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History of Modern Philosophy From Nicolas of Cusa to the Present Time by Richard Falckenberg - HTML preview

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1. Nicolas of Cusa

2. The Revival of Ancient Philosophy and the Opposition to it

3. The Italian Philosophy of Nature

4. Philosophy of the State and of Law 5. Skepticism in France

6. German Mysticism

7. The Foundation of Modern Physics

8. Philosophy in England to the Middle of the Seventeenth Century

(_a_) Bacon's Predecessors

(_b_) Bacon

(_c_) Hobbes

(_d_) Lord Herbert of Cherbury

9. Preliminary Survey


%From Descartes to Kant.%



1. The Principles

2. Nature

3. Man





1. Occasionalism: Geulincx

2. Spinoza

_(a)_ Substance, Attributes, and Modes _(b)_ Anthropology; Cognition and the Passions _(c)_ Practical Philosophy

3. Pascal, Malebranche, Bayle



_(a)_ Theory of Knowledge

_(b)_ Practical Philosophy



1. Natural Philosophy and Psychology

2. Deism

3. Moral Philosophy

4. Theory of Knowledge

_(a)_ Berkeley

_(b)_ Hume

_(c)_ The Scottish School



1. The Entrance of English Doctrines

2. Theoretical and Practical Sensationalism 3. Skepticism and Materialism

4. Rousseau's Conflict with the Illumination CHAPTER VII.


1. Metaphysics: the Monads, Representation, the Pre-established Harmony;

the Laws of Thought and of the World

2. The Organic World

3. Man: Cognition and Volition

4. Theology and Theodicy



1. The Contemporaries of Leibnitz

2. Christian Wolff

3. The Illumination as Scientific and as Popular Philosophy

4. The Faith Philosophy


%From Kant to the Present Time.%



1. Theory of Knowledge

_(a)_ The Pure Intuitions (Transcendental Aesthetic) _(b)_ The Concepts and Principles of the Pure Understanding

(Transcendental Analytic)

_(c)_ The Reason's Ideas of the Unconditioned (Transcendental


2. Theory of Ethics

3. Theory of the Beautiful and of Ends in Nature _(a)_ Aesthetic Judgment

_(b)_ Teleological Judgment

4. From Kant to Fichte



1. The Science of Knowledge

_(a)_ The Problem

_(b)_ The Three Principles

_(c)_ The Theoretical Ego

_(d)_ The Practical Ego

2. The Science of Ethics and of Right 3. Fichte's Second Period: his View of History and his Theory

of Religion



1_a_. Philosophy of Nature

1_b_. Transcendental Philosophy

2. System of Identity

3_a_. Doctrine of Freedom

3_b_. Philosophy of Mythology and Revelation CHAPTER XII.


1. The Philosophers of Nature

2. The Philosophers of Identity (F. Krause) 3. The Philosophers of Religion (Baader and Schleiermacher)



1. Hegel's View of the World and his Method 2. The System

(_a_) Logic

(_b_) The Philosophy of Nature

(_c_) The Doctrine of Subjective Spirit (_d_) The Doctrine of Objective Spirit (_e_) Absolute Spirit



1. The Psychologists: Fries and Beneke 2. Realism: Herbart

3. Pessimism: Schopenhauer



1. Italy

2. France

3. Great Britain and America

4. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Holland CHAPTER XVI.


1. From the Division of the Hegelian School to the Materialistic


2. New Systems: Trendelenburg, Fechner, Lotze, and Hartmann

3. From the Revival of the Kantian Philosophy to the Present Time

(_a_) Neo-Kantianism, Positivism, and Kindred Phenomena

(_b_) Idealistic Reaction against the Scientific Spirit

(_c_) The Special Philosophical Sciences 4. Retrospect


* * * * *


In no other department is a thorough knowledge of history so important as

in philosophy. Like historical science in general, philosophy is, on the

one hand, in touch with exact inquiry, while, on the other, it has a

certain relationship with art. With the former it has in common its

methodical procedure and its cognitive aim; with the latter, its intuitive

character and the endeavor to compass the whole of reality with a glance.

Metaphysical principles are less easily verified from experience than

physical hypotheses, but also less easily refuted.

