GA 28

Der deutsche Idealismus: Fichte, Schelling, Hegel

German Idealism

In these lectures from the Summer Semester 1929, Heidegger undertakes a critical exposition or setting-in-opposition (Auseinandersetzung) of the leading figures of German Idealism, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. These lectures are unique in that they offer one of the most explicit accounts of Heidegger’s interpretation of Fichte’s philosophy. According to Heidegger, Fichte’s attempt to define the “positing” of consciousness as a “fact-act” points to the facticity of human existence. Heidegger also examines Schelling’s “nature philosophy” (Naturphilosophie) as an attempt to grasp the interconnection of finitude (Endlichkeit), world, and entities in the whole.

Heidegger consummates his analysis by addressing Hegel’s philosophy as an example of “absolute idealism” (absoluten Idealismus). In this context, Hegel’s philosophy provides a point of departure for the problematic of temporality and Heidegger’s critique of the metaphysical privileging of the “present” (Gegenwart) as the primary dimension of time. Even in Hegel’s attempt to establish the dialectical mediation of time and eternity, the present still emerges as a measure of both the dynamic of becoming and the permanence of the Absolute or God. The metaphysical concept of being as permanent or constant presence provides the presupposition of Hegel’s “speculative” depiction of Absolute Spirit. By showing how the temporal problematic of finitude and transcendence underlie the German idealist rendition of time, Heidegger clears the way for singling out Immanuel Kant as the figure who comes closest to establishing the finite basis of metaphysics as fundamental ontology.