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Reception of the Scottish

Enlightenment in
Germany: Six Significant
Translations, 1755–1782

Edited and Introduced by


Heiner F. Klemme

THOEMMES
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RECEPTION OF THE
SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT
IN GERMANY:
Six Significant Translations,
1755-1782

Volume 1

Edited and Introduced by


Heiner E Klemme
University of Magdeburg

THOEMMES
Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany:
Six Significant Translations, 1755-1782
Edited and Introduced by Heiner F. Klemtne
University of Magdeburg

Volume 1
David Hume
Anonymous translation; edited by Johann Georg Sulzer
Philosophische Versiiche iiber die Menschliche Erkenntnifl. AIs dessen vermischter Schriften
Zweyler Theil. Nach der zweytett vermehrten Ausgabe aus dem Englischen iibersetzt and mil
Anmerkungen des Herausgebers begleitet (1755)

Volumes 2 and 3
Francis Hutcheson
Translated by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Sittenlehre der Verminft. Aus dem Englischen iibersetzt (1756)

Volume 4
Adam Smith
Translated by Christian Giinther Rautenberg
Theorie der moralischen Empfindungen. Nach der dritten Englischen Ausgabe iibersetzt
(1770)

Volume 5
James Beattie
Anonymous translation
Versuch fiber die Natur and Unveranderlichkeit der Wahrheit; itn Gegensatze der Kliigeley
itnd der ZweifelsHcht. Atts dem Englischen (1772)

Volume 6
Adam Ferguson
Translated by Christian Garve
Grundsatze der Moralphilosophie. Vbersetzt und mil einigen Anmerkungen versehen von
Christian Garve (1772)

Volume 7
Thomas Reid
Anonymous translation
Untersachungen iiber den menschlichen Geist, nach den Grundsatzen des gemeinen
Menschetwerstandes. Aus dem Englischen, nach der dritten Auflage iibersetzt (1782)

Printed in England by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham


PHILOSOPHISCHE VERSUCHE
tfBER DIE MENSCHLICHE
ERKENNTNISS

David Hume

Edited by
Johann Georg Sulzer

With an Introduction by
Heiner F. Klemme

THOEMMES PRESS
This edition published by Thoemmes Press, 2000

Thoemmes Press
11 Great George Street
Bristol BS1 5RR, England

Thoemmes Press US Office


228 83 Quicksilver Drive
Sterling, Virginia 20166, USA

http://www.thoemmes.com

Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany


7 Volumes : ISBN 1 85506 840 0

Introductions and editorial selection © Heiner F. Klemme, 2000

This volume is reproduced courtesy of Univcrsitatsbibliothek


Marburg

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data


A CIP record of this title is available from the British Library

Publisher's Note
The Publisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the
quality of this reprint but points out that some
imperfections in the original book may be apparent.
This book is printed on acid-free paper, sewn, and
cased in a durable buckram cloth.
INTRODUCTION

The first German translation of David Hume's Enquiry


concerning Human Understanding appeared in 1755 as part two
of his Vermischte Schriften.2 This collection also comprises trans-
lations of Hume's Political Discourses,3 the Enquiry concerning the
Principles of Morals4 and the Essays Moral and Political.5
According to Johann Georg Meusel's Lexikon, parts one and
three of the Vermischte Schriften were translated by Hermann
Andreas Pistorius. We do not know whether Pistorius was also the
translator of the Philosophische Versuche iiber die Menschliche
Erkenntnifi.7 The anonymous editor of this book, Johann Georg
Sulzer (1720-79), wrote in his preface: 'The translation has come

i A second translation appeared in 1793 under the title David Humes


Untersuchung iiber den menschlichen Verstand. Neu iibersetzt von M.[agister]
W. G. Tennemann nebst einer Anhandlung iiber den philosophischen
Skepticismus von Herrn Professor [Karl Leonhard] Reinhold in Jena (Jena).
Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann (1761-1819) became Professor of Philosophy
at the University of Jena in 1798 and changed to Marburg University in 1804.
He is known as the author of a comprehensive history of philosophy.
Tennemann notes two reasons why he made a new translation of this book:
Hume's philosophy was decisive for Kant's revolution in philosophy, and the
German transktion of 1755 was of poor quality.
2
4 vols. (Hamburg, Leipzig). Kant owned all four volumes; cf. Arthur Warda,
Immanuel Kants Bucher (Berlin: Martin Breslau, 1922), p. 50.
3
Vermischte Schriften iiber die Handlung, die Manufacturer! und die andern
Quellen des Reichthums und der Macht eines Staates. Aus dem Englischen
iibersetzt (Hamburg, Leipzig, 1754; 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1766).
4
Sittenlehre der Gesellscbaft. Als dessen vermischter Schriften Drifter Theil
(Hamburg, Leipzig, 1756).
5
Moralische und politische Versuche, als dessen vermischter Schriften vierter
und letzter Theil. Nach der neuesten und verbesserten Ausgabe iibersetzt
(Hamburg, Leipzig, 1756).
(.
Johann Georg Meusel (ed.), Lexikon der vom Jahr 1750 bis 1800 verstorbenen
teutschen Schriftsteller, vol. 10 (Leipzig, 1810), p. 439.
7
This translation is of the 2nd edition (London, 1750) of Hume's work. It still
bears the title Philosophical Essays.

