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History of Modern Philosophy
Preface to the German Editions
by Falckenberg, Richard


Preface to the First German Edition

Since the appearance of Eduard Zeller's Grundriss der Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie (1883; 3d ed. 1889) the need has become even more apparent than before for a presentation of the history of modern philosophy which should be correspondingly compact and correspondingly available for purposes of instruction. It would have been an ambitious undertaking to attempt to supply a counterpart to the compendium of this honored scholar, with its clear and simple summation of the results of his much admired five volumes on Greek philosophy; and it has been only in regard to practical utility and careful consideration of the needs of students--concerning which we have enjoyed opportunity for gaining accurate information in the review exercises regularly held in this university--that we have ventured to hope that we might not fall too far short of his example.

The predominantly practical aim of this History--it is intended to serve as an aid in introductory work, in reviewing, and as a substitute for dictations in academical lectures, as well as to be a guide for the wider circle of cultivated readers--has enjoined self-restraint in the development of personal views and the limitation of critical reflections in favor of objective presentation. It is only now and then that critical hints have been given. In the discussion of phenomena of minor importance it has been impossible to avoid the oratio obliqua of exposition; but, wherever practicable, we have let the philosophers themselves develop their doctrines and reasons, not so much by literal quotations from their works, as by free, condensed reproductions of their leading ideas. If the principiant view of the forces which control the history of philosophy, and of the progress of modern philosophy, expressed in the Introduction and in the Retrospect at the end of the book, have not been everywhere verified in detail from the historical facts, this is due in part to the limits, in part to the pedagogical aim, of the work. Thus, in particular, more space has for pedagogical reasons been devoted to the "psychological" explanation of systems, as being more popular, than in our opinion its intrinsic importance would entitle it to demand. To satisfy every one in the choice of subjects and in the extent of the discussion is impossible; but our hope is that those who would have preferred a guide of this sort to be entirely different will not prove too numerous. In the classification of movements and schools, and in the arrangement of the contents of the various systems, it has not been our aim to deviate at all hazards from previous accounts; and as little to leave unutilized the benefits accruing to later comers from the distinguished achievements of earlier workers in the field. In particular we acknowledge with gratitude the assistance derived from the renewed study of the works on the subject by Kuno Fischer, J.E. Erdmann, Zeller, Windelband, Ueberweg-Heinze, Harms, Lange, Vorlãnder, and Pünjer.

The motive which induced us to take up the present work was the perception that there was lacking a text-book in the history of modern philosophy, which, more comprehensive, thorough, and precise than the sketches of Schwegler and his successors, should stand between the fine but detailed exposition of Windelband, and the substantial but--because of the division of the text into paragraphs and notes and the interpolation of pages of bibliographical references--rather dry outline of Ueberweg. While the former refrains from all references to the literature of the subject and the latter includes far too many, at least for purposes of instruction, and J.B. Meyer's Leitfaden (1882) is in general confined to biographical and bibliographical notices; we have mentioned, in the text or the notes and with the greatest possible regard for the progress of the exposition, both the chief works of the philosophers themselves and some of the treatises concerning them. The principles which have guided us in these selections--to include only the more valuable works and those best adapted for students' reading, and further to refer as far as possible to the most recent works--will hardly be in danger of criticism. But we shall not dispute the probability that many a book worthy of mention may have been overlooked.

The explanation of a number of philosophical terms, which has been added as an appendix at the suggestion of the publishers, deals almost entirely with foreign expressions and gives the preference to the designations of fundamental movements. It is arranged, as far as possible, so that it may be used as a subject-index.

JENA, December 23, 1885.

Preface to the Second German Edition The majority of the alterations and additions in this new edition are in the first chapter and the last two; no departure from the general character of the exposition has seemed to me necessary. I desire to return my sincere thanks for the suggestions which have come to me alike from public critiques and private communications. In some cases contradictory requests have conflicted--thus, on the one hand, I have been urged to expand, on the other, to cut down the sections on German idealism, especially those on Hegel--and here I confess my inability to meet both demands. Among the reviews, that by B. Erdmann in the first volume of the Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, and, among the suggestions made by letter, those of H. Heussler, have been of especial value. Since others commonly see defects more clearly than one's self, it will be very welcome if I can have my desire continually to make this History more useful supported by farther suggestions from the circle of its readers. In case it continues to enjoy the favor of teachers and students, these will receive conscientious consideration.

For the sake of those who may complain of too much matter, I may remark that the difficulty can easily be avoided by passing over Chapters I., V. (§§ 1-3), VI., VIII., XII., XV., and XVI.

Professor A.C. Armstrong, Jr., is preparing an English translation. My earnest thanks are due to Mr. Karl Niemann of Charlottenburg for his kind participation in the labor of proof-reading.

R.F.

ERLANGEN, June 11, 1892.

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