History of philosophy

The History of Philosophy

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2. The History of Philosophy.

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

Quite otherwise, however, in the case of philosophy, which has

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.

But this common product, which constitutes the meaning of the

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.

10 Introduction.

It is this common fruit of all the intellectual creations which

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.

Those expositions belonging to the modern period which were based upon

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 ).

It was, however, through Hegel 12 that the history of philosophy was first

made an independent science, for he discovered the essential point that the

1 E.g. in the beginning of the Metaphysics.

2 More in detail on these below.
3 Th. Stanley, The History of Philosophy. Lond. 1685.
4 J. J. Brucker, Historia Critica Philosophic. 5 vols. Leips. 1742ff. Insti-

tutiones Historian Philnsophice. Leips. 1747.

5 J. G. Buhle, Lehrbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie. 8 vols. Gottingen,

179(5 ff.

6 G. G. Fiilleborn, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophie. 12 Studien.

Ziillichau, 1791 ff.

7 D. Tiedemann, Geist der Speculativen Philosophie. 7 vols. Marburg,

1791 ff.

8 De Gerando, Histoire Comparee des Systemes de Philosophie. 2d ed. in

4 vols. Paris, 1822f.

9 W. G. Temiemann, Geschichte der Philosophie. 11 vols. Leips. 1798 ff.

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.

12 Cf. the introductions of the Phanomenologie des Geistes, of the lectures on

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

history of philosophy can set forth neither a motley collection of opinions of

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

stand G. O. Marbach, Lehrbuch der Geschichte Philosophic (2. Abth. Leips.

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

12 Introduction.

this reason this material contains the real presuppositions and the

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).

4. But the pragmatic thread very often breaks off in the history

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.

2 Cf. Note 12, p. 10.
3 A. Comte, Cours de Philosophic Positive I. 9, with which Vols. V. and VI.

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

of such an immanent logical necessity. Here, on the contrary,

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].

14 Introduction.

tioned by their ethical and aesthetic judgments ( Urtheile durch ihre Beurthei-

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).

In addition, then, to the complication of problems and to the ideas determined

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

The wonderful feature in the history of philosophy remains just this, that

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

this development.
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.

With reference to the first two points, the history of philosophy

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.

With the sources of the Medieval Philosophy the case stands less favourably.

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

15 Introduction.

important : the fundamental portion of the works of Plato and Aristotle, though

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].

An excellent bibliography of the entire history of philosophy, assembling the

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

Grcecorum) .

2 Plut. Moralia, ed. Dubner, Paris, 1841 ; Diels, Dox., pp. 272 ff. ; [Plutarch s

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

give the bibliography of recent works.] Under the general literature may also

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


The purely biographical treatr c \-nt which deals only with successive person

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. ^

It is understood, of course, that the standard of critical judgment must not be

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.

8 As an example of this it may be noticed that the deserving author of an

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 .

In contrast with this external method of pronouncing sentence, the scientific

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.

This is then the standard, according to which alone we can decide also which

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.

It" is especially true that this point of view must essentially determine selec

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.

3.] Division of Philosophy and of its History. 19

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.

On the other hand, it does commend itself to preface the historical

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 special provinces of the actual are Nature and History. In

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.

20 Introduction.

Investigation directed upon knowledge itself is called logic (in

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.

H. Siebeck, Geschichte dcr Psyrhologie, Vol. L, in two parts (Gotha, 1880-84),

incomplete, extending into the scholastic period.

K. Prantl, Geschichte der Logik im Abendlande, 4 vols. (Leips. 1855-70),

brought down only to the Renaissance.

Fr. Harms, Die Philosophic in ihrer Geschichte. I. "Psychologic"; II.

"Logik" (Berlin, 1877 and 1881).

[K. Adamson, The History of Psychology (in prep.).]
2. Practical problems are, in general, those which grow out of the

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.

To practical problems, in the broadest sense of the word, belong

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

Fr. Schleiermacher, Grundlinien einer Kritik der bisheriyen Sittenlehre (col

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.]

J. Berger, Geschichte der Religionsphilosophie (Berlin, 1800). [Piinjer,

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).]

The division of the history of philosophy is usually connected with

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 :

(1) Tfie Philosophy of the Greeks: from the beginnings of

scientific thought to the death of Aristotle, from about 600 to

322 B.C.
(2) Hellenistic-Roman Philosophy: from the death of Aristotle

to the passing away of Neo-Platonism, from 322 B.C. to about

500 A.D.
(3) Mediaeval Philosophy : from Augustine to Nicolaus Cusanus,

from the fifth to the fifteenth century.

(4) The Philosophy of the Renaissance : from the fifteenth to the

seventeenth century.

22 Introduction.

(5) The Philosophy of the Enlightenment: from Locke to the

death of Lessing, 1689-1781.

(6) The German Philosophy : from Kant to Hegel and Herbart,


(7) The Philosophy of the Nineteenth Century.

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