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1. The Contemporaries of Leibnitz.

The period between Kepler and Leibnitz in Germany was very poor in noteworthy philosophical phenomena. The physicist, Christoph Sturm[1] of Altdorf (died 1703), was a follower of Descartes, Joachim Jungius[2] (died 1657) a follower of Bacon, though not denying with the latter the value of the mathematical method in natural science. Hieronymus Hirnhaym, Abbot at Prague (The Plague of the Human Race, or the Vanity of Human Learning, 1676), declared the thirst for knowledge of his age a dangerous disease, knowledge uncertain, since no reliance can be placed on sense-perception and the principles of thought contradict the doctrines of faith, and harmful, since it contributes nothing to salvation, but makes its possessors proud and draws them away from piety. He maintained, further, that divine authority is the only refuge for man, and moral life the true science. Side by side with such skepticism Hirnhaym's contemporary, the poet Angelus Silesius (Joh. Scheffler, died 1667), defended mysticism. The teacher of natural law, Samuel Pufendorf[3] (1632-94, professor in Heidelberg and Lund, died in Berlin), aimed to mediate between Grotius and Hobbes. Natural law is demonstrable, its real ground is the will of God, its noetical ground (not revelation, but) reason and observation of the (social) nature of man, and the fundamental law the promotion of universal good. The individual must not violate the interests of society in satisfying his impulse to self-preservation, because his own interests require social existence, and, consequently, respect for its conditions.

[Footnote 1: Chr. Sturm: Physica Conciliatrix, 1687; Physica Electiva, vol. i. 1697, vol. ii. with preface by Chr. Wolff, 1722; Compendium Universalium seu Metaphysica Euclidea.]

[Footnote 2: J. Jung Logica Hamburgiensis, 1638; cf. Guhrauer, 1859.]

[Footnote 3: Pufendorf: Elementa Juris Universalis, 1660; De Statu Imperii Germanici, 1667, under the pseudonym Monzambano; De Jure Natures et Gentium 1672, and an abstract of this, De Officio Hominis et Civis, 1673.]

Pufendorf was followed by Christian Thomasius[1] (1655-1728; professor of law at the University of Halle from its foundation in 1694). He was the first instructor who ventured to deliver lectures in the German language—in Leipsic from 1687—and at the same time was the editor of the first learned journal in German (Teutsche Monate, Geschichte der Weisheit und Thorheit). In Thomasius the characteristic features of the German Illumination first came out in full distinctness, namely, the avoidance of scholasticism in expression and argument, the direct relation of knowledge to life, sober rationality in thinking, heedless eclecticism, and the demand for religious tolerance. Philosophy must be generally intelligible, and practically useful, knowledge of the world (not of God); its form, free and tasteful ratiocination; its object, man and morals; its first duty, culture, not learning; its highest aim, happiness; its organ and the criterion of every truth, common sense. He alone gains true knowledge who frees his understanding from prejudice and judges only after examining for himself; the joy of mental peace is given to no one who does not free his heart from foolish desires and vehement passions, and devote it to virtue, to “rational love.” The positive doctrines of Thomasius have less interest than this general standpoint, which prefigured the succeeding period. He divides practical philosophy into natural law which treats of the justum, politics which treats of the decorum, and ethics which treats of the honestum. Justice bids us, Do not to others what you would not that others should do to you; decorum, Do to others as you would that they should do to you; and morality, Do to yourself as you would that others should do to themselves. The first two laws relate to external, the third to internal, peace; legal duties may be enforced by compulsion, moral duties not.

[Footnote 1: Thomasius: Institutionum Jurisprudentiae Divinae Libri Tres, 1688; Fundamenta Juris Naturae et Gentium, 1705, both in Latin; in German, appeared in 1691-96 the Introduction and Application of Rational and Moral Philosophy.]

If Thomasius was the leader of those popular philosophers who, unconcerned about systematic continuity, discussed every question separately before the tribunal of common sense, and found in their lack of allegiance to any philosophical sect a sufficient guarantee of the unprejudicedness and impartiality of their reflections, Count Walter von Tschirnhausen (1651-1708; Medecina Mentis sive Artis Inveniendi Praecepta Generalia, 1687), a friend of Spinoza and Leibnitz, became the prototype of another group of the philosophers of the Illumination. This group favored eclecticism of a more scientific kind, by starting from considerations of method and seeking to overcome the antithesis between rationalism and empiricism. While fully persuaded of the validity and necessity of the mathematical method in philosophical investigations, as well as elsewhere, Tschirnhausen still holds it indispensable that the deductions, on the one hand, start from empirical facts, and, on the other, that they be confirmed by experiments. Inner experience gives us four primal facts, of which the chief is the certainty of self-consciousness. The second, that many things affect us agreeably and many disagreeably, is the basis of morals; the third, that some things are comprehensible to us and others not, the basis of logic; the fourth, that through the senses we passively receive impressions from without, the basis of the empirical sciences, in particular, of physics. Consequently consciousness, will, understanding, and sensuous representation (imaginatio), together with corporeality, are our fundamental concepts. Not perception (perceptio), but conception (conceptio) alone gives science; that which we can “conceive” is true; the understanding as such cannot err, but undoubtedly the imagination can lead us to confuse the merely perceived with that which is conceived. The method of science is geometrical demonstration, which starts from (genetic) definitions, and from their analysis obtains axioms, from their combination, theorems. That which is thus proved a priori must, as already remarked, be confirmed a posteriori. The highest of all sciences is natural philosophy, since it considers not sense-objects only, not (like mathematics) the objects of reason only, but the actual itself in its true character. Hence it is the divine science, while the human sciences busy themselves only with our ideas or the relations of things to us.