V
vi Introduction

to me from a capable writer and I have compared it very closely


and critically with the original.'
Sulzer was born in Winterthur (Switzerland) and died in Berlin.
After working as a private tutor in Zurich and Magdeburg, he
became Professor of Mathematics at the Joachimsthaler
Gymnasium (1747) and later (1765) professor at the newly
founded Ritterakademie (ficole militaire) in Berlin. He became a
member of the Berlin Royal Academy in 1750. Sulzer belonged to
the large group of philosophers and men of letters who wrote not
just for philosophers, but also for the general public. They had a
formative influence on German intellectual life between the death
of Christian Wolff in 1754 and the rise of Immanuel Kant's Critical
Philosophy in the 1790s. Heavily influenced by Wolff, he became
a dominant figure in German philosophy by the middle of the
eighteenth century. Late in the century, his reputation faded as a
result of Kant's criticism of popular philosophers. Even though
Kant always spoke highly of Sulzer, he suffered the same fate as
his friends. Sulzer is today still widely known for his Allgemeine
Theorie der schonen Kiinste, an encyclopedia of aesthetics in
general and the theory and practice of literature and arts in
particular.
It is no exaggeration to say that the publication of his edition of
Hume's Enquiry marked the watershed of German philosophy in
the Age of Enlightenment. To be sure, Hume's sceptical episte-

8
'Die Ubersetzung ist mir von guter Hand zugekommen, und ich habe cine sehr
genaue und scharfe Priifung derselben nach der Urschrift vorgenomtnen'
(Philosophische Versuche, p. xix). Sulzer does not name the translator, and it
seems improbable that he made the translation by himself. T. E. Jessop (A
Bibliography of David Hume and of Scottish Philosophy from Francis Hutcheson
to Lord Balfour (London: A. Brown and Son, Limited, 1938), p. 9) falsely
ascribes the translation to Sulzer; cf. Gunter Gawlick and Lothar Kreimendahl,
Hume in der deutschen Aufkldrung: Umrisse einer Rezeptionsgeschichte
(Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: frommann-holzboog, 1987), p. 20.
' 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1771-4; 4th ed. 1792). Other philosophical works by him
include: Die schonen Kiinste in ihrem Ursprung, ihrer wahren Natur und
besten Anwendung betrachtet (Leipzig, 1772); Vermiscbte philosophische
Schriften, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1773-81); Pddagogische Schriften, ed. Willibald
Klinke (Langensalza: Beyer, 1922); Aesthetics and the Art of Musical
Composition in the German Enlightenment: Selected Writings of Johann
Georg Sulzer and Heinrich Christoph Koch, ed. Nancy Kovaleff Baker and
Thomas Christensen (Cambridge University Press, 1995).
10
The reception is documented and discussed in Manfred Kuehn, 'Hume in the
Gottingische Anzeigen, 1739-1800', Hume Studies, vol. 13 (1987), pp. 46-73;
Introduction vii

mology and especially his critique of causality, as he developed


them in the Enquiry, were known in Germany before 1755,
since the original English publications were reviewed and
discussed by philosophers. But, as knowledge of English was at
that time rare, Hume's thought could have no wider influence in
Germany. While Johann Georg Hamann in Konigsberg had
access to Hume's Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), for
instance, and seems to have developed his theory of faith on the
basis of Hume's conception of belief as found in that book, he
was an exception. It was not until Sulzer's edition of the first
Enquiry appeared that Hume's book was intensively discussed in
Germany. This alone would make the Sulzer edition interesting.
It has still more interest for Kant scholarship, if only because this
is the edition through which Kant first came to know Hume's
critique of causality.
Still another reason for the importance of this edition is that
Sulzer comments extensively on each chapter of Hume's work.
For Sulzer, Hume is a sceptic who should be refuted by the 'deep'
German metaphysicians. Indeed, in his preface, Sulzer gave
expression to his hope that the Scottish sceptic might awaken
German philosophers from their fruitless slumber.11 As is well
known, his wish came true, though not quite in the way Sulzer
expected. The Philosophische Versuche stimulated not only
attempts by Wolffians to refute Hume's scepticism; Hume's
philosophy was also taken very seriously on its own account.12

Gawlick and Kreimendahl, Hume in der deutschen Aufkterung, pp. 51-66; and
Reinhard Brandt and Heiner Klemme: David Hume in Deutschland. Literatur
zur Hume-Rezeption in Marburger Bibliotheken (Marburg: UB Marburg,
1989).
1L
Not everybody agreed with Sulzer. Indeed, Moses Mendelssohn believed that
Hume's theory of causality could already be found in Leibniz—Wolffian
philosophy (besides much else that could not be found in Hume). See Manfred
Kuehn, 'Mendelssohn's Critique of Hume', Hume Studies, vol. 21 (1995),
pp. 197-220.
12
Perhaps the best-known example besides Kant is Johann Nicolaus Tetens,
who even discussed Hume's Treatise of Human Nature; cf. his Philosophische
Versuche iiber die menschliche Natur und ihre Entwicklung, vols. 1 and 2
(Leipzig, 1777). Despite extensive scholarship, the reception of Hume in
Germany has not yet been exhaustively discussed. There was, for instance, a
strong interest in Hume, Beattie, Reid and others at the University of Erlangen.
To name just one example: Johann Friedrich Breyer discussed the Treatise of
Human Nature in his De concordia philosophiae cum sensu communi
(Erlangen, 1771), without noting, however, the name of its author.
viii Introduction

