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A History of Philosophy in Epitome by Schwegler

Under the influence of the philosophy of Leibnitz and Wolff


4.

NATURAL THEOLOGY.--Wolff uses here the cosmological argument to demonstrate the existence of a God. God might have made different worlds, but has preferred the present one as the best. This world has been called into being by the will of God. His aim in its creation was the manifestation of his own perfection. Evil in the world does not spring from the Divine will, but from the limited being of human things. God permits it only as a means of good.

This brief aphoristic exposition of Wolff's metaphysics, shows how greatly it is related to the doctrine of Leibnitz. The latter, however, loses much of its speculative profoundness by the abstract and logical treatment it receives in the hands of Wolff. For the most part, the specific elements of the monadology remain in the background; with Wolff, his simple beings are not representative like the Monads, but more like the Atoms. Hence there is with him much that is illogical and contradictory. His peculiar merit in metaphysics is ontology, which he has elaborated far more strictly than his predecessors. A multitude of philosophical terminations owe to him their origin, and their introduction into philosophical language.

The philosophy of Wolff, comprehensible and distinct as it was, and by its composition in the German language more accessible than that of Leibnitz, soon became the popular philosophy, and gained an extensive influence. Among the names which deserve

credit for their scientific treatment of it, we may mention _Thuemming_, 1697-1728; _Bilfinger_, 1693-1750; _Baumeister_, 1708-1785; _Baumgarten_ the esthetic, 1714-1762; and his scholar _Meier_, 1718-1777.

SECTION XXXVI.

THE GERMAN CLEARING UP.

Under the influence of the philosophy of Leibnitz and Wolff, though without any immediate connection with it, there arose in Germany during the latter half of the eighteenth century, an eclectic popular philosophy, whose different phases may be embraced under the name of the German clearing up. It has but little significance for the history of philosophy, though not without importance in other respects. Its great aim was to secure a higher culture, and hence a cultivated and polished style of reasoning is the form in which it philosophized. It is the _German_ counterpart of the _French_ clearing up. As the latter closed the realistic period of development by drawing the ultimate consequence of materialism, so the former closed the idealistic series by its tendency to an extreme subjectivism. To the men of this direction, the empirical, individual Ego becomes the absolute; they forget every thing else for it, or rather every thing else has a value in their eyes only in proportion as it refers and ministers to the subject by contributing to its demands and satisfying its inner cravings. Hence the question of immortality becomes now the great problem of philosophy (in which respect we may mention _Mendelssohn_, 1727-1786, the most important man in this direction); the eternal duration of the individual soul is the chief point of interest; objective ideas or truths of faith, _e. g._ the personality of God,


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