2. Christian Wolff.

Christian Wolff was born at Breslau in 1679, studied theology at Jena, and in addition mathematics and philosophy, habilitated at Leipsic in 1703, and obtained, through the instrumentality of Leibnitz, a professorship of mathematics at Halle, in 1706. His lectures, which soon extended themselves over all philosophical disciplines, met with great success. This popularity, as well as the rationalistic tendency of his thinking, aroused the disfavor of the pietists, Francke and Lange, who succeeded, in 1723, in securing from King Frederick William I. his removal from his chair and his expulsion from the kingdom. Finding a refuge in Marburg, he was called back to Halle by Frederick the Great a short time after the latter's ascension of the throne. Here he taught and wrote zealously until his death in 1754. In his lectures, as well as in half of his writings,[1] he followed the example of Thomasius in using the German language, which he prepared in a most praiseworthy manner for the expression of philosophical ideas and furnished with a large part of the technical terms current to-day. Thus the terms Verhaeltniss (relation), Vorstellung (representation, idea), Bewusstsein (consciousness), stetig (continuus), come from Wolff, as well as the distinction between Kraft (power) and Vermoegen (faculty), and between Grund (ground) and Ursache (cause),[2] Another great service consisted in the reduction of the philosophy of Leibnitz to a systematic form, by which he secured a dissemination for it which otherwise it would scarcely have obtained. But he did not possess sufficient originality to contribute anything remarkable of his own, and it showed little self-knowledge when he became indignant at the designation Leibnitzio-Wolffian philosophy, which was first used by his pupil, Bilfinger. The alterations which he made in the doctrines of Leibnitz are far from being improvements, and the parts which he rejected are just the most characteristic and thoughtful of all. Such at least is the opinion of thinkers to-day, though this mutilation and leveling down of the most daring of Leibnitz's hypotheses was perhaps entirely advantageous for Wolff's impression on his contemporaries; what appeared questionable to him would no doubt have repelled them also. Leibnitz's two leading ideas, the theory of monads and the pre-established harmony, were most of all affected by this process of toning down. Wolff weakens the former by attributing a representative power only to actual souls, which are capable of consciousness, although he holds that bodies are compounded of simple beings and that the latter are endowed with (a not further defined) force. He limits the application of the pre-established harmony to the relation of body and soul, which to Leibnitz was only a case especially favorable for the illustration of the hypothesis. By such trifling the real meaning of both these ideas is sacrificed and their bloom rubbed off.—While depth is lacking in Wolff's thinking, he is remarkable for his power of systematization, his persevering diligence, and his logical earnestness, so that the praise bestowed on him by Kant, that he was the author of the spirit of thoroughness in Germany, was well deserved. He, too, finds the end of philosophy in the enlightenment of the understanding, the improvement of the heart, and, ultimately, in the promotion of the happiness of mankind. But while Thomasius demanded as a condition of such universal intelligibility and usefulness that, discarding the scholastic garb, philosophy should appear in the form of easy ratiocination, Wolff, on the other hand, regards methodical procedure and certainty in results as indispensable to its usefulness, and, in order to this certainty, insists on distinctness of conception and cogency of proof. He demands a philosophia et certa et utilis. If, finally, his methodical deliberateness, especially in his later works, leads him into wearisome diffuseness, this pedantry is made good by his genuinely German, honest spirit, which manifests itself agreeably in his judgment on practical questions.

[Footnote 1: Reasonable Thoughts on the Powers of the Human Understanding, 1712; Reasonable Thoughts on God, the World, and the Soul of Man, also on All Things in General, 1719 (Notes to this 1724); Reasonable Thoughts on the Conduct of Man, 1720; Reasonable Thoughts on the Social Life of Man, 1721; Reasonable Thoughts on the Operations of Nature, 1723; Reasonable Thoughts on the Purposes of Natural Things, 1724; Reasonable Thoughts on the Parts of Man, Animals, and Plants, 1725, all in German. Besides these there are extensive Latin treatises (1728-53) on Logic, Ontology, Cosmology, Empirical and Rational Psychology, Natural Theology, and all branches of Practical Philosophy. Detailed extracts may be found in Erdmann's Versuch einer wissenschaftlichen Darstellung, ii. 2. The best account of the Wolffian philosophy has been given by Zeller (pp. 211-273).]

[Footnote 2: Eucken, Geschichte der Terminologie_^ pp. 133-134.]