Systems of philosophy,

therefore, are not so dependent on our progressive knowledge of facts as

the theories of natural science, and change less quickly; notwithstanding

their mutual conflicts, and in spite of the talk about discarded

standpoints, they possess in a measure the permanence of classical works of

art, they retain for all time a certain relative validity. The thought of

Plato, of Aristotle, and of the heroes of modern philosophy is ever proving

anew its fructifying power. Nowhere do we find such instructive errors as

in the sphere of philosophy; nowhere is the new so essentially a completion

and development of the old, even though it deem itself the whole and assume

a hostile attitude toward its predecessors; nowhere is the inquiry so much

more important than the final result; nowhere the categories "true and

false" so inadequate. The spirit of the time and the spirit of the people,

the individuality of the thinker, disposition, will, fancy--all these exert

a far stronger influence on the development of philosophy, both by way of

promotion and by way of hindrance, than in any other department of thought.

If a system gives classical expression to the thought of an epoch, a

nation, or a great personality; if it seeks to attack the world-riddle from

a new direction, or brings us nearer its solution by important original

conceptions, by a subtler or a simpler comprehension of the problem, by a

wider outlook or a deeper insight; it has accomplished more than it could

have done by bringing forward a number of indisputably correct principles.

The variations in philosophy, which, on the assumption of the unity of

truth, are a rock of offense to many minds, may be explained, on the one

hand, by the combination of complex variety and limitation in the motives

which govern philosophical thought,--for it is the whole man that

philosophizes, not his understanding merely,--and, on the other, by the

inexhaustible extent of the field of philosophy. Back of the logical labor

of proof and inference stand, as inciting, guiding, and hindering agents,

psychical and historical forces, which are themselves in large measure

alogical, though stronger than all logic; while just before stretches

away the immeasurable domain of reality, at once inviting and resisting

conquest. The grave contradictions, so numerous in both the subjective

and the objective fields, make unanimity impossible concerning ultimate

problems; in fact, they render it difficult for the individual thinker to

combine his convictions into a self-consistent system.

Each philosopher

sees limited sections of the world only, and these through his own eyes;

every system is one-sided. Yet it is this multiplicity and variety of

systems alone which makes the aim of philosophy practicable as it endeavors

to give a complete picture of the soul and of the universe. The history of

philosophy is the philosophy of humanity, that great individual, which,

with more extended vision than the instruments through which it works,

is able to entertain opposing principles, and which, reconciling old

contradictions as it discovers new ones, approaches by a necessary and

certain growth the knowledge of the one all-embracing truth, which is

rich and varied beyond our conception. In order to energetic labor in the

further progress of philosophy, it is necessary to imagine that the goddess

of truth is about to lift the veil which has for centuries concealed her.

The historian of philosophy, on the contrary, looks on each new system as

a stone, which, when shaped and fitted into its place, will help to raise

higher the pyramid of knowledge. Hegel's doctrine of the necessity

and motive force of contradictories, of the relative justification of

standpoints, and the systematic development of speculation, has great and

permanent value as a general point of view. It needs only to be guarded

from narrow scholastic application to become a safe canon for the

historical treatment of philosophy.

In speaking above of the worth of the philosophical doctrines of the past

as defying time, and as comparable to the standard character of finished

works of art, the special reference was to those elements in speculation

which proceed less from abstract thinking than from the fancy, the heart,

and the character of the individual, and even more directly from the

disposition of the people; and which to a certain degree may be divorced

from logical reasoning and the scientific treatment of particular

questions. These may be summed up under the phrase, views of the world. The

necessity for constant reconsideration of them is from this standpoint at

once evident. The Greek view of the world is as classic as the plastic art

of Phidias and the epic of Homer; the Christian, as eternally valid as the

architecture of the Middle Ages; the modern, as irrefutable as Goethe's

poetry and the music of Beethoven. The views of the world which proceed

from the spirits of different ages, as products of the general development

of culture, are not so much thoughts as rhythms in thinking, not theories

but modes of intuition saturated with feelings of worth.

We may dispute

about them, it is true; we may argue against them or in their defense; but

they can neither be established nor overthrown by cogent proofs. It is not

only optimism and pessimism, determinism and indeterminism, that have their

ultimate roots in the affective side of our nature, but pantheism and

individualism, also idealism and materialism, even rationalism and

sensationalism. Even though they operate with the instruments of thought,

they remain in the last analysis matters of faith, of feeling, and of

resolution. The aesthetic view of the world held by the Greeks, the

transcendental-religious view of Christianity, the intellectual view of

Leibnitz and Hegel, the panthelistic views of Fichte I and Schopenhauer are

vital forces, not doctrines, postulates, not results of thought. One view

of the world is forced to yield its pre-eminence to another, which it has

itself helped to produce by its own one-sidedness; only to reconquer its

opponent later, when it has learned from her, when it has been purified,

corrected, and deepened by the struggle. But the elder contestant is no

more confuted by the younger than the drama of Sophocles by the drama of

Shakespeare, than youth by age or spring by autumn.

