chapter  13
Reactions: Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche
Pages 15

Hegelian idealism so dominated philosophical thought in early nineteenth-century Germany, and in the states which depended upon German literature for their intellectual life, that the local reactions against it were not at first taken seriously. The so-called ‘Young Hegelians’, who had given to Hegelian philosophy its varied popular colourings, constituted an intellectual movement of almost unprecedented power, in which the most abstruse and difficult of philosophies was made the foundation not only for vigorous moral, religious and aesthetic doctrines, but also for imaginative literature and organised political life. The movement, which culminated in the historical materialism of Marx, was so influential that the history of ideas must accord to it an important place in nineteenth-century thought. The history of philosophy, however, can afford to pass it by with a glance or two, and turn its attention to the far more impressive thinkers that the Hegelian flurry of self-advertisement concealed from their contemporaries. The first of these, increasingly recognised over the last hundred years as one of the great philosophers of his time, was Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). Schopenhauer was a younger contemporary of Hegel who, partly out of bitterness at the latter’s capacity to eclipse him, and partly out of a genuine distaste towards the intellectual self-indulgence of the Hegelian system, dismissed Hegel as a’stupid and clumsy charlatan’.