Kant gave a new meaning to Sulzer's expression 'fruitless


slumber'. If we may believe his famous statement in the
Prolegomena, then Kant was indeed awakened by Hume from
his dogmatic slumber. But the awakening did not take him back
to a Wolffian foundation of metaphysics. Rather, it led him far
away from Wolff and any kind of presumed dogmatism, and to
a very different kind of metaphysics. On the basis of Hume's
philosophy, Kant tells us, he had seen the need for a complete
assessment of human reason, leading to categories as pure intel-
lectual concepts. Their relationship with the diversity of our
sensibility makes the necessary unity of our experience under-
standable, in that humankind appears always as a legislator for
nature.
It is still today a matter of dispute, as to exactly how and
when Kant's awakening took place. There is even controversy
over whether it was Hume's first Enquiry, or the German trans-
lation of the last section of the Treatise15 or even another book,16

13
'I openly confess my recollection of David Hume was the very thing which
many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investi-
gations in the field of speculative philosophy a quite new direction.' Kant,
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. With an Introduction by Lewis
White Beck (Indianapolis, New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc.,
1950), p. 8.
14
A comprehensive overview can be found in Lothar Kreimendahl, Kant — Der
Durcbbruch von 1769 (Kola: Jiirgen Dinter - Verlag fur Philosophic, 1990),
pp. 15-82.
15
Johann Georg Hamann published a translation of Hume's Treatise (1,4, 7),
anonymously and without stating Hume's authorship, under the title
'Nachtgedanken eines Zweiflers', 1771, in two additions to the Kbnigsbergische
gelehrte und politische Zeitung. Manfred Kuehn argues that this translation
was decisive for Kant's awakening in 1771 (cf. his 'Kant's Conception of
Hume's Problem", Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 21 (1983),
pp. 175-93), whereas Kreimendahl believes that Kant read the manuscript of
Hamann's translation before publication as early as c.1768 (cf. Kreimendahl,
Kant, pp. 137—52, and Gawlick and Kreimendahl, Hume in der deutschen
Aufklarung, pp. 189-98). As against the argument of Kreimendahl, compare
Reinhard Brandt, 'Review of Kreimendahl 1990', Kant-Studien,
vol. 83(1992), pp. 100-111.
1 Some have argued (see the references in Kreimendahl, Kant, pp. 44—50) for the
importance of the German translation of James Beattie's Essay on the Nature
and Immutability of Truth in Opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism (1770),
which appeared in 1772 in German under the title: Versuch iiber die Natur und
Unveriinderlichkeit der Wahrheit; im Gegensatze der Klugeley und
Zweifelsucht (Kopenhagen, Leipzig; this translation is reprinted as vol. 4 in the
present collection). Beattie refers extensively to Hume's Treatise.
Introduction ix

in which Hume's critique of causality is discussed, which was


decisive for Kant's further development as an independent thinker.
While some authors argue that the awakening must have taken
place even before Kant's Inaugural Dissertation De mundi sensi-
bilis atque intelligibilis forma et principiis was published in 1770,
others point out convincingly that this book bears no sign of any
Humean influence. As far as the theory of concepts of reason is
concerned, it still bears the marks of Wolffian rationalism. The
influence must have taken effect, therefore, after 1770.
In the Inaugural Dissertation Kant raises for the first time the
question of the importance of pure intellectual concepts,
including that of causality, for ordering the diversity of the
manifold of our sensibility. Our concepts of reason and our
sensibility must be sharply separated. Only if we do this, can we
see how synthetic judgements a priori are possible. It is only in
his letter of 21 February 1772 to his former student Marcus
Herz17 that Kant raises the question of whether the concepts of
reason allow for the possibility of the metaphysics of pure reason
that still seems to have been his ultimate goal in the Inaugural
Dissertation.
Although Kant's theory of knowledge took a very different
form than that implied by traditional German metaphysics, Kant
shared similar concerns. He was just as eager as many ratio-
nalists to show that Hume's analysis of causality must fail,
because Hume neglected the rational nature of our concepts. In
this way, both Moses Mendelssohn and Marcus Herz pointed out
that empirical judgements can only be necessary if, contrary to
Hume's view, we allow reason or understanding a decisive share
in their achievement. Herz raised this point in his Betrachtungen
aus der spekulativen Weltweisheit, published in 1771. It was
meant primarily to present a summary of Kant's Inaugural

17
Kant, Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften et
al., vol. 10 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1900-), pp. 123-30.
18
Cf. Marcus Herz, Betrachtungen aus der spekulativen Weltweisheit
(Konigsberg, 1771), ed. Elfriede Conrad et al. (Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag,
1990), pp. 71—3. The following account draws on H. F. Klemme, Kants
Philosophie des Subjekts: Systematische und enttvicklungsgeschichtliche
Untersuchungen zum Verhaltnis von Selbstbewusstsein und Selbstbestimmung
(Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1996), pp. 55-75, and H. F. Klemme, 'Causality', in
The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Philosophy, ed. Knud
Haakonssen (Cambridge University Press: forthcoming).
x Introduction