If it is thus indubitable that the views of the world held in earlier times

deserve to live on in the memory of man, and to live as something better

than mere reminders of the past--the history of philosophy is not a cabinet

of antiquities, but a museum of typical products of the mind--the value

and interest of the historical study of the past in relation to the exact

scientific side of philosophical inquiry is not less evident. In every

science it is useful to trace the origin and growth of problems and

theories, and doubly so in philosophy. With her it is by no means the

universal rule that progress shows itself by the result; the statement of

the question is often more important than the answer.

The problem is more

sharply defined in a given direction; or it becomes more comprehensive,

is analyzed and refined; or if now it threatens to break up into subtle

details, some genius appears to simplify it and force our thoughts back

to the fundamental question. This advance in problems, which happily is

everywhere manifested by unmistakable signs, is, in the case of many of the

questions which irresistibly force themselves upon the human heart, the

only certain gain from centuries of endeavor. The labor here is of more

value than the result.

In treating the history of philosophy, two extremes must be avoided,

lawless individualism and abstract logical formalism.

The history

of philosophy is neither a disconnected succession of arbitrary

individual opinions and clever guesses, nor a mechanically developed series

of typical standpoints and problems, which imply one another in just the

form and order historically assumed. The former supposition does violence

to the regularity of philosophical development, the latter to its vitality.

In the one case, the connection is conceived too loosely, in the other, too

rigidly and simply. One view underestimates the power of the logical Idea,

the other overestimates it. It is not easy to support the principle that

chance rules the destiny of philosophy, but it is more difficult to avoid

the opposite conviction of the one-sidedness of formalistic construction,

and to define the nature and limits of philosophical necessity. The

development of philosophy is, perhaps, one chief aim of the world-process,

but it is certainly not the only one; it is a part of the universal aim,

and it is not surprising that the instruments of its realization do not

work exclusively in its behalf, that their activity brings about results,

which seem unessential for philosophical ends or obstacles in their way.

Philosophical ideas do not think themselves, but are thought by living

spirits, which are something other and better than mere thought

machines--by spirits who live these thoughts, who fill them with personal

warmth and passionately defend them. There is often reason, no doubt, for

the complaint that the personality which has undertaken to develop some

great idea is inadequate to the task, that it carries its subjective

defects into the matter in hand, that it does too much or too little, or

the right thing in the wrong way, so that the spirit of philosophy seems

to have erred in the choice and the preparation of its instrument. But the

reverse side of the picture must also be taken into account. The thinking

spirit is more limited, it is true, than were desirable for the perfect

execution of a definite logical task; but, on the other hand, it is far

too rich as well. A soulless play of concepts would certainly not help

the cause, and there is no disadvantage in the failure of the history of

philosophy to proceed so directly and so scholastically, as, for instance,

in the system of Hegel. A graded series of interconnected general forces

mediate between the logical Idea and the individual thinker--the spirit of

the people, of the age, of the thinker's vocation, of his time of life,

which are felt by the individual as part of himself and whose impulses

he unconsciously obeys. In this way the modifying, furthering, hindering

correlation of higher and lower, of the ruler with his commands and the

servant with his more or less willing obedience, is twice repeated, the

situation being complicated further by the fact that the subject affected

by these historical forces himself helps to make history. The most

important factor in philosophical progress is, of course, the state of

inquiry at the time, the achievements of the thinkers of the immediately

preceding age; and in this relation of a philosopher to his predecessors,

again, a distinction must be made between a logical and a psychological

element. The successor often commences his support, his development, or his

refutation at a point quite unwelcome to the constructive historian. At all

events, if we may judge from the experience of the past, too much caution

cannot be exercised in setting up formal laws for the development of

thought. According to the law of contradiction and reconciliation, a

Schopenhauer must have followed directly after Leibnitz, to oppose his

pessimistic ethelism to the optimistic intellectualism of the latter; when,

in turn, a Schleiermacher, to give an harmonic resolution of the antithesis

into a concrete doctrine of feeling, would have made a fine third. But it

turned out otherwise, and we must be content.

