. D. ,

Assist. Prof. Tadej Troha, Ph. D. ,


German idealism and its consequences

Assoc. Prof. Frank Ruda, Ph. D. ,


Ideology and Philosophy

Assoc. Prof. Jan Völker, Ph. D. ,


Philosophy and Psychoanalysis

Prof. Jelica Šumič Riha, Ph. D.,


Philosophy and scientific revolution

Assoc. Prof. Matjaž Vesel, Ph.D.,


Psychoanalysis and the social bond

Prof. Alenka Zupančič, Ph.D.,

Assoc. Prof. Peter Klepec, Ph. D.,