Revolution and Reflection: Intellectual Change in Germany by Andrew Lees (auth.)

By Andrew Lees (auth.)

THE challenge AND THE process The abortive revolutions of 1848 were greatly looked by way of historians as a watershed not just within the political but additionally within the highbrow de­ velopment of modem Europe. prior to 1848, based on the conventional view, the universal weather of opinion used to be idealistic, hopeful, humane, and revolutionary. Mterwards, it used to be empirical, pessimistic, cynical, and captivated with strength. As Hans Kohn placed it in his essay "Mid-century: The Turning Point," "In 1848 the principles of Western civilizatio- highbrow trust within the objectivity of fact and justice, moral religion in mercy and tolerance - have been nonetheless unshaken. . . . within the spring of 1848 mankind was once packed with gleaming desire, however the finish of 1848 dashed the hopes, and the century which 1848 inaugurated looks to have led slowly yet without doubt to decay and catastrophe. " 1 Germany, a major perpetrator within the debacle which marked the final 3rd of that century, has been noticeable because the nation within which the occasions of 1848-49 had the main profound influence. even if few historians have long past so far as Kohn in linking the mess ups skilled by way of mid-nineteenth-century Germans to the horrors perpetrated by way of a few of their twentieth-century descendants, it has lengthy been universal to think about Germany's reaction to her defeated revolution as a means of atti­ tudinal coaching for Otto von Bismarck's authoritarian technique to the nationwide query within the interval among 1864 and 1871 - which in flip used to be fraught with ominous long-range significance.

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Along with courses on legal philosophy, the philosophy of history, and the history of pedagogy, he gave courses on German thought since Kant and Lessing, which he hoped to turn into his next book. " 11 Haym had already broken with Hegel before 1848, but he felt the need to discover why Hegel's system had held a whole generation in its sway. His effort was therefore not that of the philosopher, who would simply criticize the system internally, but that of the historian, who showed how the system had arisen in a particular milieu and then been rendered obsolete by historical change.

Historians had to display these ethical qualities if their work was not to become soulless and affected, and the only way to develop them was to show an active interest in contemporary affairs. For Sybel, the fact that historians were rising to the challenge held out for the discipline the promise of a bright and hopeful future. so Shortly after delivering this speech, Sybel went to Munich, where he not only taught at the university but also, with Ranke, organized the Historical Commission of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.

Finally, there were the analysts and the critics of society. Almost every member of this last group, which by and large included the most interesting and original thinkers of the period, could also be treated as a political liberal, democrat, or conservative. But whatever their politics, they were less concerned to expound these beliefs than to discuss other problems which carried them beyond the political realm. 27 First, the liberals, whose writing displayed an especially acute sense of public vocation.

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