History and Historiography

Marx, the Young Hegelians, and the origins of radical social theory

By Jan Olof Bengtsson

History of European Ideas 26 (2000) 127–142

Book reviews

Marx, the Young Hegelians, and the origins of radical social theory

Warren Breckman, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; 1999, 335pp.The well-known theme in modernist and postmodernist literature of the dissolution of what was perceived by radicals as the more or less ‘‘bourgeois’’ self also has parallels in philosophy, and already in the 19th century. In this study of Marx and the Young Hegelians, Warren Breckman shows how the Young Hegeliansturned against the ‘‘Christian personalism’’ in philosophy, theology, and politics that had developed in the 1830s in Germany in opposition to Hegel’s system, and how their thinking cannot be properly understood apart from this constitutive polemical negation. In some important respects, this ‘‘Christian personalism’’ had its origins and its point of departure in the sort of consistent theistic criticism which Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi already before the emergence of German idealism directed against the leading thinkers of the enlightenment in Germany, Lessing, and Mendelssohn.

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