Dissertation, but it was not an uncritical summary. Herz


reviewed Hume's thoughts on the validity of the causal law and
induction as developed in Sect. 4 of the Philosophische Versucbe.
He also referred in this connection to Mendelssohn's essay 'Ueber
die Wahrscheinlichkeit', which appeared in the second part of his
Philosophische Schriften (1761).
Mendelssohn points out in his essay that 'All our judgements
based upon experience, analogy or induction, have been attacked
by the learned sceptic David Hume in his Philosophical Essays.
The German translation of this work is in everyone's hand and
we shall quote the chief objections from the fourth section which
he calls Sceptical Doubts concerning the Understanding, which
mostly appear to suspend physical certainty.'19 Mendelssohn
then cites a longer passage, in which Hume considers why human
beings are inclined to expect similar effects from apparently
similar causes.20 He argues that Hume's account of causality and
experimental reasoning is deficient. Thus in the preface to the
first edition, reprinted with a supplement in 1771, he alerts the
reader to his purpose of 'defending the correctness of all our
experimental conclusions against the attacks of the English
philosopher David Hume', in his essay 'Ueber die
Wahrscheinlichkeit'. The reader of this preface is left with the
impression that Hume was determined to leave the validity of
particular causal judgements entirely unjustified. This may be
correct from Mendelssohn's perspective, but it does not do justice
to Hume. Though Mendelssohn did not reject Hume on a simple
misunderstanding, he does ignore Hume's own reasons for
particular causal judgements as developed in later sections of the
Philosophical Essays, and therefore bases some of his arguments
on premises that Hume found most questionable.

19
Mendelssohn, 'Ueber die Wahrscheinlichkeit', in Schriften zur Philosophie
und Asthetik, ed. Fritz Bamberger, facsimile reprint of Berlin 1929 ed.,
jubilaumausgabe, vol. I (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: frommann-holzboog, 1971),
pp. 505-15. See also 'Gedanken von der Wahrscheinlichkeit' (1756) in the
same vol., pp. 147-64 and pp. 156-7.
20 It has been argued that in his exposition and critique of the Humean position
Mendelssohn suffers from a significant misapprehension. On this assessment
cf. G. Zart, Der Einftuss der englischen Philosophen seit Bacon aufdie deutsche
Philosophie des 18. Jahrhunderts (Berlin, 1881), p. 114.
21
Mendelssohn, Philosophische Schriften (1771), 'Vorrede zur ersten Auflage
1761', in Schriften zur Philosophie und Asthetik, p. 230.
Introduction xi

Sul/er pleaded a similar rationalist case in his edition of Hume's


Philosophische Versuche when he pointed out in his 'Anmerkungen
iiber den fiinften Versuch' that 'custom, approbation and belief are
mere words which explain and can explain nothing more, unless
one may understand a series of concepts by them.'22 In the same
essay he wrote: 'I cannot conceal that this present essay has caused
me some bewilderment. I had not supposed that so acute and
judicious a man as Mr. Hume could happen upon such a strange
kind of philosophizing as to give explanations and solutions that
scarcely differ by a hair's breadth from the long since rejected
introduction of secret attributes (qualitates occultae).'23
A similar characterization occurs in Kant's Critique of Pure
Reason (1781) where Hume's attribution of the necessity of causal
connections to custom is called 'a startling thesis', and 'sceptical
errors' are spoken of which have arisen because Hume 'did not
make a systematic review of all the various kinds of a priori
synthesis available to the understanding'. 25 If we follow
Mendelssohn's and Sulzer's arguments, then Hume's causal analysis
necessarily breaks down because our 'experimental conclusions'
cannot be established without a rational or reasonable element.
This, however, is basically the problem that Kant was critically
examining in the early 1770s: in what way are pure intellectual
concepts to be related to the manifold of our sensibility in order to
make possible the unity and necessity of experience?
Besides many obvious differences, Hume and Kant share a
problem in their explanation of causality. Both Hume and Kant
understand the epistemological concept of causality as a relation,
which can only be verified in the objects of our experience. But at
the same time it is asserted by them that impressions or phenomena
are causally aroused in us by objects which we do not have any
chance to know. Kant's distinction between thing in itself and
phenomenon and the quasi-causal function of the thing in itself in
particular gave rise to a lively debate which led directly to the
philosophy of German idealism by way of Friedrich Heinrich

22
Hume, Philosophische Versuche, ed. Sulzer, p. 132.
23
Hume, ibid., p. 131.
24
Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (London:
Macmillan & Co, 1958), A 765/B 793.
25
Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 767/B 795.
xii Introduction

Jacobi, Gottlob Ernst Schulze and others. Neither Hume nor Kant
could solve the problems connected with the epistemological under-
standing of causality. This may have contributed to the tendency
towards the end of the eighteenth century for influential authors
once again to try to understand our concepts of causality and
substance on an ontological basis.
Kant's claim to have demonstrated the validity of the general law
of causality against Hume was - and is - controversial not just at
the time he wrote it. Schulze, in his anonymous work
Aenesidemus, offered a detailed critique of Karl Leonhard
Reinhold's elementary philosophy, which was intended to set
Kantian criticism on a secure foundation. He also cast doubt on
whether Kant really did refute Hume. According to SchuLze, Hume
would point to the transcendental dialectic of the Critique of Pure
Reason and argue that even Kant's attempt to justify an objective
legitimacy for the category of cause and effect rests on a transcen-
dental illusion.27 If cause and effect together constitute a category
by means of which alone we can determine the manifold of our
sensibility, how then can we talk of the necessity of causal connec-
tions? In sharp contrast to Kant, Schulze demanded proof of
causality as an objective principle of things themselves. Kant
offered certain conclusions, but he failed to provide the true
premises of his critical philosophy. The same holds of Reinhold:
Hume was not defeated by either.28 In his desire to receive an
answer to the question of how causality can be established as a
principle of objects themselves, Schulze opened up a new chapter
in the history of causality. But by that time Tennemann's trans-
lation of the first Enquiry had taken the place of the first.

