The History of Philosophy from Eclecticism to Pietism
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In the area of philosophy, early eighteenth-century Germany shows a plurality of tendencies and influences which cannot easily be reduced to a single theme. The penetration of European thought – French, Dutch and above all English – was counter-balanced in academic culture by the persistence of the Aristotelian Scholastic tradition, which ever since the time of Melancthon had become the official philosophy of the Lutheran universities. Leibniz’s philosophical writings, which culminated in his Essais de Théodicée (1710), came to an end in the same period in which Wolff’s thought was taking shape and coherence, giving Leibniz’s philosophy a particular interpretation and systemization. However, the period from 1690 to 1720 was characterized above all by the figure of Christian Thomasius and his work in renewing philosophical culture, which he considered to have an essentially practical foundation and purpose. For this reason, Thomasius’s activity in the philosophical and juridical fields was integral to his anti-conformist stance, his polemic against pedantry and the narrow-mindedness of academic circles, and his criticism of popular prejudices, superstitions, and beliefs.