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Idealism in Modern Philosophy

Paul Guyer and Rolf-Peter Horstmann

Publication Date - 23 June 2023

ISBN: 9780192848581

256 pages
8.5 x 5.4 inches


This book tells the story of idealism in modern philosophy, from the seventeenth century to the turn of the twenty-first. Paul Guyer and Rolf-Peter Horstmann define idealism as the reduction of all reality to something mental in nature. Rather than distinguishing between metaphysical and epistemological versions of idealism, they distinguish between metaphysical and epistemological motivations for idealism. They argue that while metaphysical arguments for idealism have only rarely been accepted, for example by Bishop Berkeley in the early eighteenth century and the British idealists Bradley and McTaggart in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, epistemological arguments for idealism have been widely accepted, even in the so-called analytic philosophy of the twentieth century.

Guyer and Horstmann discuss many philosophers who have played a role in the development of idealism, from Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, through Kant; the German idealists Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel; Schopenhauer and Nietzsche; the British and American idealists such as Green and Royce in addition to Bradley and McTaggart; G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, Neo-Kantians such as Ernst Cassirer; and twentieth-century philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Collingwood, Carnap, Sellars, and McDowell.


  • An authoritative introduction to the history of one of the main movements of modern philosophy
  • Features clear and concise accounts of the views of many major philosophers since the seventeenth century
  • Includes an extensive bibliography

About the Author(s)

Paul Guyer, Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy, Brown University,Rolf-Peter Horstmann, Professor emeritus, Humboldt Universität Berlin

Paul Guyer is Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at Brown University. He has been Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, Princeton University, and Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and his other awards include the Centennial Medal from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Prize, 2007-08.

Rolf-Peter Horstmann is Professor emeritus at Humboldt Universität Berlin. H has been Visiting Professor at Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, University of California at Berkeley, Dartmouth College, and Princeton University.

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Idealism in Early Modern Rationalism
    3. Idealism in Early Modern British Philosophy
    4. Kant
    5. German Idealism
    6. German Reactions against Idealism I: Schopenhauer and Nietzsche
    7. British and American Idealism
    8. The Rejection of British Idealism
    9. German Reactions Against Idealism II: Neo-Kantianism without Idealism
    10. Further into the Twentieth Century
    11. Conclusion