Heiner F. Klemme
Otto-von-Guericke- Universitat Magdeburg
Germany, 2000

26
Gottlob Ernst Schulze, Aenesidemus oder fiber die Fundamente der von dem
Urn. Reinhold in Jena gelieferten Elementar-Philosophie (Helmstedt, 1792),
ed. Arthur Liebert, Neudrucke seltener philosophischcr Werke 1 (Berlin:
Reuther & Reichard, 1911).
27
Schulze, Aenesidemus, pp. 130-33.
28
Schulze, Aenesidemus., p. 135.
This page intentionally left blank
RECEPTION OF THE
SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT
IN GERMANY:
Six Significant Translations,
1755-1782

Volume 2

Edited and Introduced by


Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

THOEMMES
Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany:
Six Significant Translations, 1755—1782
Edited and Introduced by Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

Volume 1
David Hume
Anonymous translation; edited by Johann Georg Sulzer
Philosophische Versuche fiber die Menscblicbe Erkenntnifl. Als dessen vermischter Schriften
Zu/eyter Theil. Nach der zweyten vertnehrten Ausgabe aus dem Englischen iibersetzt und mit
Anmerkungen des Herausgebers begleitet (1755)

Volumes 2 and 3
Francis Hutcheson
Translated by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Sittenlehre der Vernunft. Aus dem Englischen iibersetzt (1756)

Volume 4
Adam Smith
Translated by Christian Giinther Rautenberg
Theorie der moralischen Empfindungen. Nach der dritten Englischen Ausgabe iibersetzt
(1770)

Volume 5
James Beattie
Anonymous translation
Versucb fiber die Natur und Vnveriinderlicbkeit der Wahrheit; im Gegensatze der Kliigeley
und der Zweifelsucht. Aus dem Englischen (1772)

Volume 6
Adam Ferguson
Translated by Christian Garve
Grundsdtze der Moralphilosophie. Iibersetzt und mit einigen Anmerkungen versehen von
Christian Garve (1772)

Volume 7
Thomas Reid
Anonymous translation
Untersuchungen fiber den menschlichen Geist, nach den Grundsatzen des gemeinen
Menschenverstandes, Aus dem Englischen, nach der dritten Auflage iibersetzt (1782)

Printed in England by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham


SITTENLEHRE DER
VERNUNFT

Francis Hutcheson

Translated by
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

With an Introduction by
Heiner F. Klemme

THOEMMES PRESS
This edition published by Thoemmes Press, 2000

Thoemmes Press
11 Great George Street
Bristol BS1 5RR, England

Thoemmes Press US Office


22883 Quicksilver Drive
Sterling, Virginia 20166, USA

http://www.thoemmes.com

Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany


7 Volumes : ISBN 1 85506 840 0

Introductions and editorial selection © Heiner F. Klemme, 2000

This volume is reproduced courtesy of Universita tsbibliothek


Marburg

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data


A CIP record of this title is available from the British Library

Publisher's Note
The Publisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the
quality of this reprint but points out that some
imperfections in the original book may be apparent.
This book is printed on acid-free paper, sewn, and
cased in a durable buckram cloth.
INTRODUCTION

Francis Hutcheson's (1694-1746) A System of Moral


Philosophy, written as a textbook for students, was published
postumously by his son Francis in 1755.1 It was Hutcheson's last
book to appear in print. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's translation
of this work was published in 1756 as Sittenlehre der Vernunft.
It is, with the exception of the title, faithful to the original. He
sometimes even inserted the full text where Hutcheson only gave
a general reference to an author.3 There is only one footnote in
which Lessing takes the freedom to comment on Hutcheson's
argument.
At the time of publication of the Sittenlehre Hutcheson was
already known in Germany as one of the leading figures of the
theory of moral sense. His more important works, however, An
Inquiry into Beauty and Virtue (1725) and An Essay on the
Passions with Illustrations on the Moral Sense (1728), appeared in

1
A System of Moral Philosophy in three books, vols. 1 and 2 (London, 1755),
reprinted in Collected Works of Francis Hutcheson, Facsimile Editions
prepared by Bernhard Fabian, vols. 5 and 6, second reprint (Hildesheim,
Zurich, New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 1990).
2
Cf. Gottingische gelehrte Anzeigen 1757, p. 828: 'The translation is to be
especially praised for its precision and good German style' ('Die Uebersetzung
verdient wegen ihrer Treue und guteu deutschen Schreib-Art ein vorziigliches
Lob.'). See also Neuer Zeitungen von gelehrten Sachen 1756, pp. 679-80: 'The
translation is intelligent and without constraint, and the external appearance
of this German edition is good-looking' (p. 680). ('Die Ubersetzung ist
verstandlich und ungezwungen, und das AeulSerliche dieser Deutschen Ausgabe
ist ansehnlich.')
3
See the quotations from Aristotle and Antonin in vol. 1, p. 372 note (English
original vol. 1, p. 246). He also inserts full quotations from Lucretius, Virgil
and the Bible (cf. vol. 1, pp. 282 f., 352, 375). See Gotthold Ephraim Lessing,
Sdmtliche Schriften, ed. by Karl Lachmann. 3rd edition, edited by Franz
Muncker, vol. 7 (Stuttgart: Goschen, 1891; repr. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter &
Co., 1968), pp. 64-5.
4
This note (signed 'Ueb.') is to be found in vol. 2, p. 714 (cf. original edition
vol. 2, p. 142). Here Lessing explains the meaning of 'external rights' in
Hutcheson.