Wolff reaches his division of the sciences by combining the two psychological antitheses—the higher (rational) and lower (sensuous) faculties of cognition and appetition. On the first is based the distinction between the rational and the empirical or historical method of treatment. The latter concerns itself with the actual, the former with the possible and necessary, or the grounds of the actual; the one observes and describes, the other deduces. The antithesis of cognition and appetition gives the basis for the division into theoretical and practical philosophy. The former, called metaphysics, is divided into a general part, which treats of being in general whether it be of a corporeal or a spiritual nature, and three special parts, according to their principal subjects, the world, the soul, and God,—hence into ontology, cosmology, psychology, and theology. The science which establishes rules for action and regards man as an individual being, as a citizen, and as the head or member of a family, is divided (after Aristotle) into ethics, politics, and economics, which are preceded by practical philosophy in general, and by natural law. The introduction to the two principal parts is furnished by formal logic.

Philosophy is the science of the possible, i.e., of that which contains no contradiction; it is science from concepts, its principle, the law of identity, its form, demonstration, and its instrument, analysis, which in the predicate explicates the determinations contained in the concept of the subject. In order to confirm that which has been deduced from pure concepts by the facts of experience, psychologia rationalis is supplemented by psychologia empirica, rational cosmology by empirical physics, and speculative theology by an experimental doctrine of God (teleology). Wolff gives no explanation how it comes about that the deliverances of the reason agree so beautifully with the facts of experience; in his naive, unquestioning belief in the infallibility of the reason he is a typical dogmatist.

A closer examination of the Wolffian philosophy seems unnecessary, since its most essential portions have already been discussed under Leibnitz and since it will be necessary to recur to certain points in our chapter on Kant. Therefore, referring the reader to the detailed accounts in Erdmann and Zeller, we shall only note that Wolff's ethics opposes the principle of perfection to the English principle of happiness (that is good which perfects man's condition, and this is life in conformity with nature or reason, with which happiness is necessarily connected); that he makes the will determined by the understanding, and assigns ignorance as the cause of sin; that his philosophy of religion, which argues for a natural religion in addition to revealed religion (experiential and rational proofs for the existence of God, and a deduction of his attributes), and sets up certain tests for the genuineness of revelation, favors a rationalism which was flexible enough to allow his pupils either to take part in orthodox movements or to advance to a deism hostile to the Church.

Among the followers of Wolff, Alexander Baumgarten (1714-62) deserves the first place, as the founder of German aesthetics (Aesthetica, 1750 seq.). He perceives a gap in the system of the philosophical sciences. This contains in ethics a guide to right volition, and in logic a guide to correct thinking, but there are no directions for correct feeling, no aesthetic. The beautiful would form the subject of this discipline. For the perfection (the harmonious unity of a manifold, which is pleasant to the spectator), which manifests itself to the will as the good and to the clear thinking of the understanding as the true, appears—according to Leibnitz—to confused sensuous perception as beauty. From this on the name aesthetics was established for the theory of the beautiful, though in Kant's great work it is used in its literal meaning as the doctrine of sense, of the faculty of sensations or intuitions. Baumgarten's pupils and followers, the aesthetic writer G.F. Meier at Halle, Baumeister, and others, contributed like himself to the dissemination of the Wolffian system by their manuals on different branches of philosophy. To this school belong also the following: Thuemmig (Institutiones Philosophia Wolfianae, 1725-26); the theologian Siegmund Baumgarten at Halle, the elder brother of the aesthete; the mathematician Martin Knutzen, Kant's teacher;[1] the literary historian Gottsched [2] at Leipsic; and G. Ploucquet, who in his Methodus Calculandi in Logicis, with a Commentatio de Arte Characteristica Universali appended to his Principia de Substantiis et Phaenomenis, 1753, took up again Leibnitz's cherished plan for a logical calculus and a universal symbolic language. The psychologist Kasimir von Creuz (Essay on the Soul, in two parts, 1753-54), and J.H. Lambert,[3] whom Kant deemed worthy of a detailed correspondence, take up a more independent position, both demanding that the Wolffian rationalism be supplemented by the empiricism of Locke, and the latter, moreover, in anticipation of the Critique of Reason, pointing very definitely to the distinction between content and form as the salient point in the theory of knowledge.

[Footnote 1: Benno Erdmann, M. Knutzen und seine Zeit, 1876.]

[Footnote 2: Th. W. Danzel, Gottsched und seine Zeit, 1848.]

[Footnote 3: Lambert: Cosmological Letters, 1761; New Organon, 1764; Groundwork of Architectonics, 1771. Bernoulli edited some of Lambert's papers and his correspondence.]