* * * * *

The estimate of the value of the history of philosophy in general, given at

the start, is the more true of the history of modern philosophy, since the

movement introduced by the latter still goes on unfinished. We are still at

work on the problems which were brought forward by Descartes, Locke, and

Leibnitz, and which Kant gathered up into the critical or transcendental

question. The present continues to be governed by the ideal of culture

which Bacon proposed and Fichte exalted to a higher level; we all live

under the unweakened spell of that view of the world which was developed in

hostile opposition to Scholasticism, and through the enduring influence of

those mighty geographical and scientific discoveries and religious reforms

which marked the entrance of the modern period. It is true, indeed, that

the transition brought about by Kant's noëtical and ethical revolution was

of great significance,--more significant even than the Socratic period,

with which we are fond of comparing it; much that was new was woven on,

much of the old, weakened, broken, destroyed. And yet, if we take into

account the historical after-influence of Cartesianism, we shall find that

the thread was only knotted and twisted by Kantianism, not cut through. The

continued power of the pre-Kantian modes of thought is shown by the fact

that Spinoza has been revived in Fichte and Schelling, Leibnitz in Herbart

and Hegel, the sensationalism of the French Illuminati in Feuerbach; and

that even materialism, which had been struck down by the criticism of the

reason (one would have thought forever), has again raised its head. Even

that most narrow tendency of the early philosophy of the modern period, the

apotheosis of cognition is,--in spite of the moralistic counter-movement

of Kant and Fichte,--the controlling motive in the last of the great

idealistic systems, while it also continues to exercise a marvelously

powerful influence on the convictions of our Hegel-weary age, alike within

the sphere of philosophy and (still more) without it. In view of the

intimate relations between contemporary inquiry and the progress of thought

since the beginning of the modern period, acquaintance with the latter,

which it is the aim of this _History_ to facilitate, becomes a pressing

duty. To study the history of philosophy since Descartes is to study the

pre-conditions of contemporary philosophy.

We begin with an outline sketch of the general characteristics of modern

philosophy. These may be most conveniently described by comparing them with

the characteristics of ancient and of mediaeval philosophy. The character

of ancient philosophy or Greek philosophy,--for they are practically the

same,--is predominantly aesthetic. The Greek holds beauty and truth closely

akin and inseparable; "cosmos" is his common expression for the world and

for ornament. The universe is for him a harmony, an organism, a work of

art, before which he stands in admiration and reverential awe. In quiet

contemplation, as with the eye of a connoisseur, he looks upon the world or

the individual object as a well-ordered whole, more disposed to enjoy the

congruity of its parts than to study out its ultimate elements. He prefers

contemplation to analysis, his thought is plastic, not anatomical. He finds

the nature of the object in its form; and ends give him the key to the

comprehension of events. Discovering human elements everywhere, he is

always ready with judgments of worth--the stars move in circles because

circular motion is the most perfect; the right is better than left, upper

finer than lower, that which precedes more beautiful than that which

follows. Thinkers in whom this aesthetic reverence is weaker than the

analytic impulse--especially Democritus--seem half modern rather than

Greek. By the side of the Greek philosophy, in its sacred festal garb,

stands the modern in secular workday dress, in the laborer's blouse, with

the merciless chisel of analysis in its hand. This does not seek beauty,

but only the naked truth, no matter what it be. It holds it impossible to

satisfy at once the understanding and taste; nay, nakedness, ugliness,

and offensiveness seem to it to testify for, rather than against, the

genuineness of truth. In its anxiety not to read human elements into

nature, it goes so far as completely to read spirit out of nature. The

world is not a living whole, but a machine; not a work of art which is to

be viewed in its totality and enjoyed with reverence, but a clock-movement

to be taken apart in order to be understood. Nowhere are there ends in the

world, but everywhere mechanical causes. The character of modern thought

would appear to a Greek returned to earth very sober, unsplendid, undevout,

and intrusive. And, in fact, modern philosophy has a considerable amount

of prose about it, is not easily impressed, accepts no limitations from

feeling, and holds nothing too sacred to be attacked with the weapon of

analytic thought. And yet it combines penetration with intrusiveness;

acuteness, coolness, and logical courage with its soberness. Never before

has the demand for unprejudiced thought and certain knowledge been made

with equal earnestness. This interest in knowledge for its own sake

developed so suddenly and with such strength that, in presumptuous

gladness, men believed that no previous age had rightly understood what

truth and love for truth are. The natural consequence was a general

overestimation of cognition at the expense of all other mental activities.

