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

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.





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 no√ętical 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