The more varied the character assumed by the problems and con
tent of philosophy in the course of time, the more the question
rises, what meaning there can be in uniting in historical investiga
tion and exposition products of thought which are not only so
manifold, but also so different in kind, and between which there
seems to be ultimately nothing in common but the name.
For the anecdotal interest in this checkered diversity of vari
ous opinions on various things, which was perhaps formerly the
chief motive of a " History of Philosophy," stimulated too by the
remarkable and strange nature of many of these views, cannot
possibly serve as the permanent centre of a genuine scientific disci
1. At all events, however, it is clear that the case stands other
wise with the history of philosophy than with that of any other
science. For with all these the field of research remains fixed, on
the whole at least, however many the variations to which its extent,
its separation from a still more general field, and its limitation with
reference to neighbouring fields, may be subject in the course of his
tory. In such a case there is no difficulty in tracing the develop
ment of knowledge over a field which can be determined in this
way, and in eventually making just those variations intelligible as
the natural consequences of this development of insight.
1 The best evidence for this statement is afforded by just the passionate
attacks which Schopenhauer directed against the relation between philosophy
and the universities.
2.] The History of Philosophy. 9
no such subject-matter common to all its periods, and whose " his
tory," therefore, sets forth no constant advance or gradual approxi
mation to a knowledge of the subject in question. Rather, it has
always been emphasised that while in other sciences, a quiet build
ing up of knowledge is the rule, as soon as they have once gained
a sure methodical footing after their rhapsodical beginnings, a
rule which is interrupted only from time to time by a sudden new
beginning, in philosophy the reverse is true. There it is the
exception that successors gratefully develop what has been already
achieved, and each of the great systems of philosophy begins to
solve its newly formulated problem ab ovo, as if the other systems
had scarcely existed.
2. If in spite of all of this we are still to be able to speak of a " his
tory of philosophy," the unity of connection, which we find neither
in the objects with which philosophers busy themselves, nor in the
problems they have set themselves, can be found only in the common
work which, they. Jtane accomplished in spite of all the variety in their
subject-matter and in the purposes with which they have worked.
history of philosophy, rests on just the changing relations which
the work of philosophers has sustained in the course of history, not
only to the maturest results of science in general and of the special
sciences in particular, but also to the other activities of European
civilisation. For was it that philosophy had in view the project of
a general scientific knowledge of the universe, which she would win
either in the role of universal science, or as a generalising compre
hension of the results of the special sciences, or was it that she
sought a view of life which should give a complete expression to
.the highest values of will and feeling, or was it finally that with a
clearly defined limitation of her field she made reason s self-knowl
edge her goal, the result always was that she was labouring to
bring to conscious expression the necessary forms and principles in
which the human reason manifests its activity, and to transfer these
from their original form of perceptions, feelings, and impulses, into
that of conceptions. In some direction and in some fashion every
philosophy has striven to reach, over a more or less extensive field,
a formulation in conception of the material immediately given in
the world and in life; and so, as these efforts have passed into his
tory, the constitution of the mental and spiritual life has been
step by step disclosed. The History of Philosophy is the process in
tvhich European humanity has embodied in scientific conceptions its
views of tlie world and its judgments of life.
present themselves as " philosophies," which alone gives to the
history of philosophy as a genuine science its content, its problem,
and its justification. This, too, is the reason why a knowledge of
the history of philosophy is a necessary requirement, not only for
all scholarly education, but for all culture whatever ; for it teaches
how the conceptions and forms have been coined, in which we all,
in every-day life as well as in the particular sciences, think and
judge the world of our experience.
The beginnings of the history of philosophy are to be sought in the historical
compositions (for the most part lost) of the great schools of antiquity, especially
the Peripatetic School. As we may see in the examples given by Aristotle, 1
these works had the critical purpose of preparing for the development of their
own views by a dialectical examination of views previously brought forward.
Such collections of historical material were planned for the various fields of
science, and doxographies 2 in philosophy arose in this way side by side with
histories of particular disciplines, such as mathematics, astronomy, physics, etc.
As inclination and power for independent philosophic thought later declined,
this literature degenerated into a learned scrap-book work, in which were mingled
anecdotes from the lives of the philosophers, individual epigrammatic sayings,
and sketches of their doctrines.
the remains of ancient tradition had this same character of collections of curiosi
ties. Such were Stanley s 3 reproduction of Diogenes Laertius, and Brucker s
works. 4 Only with time do we find critical discernment in use of the sources
(B thle,* Fulleborn 6 ), a more unprejudiced apprehension of the historical
significance of individual doctrines (Tiedemann, Degerando 8 ), and systematic
criticism of these upon the basis of the new standpoint (Tennemann, 9 Fries, 10
and Schleiermacher 11 ).
made an independent science, for he discovered the essential point that the
1 E.g. in the beginning of the Metaphysics.
tutiones Historian Philnsophice. Leips. 1747.
