Marx, Hegel, Luther - On the Jewish Question

Tadhg Gaelach

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Karl Marx Monument in Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany.



Following on from a discussion on another thread, I thought we might investigate how the European has seen the Jew thought the eyes of three of Europe's most noted thinkers - Karl Marx, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Martin Luther.

Let's start with Karl Marx as he himself came from Jewish stock and might be expected to have something of insider knowledge of this topic.




PART 1: KARL MARX

In 1843, Marx wrote a paper called "On the Jewish Question." It addresses a subject that was topical at the time, i.e. accepting Jews as full citizens of European states. Napoleon had made the Jews full citizens of the French Republic in 1806, but other European states were reluctant to follow suit. And let's remember that Catholics were only emancipated in Britain in 1829. And while the Jews had exerted de facto financial control over the British empire since its inception, the ordinary English people and the English nobility were very reluctant indeed to allow this financial control to become blatant political and cultural control.

As was Marx's wont, he addresses the question of Jewish citizenship in a highly philosophical manner, getting straight to the root of the question. His paper is in response to another essay by Bruno Bauer, which tried to set out the conditions for Jewish emancipation. Marx writes:

Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew.

What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.

Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time.

An organization of society which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make the Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would be dissipated like a thin haze in the real, vital air of society. On the other hand, if the Jew recognizes that this practical nature of his is futile and works to abolish it, he extricates himself from his previous development and works for human emancipation as such and turns against the supreme practical expression of human self-estrangement.

We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time, an element which through historical development – to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed – has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily begin to disintegrate.

In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.

The Jew has already emancipated himself in a Jewish way.

“The Jew, who in Vienna, for example, is only tolerated, determines the fate of the whole Empire by his financial power. The Jew, who may have no rights in the smallest German state, decides the fate of Europe. While corporations and guilds refuse to admit Jews, or have not yet adopted a favorable attitude towards them, the audacity of industry mocks at the obstinacy of the material institutions.” (Bruno Bauer, The Jewish Question, p. 114)

This is no isolated fact. The Jew has emancipated himself in a Jewish manner, not only because he has acquired financial power, but also because, through him and also apart from him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian nations. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews.

Captain Hamilton, for example, reports:

“The devout and politically free inhabitant of New England is a kind of Laocoön who makes not the least effort to escape from the serpents which are crushing him. Mammon is his idol which he adores not only with his lips but with the whole force of his body and mind. In his view the world is no more than a Stock Exchange, and he is convinced that he has no other destiny here below than to become richer than his neighbor. Trade has seized upon all his thoughts, and he has no other recreation than to exchange objects. When he travels he carries, so to speak, his goods and his counter on his back and talks only of interest and profit. If he loses sight of his own business for an instant it is only in order to pry into the business of his competitors.”

Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade, and the bankrupt trader deals in the Gospel just as the Gospel preacher who has become rich goes in for business deals.

“The man who you see at the head of a respectable congregation began as a trader; his business having failed, he became a minister. The other began as a priest but as soon as he had some money at his disposal he left the pulpit to become a trader. In the eyes of very many people, the religious ministry is a veritable business career.” (Beaumont, op. cit., pp. 185,186)

According to Bauer, it is

“a fictitious state of affairs when in theory the Jew is deprived of political rights, whereas in practice he has immense power and exerts his political influence en gros, although it is curtailed en détail.” (Die Judenfrage, p. 114)

The contradiction that exists between the practical political power of the Jew and his political rights is the contradiction between politics and the power of money in general. Although theoretically the former is superior to the latter, in actual fact politics has become the serf of financial power.

Marx then continues,

Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man – and turns them into commodities. Money is the universal self-established value of all things. It has, therefore, robbed the whole world – both the world of men and nature – of its specific value. Money is the estranged essence of man’s work and man’s existence, and this alien essence dominates him, and he worships it.

The god of the Jews has become secularized and has become the god of the world. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange.

The view of nature attained under the domination of private property and money is a real contempt for, and practical debasement of, nature; in the Jewish religion, nature exists, it is true, but it exists only in imagination.

It is in this sense that [in a 1524 pamphlet] Thomas Münzer declares it intolerable
“that all creatures have been turned into property, the fishes in the water, the birds in the air, the plants on the earth; the creatures, too, must become free.”

Contempt for theory, art, history, and for man as an end in himself, which is contained in an abstract form in the Jewish religion, is the real, conscious standpoint, the virtue of the man of money. The species-relation itself, the relation between man and woman, etc., becomes an object of trade! The woman is bought and sold.

