Skip to content

Your Cambridge account can now be used to log into other Cambridge products and services including Cambridge One, Cambridge LMS, Cambridge GO and Cambridge Dictionary Plus

Register Sign in Wishlist

Thinking the Unconscious
Nineteenth-Century German Thought

$42.99 (C)

Angus Nicholls, Martin Liebscher, Paul Bishop, Andrew Bowie, Rüdiger Görner, Christopher Janaway, Matthew Bell, Sebastian Gardner, Michael Heidelberger, Günter Gödde, Sonu Shamdasani
View all contributors
  • Date Published: November 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107411760

$ 42.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Since Freud’s earliest psychoanalytic theorization around the beginning of the twentieth century, the concept of the unconscious has exerted an enormous influence upon psychoanalysis and psychology, and literary, critical and social theory. Yet, prior to Freud, the concept of the unconscious already possessed a complex genealogy in nineteenth-century German philosophy and literature, beginning with the aftermath of Kant’s critical philosophy and the origins of German idealism, and extending into the discourses of romanticism and beyond. Despite the many key thinkers who contributed to the Germanic discourses on the unconscious, the English-speaking world remains comparatively unaware of this heritage and its influence upon the origins of psychoanalysis. Bringing together a collection of experts in the fields of German Studies, Continental Philosophy, the History and Philosophy of Science, and the History of Psychoanalysis, this volume examines the various theorizations, representations, and transformations undergone by the concept of the unconscious in nineteenth-century German thought.

    • The first English volume offering a detailed account of the development of the unconscious in nineteenth-century German thought, and how this influenced the origins of psychoanalysis
    • Discusses key thinkers such as Goethe, Schelling, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, as well as lesser-known philosophers
    • Brings together a prestigious group of scholars from the fields of German studies, literary studies, continental philosophy, the history and philosophy of science, the history of psychoanalysis, and psychoanalytic studies
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "From 'Discovering' to 'Thinking the Unconscious': this book offers an enlightening contribution to this still demanding and paradoxical task."
    --Professor Dr. Ludger Lütkehaus, University of Freiburg

    "While the conceit that Freud discovered – or invented – the unconscious, has long been dispatched, this collection explores in fascinating detail the tangled roots of the concept in the works of Leibniz and Kant and traces its surprising ramifications through the thought of the German Romantics and their successors. The authors reveal how the early constructions of the unconscious differ from that of Freud and brilliantly trouble complainant attitudes about figures (e.g., Goethe, Nietzsche) around whom the dust of opinion has long settled."
    --Robert J. Richards, Morris Fishbein Professor of the History of Science, the University of Chicago and author of The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe

    "Focusing on the crucible of German intellectual history in the long nineteenth century, this volume assembles expert accounts of how the concept, or complex, of the unconscious was thought and wrought before Freud. Significant new readings of canonical figures from Goethe to Nietzsche are complemented by judicious assessments of less familiar thinkers who helped shape this key term for modernity. Across the genealogical networks of philosophy, psychology, and literature, the vicissitudes of thinking the unconscious are explored with impressive erudition and an apt sense of the elusive and contested character of the subject."
    --Andrew Webber, Reader in Modern German and Comparative Culture, University of Cambridge

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107411760
    • length: 340 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: thinking the unconscious Angus Nicholls and Martin Liebscher
    1. The unconscious from the Storm and Stress to Weimar classicism: the dialectic of time and pleasure Paul Bishop
    2. The philosophical significance of Schelling's conception of the unconscious Andrew Bowie
    3. The scientific unconscious: Goethe's post-Kantian epistemology Angus Nicholls
    4. The hidden agent of the self: towards an aesthetic theory of the non-conscious in German romanticism Rüdiger Görner
    5. The real essence of human beings: Schopenhauer and the unconscious will Christopher Janaway
    6. Carl Gustav Carus and the science of the unconscious Matthew Bell
    7. Eduard von Hartmann's Philosophy of the Unconscious Sebastian Gardner
    8. Gustav Theodor Fechner and the unconscious Michael Heidelberger
    9. Friedrich Nietzsche's perspectives on the unconscious Martin Liebscher
    10. Freud and nineteenth-century philosophical sources on the unconscious Günter Gödde
    Epilogue: the 'optional' unconscious Sonu Shamdasani.

  • Editors

    Angus Nicholls, Queen Mary University of London

    Martin Liebscher, University of London


    Angus Nicholls, Martin Liebscher, Paul Bishop, Andrew Bowie, Rüdiger Görner, Christopher Janaway, Matthew Bell, Sebastian Gardner, Michael Heidelberger, Günter Gödde, Sonu Shamdasani

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.