Ziillichau, 1791 ff.
4 vols. Paris, 1822f.
Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie fur den akademischen Unterricht.
Leips. 1812. [Eng. trans. 1833 and 1852.]
1[) J. Fr. Fries, Geschichte der Philosophie. 2 vols. Halle, 1837 ff.
" Fr. Schleiermacher, Geschichte der Philosophie, from his literary remains
in the Coll. Works. III. Abth., 4 Bd., 1 Th. Berlin, 1839.
the Philosophy of History, and those on the History of Philosophy. Ges. Werke,
Bd. II. pp. 62 ff.; IX. pp. 1 1 ff. ; XIII. pp. 11-134. In Hegel s works the Geschichte
der Philosophie, edited from his lectures by Michelet, occupies Vols. XIII. -XV.
Berlin, 1833-36. [Lectures on the History of Philosophy, by G. W. Hegel.
Trans, by E. S. Haldaue in 3 vols. Vol. 1. Lond. 1892.] On his standpoint
2.] The History of Philosophy. 11
various learned gentleman " de omnibus rebus et de qnibusdam aZns," nor a
constantly widening and perfecting elaboration of the same subject-matter, but
rather only the limited process in which the "categories" of reason have suc
cessively attained distinct consciousness and reached the form of conceptions.
This valuable insight was, however, obscured and injured in the case of Hegel
by an additional asumption, since he was convinced that the chronological order
in which the above " categories " have presented themselves in the historical
systems of philosophy must necessarily correspond with the logical and syste
matic order in which these same categories should appear as "elements of
truth " in the logical construction of the final system of philosophy (i.e. in
Hegel s view, his own). The fundamental thought, right in itself, thus led to
the mistake of a construction of the history of philosophy under the control of a
philosophical system, and so to a frequent violation of historical fact. This
error, which the development of a scientific history of philosophy in the nine
teenth century has set aside in favour of historical accuracy and exactness, arose
from the wrong idea (though an idea in logical consistence with the principles of
Hegel s philosophy) that the historical progress of philosophical thought is due
solrly, or at least essentially, to an ideal necessity with which one "category"
pushes forward another in the dialectical movement. In truth, the picture of
the historical movement of philosophy is quite a different one. It depends not
solely upon the thinking of "humanity " or even of the " Weltyeist," but just
as truly upon the reflections, the needs of mind and heart, the presaging thought
and sudden flashes of insight, of philosophising individuals.
3. The history of philosophy, considered as such a sum-total, in
which the fundamental conceptions of man s views of the world and
judgments of life have been embodied, is the product of a great
variety of single movements of thought. And as the actual motives
of these movements, various factors are to be distinguished, both in
the setting of the problems and in the attempts at their logical
The logical, pragmatic factor is no doubt sufficiently important.
For the problems of philosophy are in the main given, and this is
shown by the fact that they are constantly recurring in the histor
ical movement of thought as the " primeval enigma of existence,"
and are ever anew demanding imperiously the solution which has
never completely succeeded. They are given, however, by the
inadequacy and internal contradictions of the material which con
sciousness presents for philosophical consideration. 1 But just for
1838 ff.), C. Hermann, Geschichte der Philosophic in praymatischer Behandlung
(Leips. 1867), and in part also the survey of the entire history of philosophy
which J. Braniss has published as the first (only) volume of a Geschichte der
Philosophie seit Kant (Breslau, 1842). In France this line is represented by V.
Cousin, Introduction a VHistoire de la Philosophie (Paris, 1828 ; 7th ed. 1872) ;
Histoire Generals de la Philosophie (12th ed., Paris, 1884).
1 More precisely, this inadequacy, which cannot here be more exactly devel
oped, and which can be fully brought out only in a system of epistemology,
consists in the circumstance that that which is given in experience never meets
completely the conceptional demands which, in elaborating the same according
to the inner nature of the reason, we set up, at first naively and immediately,
and later with reflective consciousness. This antinomism (or failure to meet
the laws of thought) can be escaped by ordinary life, or even by experiential
logical constraining forces for all rational reflection upon it, and
because from the nature of the case these are always asserting
themselves anew in the same way, it follows that not only the chief
problems in the history of philosophy, but also the chief lines along
which a solution is attempted, are repeated. Just this constancy
in all change, which, regarded from without, makes the impression
that philosophy is striving fruitlessly in ever-repeated circles for
a goal that is never attained, proves only this, that the problems
of philosophy are tasks which the human mind cannot escape. 1
And so we understand how the same logical necessity in repeated
instances causes one doctrine to give birth to another. Hence prog
ress in the history of philosophy is, during certain periods, to be
understood entirely pragmatically, i.e. through the internal necessity
of the thoughts and through the " logic of things."