The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general.
The groundless law of the Jew is only a religious caricature of groundless morality and right in general, of the purely formal rites with which the world of self-interest surrounds itself.

Here, too, man’s supreme relation is the legal one, his relation to laws that are valid for him not because they are laws of his own will and nature, but because they are the dominant laws and because departure from them is avenged.

Jewish Jesuitism, the same practical Jesuitism which Bauer discovers in the Talmud, is the relation of the world of self-interest to the laws governing that world, the chief art of which consists in the cunning circumvention of these laws.

Marx concludes with the following lines of brilliant analysis:

Judaism reaches its highest point with the perfection of civil society, but it is only in the Christian world that civil society attains perfection. Only under the dominance of Christianity, which makes all national, natural, moral, and theoretical conditions extrinsic to man, could civil society separate itself completely from the life of the state, sever all the species-ties of man, put egoism and selfish need in the place of these species-ties, and dissolve the human world into a world of atomistic individuals who are inimically opposed to one another.

Christianity sprang from Judaism. It has merged again in Judaism.

From the outset, the Christian was the theorizing Jew, the Jew is, therefore, the practical Christian, and the practical Christian has become a Jew again.

Christianity had only in semblance overcome real Judaism. It was too noble-minded, too spiritualistic to eliminate the crudity of practical need in any other way than by elevation to the skies.

Christianity is the sublime thought of Judaism, Judaism is the common practical application of Christianity, but this application could only become general after Christianity as a developed religion had completed theoretically the estrangement of man from himself and from nature.

Only then could Judaism achieve universal dominance and make alienated man and alienated nature into alienable, vendible objects subjected to the slavery of egoistic need and to trading.

Selling [verausserung] is the practical aspect of alienation [Entausserung]. Just as man, as long as he is in the grip of religion, is able to objectify his essential nature only by turning it into something alien, something fantastic, so under the domination of egoistic need he can be active practically, and produce objects in practice, only by putting his products, and his activity, under the domination of an alien being, and bestowing the significance of an alien entity – money – on them.

In its perfected practice, Christian egoism of heavenly bliss is necessarily transformed into the corporal egoism of the Jew, heavenly need is turned into world need, subjectivism into self-interest. We explain the tenacity of the Jew not by his religion, but, on the contrary, by the human basis of his religion – practical need, egoism.

Since in civil society the real nature of the Jew has been universally realized and secularized, civil society could not convince the Jew of the unreality of his religious nature, which is indeed only the ideal aspect of practical need. Consequently, not only in the Pentateuch and the Talmud, but in present-day society we find the nature of the modern Jew, and not as an abstract nature but as one that is in the highest degree empirical, not merely as a narrowness of the Jew, but as the Jewish narrowness of society.

Once society has succeeded in abolishing the empirical essence of Judaism – huckstering and its preconditions – the Jew will have become impossible, because his consciousness no longer has an object, because the subjective basis of Judaism, practical need, has been humanized, and because the conflict between man’s individual-sensuous existence and his species-existence has been abolished.

The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.

Full text:

On The Jewish Question by Karl Marx
 
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Olli Rehn

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Could we just have a thread for Tard, he could place all his Jewish hate threads in one place and make it easier for him to see his own ramblings in one place and allow the rest of us to avoid them.
Indeed- he is a bit like a roaming dog- placing his excretes all over the place....
 
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Tadhg Gaelach

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Monument to Hegel at the University of Berlin, where he served as Professor of Philosophy for many years.



PART 2: GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL

Section (a)

As the thoughts Hegel are incredibly profound and demanding of time to understand, I have split this Part into two Sections, so that the reader may take a day or two to contemplate these intense quotations.

In his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, Hegel addresses the relationship of the Jew with his God. Hegel writes that ,

"If God has a relationship to self-consciousness, inasmuch as finite spirit is the ground on which his purpose appears, this relationship presents itself to the Jew as purely external, one secured through a contract in stone."

According to Hegel, the Jew makes a bargain with his God, which is written not in the human heart, but on cold stone. Hegel continues by claiming that the religious relationship in Judaism is,

"contingent, since everything finite is external to the absolute power and finds no positive determination within the latter."