Even among the Greek thinkers, thought was held by the majority to be the

noblest and most divine function. But their intellectualism was checked

by the aesthetic and eudaemonistic element, and preserved from the

one-sidedness which it manifests in the modern period, because of the

lack of an effective counterpoise. However eloquently Bacon commends the

advantages to be derived from the conquest of nature, he still understands

inquiry for inquiry's sake, and honors it as supreme; even the ethelistic

philosophers, Fichte and Schopenhauer, pay their tribute to the prejudice

in favor of intellectualism. The fact that the modern period can show

no one philosophic writer of the literary rank of Plato, even though it

includes such masters of style as Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer, and

Lotze, not to speak of lesser names, is an external proof of how noticeably

the aesthetic impulse has given way to one purely intellectual.

When we turn to the character of mediaeval thinking; we find, instead of

the aesthetic views of antiquity and the purely scientific tendency of the

modern era, a distinctively religious spirit. Faith prescribes the objects

and the limitations of knowledge; everything is referred to the hereafter,

thought becomes prayer. Men speculate concerning the attributes of God, on

the number and rank of the angels, on the immortality of man--all purely

transcendental subjects. Side by side with these, it is true, the world

receives loving attention, but always as the lower story merely,[1] above

which, with its own laws, rises the true fatherland, the kingdom of grace.

The most subtle acuteness is employed in the service of dogma, with the

task of fathoming the how and why of things whose existence is certified

elsewhere. The result is a formalism in thought side by side with profound

and fervent mysticism. Doubt and trust are strangely intermingled, and a

feeling of expectation stirs all hearts. On the one side stands sinful,

erring man, who, try as hard as he may, only half unravels the mysteries of

revealed truth; on the other, the God of grace, who, after our death, will

reveal himself to us as clearly as Adam knew him before the fall. God

alone, however, can comprehend himself--for the finite spirit, even

truth unveiled is mystery, and ecstasy, unresisting devotion to the

incomprehensible, the culmination of knowledge. In mediaeval philosophy

the subject looks longingly upward to the infinite object of his thought,

expecting that the latter will bend down toward him or lift him upward

toward itself; in Greek philosophy the spirit confronts its object, the

world, on a footing of equality; in modern philosophy the speculative

subject feels himself higher than the object, superior to nature. In

the conception of the Middle Ages, truth and mystery are identical; to

antiquity they appear reconcilable; modern thought holds them as mutually

exclusively as light and darkness. The unknown is the enemy of knowledge,

which must be chased out of its last hiding-place. It is, therefore, easy

to understand that the modern period stands in far sharper antithesis to

the mediaeval era than to the ancient, for the latter has furnished it many

principles which can be used as weapons against the former. Grandparents

and grandchildren make good friends.

[Footnote 1: On the separation and union of the three worlds, _natura,

gratia, gloria_, in Thomas Aquinas, cf. Rudolph Eucken, _Die Philosophie

des Thomas von Aquino und die Kultur der Neuzeit_, Halle. 1886.]

When a new movement is in preparation, but there is a lack of creative

force to give it form, a period of tumultuous disaffection with existing

principles ensues. What is wanted is not clearly perceived, but there is a

lively sense of that which is not wanted.

Dissatisfaction prepares a place

for that which is to come by undermining the existent and making it

ripe for its fall. The old, the outgrown, the doctrine which had become

inadequate, was in this case Scholasticism; modern philosophy shows

throughout--and most clearly at the start--an anti-Scholastic character. If

up to this time Church dogma had ruled unchallenged in spiritual affairs,

and the Aristotelian philosophy in things temporal, war is now declared

against authority of every sort and freedom of thought is inscribed on

the banner.[1] "Modern philosophy is Protestantism in the sphere of the

thinking spirit" (Erdmann). Not that which has been considered true for

centuries, not that which another says, though he be Aristotle or Thomas

Aquinas, not that which flatters the desires of the heart, is true, but

that only which is demonstrated to my own understanding with convincing

force. Philosophy is no longer willing to be the handmaid of theology,

but must set up a house of her own. The watchword now becomes freedom and

independent thought, deliverance from every form of constraint, alike from

the bondage of ecclesiastical decrees and the inner servitude of prejudice

and cherished inclinations. But the adoption of a purpose leads to the

consideration of the means for attaining it. Thus the thirst for knowledge

raises questions concerning the method, the instruments, and the limits of

knowledge; the interest in noëtics and methodology vigorously develops,

remains a constant factor in modern inquiry, and culminates in Kant, not

again to die away.

[Footnote 1: The doctrine of twofold truth, under whose protecting cloak

the new liberal movements had hitherto taken refuge, was now disdainfully

repudiated. Cf. Freudenthal, _Zur Beurtheilung der Scholastik_, in vol.

iii. of the _Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie_, 1890. Also, H. Reuter,

_Geschichte der religiösen Aufklärung im Mittelalter_

1875-77; and Dilthey,

_Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften_, 1883.]

