Cover: The Shadow of God: Kant, Hegel, and the Passage from Heaven to History, from Harvard University PressCover: The Shadow of God in HARDCOVER

The Shadow of God

Kant, Hegel, and the Passage from Heaven to History

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$35.00 • £30.95 • €31.95

ISBN 9780674244610

Publication Date: 06/30/2022

Academic Trade

416 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Belknap Press


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Although Kant was not a secular thinker, he still contributed to secularization. This distinction illustrates the sophistication of Rosen’s approach… Rosen challenges much that is taken for granted in modern accounts of [Kant’s] work… Innovative.—Richard Bourke, Times Literary Supplement

[An] illuminating perspective on contemporary trends that rewards critical engagement… Rosen makes no claim to have definitively unraveled the intellectual origins of our troubled times; but he is surely right that the fundamental need to find our place in the world, the sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves—whether secular or divine will continue to cast a long shadow over our history.—Paul Dicken, American Conservative

Thinkers such as Kant and Hegel, indeed most of the German idealists, conforming to the religious and political orthodoxy of the day, sought to save religion. Rosen argues, however, that the requirement that God and reason should coexist, that theodicy should be rational theodicy, far from saving religion, hastened its decline.—Julian Young, Society

Rosen’s argument is original and provocative, and he excels at deciphering the gnarled writings of the German Idealists and making comprehensible their thoughts about free will…and justice… This meticulous examination will appeal to philosophers and historians alike.Publishers Weekly

With great erudition and a characteristic combination of analytic precision and critical imagination, Michael Rosen serves us a dialectical feast: He brings German Idealism back to life by showing how much these thinkers of secularism were steeped in religious forms of thought that live on. This masterpiece is a great example of what Adorno once called solidarity with metaphysics in the moment of its fall.—Rainer Forst, Goethe University Frankfurt

The discussion about the nature and validity of ethical thinking in the English-speaking world suffers from a too-narrow range of examples. It often seems to come down to a debate between Bentham and secularized versions of Kant. Michael Rosen’s The Shadow of God reexamines the Kantian tradition and opens up a much wider range of crucial issues. His book is clearly and engagingly written and could enliven and transform the debate. It needs to be widely read.—Charles Taylor, McGill University

Written with both rigor and humor, Michael Rosen’s The Shadow of God offers original interpretations of notoriously difficult philosophical thinkers—Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, and others—while never losing sight of the existential puzzles about agency, history, theodicy, and evil that motivated them and that haunt us still. The book is both invigorating and consoling, and it is a pleasure to read.—Lydia Moland, Colby College

Michael Rosen tells the story of the intellectual movement from Kant to Hegel anew, and he describes it as, at its core, a ‘passage from heaven to history.’ The result is a fascinating book, beautifully written and tightly argued, full of insights and wisdom.—Eckart Förster, Johns Hopkins University

In this book, Michael Rosen rises above the limitations of sociological approaches to secularization and presents an intellectual-historical account, framed by Nietzsche’s aphorism of ‘the shadow of God.’ Challenging received views across a number of academic fields, Rosen takes our understanding of secularization to a new level, and we are greatly in his debt.—Shao Kai Tseng, Zhejiang University

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