The mistake of Hegel s mentioned above, consists, then, only in his wishing to
make of a factor wliich is effective within certain limits, the only, or at least
the principal, factor. It would be the opposite error to deny absolutely the
"reason in history," and to see in the successive doctrines of philosophy only
confused chance- thoughts of individuals. It is rather true that the total content
of the history of philosophy can be explained only through the fact that the
necessities existing in the nature of things assert themselves over and over in
the thinking of individuals, however accidental the special conditions of this
latter may be. On these relations rest the attempts made to classify all philo
sophical doctrines under certain types, and to establish a sort of rhythmical
repetition in their historical development. On this basis V. Cousin 2 brought
forward his theory of the four systems, Idealism, Sensualism, Scepticism, Mys
ticism ; so too August Comte 3 his of the three stages, the theological, the meta
physical, and the positive. An interesting and in many ways instructive
grouping of philosophical doctrines about the particular main problems is
afforded by A. Renouvier in his Esquisse d une Classification Systematique
des Doctrines Philosophiques (2 vols., Paris, 1885 f.). *A school-book which
arranges the philosophical doctrines according to problems and schools has been
issued by Paul Janet and Seailles ; Histoire de la Philosophic ; les problemes et
les ecoles (Paris, 1887).
of philosophy. The historical order in particular, in which prob
lems have presented themselves, shows almost a complete absence
science, by working with auxiliary conceptions, which indeed remain problem
atical in themselves, but which, within certain bounds, suffice for an elaboration
of the material of experience that meets our practical needs. But it is just in
these auxiliary conceptions that the problems of philosophy inhere.
1 In this way the results of Kant s investigations on " The Antinomy of Pure
Reason " ( Critique of Pure Reason, Transcendental Dialectic, second sec.) might
be historically and systematically extended ; cf. W. Windelband, Geschichte der
neueren Philosophic, II. 95 f.
are to be compared as the carrying out of the scheme. Similar thoughts are
also found in D Alembert s Discours Preliminaire in the Encyclopedic.
$2.] The History of Philosophy. U
another factor asserts itself which may best be designated as the
factor contributed by the history of civilisation. For philosophy
receives both its problems and the materials for their solution from
the ideas of the general consciousness of the time, and from the
needs of society. The great conquests and the newly emerging
questions of the special sciences, the movements of the religious
consciousness, the intuitions of art, the revolutions in social and
political life, all these give philosophy new impulses at irregular
intervals, and condition the directions of the interest which forces,
now these, now those, problems into the foreground, and crowds
others for the time being aside ; and no less do they condition also
the changes which questions and answers experience in course of
time. Where this dependence shows itself with especial clearness,
we have under certain circumstances a philosophical system appear
ing, that represents exactly the knowledge which a definite age has
of itself ; or we may have the oppositions in the general culture of
the age finding their expression in the strife of philosophical sys
tems. And so besides the constant dependence upon the essential
character of the subject-matter the pragmatic factor there pre-,
vails also a necessity growing out of the history of civilisation, or
current state of culture, which warrants a historical right of exist
ence to structures of thought in themselves untenable.
This relation also was first brought to notice in a greater degree than before
by Hegel, although the "relative truth" which he ascribes to the particular
systems has with him at the same time a systematic meaning, owing to his
dialectical fundamental thought. On the other hand, the element due to the
history of civilisation has been best formulated among his successors by Kuno
Fischer, 1 who has also availed himself of it in most brilliant manner in his expo
sition of the subject. He regards philosophy in its historical unfolding as the
progressive self-knowledge of the human mind, and makes its development
appear as constantly conditioned by the development of the object which in it
is attaining self-knowledge. Although this applies to a number of the most
important systems, it is yet but one of the factors involved.