V
vi Introduction

German translations only as late as 1760 and 1762.5 To many


German readers not familiar with the English language, the
Sittenlehre marks thus the very first encounter with Hutcheson's
practical philosophy. As Lessing also translated the Preface,
written by Hutcheson's friend and first biographer William
Leechman, the reader also receives information about the life,
career and writings of the philosopher.
The System6 comprises two parts. Part I only has one book in
which Hutcheson deals with 'the Constitution of Human Nature,
and the Supreme Good'. It is in this book that Hutcheson lays
down the basic anthropological principles of morality, especially
his theory of the moral sense. Part II has three books. The first
deals with the concept of the 'Supreme Happiness of Mankind'
and comes to the conclusion that 'our supreme and compleat
happiness, according to the universal doctrine of the wisest men
in all ages, must consist in the compleat exercise of these nobler
virtues, especially that entire love and resignation to God, and of
all the inferior virtues which do not interfere with the superior:
and in the enjoyment of such external prosperity as we can,
consistently with virtue, obtain.'
In book 2, Hutcheson deduces specific laws of nature and, as he
calls them, 'Duties of Life', that is to say personal rights and
duties. He argues that 'each one has a natural right to exert his
powers, according to his own judgment and inclination, for these
purposes, in all such industry, labour, or amusements, as are not
hurtful to others in their persons or goods, while no more publick

5
Hutcheson, Abhandlung iiber die Natur und Beberrschung der Leidenschaften
und Neigungen und iiber das moraliscbe Gefiihl insonderheit (trans. Johann
Gottfried Gellius) (Leipzig: David Siegert, 1760), and Untersuchung unsrer
Begriffe von Schonheit und Tugend in zwo Abhandlungen (trans. Johann
Heinrich Merck) (Frankfurt, Leipzig; Fleischer, 1762). Kant owned copies of
both books; cf. Arthur Warda, Immanuel Kants Biicber (Berlin: Martin
Breslau, 1922), p. 50. A French translation of An Inquiry into the Originals
of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue appeared in 1749 (cf. Recherches sur
I'origine des idees..., Amsterdam).
* On the relationship between the System and Hutcheson's early work, see
James Moore, 'The two systems of Francis Hutcheson: On the origins of the
Scottish Enlightenment', in Studies in the Philosophy of the Scottish
Enlightenment, ed. M. A. Stewart (Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 37-59,
and Knud Haakonssen, Natural Law and Moral Philosophy: From Grotius to
the Scottish Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press, 1996), chap. 2.
7
Part II, book 1, chap. 11, pp. 221-2 (English original).
Introduction vii

interest necessarily requires his labours, or requires that his actions


should be under the direction of others. This right we call natural
liberty.' From natural liberty follow several natural rights, and
the natural equality of men means 'that these natural rights belong
equally to all: this is the thing intended by the natural equality, let
the term be proper or improper' (ibid., p. 299). There are,
therefore, no natural slaves, and nobody has the right 'to assume
power over others, without their consent'.9
Hutcheson's account of 'the Moral Sense, or Faculty of
perceiving Moral Excellence, and its Supreme Objects' (Part I,
book 1, chap. 4) deserves special mention.10 He argues that
something is beautiful and good not because we perceive it as
beautiful and good, but we perceive it as beautiful and good,
because it is beautiful and good. It is likewise true that something
is not morally good because it is the will of God, but it is His will
because it is morally good. Now as it is evident that we do not
perceive the moral goodness of something with our five senses,
Hutcheson introduces a special moral sense. By this we perceive
that something is morally good or bad. Our moral faculty
likewise 'plainly shews that we are also capable of a calm settled
universal benevolence, and that this is destined, as the supreme
determination of the generous kind, to govern and controll our
particular generous as well as selfish affections; as the heart must
entirely approve its doing thus in its calmest reflections: even as
in the order of selfish affections, our self-love, or our calm regard
to the greatest private interest controlls our particular selfish
passions; and the heart is satisfied in its doing so' (ibid., pp. 74-5).

8
Part II, book 2, chap. 5, p. 294.
9
Ibid., p. 301. Hutcheson's natural-law-bascd critique of the classical theory
and justification of slavery proved very influential in pre-revolutionary America;
see David Fate Norton, 'Francis Hutcheson in America', Studies on Voltaire
and the Eighteenth Century, vol. 154 (Oxford, 1976), pp. 1547-68, and D. F.
Norton, 'Salus populi suprema lex', in Francis Hutcheson. A Supplement to
'Fortnight: An Independent Review for Northern Ireland', no. 308, produced
by Fortnight Educational Trust and edited by Damian Smyth, pp. 14—17.
10
Neuer Zeitungen von gelehrten Sachen 1756, pp. 679-80. 'Das Originelle
seines Systems kommt grolStentheils in dem ersten Buche vor. Darunter ist
folgende Lehre wohl die vornehmste. "Es gibt, sagt Herr H. drey ruhige
Bestimmungsgriinde in unsrer Natur: das Verlangen, nach unsrer eigenen
Gliickseeligkeit; das Verlangen, nach der Gliickseeligkeit andrer Wesen, und
das Verlangen nach der sittlichen Vollkommenheit. Jeder von diesen
Bestimmungsgrunden ist als ein letzter Zweck anzusehen'" (p. 680).
viii Introduction

Because of this there is no difference in meaning between 'good'


and 'ought': whenever we perceive something good we are
motivated to reach it.
There are several degrees of moral approbation, but we approve
above all other abilities the moral sense itself. As against Hobbes
and Mandeville, Hutcheson argues that we have a 'natural desire
of moral excellence' (ibid., p. 101). Likewise there are several
degrees of moral merit:

