History of philosophy

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IN preparing this second edition all changes made by the author

in the second German edition have been incorporated either in the

text or in the appendix at the close. In addition, I have included a

brief notice (pp. 663-670) of certain aspects of recent English

thought, which naturally have more interest for the readers of

this translation than for those of the original.

May, 1901.


AFTER many painful delays and interruptions I now present at

last the conclusion of the work whose first sheets appeared two

years ago.

The reader will not confuse this with the compendiums which

have very likely sometimes been prepared by dressing out lecture

notes on the general history of philosophy. What I offer is a

serious text-book, which is intended to portray in comprehensive

and compressed exposition the evolution of the ideas of European

philosophy, with the aim of showing through what motives the

principles, by which we to-day scientifically conceive and judge

the universe and human life, have been brought to consciousness

and developed in the course of the movements of history.
This end has determined the whole form of the book. The

literary-historical basis of research, the biographical and biblio

graphical material, were on this account necessarily restricted to

the smallest space and limited to a selection that should open the

way to the best sources for the reader desiring to work farther.

The philosophers own expositions, too, have been referred to in the

main, only where they afford a permanently valuable formulation

or rationale of thoughts. Aside from this there is only an occa

sional citation of passages on which the author supports an inter-

. pretation differing from that ordinarily adopted. The choice of

material has fallen everywhere on what individual thinkers have

produced that was new and fruitful, while purely individual turns

of thought, which may indeed be a welcome object for learned

research, but afford no philosophical interest, have found at most

a brief mention.

x Author s Preface.

As is shown even by the external form of the exposition, chief

emphasis has been laid upon the development of what is weightiest

from a philosophical standpoint: the history of problems and concep

tions. To understand this as a connected and interrelated whole

lias been my chief purpose. The historical interweaving of the

various lines of thought, out of which our theory of the world and

life has grown, forms the especial object of my work, and I am

convinced that this problem is to be solved, not by any a priori

logical construction, but only by an all-sided, unprejudiced investi

gation of the facts. If in this exposition a relatively large part

of the whole seems to be devoted to antiquity, this rests upon the

conviction that for a historical understanding of our intellectual

existence, the forging out of the conceptions which the Greek mind

wrested from the concrete reality found in Nature and human life,

is more important than all that has since been thought the

Kantian philosophy excepted.

The task thus set required, however, a renunciation which no

one can regret more than myself. The purely topical treatment

of the historical movement of philosophy did not permit of giving

to the personality of the philosophers an impressiveness corre

sponding to their true worth. This could only be touched upon

where it becomes efficient as a causal factor in the combination and

transformation of ideas. The aesthetic fascination which dwells in

the individual nature of the great agents of the movement, and

which lends its especial charm to the academic lecture, as well as

to the more extended exposition of the history of philosophy, had

to be given up here in favour of a better insight into the pragmatic

necessity of the mental process.

Finally, I desire to express at this place also my lively gratitude

to my colleague, Dr. Hensel, who has not only aided me with a

part of the proofs, but has also essentially increased the usefulness

of the book by a subject index.

STRASSBURG, November, 1891.


A LARGE edition of my History of Philosophy had been exhausted

more than two years ago, and in the meantime its use had been

further extended by English and Russian translations. This per

mits me to assume that the new treatment which I gave to the

subject has filled an existing gap, and that the synoptical and criti

cal method which I introduced has gained approval so far as the

principle is concerned. While therefore I could leave the book

unchanged in its main outlines when preparing this new edition, I

could be all the more careful in making evidently needed improve

ments and in fulfilling certain specific requests.
Under the head of improvements I have undertaken such correc

tions, condensations, and expansions upon particular points as are

requisite for a text-book which seeks to represent the present condi

tion of investigation, and in this work the literature which has

appeared since the first edition has been utilised. In consequence

of the great condensation of material the exposition had become

sometimes difficult to follow, and 1 have aimed in many cases to

give more fluent form to the expression by breaking up some of the

longer sentences, and occasionally omitting what was of merely sec

ondary importance.

A desire has been expressed by readers of the book for a more

extended notice of the personalities and personal relations of the

philosophers. In the preface to my first edition I had myself

recognised the justice of this demand, but had disclaimed the inten

tion of satisfying it because the special plan of my work and the

necessary limitations of space prevented. Now I have sought to

fulfil this demand so far as it has seemed possible within the

limit of my work, by giving brief and precise characterisations of

the most important thinkers.
A desire for a more extended treatment of the philosophers of the

nineteenth century has also been reckoned with. The few pages

originally accorded to the subject have been expanded to three times

the former compass, and I hope that although one will miss one


xii Author s Preface.

topic and another another, it will nevertheless be possible to gain a

fairly complete general view of the movements of philosophy down

to the more immediate present, in so far as this is to be expected

from a history of principles.

Finally, I have remade the subject index, and so expanded it

that in connection with the text it may, as I hope, have the value of

a dictionary of the history of philosophy. This gives to my work a

second distinctive feature; namely, that of a work of reference of

a systematic and critical sort.
By all these expansions the size of the book has been considerably

increased, and I express here to my esteemed publisher, Dr. Siebeck,

my heartiest gratitude for the cordial response with which he has

made possible these essential improvements.

STRASSBURG, September, 1900.

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