The influences from the history of civilisation which condition the statement
and solution of philosophic problems, afford an explanation in most cases of an
extremely interesting phenomenon which is of great importance for understand
ing the historical development ; viz. the complication or interweaving of prob
lems. For when interest is directed chiefly on certain lines of thought, it is
inevitable, according to psychological laws, that associations will be formed
between different bodies of thought, associations which are not based on the
subject-matter, and so, that questions which in themselves have nothing to do
with each other become blended and made to depend upon each other in their
solution. An extremely important and very often recurring example of this is
the intermingling of ethical and aesthetic interests in the treatment of theoretical
problems. The well-known fact of daily life that men s views are determined
by their wishes, hopes, fears, and inclinations, that their theoretical are condi-
1 Kuno Fischer, Geschichte der neueren Philosophic, I. 1, Einleitung I.-V.
trans, by J. P. Gordy, Descartes and his School, N.Y. 1887].
lungen), this fact is repeated on a larger scale in their views of the universe,
and has even been able to rise so high in philosophy that what had been pre
viously involuntarily practised, was proclaimed (by Kant) an epistemological
5. Meanwhile the historical process we are tracing owes all its
variety and multiplicity of forms to the circumstance that the de
velopment of ideas and the formulation of general beliefs into
abstract conceptions are accomplished only through the thinking
of individual personalities, who, though rooted ever so deeply with
their thought in the logical connection and prevalent ideas of a
historical period, always add a particular element by their own
individuality and conduct of life. This individual factor in the
development of the history of philosophy deserves so great atten
tion for the reason that those who have borne the leading part in
the movement have shown themselves to be marked, independent
personalities, whose peculiar nature has been a determining in
fluence, not merely for the selection and combination of problems,
but also for working out the conceptions to furnish solutions, both
in their own doctrines and in those of their successors. That history
is the kingdom of individualities, of details which are not to be
repeated and which have value in themselves, is shown also in the
history of philosophy : here, too, great personalities have exercised
far-reaching and not exclusively beneficial influences.
It is clear that the above-mentioned complication of problems is brought
about by the subjective relations in which individual philosophers stand, in a
much greater degree than by the occasions presented in the general conscious
ness of a time, of a people, etc. There is no philosophical system that is free
from this influence of the personality of its founder. Hence all philosophical
systems are creations of individuality, presenting in this respect a certain re
semblance with works of art, and as such are to be understood from the point of
view of the personality of their founder. The elements of every philosopher s
Weltanschauung grow out of the problems of reality which are ever the same,
and out of the reason as it is directed to their solution, but besides this out of
the views and ideals of his people and his time ; the form and arrangement,
however, the connection and valuation which they find in the system, are condi
tioned by his birth and education, his activity and lot in life, his character and
his experience. Here, accordingly, the universality which belongs to the other
two factors is often wanting. In the case of these purely individual creations,
aesthetic charm must take the place of the worth of abiding knowledge, and the
impressiveness of many phenomena of the history of philosophy rests, in fact,
only upon the magic of their "poetry of ideas" (Begriffsdichtung).
by fancy and feeling, which are already enough to lead the general conscious
ness astray, there are in the case of individuals similar, but purely personal,
processes to lend to the formation and solution of problems still more the char
acter of artificiality. We cannot fail to recognise that philosophers have often
gone about struggling with questions which have no basis in reality, so that all
thought expended upon them was in vain, and that, on the other hand, even in
connection with the solution of real problems, unfortunate attempts in the a
priori construction of conceptions have slipped in, which have been hindrances
rather than helps toward the issue of the matter.
2.] The History of Philosophy. 15
out of such a multitude of individual and general complications there has yet
been on the whole laid down that outline of universally valid conceptions for
viewing the world and judging life, which presents the scientific significance of
6. Investigation in the histor;/ of philosophy has accordingly the
following tasks to accomplish: (1) To establish with precision what
may be derived from the available sources as to the circumstances
in life, the mental development, and the doctrines of individual
philosophers ; (2) from these facts to reconstruct the genetic pro
cess in such a way that in the case of every philosopher we may
understand how his doctrines depend in part upon those of his
predecessors, in part upon the general ideas of his time, and in part
upon his own nature and the course of his education ; (3) from
the consideration of the whole to estimate what value for the total
result of the history of philosophy belongs to the theories thus
established and explained as regards their origin.
is a philologico-Jiistorical, with reference to the third element it is a
critico-ph ilosoph ical science.
(a) To establish its facts the history of philosophy must proceed to a careful
and comprehensive examination of the sources. These sources, however, vary
greatly at different times in their transparency and fulness.
