Frederick C. Beiser

Frederick Charles Beiser[1] (/ˈbzər/; born November 27, 1949) is an American philosopher who is professor of philosophy at Syracuse University. He is one of the leading English-language scholars of German idealism. In addition to his writings on German idealism, Beiser has also written on the German Romantics and 19th-century British philosophy. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his research in 1994,[2] and was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2015.[3]

Frederick C. Beiser
Frederick Charles Beiser

(1949-11-27) November 27, 1949
ResidenceSyracuse, New York, US[1]
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisThe Spirit of the Phenomenology (1980)
Doctoral advisor
Academic work

Early life and education

Beiser was born on November 27, 1949, in Albert Lea, Minnesota. In 1971, Beiser received a bachelor's degree from Shimer College, a Great Books college then located in Mount Carroll, Illinois.[4][5] He then studied at the Oriel College of the University of Oxford, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, politics and economics in 1974.[1] He subsequently studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science from 1974 to 1975.[1] Beiser earned his Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree in philosophy from Wolfson College, Oxford, in 1980, under the direction of Charles Taylor and Isaiah Berlin.[1] His doctoral thesis was titled The Spirit of the Phenomenology: Hegel's Resurrection of Metaphysics in the Phänomenologie des Geistes.[6]


After receiving his DPhil in 1980, Beiser moved to West Germany, where he was a Thyssen Research Fellow at the Free University of Berlin. He returned to the United States four years later.[7] He joined the University of Pennsylvania's faculty in 1984, staying there until 1985. He then spent the springs of 1986 and 1987 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and University of Colorado Boulder, respectively.

In 1987, Beiser released his first book, The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte (Harvard University Press). In the book, Beiser sought to reconstruct the background of German idealism through the narration of the story of the Spinoza or Pantheism controversy. Consequently, a great many figures, whose importance was hardly recognized by the English-speaking philosophers, were given their proper due. The work won the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize for best first book.[8] He has since edited two Cambridge anthologies on Hegel, The Cambridge Companion to Hegel (1993) and The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy (2008), and written a number of books on German philosophy and the English Enlightenment. He also edited The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics (Cambridge University Press) in 1996.

In 1988, Beiser moved again to West Germany, where he was a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Free University of Berlin. He returned to the United States in 1990 to take up a professorship at Indiana University Bloomington, where he remained until 2001. During his tenure at Indiana, he spent time teaching at Yale University. He joined Syracuse University in 2001, where he remains as of 2017. He also taught at Harvard University during the spring of 2002.[9]

Beiser is notable amongst English-language scholars for his defense of the metaphysical aspects of German idealism (e.g. Naturphilosophie), both in their centrality to any historical understanding of German idealism, as well as their continued relevance to contemporary philosophy.[10]



  • The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte. Harvard University Press. 1987.
  • Enlightenment, Revolution, and Romanticism: The Genesis of Modern German Political Thought, 1790–1800. Harvard University Press. 1992.
  • The Sovereignty of Reason: The Defense of Rationality in Early English Enlightenment. Princeton University Press. 1996.
  • German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectivism, 1781–1801. Harvard University Press. 2002.
  • The Romantic Imperative: The Concept of Early German Romanticism. Harvard University Press. 2004.
  • Schiller as Philosopher: A Re-Examination. Oxford University Press. 2005.
  • Hegel. Routledge. 2005.
  • Diotima's Children: German Aesthetic Rationalism from Leibniz to Lessing. Oxford University Press. 2009.
  • The German Historicist Tradition. Oxford University Press. 2011.
  • Late German Idealism: Trendelenburg and Lotze. Oxford University Press. 2013.
  • After Hegel: German Philosophy, 1840–1900. Princeton University Press. 2014.
  • The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism, 1796–1880. Oxford University Press. 2014.
  • Weltschmerz: Pessimism in German Philosophy, 1860–1900. Oxford University Press. 2016.

Edited works

  • The Cambridge Companion to Hegel. Cambridge University Press. 1996.
  • The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics. Cambridge University Press. 1996.
  • The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. 2008.


  1. Beiser, Fred (2012). "Curriculum Vitae: Frederick Charles Beiser" (PDF). Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  2. Guggenheim Foundation. "Frederick C. Beiser". Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  3. "A Life Devoted to Philosophy - Germany honors Professor Frederick Charles Beiser". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  4. Shimer College (1972). "The Students". Shimer College Catalog 1972–1973. p. 109.
  5. Shimer College (2000). Shimer College Faculty & Alum Directory 2000.
  6. Beiser, F. C. (1980). The Spirit of the Phenomenology: Hegel's Resurrection of Metaphysics in the Phänomenologie des Geistes (DPhil thesis). Oxford: University of Oxford. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  7. Forster, Michael N.; Gjesdal, Kristin (2015). The Oxford Handbook of German Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780199696543.
  8. Harvard University Press. "The Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize". Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  9. "Curriculum Vitae: Frederick Charles Beiser" (PDF). Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  10. Beiser, Frederick. "Hegel and Naturphilosophie." Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 34.1 (2003): 135-147.

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