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Chapter 7 - Experimental Philosophy in Eighteenth-Century Germany

from Part III - From Experimental Philosophy to Empiricism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2023

Peter R. Anstey
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
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Summary

This chapter documents the widespread influence of experimental philosophy in eighteenth-century Germany. We first argue that Christian Wolff, the most influential German philosopher of the period, engaged at length with the methodological views of experimental philosophers and relied extensively on experience as the foundation of his own philosophy. However, his focus on developing a comprehensively deductive philosophical system ultimately overshadowed his commitment to basing philosophy on experiments and observations. We then show how the pair of experimental and speculative philosophy became enshrined in the structure of the Berlin Academy as a result of the rebranding of its disciplinary classes in 1746. Turning to the second half of the eighteenth century, we focus on the uptake of the methodological views of experimental philosophers in the literature on empirical psychology that flourished in the period; the reflections on the relation of experimental and speculative philosophy of Johann Nikolaus Tetens, a proponent of empirical psychology who influenced Immanuel Kant; and the contrasts between experimental and speculative methods in a range of works published toward the end of the century. As Kantian and post-Kantian philosophies rose in popularity, a priori reflection gained increasing acceptance and experimental philosophy went out of fashion.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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