The main sources for investigation in the history of philosophy are of course
the icorks of the philosophers themselves. For the modern period we stand
here upon a relatively safe footing. Since the discovery of the art of printing,
literary tradition has become so well established and clear that it offers in gen
eral no difficulties of any kind. The writings which philosophers have pub
lished since the Renaissance are throughout accessible for the research of
to-day. The cases in which questions of genuineness, of the time of origina
tion, etc., give rise to controversies are extremely seldom ; a philological criti
cism has here but a narrow field for activity, and where it can enter (as is the
case in part in reference to the different editions of Kant s works), it concerns
solely subordinate, and in the last instance indifferent, points. Here, too, we are
tolerably sure of the completeness of the material ; that anything of weight is
lost, or still to be expected from later publication, is scarcely to be assumed ; if
the sharpened philological attentiveness of the last decades has brought us new
material for Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Maine de Biran, the philosophical outcome
has been only vanishing in comparison with the value of what was already
known. At most it has concerned the question of supplementing our knowl
edge, and this must continue to be its province. The importance of occasional
expressions in letters has been specially felt here, for these are adapted to sh< d
more light on the individual fa,ctor in the historical development of philosophy.
These have in part (a small part, to be sure) still only a manuscript existence.
V. Cousin and his school have rendered valuable service in publishing the
texts, and in general we may be convinced that for this period also we possess
material, which has indeed gaps, but is on the whole adequate for our purpose.
On the other hand, our knowledge of the Arabian and Jewish philosophy of the
Middle Ages, and so of the influence of those systems on the course of Western
Thought, is still very problematical in details ; and this is perhaps the gap most
sorely felt in our investigation of the sources for the history of philosophy.
Much worse still is the situation as regards the direct sources for Ancient
Philosophy. Of the original works, we have preserved, to be sure, the most
even these are often doubtful in form. Besides these we have only the writings
of later time, such as those of Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, the Church Fathers,
and the Neo-Platonists. By far the greater part of the philosophical writings
of antiquity is lost. In their stead we must content ourselves with the frag
ments which the accident of an incidental mention in the writings of extant
authors has kept for us, here too often in a questionable form. 1
If, nevertheless, success has been attained in gaining a view of the develop
ment of the ancient philosophy, clearer than that of the mediaeval, presenting a
picture whose accuracy extends even to details and is scientifically assured, this
is due not only to the unremitting pains of philologists and philosophers in
working through their material, but also to the circumstance that beside the
remains of the original works of the philosophers there are preserved also, as
secondary sources, remains of historical records made in antiquity. The best,
indeed, of these also is lost: namely, the historical works which arose from the
learned collection made by the Peripatetic and Stoic schools at the end of the
fourth and in the third century B.C. These works passed later through many
hands before they were preserved for us in the extant compilations prepared in
the Roman period, as in the Placita Philosophorum,* going by the name of
Plutarch, in the writings of Sextus Empiricus, 8 in the Deipnosophistce of Athe-
nseus, 4 in the treatise of Diogenes Laertius, irepl /StW Soy/j.d.rwv KO.I diroOeyndruv
TU>V ti> <t>i\off<Ht>l$ ev8oKifj.rjffdi>Tui>, 5 in the collections of the Church Fathers, and
in the notes of the Commentators of the latest period, such as Alexander Aphro-
disias, Themistius, and Simplicius. H. Diels has given an excellent, and thor
ough treatment of these secondary sources of ancient philosophy, Dxographi
Grceci (Berlin, 1879).
Where the condition of the sources is so doubtful as is the case over the
entire field of ancient philosophy, critical ascertainment of the facts must go
hand in hand with examination of the pragmatic and genetic connection. For
where the transmission of the material is itself doubtful we can reach a decision
only by taking a view of the connection that shall accord with reason and
psychological experience. In these cases it becomes the task of the history of
philosophy as of all history, after establishing a base of operations in that which
is assured by the sources, to proceed to ascertain its position in those regions
with which tradition finds itself no longer directly and surely in touch. The
historical study of philosophy in the nineteenth century may boast that it has
fulfilled this task, to which it was stimulated by Schleiermacher, by the labours
of H. Hitter, who.se Geschi<-hte der Philosophic (12vols., Hamburg, 1829-53) is
now, to be sure, antiquated, Brandis and Zeller for the ancient philosophy ;
and of J. E. Erdmann and Kuno Fischer for the modern. Among the many
complete expositions of the history of philosophy by far the most trustworthy
in these respects is J. 5. Erdmann s Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophic,
2 vols. (3d ed.), Berlin, 1878 ; [Erdmann s History of Philosophy, trans, ed. by
W. S. Hough, Loud, and N.Y., 1890].
literature in exhaustive completeness and good arrangement, is to be found in
Ueberweg s Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, 4 vols., 8th ed., ed. by
M. Heinze (Berlin, 1894-98). [Ueberweg s History of Philosophy, trans, from
the 4th ed. by G. S. Morris (N. Y. 1871), contains additions, but of course does not
1 The collections of fragments of particular authors are mentioned under the
notices of the individual philosophers. It would be desirable if they were all as
excellent as Usener s Epicurea. Of the fragments of the Pre-Socratics W. F.
