Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

By Dieter Henrich; David S. Pacini | Go to book overview

Preface

I delivered these lectures at Harvard University three decades ago. Stanley Cavell and John Rawls had encouraged me to take a leave of absence in 1973 from my visiting professorship at Columbia University and to teach classical German philosophy at Harvard for a semester. In the midst of this course of lectures, Harvard extended me the invitation to continue teaching as a visiting professor, alternating my time between Heidelberg (and, subsequently, Munich) and Cambridge. I accepted and taught at Harvard through 1984, enjoying the opportunity to attend many classes of my distinguished colleagues—from all of the courses of W. V. O. Quine to some work in the proof theory of logic.

From the outset, Rawls and Cavell had expressed the hope that I would make the classical tradition of philosophy in Germany accessible to American students and scholars. I responded to their request by offering a course that attempted to uncover the motivations and systematic structure of the philosophy of Kant and his successors. I also tried to interpret their theories and arguments—omitting, for example, their frequently exaggerated claims—in a way that analytically trained colleagues and students could take seriously. The reception of the lectures by a surprisingly large audience of students and colleagues from various departments was strong—in fact enthusiastic.

During the course, three among my students, one of whom was David Pacini, made a transcript of the lectures. They distributed the transcripts not only to the students who took the course for credit, but also to the senior faculty of the department and to a number of libraries. These transcripts provide the basis for this book. Pacini invested his knowledge, energy, and care into the editing and annotation of the material, and I

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