In other words, the Jewish God is not in the world, he is external to it, and the very existence of the Jew is outside of God. Of course, this is the very point of Jesus being born as God and man though the womb of woman. Such an idea is utterly alien to the Jew, but is completely normal and usual to the Aryan. The Aryan Gods, such as Cúchulainn, are born of a virgin, thus take on the flesh of this world. God and world are never contingent to each other. God is immanent to the being of this world. That means that we humans are sacred, as is the world around us. We partake of God in His immanence. Hegel goes on to discuss the aesthetics of Classical Greece, where the Gods are presented in human form - and so human form is presented as the form of the Gods. And Christianity accepted this Aryan understanding while rejecting the exteriority of the Judaic relation with God.

Like the Jews, their fellow Semitic people the Arabs also adopted a contingent relation with God, and rejected all human images of God. Hegel regards this attitude as coming from the form of life of the nomadic desert tribes. In my view, Hegel goes a little too far here, but his claim is that the nomad has no loyalty to any place and so takes what he can from everywhere. He treats the whole world as being disposable.

This is a metaphysical question, as it concerns the nature of being. Hegel writes in his essay, Christianity and Its Fate,

"And since life was so maltreated in the Jews, since nothing in them was left undominated, nothing sacrosanct, their action became the most impious fury, the wildest fanaticism. The great tragedy of the Jewish people is no Greek tragedy, it can rouse no fear or pity, it can rouse horror alone. The fate of the Jewish people is the fate of Macbeth, who stepped out of nature itself, clung to alien beings, and so in their service had to trample and slay everything holy in human nature, had at last to be forsaken by his Gods, since these were objects and he their slave, and be dashed to pieces on his faith itself."

According to Hegel, the God of the Jews is as weird and alien as the witches Macbeth meets. All Macbeth and the Jew can do is make deals, or covenants, with these alien beings, and so become their slaves. One is reminded here of what Marx said above, i.e. that the Christians have now become Jews and now treat their world as an alien, disposable "thing" - not the being-in-flesh of God - and from that alienation of the world, the Christian and the Jew alike have become the slaves of things.

Lectures of the Philosophy of Religion:

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1134192.files/March 25 Readings/Hegel - Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion.pdf
 
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Tadhg Gaelach

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PART 2
Section (b)


In his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, Hegel goes on to make an even more striking observation. He claims that the Jew is "too visible." And it is this very excess of visibility that provokes disgust in the European mind. Hegel claims that the Jew trains his body to be different to the rest of the human species, and considers this difference a mark of his privileged position with his God. This difference from other men is instituted as an outward sign of the covenant between Abraham and his God in the rite of circumcision, as described in Genesis Chapter 17. Hegel writes:

These antitheses (the Jewish people on one side, the rest of human kind and the world on the other) are the true, pure objects, something over against what is outside of themselves and infinite, something without content and empty, without life, not even dead - a nothing, and only something insofar as the infinite object makes them into something, something made, not a being, that has no life, no right, no love with respect to itself. The priests of Cybele, that sublime divinity who is everything that is, or was, or shall be, and whose veil no mortal has ever lifted - her priests were emasculated, unmanned in body and soul.

Well, this is pretty strong criticism by any standard. But, at least Hegel is not saying the Jew is the only human that ever allowed his relation with his God to turn him into a non-being. It seems the priests of Cybele were at least as bad. But, I think we can see here emerging what Marx brought out fully into the open. It's not so much the Jew alone that Hegel is taking about, but the emergence of what has been called Homo Economicus. It may well be that the Jew got to this depraved state much faster than the European, but all the criticisms Hegel makes of the Jew can today be leveled at the so called European Christian - and Marx saw that clearly. Today's Homo Economicus, the Capitalist Subject, is not capable of entering into a dialectical relation with other human beings, or with the world around him. And we have seen that all too clearly with the bombing of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. The Western Capitalist today is "too visible." He cannot become part of the scene - he is not something being made - he is ready-made. He is frozen - dead, or undead. All he can do is frantically try to make all the world as undead as himself.

Hegel continues:

The infinite subject (i.e. God) had to remain invisible; for everything visible is something limited; even before Moses had his tent, he showed the Israelites only fire and clouds which held their gaze in a constantly various and indeterminate play without fixing it in a rigid form. And image of the divine to them was just stone or wood - it sees not, neither does it hear, etc., with this litany they think themselves miraculously wise and despise what does not relate to them, they suspect nothing of what an image can be if it is deified in the institution of love or the enjoyment of beauty.