A. Mullach has published a careful collection, which, however, is no longer
adequate in the present condition of research (Fragmenta Philosophorum
Morals, Miscellanies, and Essays, ed. by Goodwin, Boston, 1870 ; trans, also in
the Bohn Lib.].
Ed. Bekker, Berlin, 1847.
4 G. Kaibel, Leips. 1888-90.
6 Ed. Cobet, Paris, 1850.
2.] The History of Philosophy. 17
be mentioned, R. Eucken, Die Lebensanschauunf/en tier qrossen Denker (Leips.
(6) Explanation of facts in the history of philosophy is either pragmatic (logi
cal), or based on the history of civilisation, or psychological, corresponding to the
three factors which we have set forth above as determining the movement of
thought. Which of these three modes of explanation is to be applied in individ
ual cases depends solely upon the state of the facts with regard to the trans
mission of material. It is then incorrect to make either one the sole principle
of treatment. The pragmatic method of explanation is dominant with those
who see in the entire history of philosophy the preparation for a definite system
of philosophy ; so with Hegel and his disciples (see above, p. 10 f. ); so from a
Herbartian standpoint with Chr. A. Thilo, Kurze pragmatische (Jesc.hichte der
Philosophic, (2 pts. ; Coethen, 1876-80). Kuno Fischer and W. Windelband
have emphasised in their interpretation of modern philosophy, the importance
of considering the history of civilisation and the problems of the individual
alities is quite inadequate as a scientific exposition or the history of philosophy.
This mode of treatment is represented in recent time by the treatise of G. H.
Lewes, The History of Philosophy from Thale.s to the Present Day (2 vols.,
Lond. 1871), a book destitute of all historical apprehension, and at the same
time a party composition in the spirit of the Positivism of Comte. The works
of the French historians (Damiron, Ferraz) are inclined to take this form of
a separate essay-like treatment of individual philosophers, not losing from sight,
however, the course of development of the whole. 1
(c) The most difficult task is to establish the principles according to which the
critical philosophical estimate of the individual doctrines must be made up.
The history of philosophy, like all history, is a critical science ; its duty is not
only to record and explain, but also to estimate what is to ccunt as progress
and fruit in the historical movement, when we have succeeded in knowing and
understanding this. There is no history without this critical point of view, and
the evidence of a historian s maturity is that he is clearly conscious of this point
of view of criticism ; for where this is not the case he proceeds in the selection
of his material and in his characterisation of details only instinctively and
without a clear standard. ^
a private theory of the historian, nor even his philosophic conviction ; at least
the employment of such a standard deprives the criticism exercised in accord
ance with it of the value of scientific universality. He who is given to the
belief that he possesses the sole philosophical truth, or who comes to this field
imbued with the customs of the special sciences in which, no doubt, a sure result
makes it a very simple 3 matter to estimate the attempts which have led to it,
such a one may well be tempted to stretch all forms that pass before him upon
the Procrustes-bed of his system ; but he who contemplates the work of thought
in history, with an open historical vision, will be restrained by a respectful
reverence from reprimanding the heroes of philosophy for their ignorance of the
wisdom of an epigone. 4
1 A. Weber, History of Philosophy, is to be recommended as a good text-book
(5th French ed., Paris, 1891). [Eng. tr. by Thilly, N.Y. 1896.]
2 This applies in every domain of history, in the history of politics and of
literature, as well as in that of philosophy.
excellent History of the Principles of Mechanics, Ed. Duhring, has developed
in his Kritische Geschichte der Philosophic (3d ed., Berlin, 1878) all the caprice
of a one-sided judgment. The like is true of the confessional criticism passed
by A. Stockl, Lehrbuch der Geschichte der Philosophic (2 vols., 3d ed., Mainz,
4 It is impossible to protest enough against the youthful conceit with which
it was for a time the fashion in Germany to look down with ridicule or insult
from the " achievements of the present " upon the great men of Greek and Ger-
18 Introduction .
history of philosophy must place itself upon the standpoint of immanent criti
cism, the principles of which are two : formal logical consistency and intellectual fruitfulness.
Every philosopher grows into a certain set of ideas, and to these his thinking
remains bound, and is subjected in its development to psychological necessity.
Critical investigation has to settle how far it has been possible for him to bring
the different elements of his thinking into agreement with each other. The
contradiction is almost never actually present in so direct a form that the same
thing is expressly maintained and also denied, but always in such a way that
various positions are put forward which, only by virtue of their logical conse
quences, lead to direct contradiction and really irreconcilable results. The dis
covery of these discrepancies is formal criticism ; it frequently coincides with
pragmatic explanation, for this formal criticism has been performed in history
itself by the successors of the philosopher in question, and has thus determined for them their problems.