Among the opponents of the Wolffian philosophy, all of whom favor eclecticism, A. Ruediger[1] and Chr. Aug. Crusius,[2] who was influenced by Ruediger, and, like him, a professor at Leipsic, are the most important. Ruediger divides philosophy according to its objects, “wisdom, justice, prudence,” into three parts—the science of nature (which must avoid one-sided mechanical views, and employ ether, air, and spirit as principles of explanation); the science of duty (which, as metaphysics, treats of duties toward God, as natural law, of duties to our neighbor, and deduces both from the primary duty of obedience to the will of God); and the science of the good (in which Ruediger follows the treatise of the Spaniard, Gracian, on practical wisdom). Crusius agrees with Ruediger that mathematics is the science of the possible, and philosophy the science of the actual, and that the latter, instead of imitating to its own disadvantage the deductive-analytical method of geometry, must, with the aid of experience and with attention to the probability of its conclusions, rise to the highest principles synthetically. Besides its deduction the determinism of the Wolffian philosophy gave offense, for it was believed to endanger morals, justice, and religion. The will, the special fundamental power of the soul (consisting of the impulses to perfection, love, and knowledge), is far from being determined by ideas; it is rather they which depend on the will. The application of the principle of sufficient reason, which is wrongly held to admit of no exception, must be restricted in favor of freedom. For the rest, we may note concerning Crusius that he derives the principle of sufficient reason (everything which is now, and before was not, has a cause) and the principle of contingency from the principles of contradiction, inseparability, and incompatibility, and these latter from the principle of conceivability; that he rejects the ontological argument, and makes the ground of obligation in morality consist in obedience toward God, and its content in perfection. Among the other opponents of the Wolffian philosophy, we may mention the theologian Budde(us)[3] (Institutiones Philosophiae Eclecticae, 1705); Darjes (who taught in Jena and Frankfort-on-the-Oder; The Way to Truth, 1755); and Crousaz (1744).

[Footnote 1: Ruediger: Disputatio de eo quod Omnes Idea Oriantur a Sensione, 1704; Philosophia Synthetica, 1707; Physica Divina, 1716; Philosophia Pragmatica, 1723.]

[Footnote 2: Crusius: De Usu et Limitibus Principii Rationis, 1743; Directions how to Live a Rational Life (theory of the will and of ethics), 1744; A Sketch of the Necessary Truths of Reason, 1745;Way to the Certainty and Trustworthiness of Human Knowledge, 1747.]

[Footnote 3: J.J. Brucker (Historia Critica Philosophiae, 5 vols., 1742-44; 2d ed., 6 vols., 1766-67) was a pupil of Budde.]

3. The Illumination as Scientific and as Popular Philosophy.

After a demand for the union of Leibnitz and Locke, of rationalism and empiricism, had been raised within the Wolffian school itself, and still more directly in the camp of its opponents, under the increasing influence of the empirical philosophy of England,[1] eclecticism in the spirit of Thomasius took full possession of the stage in the Illumination period. There was the less hesitation in combining principles derived from entirely different postulates without regard to their systematic connection, as the interest in scholastic investigation gave place more and more to the interest in practical and reassuring results. Metaphysics, noetics, and natural philosophy were laid aside as useless subtleties, and, as in the period succeeding Aristotle, man as an individual and whatever directly relates to his welfare—the constitution of his inner nature, his duties, the immortality of the soul, and the existence of God—became the exclusive subjects of reflection. The fact that, besides ethics and religion, psychology was chosen as a favorite field, is in complete harmony with the general temper of an age for which self-observation and the enjoyment of tender and elevated feelings in long, delightfully friendly letters and sentimental diaries had become a favorite habit. Hand in hand with this narrowing of the content of philosophy went a change in the form of presentation. As thinkers now addressed themselves to all cultivated people, intelligibility and agreeableness were made the prime requisites; the style became light and flowing, the method of treatment facile and often superficial. This is true not only of the popular philosophers proper—who, as Windelband pertinently remarks (vol. i. p. 563), did not seek after the truth, but believed that they already possessed it, and desired only to disseminate it; who did not aim at the promotion of investigation, but the instruction of the public—but to a certain extent, also, of those who were conscious of laboring in the service of science. Among the representatives of the more polite tendency belong, Moses Mendelssohn[2] (1729-86); Thomas Abbt (On Death for the Fatherland, 1761; On Merit, 1765); J.J. Engel (The philosopher for the World, 1775); G.S. Steinbart (The Christian Doctrine of Happiness, 1778); Ernst Platner ( Philosophical Aphorisms, 1776, 1782; on Platner cf. M. Heinze, 1880); G.C. Lichtenberg (died 1799; Miscellaneous Writings, 1800 seq.; a selection is given inReclam's Bibliothek); Christian Garve (died 1798; Essays, 1792 seq.; Translations from the Ethical Works of Aristotle, Cicero, and Ferguson); and Friedrich Nicolai[3] (died 1811). Eberhard, Feder, and Meiners will be mentioned later among the opponents of the Kantian philosophy.

[Footnote 1: The influence of the English philosophers on the German philosophy of the eighteenth century is discussed by Gustav Zart, 1881.]

[Footnote 2: Mendelssohn: Letters on the Sensations, 1755; On Evidence in the Metaphysical Sciences, a prize essay crowned by the Academy, 1764; Phaedo, or on Immortality, 1767; Jerusalem, 1783; Morning Hours, or on the Existence of God, 1785; To the Friends of Lessing (against Jacobi), 1786; Works, 1843-44. Cf. on Mendelssohn, Kayserling, 1856, 1862, 1883.]

[Footnote 3: Nicolai: Library of Belles Lettres, from 1757; Letters on the Most Recent German Literature, from 1759; Universal German Library, from 1765; New Universal German Library, 1793-1805.]