Again, this is a harsh judgement on the Jews. By putting all of their attention on the infinite, they have no respect for the finite world. But, since the infinite is not thinkable, all the Jews are left thinking about are the - to them dead - things of this world. Unlike the Greeks, the Jews are not capable of seeing the invisible in the visible, or of thinking the unity between them.

Again, I wouldn't be this hard on the Jews as they are far from alone in this. As I said above, their real crime may be in getting to this stage of false thinking long before most other people. But, as Marx put it, the Christians have become Jews - in the worst sense. (Did the Christians take their Jewish roots too seriously - and now the Muslims too). We have allowed our world to be high-jacked by accountants who are completely incapable of seeing the divine in a mountain, or in a lake, or a river. All they see are dead things that can be turned to profit - their only God. And they do believe their God - money - to be infinite. Economic growth must expand forever in their diseased minds. As Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son to his God, so these accountant-democratic-rulers are more than willing to sacrifice their only world to their God - money. (I'm not putting Abraham's sacrifice, which was noble and mystical, on the same level as the sordid destruction of our world by money grubbing Capitalists - just pointing out that these Gombeen criminals do regard money as their god and are willing to destroy the whole world for it. Indeed, they believe their god, who they often call by their holy name "the economy," is a being independent of human agency and reason, and which must constantly be fed with human sacrifice - which they like to call "austerity.")

So, in conclusion, I think Hegel did brilliantly see something that was very very wrong in the world. I do think he was correct to claim that the Jewish religion does tend to promote this erroneous and destructive thinking. But, it was Marx who brought Hegel's insight to its proper conclusion, i.e. to show how the error has gripped the mind of Modern Man in general and not make the compounded error of thinking that if we got rid of the Jews we'd get rid of the problem. Besides that, I think our experience of noble Jews like Rabbi Weiss and Norman Finkelstein shows that while Judaism may tend towards drastic error (as do its offspring Christianity and Islam), there is obviously a great deal of good inherently in Judaism, and many Jews do see the divine in the finite world.
 
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Monument to Martin Luther, Wittenberg, Germany.

PART 3: MARTIN LUTHER

Martin Luther, one might say the founder of the Protestant faith, wrote a whole book on this question called "The Jews and their Lies." In this book he spends a great deal of time refuting the errors of the Jews in their interpretation of sacred scripture, and decries these errors as the foundation of the misfortune and eternal exile of the Jews, which Luther considers a just punishment from God for their arrogance. Most of these arguments would be well above the heads of 99% of Europeans, who are not engrossed in the detail of Biblical scripture. However, a good deal of the book is focused on matters that every European is well aware of and understands perfectly. Here Luther presents a complaint that Hegel also referenced, i.e. the fact that the Jews set themselves apart from all other men, and are keen to make their separateness, or even aloofness, visible to all. As Hegel said above - the Jews are "too visible."

Well, it wouldn't really be so bad if the Jews just genitally mutilated their children and wore strange beards and clothes - strange to Europeans anyway, and slaughtered animals in a cruel and degrading manner. But, the fact that the Jew sets himself apart from the rest of mankind has a practical outcome for the Europeans that Luther was sorely annoyed by. The Talmud teaches that only Jews are brothers and sisters, and that all non-Jews are outside of that human community. That being the case, the Jew does not owe any non-Jew the same fraternal respect and affection that he owes to a fellow Jew. So much so, that while it is banned by Judaic law to subject a fellow Jew to usury, it is entirely permissible to turn a non-Jew into a debt-slave though usurious practices. In the most vicious way possible, the Jew made clear to the non-Jew that he regarded him as subhuman. Clearly, this was never going to be a way to make yourself loved by your host communities in Europe, or anywhere else (specially if you were brought into countries as tax collectors by corrupt and criminal princes - and you used your position as a tax collector to loan money at interest and turn the whole population - even the prince who brought you in - into your debt slaves).

Again, not all Jews were or are usurers. Many would not have had the means to do so, and not the inclination either. But, Jewish religious law makes a division between those protected from usury, i.e. the Jews, and those who must be the victims of usury, i.e. all non-Jews. And it is this self imposed segregation of the Jew from humankind in general that Luther seeks to expose and combat.