This negative aspect of modern tendencies needs, however, a positive

supplement. The mediaeval mode of thought is discarded and the new one is

not yet found. What can more fittingly furnish a support, a preliminary

substitute, than antiquity? Thus philosophy, also, joins in that great

stream of culture, the Renaissance and humanism, which, starting from

Italy, poured forth over the whole civilized world.

Plato and Neoplatonism,

Epicurus and the Stoa are opposed to Scholasticism, the real Aristotle to

the transformed Aristotle of the Church and the distorted Aristotle of the

schools. Back to the sources, is the cry. With the revival of the ancient

languages and ancient books, the spirit of antiquity is also revived. The

dust of the schools and the tyranny of the Church are thrown off, and the

classical ideal of a free and noble humanity gains enthusiastic adherents.

The man is not to be forgotten in the Christian, nor art and science, the

rights and the riches of individuality in the interest of piety; work for

the future must not blind us to the demands of the present nor lead us to

neglect the comprehensive cultivation of the natural capacities of the

spirit. The world and man are no longer viewed through Christian eyes, the

one as a realm of darkness and the other as a vessel of weakness and wrath,

but nature and life gleam before the new generation in joyous, hopeful

light. Humanism and optimism have always been allied.

This change in the spirit of thought is accompanied by a corresponding

change in the object of thought: theology must yield its supremacy to the

knowledge of nature. Weary of Christological and soteriological questions,

weary of disputes concerning the angels, the thinking spirit longs to

make himself at home in the world it has learned to love, demands real

knowledge,--knowledge which is of practical utility,--

and no longer seeks

God outside the world, but in it and above it. Nature becomes the home, the

body of God. Transcendence gives place to immanence, not only in theology,

but elsewhere. Modern philosophy is naturalistic in spirit, not only

because it takes nature for its favorite object, but also because it

carries into other branches of knowledge the mathematical method so

successful in natural science, because it considers everything _sub ratione

naturae_ and insists on the "natural" explanation of all phenomena, even

those of ethics and politics.

In a word, the tendency of modern philosophy is anti-Scholastic,

humanistic, and naturalistic. This summary must suffice for preliminary

orientation, while the detailed division, particularization, modification,

and limitation of these general points must be left for later treatment.

Two further facts, however, may receive preliminary notice. The

indifference and hostility to the Church which have been cited among the

prominent characteristics of modern philosophy, do not necessarily mean

enmity to the Christian religion, much less to religion in general. In

part, it is merely a change in the object of religious feeling, which

blazes up especially strong and enthusiastic in the philosophy of the

sixteenth century, as it transfers its worship from a transcendent deity to

a universe indued with a soul; in part, the opposition is directed against

the mediaeval, ecclesiastical form of Christianity, with its monastic

abandonment of the world. It was often nothing but a very deep and strong

religious feeling that led thinkers into the conflict with the hierarchy.

Since the elements of permanent worth in the tendencies, doctrines, and

institutions of the Middle Ages are thus culled out from that which is

corrupt and effete, and preserved by incorporation into the new view of the

world and the new science, and as fruitful elements from antiquity enter

with them, the progress of philosophy shows a continuous enrichment in

its ideas, intuitions, and spirit. The old is not simply discarded and

destroyed, but purified, transformed, and assimilated.

The same fact

forces itself into notice if we consider the relations of nationality and

philosophy in the three great eras. The Greek philosophy was entirely

national in its origin and its public, it was rooted in the character of

the people and addressed itself to fellow-countrymen; not until toward its

decline, and not until influenced by Christianity, were its cosmopolitan

inclinations aroused. The Middle Ages were indifferent to national

distinctions, as to everything earthly, and naught was of value in

comparison with man's transcendent destiny. Mediaeval philosophy is in its

aims un-national, cosmopolitan, catholic; it uses the Latin of the schools,

it seeks adherents in every land, it finds everywhere productive

spirits whose labors in its service remain unaffected by their national

peculiarities. The modern period returns to the nationalism of antiquity,

but does not relinquish the advantage gained by the extension of mediaeval

thought to the whole civilized world. The roots of modern philosophy are

sunk deep in the fruitful soil of nationality, while the top of the

tree spreads itself far beyond national limitations. It is national and

cosmopolitan together; it is international as the common property of the

various peoples, which exchange their philosophical gifts through an active

commerce of ideas. Latin is often retained for use abroad, as the

universal language of savants, but many a work is first published in the

mother-tongue--and thought in it. Thus it becomes possible for the ideas

of the wise to gain an entrance into the consciousness of the people, from

whose spirit they have really sprung, and to become a power beyond the

circle of the learned public. Philosophy as illumination, as a factor in

general culture, is an exclusively modern phenomenon. In this speculative

intercourse of nations, however, the French, the English, and the Germans

are most involved, both as producers and consumers.

