Seven Most Greatest German Philosophers of All Time

german philosophers

List of Famous Philosophers from Germany | Five Great German Philosophers

Germany is a country of poets and thinkers. Who are some of the most influential German philosophers of all time?

Friedrich Nietzsche

Who is the German philosopher who wrote about the will to power?

Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the most famous German philosophers, critic of religion and philologist, born in 1844. He was one of the most controversial philosophers of his time and consciously attacked all the norms dictated by Christianity. According to him, morality makes dumb. He himself predicted, that only future generation will understand him. 

The Nietzsche philosophy idea was the free will of each and every human being. Christianity however makes people to slaves, especially the poors, who live in constant fear of torture. People believe not because they want, but because they are just scared not to do so. Morality only exists for the poor just to be able to create a peaceful life on their own. Nobody can change his destiny, according to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche people should rather “love it”. Human life is nothing more than a prison, a cave, at which grids people are beating themselves to death. Despite all that, Nitzsches famous saying “God is dead” made clear, that he himself was actually a believer.

Nietzsche’s works: Beyond Good and Evil, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Karl Marx

Karl Marx was one of the most famous German philosophers and society theorist, born in 1818. He grew up during the time of the industrial revolution when a few factory owner gained a lot of money while a lot of simple workers were living on the poverty line. In 1944, the academic Marx met Friedrich Engels, son of a manufacturer. Engels as well openly denounced the bad situation of the workers. The friendship between Engels and Marx was very close. Engels gave Marx a huge amount of respect and also supported him financially.

Socialism

During the time of the industrial revolution, some people pleaded for an expropriation of the means of production from the factory owners. They shoul give everything to the state, which could manage everything fairly.

Communism

Communism is the top level of Socialism, a community of equal people. Everyboy can take as much as he needs.

Capitalism

In an industrial society, the capitalists have all the means of production and thus dominate the market. The proletarians on the other hand possess nothing more than their own labor power which they need to offer on the labour market. Capitalists buy their labour to the cheapest price and therefore the lowest salary. Capitalists are getting richer while the proletarians are getting poorer. Furthermore, capitalists having a huge competition with each other. Thats why the proletarians are getting exploited more and more until they will start a revolution. 

Marx’ works: The Communist Manifesto, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy

Immanuel Kant

Imanuel Kant was one of the most important German philosophers of the late Enlightenment, born in 1724. The Kant philosophy is said to be very hard to understand if someone didn’t get a philosophical education. He asked three basic questions: What am I able to know? What should I do? What am I allowed to hope? According to Nietzsche, pure reason is a reason, which gains its knowledge from itself, and not from experience. Objects first conform to the form of our recognition and not the other way around. Metaphysics as a science is impossible, because God and the soul are located outside of our experience. The one who does not let himself be guided by sensible causes of reason is acting morally. Freedom according to German philosopher Kant means obedience against the self-given moral law. God is a matter of hope from a philosophical, not a lyrical point of view. 

Kant’s works: Critique of Pure Reason, Fundamental Principles of Morals

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a scientist and one of the best known German philosophers, born in 1646. He was a polymath and achieved outstanding results in the field of math, history, law and is said to be the inventor of the calculator. Leibniz thought that all terms go back to simple, nuclear concepts. His concrn was, how to assign these conceptual signs and therefore, how to derive terms from them. The result could be an ideal language.

Leibniz assumed, that good things are only available if there are also bad things. The real world is build in a way, that the good things cannot be created by God if there is a reduced form of bad things. The “best of all worlds” – a famous saying by him – means that only a world with its development potential is the “best of all”. 

According to Leibniz, God built the best of all worlds. The so called “bad things” do not preclude this fact.

Leibniz’s works: Theodicy, Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays

Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels was a German social critic, philosopher, historian and author, born in 1820. The son of a textile manufaturer became a close friend of Karl Marx. After serving for the military, he started working in his fathers branch in Manchester and came into contact with the labour movement. Engels started asking the qustion of labor demand. Through his post as a secretary in the General Council of the “International Workers’ Association”, Engels was able to concentrate on journalistic and scientific work. He published a lot of writings about Socialism and therefore helped, to achieve a great popularity. For him, the private property was responsible for the contemporary grievances in the social sphere. As an outlook and abolition of all social sloths, he proclaimed the class struggle, the end of which was Communism. 

Engels’ works: The German Ideology, Manifest of the Communist Party.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Hegel was German philosopher and considered as the most important representative of German Idealism, born in 1770. Hegel expanded Fichte’s ego to the divine “concept”, which at the same time forms the basis and method of his extensive “system”, which represents the entire science in a context (“truth is the whole”). The method needs to be understood as the necessary movement of both our mind and our reality. The Hegel philosophy says that original unity is a contradiction (dialectics), by which “the abolition” enriches the initial unity (speculation ). In this process, the categories of thinking (logic) and reality are being developed. These are nature, the human mind, history, art, religion and philosophy. According to German philosopher Hegel, the “negative”, the “contradiction” or the “evil in the world” can be understand in a necessary moment of passage in the development of the whole. The goal is freedom and knowledge of the truth, which means the whole understanding of the process of the realization of the idea.

Hegel’s works: Phenomenology of Spirit.

Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher born in 1889. His main work is “Being and Time” from 1927 in which he suggests, that Being in human existence shows that man is “there or in the world” in a spatial sense. And since man is “there” in a certain period, he is also in Time. According to the Heidegger philosophy, its important, that the human being is not living isolated for himself, but that he is open for the world. Human beings need the open world to exist. 

Heidegger’s works: Being and Time

Featured images (cropped): A portrait of Karl Marx – John Jabez Edwin Mayall Wikimedia – Public DomainPortrait of Immanuel Kant – Eric Gerlach (Source) – Public Domain

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