Yet this point of view alone is not sufficient. As purely formal it applies
without exception to all attested views of a philosopher, but it gives no criterion
for decision on the question, in what the philosophical significance of a doctrine
really consists. For it is often the case that philosophy has done its work just
in conceptions which must by no means be regarded as in themselves perfect
or free from contradiction ; while a multitude of individual convictions, which
there is no occasion to oppose, must remain unnoticed in a corner, so far as our
historical survey is concerned. In the history of philosophy great errors are
weightier than small truths.
For before all else the decisive question is : what has yielded a contribution to
the development of man s conception of the universe and estimate of life? In
the history of philosophy those structures of thought are the objects of study
which have maintained themselves permanent and living as forms of apprehen
sion and norms of judgment, and in which the abiding inner structure of the
human mind has thus come to clear recognition.
among the doctrines of the philosophers concerning, as they often do, so
many various things are to be regarded as properly philosophical, and which,
on the other hand, are to be excluded from the history of philosophy. Investi
gation of the sources has of course the duty of gathering carefully and com
pletely all the doctrines of philosophers, and so of affording all the material for
explaining their genesis, whether from their logical content, or from the history
of civilisation, or from psychological grounds ; but the purpose of this laborious
work is yet only this, that the philosophically indifferent may be ultimately
recognised as such, and the ballast then thrown overboard.
tion and presentation of material in a text-book, which is not to give the investi
gation itself, but to gather up its results.
3. Division of Philosophy and of its History.
It cannot be our purpose here to propose a systematic division of
philosophy, for this could in no case possess universal validity his
torically. The differences which prevail in the course of the histori
cal development, in determining the conception, the task, and the
subject-matter of philosophy, involve so necessarily and obviously a
change also in the divisions, that this needs no especial illustration.
The oldest philosophy knew no division at all. In later antiquity
man philosophy ; this was mainly the haughtiness of an ignorance which had
no suspicion that it was ultimately living only by the thoughts of those whom it
was abusing and despising.
a division of philosophy into logic, physics, and ethics was cur
rent. In the Middle Ages, and still more in modern times, the
first two of these subjects were often comprised under the title,
theoretical philosophy, and set over against practical philosophy.
Since Kant a new threefold division into logical, ethical, and
sesthetical philosophy is beginning to make its way, yet these
various divisions are too much dependent upon the actual course
of philosophy itself to make it worth our while to recount them
here in detail.
exposition with at least a brief survey of the entire circuit of those
problems which have always formed the subject of philosophy, how
ever varied the extent to which they have been studied or the value
that has been attached to them, a survey, therefore, for which no
claim is made to validity from a systematic point of view, but which
is determined only by the purpose of preliminary orientation.
1. Theoretical problems. Such we call those which refer, in part to
our knowledge of the actual world, in part to an investigation of the
knowing process itself. In dealing with the former class, however,
the general questions which concern the actual taken as a whole are
distinguished from those which deal with single provinces of the
actual. The former, viz. the highest principles for explaining the
universe, and the general view of the universe based on these prin
ciples, form the problem of metaphysics, called by Aristotle first, i.e.
fundamental, science, and designated by the name now usual, only on
account of the position which it had in the ancient collection of the
Aristotelian works " after physics." On account of his monothe
istic view of the world, Aristotle also called this branch of knowl
edge theology. Later writers have also treated rational or natural
theology as a branch of metaphysics.
the former, external and internal nature are to be distinguished.
The problems presented to knowledge by external nature are called
cosmological, or, specially, problems of natural philosophy, or perhaps
physical. The investigation of internal nature, i.e. of consciousness
and its states and activities, is the business of psychology. The phil
osophical consideration of history remains within the borders of
theoretical philosophy only if it be limited to the investigation of
the laws that prevail in the historical life of peoples ; since, how
ever, history is the realm of man s purposeful actions, the questions
of the philosophy of history, so far as this deals with the end of the
movement of history viewed as a whole, and with the fulfilment of
this end, fall under the head of practical problems.
the general sense of the word), and also sometimes noetic. If we
are occupied with the question how knowledge actually arises, this
psycho-genetic consideration falls in the province of psychology. If,
on the other hand, we set up norms or standards according to which
our ideas are estimated as regards their worth for truth, we call
these logical laws, and designate investigation directed upon them
as logic in the narrower sense. The application of these laws gives
rise to methodology, which develops the prescriptions for a systematic
ordering of scientific activity with reference to the various ends of
knowledge. The problems, finally, which arise from the questions
concerning the range and limit of man s knowing faculty and its
relation to the reality to be known, form the subject-matter of
epistemology or theory of knowledge.
incomplete, extending into the scholastic period.
brought down only to the Renaissance.
