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A History of Philosophy in Epitome by Schwegler

Wolff divides philosophy into two great parts


the identification of his philosophy

with that of Leibnitz, and objected to the name, _Philosophia Leibnitio-Wolffiana_, which was taken by his disciple Bilfinger. The historical merit of Wolff is threefold. First, and most important, he laid claim again to the whole domain of knowledge in the name of philosophy, and sought again to build up a systematic framework, and make an encyclopedia of philosophy in the highest sense of the word. Though he did not himself furnish much new material for this purpose, yet he carefully elaborated and arranged that which he found at hand. Secondly, he made again the philosophical method as such, an object of attention. His own method is, indeed, an external one as to its content, namely, the mathematical or the mathematico-syllogistical, recommended by Leibnitz, and by the application of this his whole philosophizing sinks to a level formalism. (For instance, in his principles of architecture, the eighth proposition is--"a window must be wide enough for two persons to recline together conveniently,"--a proposition which is thus proved: "we are more frequently accustomed to recline and look out at a window in company with another person than alone, and hence, since the builder of the house should satisfy the owner in every respect (Sec. 1), he must make a window wide enough for two persons conveniently to recline within it at the same time".) Still this formalism is not without its advantage, for it subjects the philosophical content to a logical treatment. Thirdly, Wolff has taught
philosophy to speak German, an art which it has not since forgotten. Next to Leibnitz, he is entitled to the merit of having made the German language for ever the organ of philosophy.

The following remarks will suffice for the content and the scientific classification of Wolff's philosophy. He defines philosophy to be the science of the possible as such. But that is possible which contains no contradiction. Wolff defends this definition against the charge of presuming too much. It is not affirmed, he says, with this definition that either he or any other philosopher knows every thing which is possible. The definition only claims for philosophy the whole province of human knowledge, and it is certainly proper that philosophy should be described according to the highest perfection which it can attain, even though it has not yet actually reached it.--In what parts now does this science of the possible consist? Resting on the perception that there are within the soul two faculties, one of knowing and one of willing, Wolff divides philosophy into two great parts, theoretical philosophy (an expression, however, which first appears among his followers), or metaphysics, and practical philosophy. Logic precedes both as a preliminary training for philosophical study. Metaphysics are still farther divided by Wolff into ontology, cosmology, psychology, and natural theology; practical philosophy he divides into ethics, whose object is man as man; economics, whose object is man as a member of the family; and politics, whose object is man as a citizen of the state.


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