Muhammad Iqbal and Grman Idealism: A Comparative Review
The phrase Idealism is not new for the students and readers of Philosophy, however, when the prefix German is added before it, it acquires a different meaning, mood, taste and inclination. German Idealism is distinguished from all other forms of European Idealisms. It concentrated on mind as an active and self-conscious entity. German Idealists suppressed the traditional ontologies based on substances and their accidents. The most prominent German Idealists include I - Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), II- Johann Gottelib Fichte (1762-1814), III-Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Von Schelling (1775-1854) and IV- George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831).
Kant, though an empirical rationalist, could not deny the supremacy of mind over matter and of human beings over the external world. For him space, time and causality were the categories of mind, which it imposed on the outer world. However, he did believe in the dichotomy of mind and matter though he combined rationalism and empiricism in his Transcendental Idealism, which is an unconscious move towards unity despite the belief in noumena and phenomena. Later thinkers, however, gradually moved closer and closer to the Idealism and especially Monism.
Some salient features of German Idealism which give it a distinct identity separate from the rest of Western Philosophy include: i- Idea of the Absolute, ii- Beginning of the world in the Absolute, iii- Stages and phases of Self- consciousness, iv- Unity of the Subject and Object, v-First traces of Philosophical Anthropology (What man is in itself beyond all physical things and the universe?), vi- Intellectual intuition as a source of knowledge and a tendency towards esotericism, vii – Enthusiastic interest in Dialectics, viii- Freedom and Determinism, ix- Self as an entity free of external and causal determinants , x- Ideas of Ego and Spirit, xi- World Spirit and xii- Existence as a whole or a Unity.
These eternal, perennial, deep, highbrow, captivating, serious, scholarly, cherished, enthralling and fascinating ideas were presented and discussed at length by Muhammad Iqbal too in his Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Only one glance at the salient features of German Idealism brings into mind the familiar philosophical topics on which Muhammad Iqbal has written extensively. Besides his Urdu and Persian poetry, his political ideas bear profound stamps of these ideas. Therefore, this comparative study is academically justified, intellectually stimulating and scholastically enriching.