He writes:
Now behold what a fine, thick, fat lie they pronounce when they say that they are held captive by us. Jerusalem was destroyed over fourteen hundred years ago, and at that time we Christians were harassed and persecuted by the Jews throughout the world for about three hundred years, as we said earlier. We might well complain that during that time they held usChristians captive and killed us, which is the plain truth. Furthermore, we do not know to the present day which devil brought them into our country. We surely did not bring them from Jerusalem.
In addition, no one is holding them here now. The country and the roads are open for them to proceed to their land whenever they wish. If they did so,we would be glad to present gifts to them on the occasion; it would be good riddance. For they are a heavy burden, a plague, a pestilence, a sheer misfortune for our country. Proof for this is found in the fact that they have often been expelled forcibly from a country, far from being held captive in it. Thus they were banished from France (which they call *Tsorfath,* from Obadiah 20), which was an especially fine nest. Very recently they were banished by our dear Emperor Charles from Spain, the very best nest of all (which they called *Sefarad,* also on the basis of Obadiah). This year they were expelled from the entire Bohemian crownland, where they had one of the best nests, in Prague. Likewise, during my lifetime they have been driven from Regensburg, Magdeburg, and other places.
If you cannot tolerate a person in a country or home, does that constitute holding him in captivity? In fact, they hold us Christians captive in our own country. They let us work in the sweat of our brow to earn money and property while they sit behind the stove, idle away the time, fart, and roast pears. They stuff themselves, guzzle, and live in luxury and ease from our hard-earned goods. With their accursed usury they hold us and our property captive. Moreover, they mock and deride us because we work and let them play the role of lazy squires at our expense and in our land. Thus they are our masters and we are their servants, with our property, our sweat, and our labor. And by way of reward and thanks they curse our Lord and us! Should the devil not laugh and dance if he can enjoy such a fine paradise at the expense of us Christians? He devours what is ours through his saints, the Jews, and repays us by insulting us, in addition to mocking and cursing both God and man.
They could not have enjoyed such good times in Jerusalem under David and Solomon with their own possessions as they now do with ours, which they daily steal and rob. And yet they wail that we have taken them captive. Indeed, we have captured them and hold them in captivity just as I hold captive my gallstone, my bloody tumor, and all the other ailments and misfortunes which I have to nurse and take care of with money and goods andall that I have. Alas, I wish that they were in Jerusalem with the Jews and whomever else they would like to have there.
Since it has now been established that we do not hold them captive, how does it happen that we deserve the enmity of such noble and great saints?We do not call their women whores as they do Mary, Jesus' mother. We do not call them children of whores as they do our Lord Jesus. We do not say that they were conceived at the time of cleansing and were thus born as idiots, as they say of our Lord. We do not say that their women are "haria," as they do with regard to our dear Mary. We do not curse them but wish them well, physically and spiritually. We lodge them, we let them eat and drinkwith us. We do not kidnap their children and pierce them through; we do not poison their wells; we do not thirst for their blood. How, then, do we incur such terrible anger, envy, and hatred on the part of such great and holy children of God?
There is no other explanation for this than the one cited earlier from Moses, namely, that God has struck them with "madness and blindness and confusion of mind." So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them. Rather we allow them to live freely in our midst despite an their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying, and defaming; we protect and shield their synagogues, houses, life, and property In this way we make them lazy and secure and encourage them to fleece us boldly of our money and goods, as well as to mock and deride us, with a view to finally overcoming us, killing us all for such a great sin, and robbing us of all our property (as they daily pray and hope). Now tell me whether they do not have every reason to be the enemies of us accursed Goyim, to curse us and to strive for our final, complete, and eternal ruin!
One the Jews and their Lies (Quotations and Full Text)

 
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Luther's piece was especially good Tadgh. I see some similarities with the Islamic invasion of today although they're also quite different.
 
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Tadhg Gaelach

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Would you call yourself an authority on Herr Hegel- Tadgh?
No not at all a chara. I have a general overview of his philosophy and I think I know the main points of his philosophical system, but I'd really know his work more though Marx and also Zizek.
 

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Someone told me in order to fully comprehend Phaenomenologie des Geistes one must first concern themselves with Kant, Fichte & Schelling. I do not think I am bothered to do that.
 
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Someone told me in order to fully comprehend Phaenomenologie des Geistes one must first concern themselves with Kant, Fichte & Schelling. I do not think I am bothered to do that.

You'd certainly have to be aware of the main points. Schelling is very interesting - well worth a look. Particularly his account of the emergence of human subjectivity. I'm sure you already know a lot of Kant's ideas in one form or another - his influence on the modern mind is inescapable. Fichte has had a lot of influence on modern theology through Kierkegaard, and his idea of human subjectivity being based on an abyss or non-being has had a lot of influence on the likes of Heidegger and on psychologists like Lacan.
 
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