Among the psychologists J.N. Tetens, whose Philosophical Essays on Human Nature, 1776-77, show a remarkable similarity to the views of Kant,[1] takes the first rank. The two thinkers evidently influenced each other. The three fold division of the activities of the soul, “knowing, feeling, and willing,” which has now become popular and which appears to us self-evident, is to be referred to Tetens, from whom Kant took it; in opposition to the twofold division of Aristotle and Wolff into “cognition and appetition,” he established the equal rights of the faculty of feeling—which had previously been defended by Sulzer (1751), the aesthetic writer, and by Mendelssohn (1755, 1763, 1785). Besides Tetens, the following should be mentioned among the psychologists: Tetens's opponent, Johann Lossius (1775), an adherent of Bonnet; D. Tiedemann (Inquiries concerning Man, from 1777), who was estimable also as a historian of philosophy (Spirit of Speculative Philosophy, 1791-97); Von Irwing (1772 seq.; 2d ed., 1777); and K. Ph. Moriz (Magazin zur Erfahrungsseelenlehre, from 1785). Basedow (died 1790), Campe (died 1818), and J.H. Pestalozzi (1745-1827) did valuable work in pedagogics.

[Footnote 1: Sensation gives the content, and the understanding spontaneously produces the form, of knowledge. The only objectivity of knowledge which we can attain consists in the subjective necessity of the forms of thought or the ideas of relation. Perception enables us to cognize phenomena only, not the true essence of things and of ourselves, etc.]

One of the clearest and most acute minds among the philosophers of the Illumination was the deist Hermann Samuel Reimarus[1] (1694-1768), from 1728 professor in Hamburg. He attacks atheism, in whatever form it may present itself, with as much zeal and conviction as he shows in breaking down the belief in revelation by his inexorable criticism (in his Defense, communicated in manuscript to a few friends only). He obtains his weapons for this double battle from the Wolffian philosophy. The existence of an extramundane deity is proved by the purposive arrangement of the world, especially of organisms, which aims at the good—not merely of man, as the majority of the physico-theologists have believed, but—of all living creatures. To believe in a special revelation, i.e., a miracle, in addition to such a revelation of God as this, which is granted to all men, and is alone necessary to salvation, is to deny the perfection of God, and to do violence to the immutability of his providence. To these general considerations against the credibility of positive revelation are to be added, as special arguments against the Jewish and Christian revelations, the untrustworthiness of human testimony in general, the contradictions in the biblical writings, the uncertainty of their meaning, and the moral character of the persons regarded as messengers of God, whose teachings, precepts, and deeds in no wise correspond to their high mission. Jewish history is a “tissue of sheer follies, shameful deeds, deceptions, and cruelties, the chief motives of which were self-interest and lust for power.” The New Testament is also the work of man; all talk of divine inspiration, an idle delusion, the resurrection of Christ, a fabrication of the disciples; and the Protestant system, with its dogmas of the Trinity, the fall of man, original sin, the incarnation, vicarious atonement, and eternal punishment, contrary to reason. The advance of Reimarus beyond Wolff consists in the consistent application of the criteria for the divine character of revelation, which Wolff had set up without making a positive, not to speak of a negative, use of them. His weakness[2] consists in the fact that, on the one hand, he contented himself with a rationalistic interpretation of the biblical narratives, instead of pushing on—as Semler did after him at Halle (1725-91)—to a historical criticism of the sources, and, on the other, held fast to the alternative common to all the deists, “Either divine or human, either an actual event or a fabrication,” without any suspicion of that great intermediate region of religious myth, of the involuntary and pregnant inventions of the popular fancy.

[Footnote 1: H.S. Reimarus: Discussions on the Chief Truths of Natural Religion, 1754; General Consideration of the Instincts of Animals, 1762; Apology or Defense for the Rational Worshipers of God. Fragments of the last of these works, which was kept secret during its author's life, were published by Lessing (the well-known “Wolffenbuettel Fragments,” from 1774). A detailed table of contents is to be found in Reimarus und seine Schutzschrift, 1862, by D. Fr. Strauss, included in the fifth volume of his Gesammelte Schriften.]

[Footnote 2: Cf. O. Pfleiderer, Philosophy of Religion, vol. i. p. 102, p. 106 seq.]

The philosophico-religious standpoint of G.E. Lessing (1729-81), in whom the Illumination reached its best fruitage, was less one-sided. Apart from the important aesthetic impulses which flowed from theLaocoon (1766) and the Hamburg Dramaturgy (1767-69), his philosophical significance rests on two ideas, which have had important consequences for the religious conceptions of the nineteenth century: the speculative interpretation of certain dogmas (the Trinity, etc.), and the application of the Leibnitzian idea of development to the history of the positive religions. By both of these he prepared the way for Hegel. In regard to his relation to his predecessors, Lessing sought to mediate between the pantheism of Spinoza and the individualism of Leibnitz; and in his comprehension of the latter showed himself far superior to the Wolffians. He can be called a Spinozist only by those who, like Jacobi, have this title ready for everyone who expresses himself against a transcendent, personal God, and the unconditional freedom of the will. Moreover, in view of his critical and dialectical, rather than systematic, method of thinking, we must guard against laying too great stress on isolated statements by him.[1]

[Footnote 1: A caution which Gideon Spicker (Lessings Weltanschauung, 1883) counsels us not to forget, even in view of the oft cited avowal of determinism, “I thank God that I must, and that I must the best.” Among the numerous treatises on Lessing we may note those by G.E. Schwarz (1854), and Zeller (in Sybel's Historische Zeitschrift, 1870, incorporated in the second collection of Zeller's Vortraege und Abhandlungen, 1877); and on his theological position, that of K. Fischer on Lessing's Nathan der Weise, 1864, as well as J.H. Witte's Philosophie unserer Dichterheroen, vol. i. (Lessing and Herder), 1880. [Cf. in English, Sime, 2 vols., 1877, and Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. xiv. pp, 478-482.—TR.]]