France gives the

initiative (in Descartes), then England assumes the leadership (in Locke),

with Leibnitz and Kant the hegemony passes over to Germany. Besides these

powers, Italy takes an eager part in the production of philosophical

ideas in the period of ferment before Descartes. Each of these nations

contributes elements to the total result which it alone is in a position

to furnish, and each is rewarded by gifts in return which it would be

incapable of producing out of its own store. This international exchange of

ideas, in which each gives and each receives, and the fact that the chief

modern thinkers, especially in the earlier half of the era, prior to Kant,

are in great part not philosophers by profession but soldiers, statesmen,

physicians, as well as natural scientists, historians, and priests, give

modern philosophy an unprofessional, worldly appearance, in striking

contrast to the clerical character of mediaeval, and the prophetic

character of ancient thinking.

Germany, England, and France claim the honor of having produced the first

_modern_ philosopher, presenting Nicolas of Cusa, Bacon of Verulam, and

René Descartes as their candidates, while Hobbes, Bruno, and Montaigne have

received only scattered votes. The claim of England is the weakest of all,

for, without intending to diminish Bacon's importance, it may be said that

the programme which he develops--and in essence his philosophy is nothing

more--was, in its leading principles, not first announced by him, and

not carried out with sufficient consistency. The dispute between the two

remaining contestants may be easily and equitably settled by making the

simple distinction between forerunner and beginner, between path-breaker

and founder. The entrance of a new historical era is not accompanied by an

audible click, like the beginning of a new piece on a music-box, but is

gradually effected. A considerable period may intervene between the point

when the new movement flashes up, not understood and half unconscious of

itself, and the time when it appears on the stage in full strength and

maturity, recognizing itself as new and so acknowledged by others: the

period of ferment between the Middle Ages and modern times lasted almost

two centuries. It is in the end little more than logomachy to discuss

whether this time of anticipation and desire, of endeavor and partial

success, in which the new struggles with the old without conquering it, and

the opposite tendencies in the conflicting views of the world interplay in

a way at once obscure and wayward, is to be classed as the epilogue of the

old era or the prologue of the new. The simple solution to take it as a

_transition period_, no longer mediaeval but not yet modern, has met with

fairly general acceptance. Nicolas of Cusa (1401-64) was the first to

announce _fundamental principles_ of modern philosophy--

he is the leader in

this intermediate preparatory period. Descartes (1596-1650) brought forward

the first _system_--he is the father of modern philosophy.

A brief survey of the literature may be added in conclusion:

Heinrich Ritter's _Geschichte der neueren Philosophie_

(vols. ix.-xii. of

his _Geschichte der Philosophie_), 1850-53, to Wolff and Rousseau, has

been superseded by more recent works, J.E. Erdmann's able _Versuch einer

wissenschaftlichen Darstellung der neueren Philosophie_

(6 vols., 1834-53)

gives in appendices literal excerpts from non-German writers; the same

author's _Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie_ (2

vols., 1869; 3d ed.,

1878) contains at the end the first exposition of German Philosophy since

the Death of Hegel [English translation in 3 vols., edited by W. S. Hough,

1890.--TR.]. Ueberweg's _Grundriss_ (7th ed. by M.

Heinze, 1888) is

indispensable for reference on account of the completeness of its

bibliographical notes, which, however, are confusing to the beginner

[English translation by G.S. Morris, with additions by the translator, Noah

Porter, and Vincenzo Botta, New York, 1872-74.--TR.].

The most detailed and

brilliant exposition has been given by Kuno Fischer (1854 seq.; 3d

ed., 1878 seq.; the same author's _Baco und seine Nachfolger_, 2d ed.,

1875,--English translation, 1857, by Oxenford,--

supplements the first two

volumes of the _Geschichte der neueren Philosophie_).

