This introductory chapter first sets out the book's focus, namely German philosophy from 1840 to 1900. The common opinion about German philosophy in the second half of the nineteenth century was that it was a period of decline and stagnation. The great creative “age of idealism” had passed away with Hegel's death, it seemed, only to be succeeded by “an age of realism,” which was more concerned with empirical science and technical progress than philosophy. It is argued that the common opinion is just false, and that the second half of the century, though written about much less, is more important and interesting philosophically than the first half. The remainder of the chapter discusses the major developments in the in the second half of the nineteenth century and the approach taken in this book.
Keywords: German philosophy, nineteenth century, idealism, Hegel, realism