Lessing conceives the Deity as the supreme, all-comprehensive, living unity, which excludes neither a certain kind of plurality nor even a certain kind of change; without life and action, without the experience of changing states, the life of God would be miserably wearisome. Things are not out of, but in him; nevertheless (as “contingent") they are distinct from him. The Trinity must be understood in the sense of immanent distinctions. God has conceived himself, or his perfections, in a twofold manner: he conceived them as united and himself as their sum, and he conceived them as single. Now God's thinking is creation, his ideas actualities. By conceiving his perfections united he created his eternal image, the Son of God; the bond between God representing and God represented, between Father and Son, is the Holy Spirit. But when he conceived his perfections singly he created the world, in which these manifest themselves divided among a continuous series of particular beings. Every individual is an isolated divine perfection; the things in the world are limited gods, all living, all with souls, and of a spiritual nature, though in different degrees. Development is everywhere; at present the soul has five senses, but very probably it once had less than five, and in the future it will have more. At first the actions of men were guided by obscure instinct; gradually the reason obtained influence over the will, and one day will govern it completely through its clear and distinct cognitions. Thus freedom is attained in the course of history—the rational and virtuous man consciously obeys the divine order of the world, while he who is unfree obeys unconsciously.

Lessing shares with the deistic Illumination the belief in a religion of reason, whose basis and essential content are formed by morality; but he rises far above this level in that he regards the religion of reason not as the beginning but as the goal of the development, and the positive religions as necessary transition stages in its attainment. As natural religion differs in each individual according to his feelings and powers, without positive enactments there would be no unity and community in religious matters. Nevertheless the statutory and historical element is not a graft from without, but a shell organically grown around natural religion, indispensable for its development, and to be removed but gradually and by layers—when the inclosed kernel has become ripe and firm. The history of religions is an education of the human race through divine revelation; so teaches his small but thoughtful treatise of 1780.[1] As the education of the individual man puts nothing extraneous into him, but only gives him more quickly and easily that which he could have reached of himself, so human reason is illuminated by revelation concerning things to which it could have itself attained, only that without God's help the process would have been longer and more difficult—perhaps it would have wandered about for many millions of years in the errors of polytheism, if God had not been pleased by a single stroke (his revelation to Moses) to give it a better direction. And as the teacher does not impart everything to the pupil at once, but considers the state of development reached by him at each given period, so God in his revelation observes a certain order and measure. To the rude Jewish people he revealed himself first as a national God, as the God of their fathers; they had to wait for the Persians to teach them that the God whom they had hitherto worshiped as the most powerful among other gods was the only one. Although this lowest stage in the development of religion lacked the belief in immortality, yet it must not be lightly valued; let us acknowledge that it was an heroic obedience for men to observe the laws of God simply because they are the laws of God, and not because of temporal or future rewards! The first practical teacher of immortality was Christ; with him the second age of religion begins: the first good book of elementary instruction, the Old Testament, from which man had hitherto learned, was followed by the second, better one, the New Testament. As we now can dispense with the first primer in regard to the doctrine of the unity of God, and as we gradually begin to be able to dispense with the second in regard to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, so this New Testament may easily contain still further truths, which for the present we wonder at as revelations, until the reason shall learn to derive them from other truths already established. Lessing himself makes an attempt at a philosophical interpretation of the dogmas of the Trinity (see above), of original sin, and of atonement. Such an advance from faith to knowledge, such a development of revealed truths into proved truths of reason, is absolutely necessary. We cannot dispense with the truths of revelation, but we must not remain content with simply believing them, but must endeavor to comprehend them; for they have been revealed in order that they may become rational. They are, as it were, the sum which the teacher of arithmetic tells his pupils beforehand so that they may guide themselves by it; but if they content themselves with this solution—which was given merely as a guide—they would never learn to calculate. Hand in hand with the advance of the understanding goes the progress of the will. Future recompenses, which the New Testament promises as rewards of virtue, are means of education, and will gradually fall into disuse: in the highest stage, the stage of purity of heart, virtue will be loved and practiced for its own sake, and no longer for the sake of heavenly rewards. Slowly but surely, along devious paths which are yet salutary, we are being led toward that great goal. It will surely come, the time of consummation, when man will do the good because it is good, this time of the new, eternal Gospel, this third age, this “Christianity of reason.” Continue, Eternal Providence, thine imperceptible march; let me not despair of thee because it is imperceptible, not even when to me thy steps seem to lead backward. It is not true that the straight line is always the shortest.

[Footnote 1: Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlects.]

With the thought that every individual must traverse the same course as that by which the race attains its perfection, Lessing connects the idea of the transmigration of souls. Why may not the individual man have been present in this world more than once? Is this hypothesis so ridiculous because it is the oldest?

