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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: September 2009

Chapter 2 - The reform of philosophy


To the degree that it posits the unity of human reason, the modern historiography of philosophy is dogged by twin assumptions: that the discipline of philosophy forms an internally commensurable field of intellectual activities, or that it will become such over time, as the result of the way history itself irons out differences and paves the way for ever more unified and reflexive expressions of this reason. Whatever the larger fate of these assumptions, they are as useless for understanding the disposition of philosophy within the geo-political and geo-intellectual order of the northern Holy Roman German Empire as they are for understanding Thomasius's disposition towards philosophy.

In the first place, we have seen that (unlike England) philosophy in this region was overwhelmingly Schulphilosophie: a deployment of intellectual materials and pedagogies in accordance with the faculty structure and curricular purposes of confessionally divided universities. This fact led to material differences not only in the form and content of disciplines taught as ‘philosophy’ – in objects of knowledge, forms of problematisation, modes of argument, validity criteria, modes of accepting (or rejecting) intellectual authorities and traditions – but also in the basic purposes and scope of philosophical disciplines. Such differences were in part reflected and in part determined by the alliances that particular styles of philosophy formed with other disciplines.

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