...in moral good, the greater the necessary sacrifice was which
was made to it, the moral excellence increases the more, and it
is the more approved by the agent, more admired by spectators,
and the more they are roused to imitation. By this sense the
heart can not only approve itself in sacrificing every other grati-
fication to moral goodness, but have the highest self-enjoyment,
and approbation of its own disposition in doing so: which
plainly shews this moral sense to be naturally destined to
command all the other powers, (ibid., p. 62)

There is a clear anti-utilitarian strand in Hutcheson's theory


because he argues that the goodness of an action depends over all
on the goodwill of the person: 'No actions, however in fact
beneficial to society, are approved as virtuous if they are imagined
to flow from no inward good-will to any person, or from such
dispositions as do not naturally suppose good-will in the agent,
or at least exclude the highest selfishness' (ibid., pp. 62-3).
For Hutcheson, the function of reason is very limited in morals.
'Reason can only direct to the means; or compare two ends previ-
ously constituted by some other immediate powers' (ibid., p. 58).
In other words, reason is only instrumental and thus unable to
decide which objects are desirable for us. It is also unable to
motivate us.
In sum, virtuous actions do not depend on divine reward and
punishment and there are unselfish human actions. The goals of
our actions are determined by our moral faculties. Benevolence
prompts us to do good, while the moral sense judges the moral
worth of an action. The moral sense is also responsible for appro-
priate feelings of approval or disapproval. Reason's only function
is to select the best means in order to achieve our goals.
Hutcheson's sharp separation of reason and moral sense was
criticized in Germany by Moses Mendelssohn, who argued on the
Introduction ix

one hand that reason has a decisive function to play in morals and
on the other hand that there is a smooth transition from sense to
reason.11 For Mendelssohn, the moral sense is not really a sense,
but a repository of rational insights that acts like a sense.
Immanuel Kant welcomed Hutcheson's separation of sense and
reason early on, but he argued later - that is, following his
Inaugural Dissertation of 1770 - that reason and sense must be
radically separated and that reason has primacy over sense and
feeling in morality.
Generally speaking, Hutcheson's philosophy was welcomed in
Germany because of its richness in terms of anthropological
observations. In this sense the reviewer of the Neue Zeitungen
von gelehrten Sachen stressed Hutcheson's 'great and rare
knowledge of human nature and moral knowledge, which raises
him almost above all other philosophers. In representing man as
he is he is showing how he should be [Indem er den Menschen
vorstellet, wie er beschaffen ist, so zeigt er, wie er seyn sollte]... -*1
The moral sense theory itself, however, was seen as being too
loose a criterion for morality.
Karl Gotthelf Lessing wrote in his biography on his older
brother Gotthold Ephraim that both Mendelssohn and his brother
liked Hutcheson's book but found the principle ('Grundsatz') of
his moral system 'insecure (schwankend) and vague (unbestimmt).
But he [Lessing] still translated it, in order to study it at the same
time. And what could a comic poet study more than a moral
philosophy (Sittenlehre), which is based on experience of human
feelings, habits and passions?'

11
See Moses Mendelssohn, 'Verwandtschaft des Schonen und Guten' (written in
1758), in Gesammelte Schriften, Jubildumsausgabe, vol. 2, ed. Alexander
Altmann et al. (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: frommann-holzboog, 1972), p. 183;
see also the references to Hutcheson and the German debate about the primacy
of feeling or reason in Alexander Altmann, Moses Mendelssohns Friihschriften
zur Metaphysik (Tubingen: Mohr, 1969), esp. pp. 344-56, 370-72.
12Kant's debt to Hutcheson will be discussed in the editor's introduction to the
reprint of Hutcheson's Untersuchung unsrer Begriffe von Schonheit und
Tugend in zwo Abhandlungen to be published by Thoemmes Press in 2001.
13
Neue Zeitungen von gelehrten Sachen (1756), pp. 679-80.
14
Karl Gotthelf Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim Lessings Leben, nebst seinem noch
iibrigen litterarischen Nachlasse, Erster Theil (Berlin, 1793; repr. Hildesheim,
Zurich, New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 1998), p. 197.
x Introduction

Lessing's theory of tragic pity seems to be influenced by


Hutcheson's moral sense theory. In contrast to Mendelssohn,
Lessing considers pity the only desirable effect of tragedy. 'Pity
enables the spectators to judge the actions, intentions and
sufferings of the tragic hero from a moral point of view and thus
enforces their own moral motivation beyond and outside the
theater. 'Der mitleidigste Mensch ist der beste Mensch', states
Lessing emphatically.'15
The reviewer of the Gottingische gelehrten Anzeigen partially
praised the English original of the System, but was critical about
the fact that it is not 'thorough (griindlichy enough. Moral
philosophy is not dealt with in its completeness, and politics,
natural law and moral philosophy are mixed up together.16
The influence of Hutcheson's philosophy in Germany can
hardly be underestimated, and it certainly deserves a book-length
study. For Kant and many others it was Hutcheson, not
Shaftesbury, Hume or Smith, who was the most prominent repre-
sentative of moral sense philosophy.17 This translation is not just
important because of this, but also because it is a work by
Lessing.