If Lessing abandoned the ranks of the deists by his recognition of the fact that the positive religions contain truth in a gradual process of purification, by his free criticism, on the other hand, he broke with the orthodox, whose idolatrous reverence for the Bible was to him an abomination. The letter is not the spirit, the Bible is not religion, nor yet its foundation, but only its records. Contingent historical truths can never serve as a proof of the necessary truths of reason. Christianity is older than the New Testament.

Already, in the case of Lessing, we may doubt, in view of his historical temper and of certain speculative tendencies, whether he is to be included among the Illuminati. In the case of Kant a decided protest must be raised against such a classification. When Hegel numbers him among the philosophers of the Illumination, on account of his lack of rational intuition, and some theologians on account of his religious rationalism, the answer to the former is that Kant did not lack the speculative gift, but only that it was surpassed by his gift of reflection, and, to the latter, that in regard to the positive element in religion he judged very differently from the deists and appreciated the historical element more justly than they—if not to the same extent as Lessing and Herder. We do not need to lay great stress on the fact that Kant had a lively consciousness that he was making a contribution to thought, and that the Illumination contemplated this new doctrine without comprehending it, in order to recognize that the difference between his efforts and achievements and those of the Illumination is far greater than their kinship. For although Kant is upon common ground with it, in so far as he adheres to its motto, “Have courage to use thine own understanding, become a man, cease to trust thyself to the guidance of others, and free thyself in all fields from the yoke of authority,” and, although besides such formal injunctions to freedom of thought, he also shares in certain material tendencies and convictions (the turning from the world to man, the attempt at a synthesis of reason and experience, and the belief in a religion of reason); yet in method and results, he stands like a giant among a race of dwarfs, like one instructed, who judges from principles, among men of opinion, who merely stick results together, a methodical systematizer among well-meaning but impotent eclectics. The philosophy of the Illumination is related to that of Kant as argument to science, as halting mediation to principiant resolution, as patchwork to creation out of full resources, yet at the same time as wish to deed and as negative preparation to positive achievement. It was undeniably of great value to the Kantian criticism that the Illumination had created a point of intersection for the various tendencies of thought, and had brought about the approximation and mutual contact of the opposing systems which then existed, while, at the same time, it had crumbled them to pieces, and thus awakened the need for a new, more firmly and more deeply founded system.

4. The Faith Philosophy.

The philosophers of feeling or faith stand in the same relation to the German Illumination as Rousseau to the French. Here also the rights of feeling are vindicated against those of the knowing reason. Among the distinguished representatives of this anti-rationalistic tendency Hamann led the way, Herder was the most prolific, and Jacobi the clearest. That the fountain of certitude is to be sought not in discriminating thought, but in intuition, experience, revelation, and tradition; that the highest truths can be felt only and not proved; that all existing things are incomprehensible, because individual—these are convictions which, before Jacobi defended them as based on scientific principles, had been vehemently proclaimed by that singular man, J.G. Hamann (died 1788) of Koenigsberg. From an unprinted review by Hamann, Herder drew the objections which his “Metacritique" raises against Kant's Critique of Reason—that the division of matter and form, of sensibility and understanding, is inadmissible; that Kant misunderstood the significance of language, which is just where sensibility and understanding unite, etc.

In Herder[1] (1744-1803: after 1776 Superintendent-General in Weimar) the philosophy of feeling gained a finer, more perspicuous and harmonious nature, who shared Lessing's interest in history and his tendency to hold fast equally to pantheism and to individualism. God is the all-one, infinite, spiritual (non-personal) primal force, which wholly reveals itself in each thing (God: Dialogues on the System of Spinoza, 1787). To the life, power, wisdom, and goodness of God correspond the life and perfection of the universe and of individual creatures, each of which possesses its own irreplaceable value and bears in itself its future in germ. Everywhere, one and the same life in an ascending series of powers and forms with imperceptible transitions. Always, an inner and an outer together; no power without organ, no spirit without a body. As thought is only a higher stage of sensation, which develops from the lower by means of language—reason, like sense, is not a productive but a receptive faculty of knowing, perceiving (“Vernehmen“)—so the free process of history is only the continuation and completion of the nature-process (Ideas for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind, 1784 seq.). Man, the last child of nature and her first freedman, is the nodal point where the physical series of events changes into the ethical; the last member of the organisms of earth is at the same time the first in the spiritual development. The mission of history is the unfolding of all the powers which nature has concentrated in man as the compendium of the world; its law, that everywhere on our earth everything be realized that can be realized there; its end, humanity and the harmonious development of all our capacities. As nature forms a single great organism, and from the stone to man describes a connected development, so humanity is a one great individual which passes through its several ages, from infancy (the Orient), through boyhood (Eygpt and Phoenicia), youth (Greece), and manhood (Rome), to old age (the Christian world). The spirit stands in the closest dependence upon nature, and nature is concerned in history throughout. The finer organization of his brain, the possession of hands, above all, his erect position, make man, man and endow him with reason. Similarly it is natural conditions, climate, the character of the soil, the surrounding animal and vegetable life, etc., that play an essential part in determining the manners, the characters, and the destinies of nations. The connection of nature with history by means of the concept of development and through the idea that the two merely represent different stages of the same fundamental process, made Herder the forerunner of Schelling.

