Study Sheet on Romanticism and German Idealism

The Philosophe vs. the Romantic

1. Why did the Romantics denounce the scientific rationalism of the Enlightenment?

2. According to the Romantics, how did reason stifle the individual’s creativity? How could the expression of feeling lead to a truer understanding of human nature and the world?

3. Why did the Romantics believe that the poet rather than the scientist was best able to explore the mysteries of existence?

Nature, God and History

4. How was the Romantic idea of God different from the Enlightenment’s celestial clockmaker?

The Impact of the Romantic Movement

5. What dangerous political movements found their origins in the Romantics’ attack on the rational traditions of the Enlightenment?

German Idealism

6. Explain how the idealists understood the difference between material and spiritual reality. Which Greek philosopher inspired this dualistic understanding of reality?

7. How did the British philosopher David Hume shake the bedrock convictions of scientific certainty? 

Immanuel Kant

8. How did Kant redefine Locke’s theory of human knowledge?

9. Which Greek philosopher had also argued that we are born with innate knowledge?

10. According to Kant, how does the human mind itself impose order upon our sense experiences? How did this idea rescue science from Hume’s skepticism?

11. According to Kant, the human mind is actively involved in the creation of reality. How did this new understanding of the human mind change the course of western philosophy?

12. Why did Kant believe that science was incapable of grasping total reality?

13. How did Kant believe that God reveals his existence? How does this belief make human morality legitimate?

G.W.F. Hegel

14. What was Hegel’s great philosophical goal?

15. Describe Hegel’s dynamic understanding of how the Spirit manifests itself in human history. 

16. How, according to Hegel, does history proceed through dialectics?

17. Towards what end did Hegel believe history is proceeding?