This work, which is

important also as a literary achievement, is better fitted than any other

to make the reader at home in the ideal world of the great philosophers,

which it reconstructs from its central point, and to prepare him for the

study (which, of course, even the best exposition cannot replace) of the

works of the thinkers themselves. Its excessive simplification of problems

is not of great moment in the first introduction to a system [English

translation of vol. iii. book 2 (1st ed.), _A Commentary on Kant's Critick

of the Pure Reason_, by J.P. Mahaffy, London, 1866; vol.

i. part 1 and part

2, book 1, _Descartes and his School_, by J, P. Gordy, New York, 1887;

of vol. v. chaps, i.-v., _A Critique of Kant_, by W.S.

Hough, London,

1888.--TR.]. Wilhelm Windelband _(Geschichte der neueren Philosophie_,

2 vols., 1878 and 1880, to Hegel and Herbart inclusive) accentuates the

connection of philosophy with general culture and the particular sciences,

and emphasizes philosophical method. This work is pleasant reading, yet, in

the interest of clearness, we could wish that the author had given more

of positive information concerning the content of the doctrines treated,

instead of merely advancing reflections on them. A projected third volume

is to trace the development of philosophy down to the present time.

Windelband's compendium, _Geschichte der Philosophie_, 1890-91, is

distinguished from other expositions by the fact that, for the most part,

it confines itself to a history of _problems_. Baumann's _Geschichte der

Philosophie_, 1890, aims to give a detailed account of those thinkers only

who have advanced views individual either in their content or in their

proof. Eduard Zeller has given his _Geschichte der deutschen Philosophie

seit Leibniz_ (1873; 2d ed., 1875) the benefit of the same thorough

and comprehensive knowledge and mature judgment which have made his

_Philosophie der Griechen_ a classic. [Bowen's _Modern Philosophy_,

New York, 1857 (6th ed., 1891); Royce's _Spirit of Modern Philosophy_,


Eugen Dühring's hypercritical _Kritische Geschichte der Philosophie_

(1869; 3d ed., 1878) can hardly be recommended to students. Lewes (German

translation, 1876) assumes a positivistic standpoint; Thilo (1874), a

position exclusively Herbartian; A. Stoeckl (3d ed., 1889) writes from the

standpoint of confessional Catholicism; Vincenz Knauer (2d ed., 1882) is

a Güntherian. With the philosophico-historical work of Chr. W. Sigwart

(1854), and one of the same date by Oischinger, we are not intimately


Expositions of philosophy since Kant have been given by the Hegelian, C.L.

Michelet (a larger one in 2 vols., 1837-38, and a smaller one, 1843); by

Chalybaeus (1837; 5th ed., 1860, formerly very popular and worthy of it,

English, 1854); by Fr. K. Biedermann (1842-43); by Carl Fortlage (1852,

Kantio-Fichtean standpoint); and by Friedrich Harms (1876). The last of

these writers unfortunately did not succeed in giving a sufficiently clear

and precise, not to say tasteful, form to the valuable ideas and original

conceptions in which his work is rich. The very popular exposition by an

anonymous author of Hegelian tendencies, _Deutschlands Denker seit Kant_

(Dessau, 1851), hardly deserves mention.

Further, we may mention some of the works which treat the historical

development of particular subjects: On the history of the _philosophy of

religion_, the first volume of Otto Pfleiderer's _Religionsphilosophie auf

geschichtlicher Grundlage_ (2d ed., 1883;--English translation by Alexander

Stewart and Allan Menzies, 1886-88.--TR.), and the very trustworthy

exposition by Bernhard Pünjer (2 vols., 1880, 1883; English translation by

W. Hastie, vol. i., 1887.--TR.). On the history of _practical philosophy_,

besides the first volume of I.H. Fichte's _Ethik_

(1850), Franz Vorländer's

_Geschichte der philosophischen Moral, Rechts- und Staatslehre der

Engländer und Franzosen_ (1855); Fr. Jodl, _Geschichte der Ethik in der

neueren Philosophie_ (2 vols., 1882, 1889), and Bluntschli, _Geschichte der

neueren Staatswissenschaft_ (3d ed., 1881); [Sidgwick's _Outlines of

the History of Ethics_, 3d ed., 1892, and Martineau's _Types of Ethical

Theory_, 3d ed., 1891.--TR.]. On the history of the _philosophy of

history_: Rocholl, _Die Philosophie der Geschichte_, 1878; Richard Fester,

_Rousseau und die deutsche Geschichtsphilosophie_, 1890

[Flint, _The

Philosophy of History in Europe_, vol. i., 1874, complete in 3 vols., 1893

_seq_.]. On the history of _aesthetics_, R. Zimmermann, 1858; H. Lotze,