[Footnote 1: On Herder cf. the biography by R. Haym, 2 vols., 1877, 1885; and the work by Witte which has been referred to above (p. 306, note).]

His polemic against Kant in the Metacritique, 1799 (against the Critique of Pure Reason), and the dialogue Calligone, 1800 (against the Critique of Judgment), is less pleasing. These are neither dignified in tone nor essentially of much importance. In the former the distinction between sensibility and reason is censured, and in the latter the separation of the beautiful from the true and the good, but Kant's theory of aesthetics is for the most part grossly misunderstood. The “disinterested” satisfaction Herder makes a cold satisfaction; the harmonious activity of the cognitive powers, a tedious, apish sport; the satisfaction “without a concept,” judgment without ground or cause. The positive elements in his own views are more valuable. Pleasure in mere form, without a concept, and without the idea of an end, is impossible. All beauty must mean or express something, must be a symbol of inner life; its ground is perfection or adaptation. Beauty is that symmetrical union of the parts of a being, in virtue of which it feels well itself and gives pleasure to the observer, who sympathetically shares in this well-being. The charm and value of the Calligone lie more in the warmth and clearness with which the expressive beauty of single natural phenomena is described than in the abstract discussion.

Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743-1819) gave the most detailed statement of the position of the philosophy of feeling, and the most careful proof of it. He was born in Duesseldorf, the son of a manufacturer; until 1794 he lived in his native place and at his country residence in Pempelfort; later he resided in Holstein, and, from 1805, in Munich, where, in 1807-13, he was president of the Academy of Sciences. Of his works, collected in five volumes, 1812-25, we are here chiefly concerned with the letters On the Doctrine of Spinoza, 1785; David Hume on Faith, or Idealism and Realism, 1787; and the treatise On Divine Things, 1811, which called out Schelling's merciless response, Memorial of Jacobi. Besides Hume and Spinoza, the sensationalism of Bonnet and the criticism of Kant had made the most lasting impression on Jacobi. His relation to Kant is neither that of an opponent nor of a supporter and popularizer. He declares himself in accord with Kant's critique of the understanding (the understanding is merely a formal function, one which forms and combines concepts only, but does not guarantee reality, one to which the material of thought must be given from elsewhere and for which the suprasensible remains unattainable); in regard to the critique of reason he raises the objection that it; makes the Ideas mere postulates, which possess no guarantee for their reality. The critique of sensibility appears to him still more unsatisfactory, as it does not explain the origin of sensations. Without the concept of the “thing-in-itself” one cannot enter the Kantian philosophy, and with it one cannot remain there. Fichte has drawn the correct conclusion from the Kantian premises; idealism is the unavoidable result of the Critique of Reason and foretold by; it as the Messiah was foretold by John the Baptist. And by the evil fruit we know the evil root: the idealistic theory is philosophical nihilism, for it denies the reality of the external world, as the materialism of Spinoza denies a transcendent God and the freedom of the will. Reality slips away from both these systems—they are the only consistent ones there are—material reality escaping from the former and suprasensible reality from the latter; and this must be so, because reality, of whatever kind it be, cannot be known, but only believed and felt. The actual, the existence of the noumenal as well as of the external world, even the existence of our own body, makes itself known to us through revelation alone; the understanding comprehends relations only; the certainty that a thing exists is attained only through experience and faith. Sense and reason are the organs of faith, and hence the true sources of knowledge; the former apprehends the natural, the latter, the supernatural, while for the understanding is left only the analysis and combination of given intuitions.

Philosophy as a science from concepts must necessarily prove atheistic and fatalistic. Conception and proof mean deduction from conditions. How shall that which has no cause from which to explain it, the unconditioned, God, and freedom, be comprehended and proved? Demonstration rises along the chain of causes to the universe alone, not to a transcendent Creator; mediate knowledge is confined to the sphere of conditioned being and mechanical becoming. The intuitive knowledge of feeling alone leads us beyond this, and along with the wonderful, the inconceivable power of freedom in ourselves, which is above all nature, shows us the primal source of all wonders, the transcendent God above us. The inference from our own spiritual, self-conscious, free personality to that of God is no unauthorized anthropomorphism—in the knowledge of God we may fearlessly deify our human existence, because God, when he created man, gave his divine nature human form. Reason and freedom are the same: the former is theoretical, the latter practical elevation to the suprasensible. Nevertheless virtue is not based upon an inflexible, despotic, abstractly, formal law, but upon an instinct, which, however, does not aim at happiness. Thus Jacobi attempts to mediate between the ethics of the Illumination and the ethics of Kant, by agreeing with the former in regard to the origin of virtue (it arises from a natural impulse), and with the latter in regard to its nature (it consists in disinterestedness). Hence with the Illumination he rejects the imperative form, and with Kant the eudemonistic end. At the same time he endeavors to introduce Herder's idea of individuality into ethics, by demanding that morality assume a special form in each man. Schiller and the romantic school take from Jacobi their ideal of the “beautiful soul,” which from natural impulse realizes in its action, and still more in its being, the good in an individual way.