"Logik" (Berlin, 1877 and 1881).
investigation of man s activity, so far as it is determined by ends.
Here, too, a psycho-genetic treatment is possible, which falls under
psychology. That discipline, on the other hand, which considers
man s action from the point of view of the ethical norm or stand
ard, is ethics or moral philosophy. By morals (Moral) in the narrower
sense is usually understood the proposal and grounding of ethical
precepts. Since, however, all ethical action has reference to the
community, there are attached to morals or ethics, in the narrower
sense, the philosophy of society (for which the unfortunate name
sociology seems likely to become permanent), and the philosophy of
law or right. Further, in so far as the ideal of human society con
stitutes the ultimate meaning of history, the philosophy of history
appears also in this connection, as already mentioned.
also those which relate to art and religion. To designate philosoph
ical investigation of the nature of the beautiful and of art, the name
(Esthetics has been introduced since the end of last century. If phi
losophy takes the religious life for its object, not in the sense of
itself intending to give a science of the nature of the deity, but in
the sense of an investigation with regard to man s religious behaviour,
we call this discipline philosophy of religion.
tJ.J Division of Philosophy and of its History. 21
lected works, III., Vol. I., Berlin, 1834). L. v. Henning, Die Principle*, der
Ethik in historischer Entwickluny (Berlin, 1825). Fr. v. liaumer, Die ye-
schichtliche Entirickluny der Beyriffe von Staat, Recht, und Politik (Leips., od
ed., 18(51). E. Feuerlein, Die philos. Sittenlehre in ihren yeschichtlichen Haitpt-
formen (2 vols., Tubingen, 1857-59). P. Janet, Histoire de la philosophic
morale et politique (Paris, 1858). \V. Whewell, History of Moral Science
(Edinburg, 1868). H. Sidgwick, Th? Method* <>f Ethics, 4th ed. (Lond. and
N.Y. 1890). [Outlines of the History nf Ethics, by same author (Lond. and
N.Y., 3d ed., 1892). J. Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory (2d ed., Oxford
and N.Y. 1886).] Th. Ziegler, Geschichte der Ethik, 2 vols. (the third not yet
appeared; Strassburg, 1881-8<$). K. Kostlin. Geschichte der Ethik (only the
beginning, 1 vol., Tubingen, 1887). [J. Bonar, Philosophy and Economics in
their Historical Relations (Lond. and N.Y. 1893). 1). G. Ritchie, The History
of Political Philosophy (in prep.).]
K. Ziminennann, Geschichte der Aesthetik (Vienna, 1858). M. Schasler,
Kritische. Geschichte der Aesthetik (Berlin, 1871). [B. Bosanquet, The History
of ^Esthetics (Lond. and N.Y. 1892). W. Knight, The Philosophy of the B<au-
tiful (an outline of the history, Edin. and N.Y. 1891). Gay ley and Scott, A
Guide to the Literature of ^Esthetics, Univ. of California, and Introd. to the
Methods and Materials of Literary Criticism (Bost. 1899) have bibliographies.]
History of the Christian Philosophy of Reliyion (Vol. I., Edin. and N.Y. 1887)
O. Pfleiderer, The Philosophy of Religion, trans, by Menzies (Lond. 1887). Mar
tineau, A Study of Religion (2 vols., 1888), and Seat of Authority in Religion.
1890). J. Caird, Introd. to the Philos. of Reliyion (1880). E. Caird, Evolu
tion of Reliyion (2 vols., Lond. and N.Y. 1893).]
that current for political history, so as to distinguish three great
periods, Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modern Philosophy. Yet the
sections made in this way are not so favourable for the history of
philosophy as they perhaps are for political history. Other points
of division must be made, equally important as regards the nature
of the development ; and, on the other hand, the transition between
the Middle Ages and modern times demands a shifting of the point
of division on either side.
In consequence of this, the entire history of philosophy will here
be treated according to the following plan of division, in a manner
to be more exactly illustrated and justified in detail by the exposi
tion itself :
scientific thought to the death of Aristotle, from about 600 to
(2) Hellenistic-Roman Philosophy: from the death of Aristotle
to the passing away of Neo-Platonism, from 322 B.C. to about
(3) Mediaeval Philosophy : from Augustine to Nicolaus Cusanus,
from the fifth to the fifteenth century.
death of Lessing, 1689-1781.