Heiner F. Klemme
Otto-von-Guericke-Universitat Magdeburg
Germany, 2000

15
Arnold Heidsieck, 'Adam Smith's Influence on Lessing's View of Man and
Society', in Lessing Yearbook, vol. 15 (1983), pp. 125-43 (p. 125); see also
A. Heidsieck, 'Der Disput zwischen Lessing und Mendelssohn iiber das
Trauerspiel', in Lessing Yearbook, vol. 11 (1979), pp. 7-34. On Lessing's
relation to Hutcheson, see also Curtis Vail, Lessing's Relation to the English
Language and Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936)
pp. 25-40, p. 204.
16
Cf. Gottingische gelehrte Anzeigen 1757, pp. 666-7 (on Hutcheson's life),
pp. 691-£, 741-3, 780-84, 822, 828.
17
Cf. Kant, Gesammelte Schriften, ed. by Preussische Akademie der
Wissenschaften et al., vol. 5 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1900- ), p. 40
This page intentionally left blank
RECEPTION OF THE
SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT
IN GERMANY:
Six Significant Translations,
1755-1782

Volume 3

Edited and Introduced by


Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

THOEMMES
Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany:
Six Significant Translations, 1755-1782
Edited and Introduced by Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

Volume 1
David Hume
Anonymous translation; edited by Johann Georg Sulzer
Philosophische Versuche iiber die Mettschliche Erkenntnifi. Als dessen vermischter Schriften
Zweyter Theil. Nach der zweyten vermehrten Ausgabe aus dent Englischeii iibersetzt und mit
Anmerkungen des Herausgebers begleitet (1755)

Volumes 2 and 3
Francis Hutcheson
Translated by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Sittenlehre der Vernunft. Aus dem Englischen iibersetzt (1756)

Volume 4
Addm Smith
Translated by Christian Giinther Rautenberg
Theorie der moralischett Empfindungen. Nach der dritten Englischen Ausgabe iibersetzt
(1770)

Volume 5
James Beattie
Anonymous translation
Versucb iiber die Natur und Unveranderlichkeit der Wahrheit; im Gegensatze der Kliigeley
und der Zweifelsucht. Aus dem Englischen (1772)

Volume 6
Adam Ferguson
Translated by Christian Garve
Grundsdtze der Moralphilosophie. Ubersetzt und mit einigen Anmerkungen versehen von
Christian Garve (1772)

Volume 7
Thomas Reid
Anonymous translation
Untersuchungen iiber den menschlichen Geist, nach den Grundsdtzen des gemeinen
Menschenverstandes. Aus dem Englischen, nach der dritten Auflage iibersetzt (1782)

Printed in England by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham


SITTENLEHRE DER
VERNUNFT

II

Francis Hutcheson

Translated by
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

THOEMMES PRESS
This edition published by Thoemmes Press, 2000

Thoemmes Press
11 Great George Street
Bristol BS1 5RR, England

Thoemmes Press US Office


22883 Quicksilver Drive
Sterling, Virginia 20166, USA

http://www.thoemmes.com

Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany


7 Volumes : ISBN 1 85506 840 0

Introductions and editorial selection © Heiner F. Klemme, 2000

This volume is reproduced courtesy of Universitatsbibliothek


Marburg

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data


A CIP record of this title is available from the British Library

Publisher's Note
The Publisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the
quality of this reprint but points out that some
imperfections in the original book may be apparent.
This book is printed on acid-free paper, sewn, and
cased in a durable buckram cloth.
This page intentionally left blank
&ri
*>••
umji
Icit <
mint
f/»»* <
I
Cl
RECEPTION OF THE
SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT
IN GERMANY:
Six Significant Translations,
1755-1782

Volume 4

Edited and Introduced by


Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

THOEMMES
Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany:
Six Significant Translations, 1755-1782
Edited and Introduced by Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

Volume 1
David Hume
Anonymous translation; edited by Johann Georg Sulzer
Phtlosophtsche Versuche uber die Menschltche Erkenntntfi. Als dessert vermischter Schnften
Zweyter Theil. Nach der zweyten vermehrten Ausgabe aus dem Englischen ubersetzt und nut
Antnerkungen des Herausgebers begleitet (1755)

Volumes 2 and 3
Francis Hutcheson
Translated by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Sittenlehre der Vernunft. Aus dem Englischen ubersetzt (1756)

Volume 4
Adam Smith
Translated by Christian Gunther Rautenberg
Theone der moralischen Empftndungen. Nach der dntten Englischen Ausgabe ubersetzt
(1770)

Volume 5
James Beattie
Anonymous translation
Versuch uber die Natur und Unveranderltchkeit der Wahrheit; im Gegensatze der Klugeley
und der Zweifelsucht. Aus dem Englischen (1772)

Volume 6
Adam Ferguson
Translated by Christian Garve
Grundsatze der Moralphilosophie. Ubersetzt und mil etnigen Anmerkungen versehen von
Christian Garve (1772)

Volume 7
Thomas Reid
Anonymous translation
Untersuchungen uber den menschltchen Getst, nach den Grundsatzen des gememen
Menschenverstandes Aus dem Englischen, nach der dntten Auflage ubersetzt (1782)

Printed in England by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham


THEORIE DER MORALISCHEN
EMPFINDUNGEN

Adam Smith

Translated by
Christian Gunther Rautenberg

With an Introduction by
Heiner F. Klemme

THOEMMES PRESS
This edition published by Thoemmes Press, 2000

Thoemmes Press
11 Great George Street
Bristol BS1 5RR, England

Thoemmes Press US Office


22883 Quicksilver Drive
Sterling, Virginia 20166, USA

http://www.thoemmes.com

Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany


7 Volumes : ISBN 1 85506 840 0

Introductions and editorial selection © Heiner F. Klemme, 2000

This volume is reproduced courtesy of Martin-Luther-Universitat


Halle-Wittenberg, Universitats- und Landesbibliothek
Sachsen-Anhalt. Shelfmark AB:50 C 4/i, 26/Fc 784h [IZEA]

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data


A CIP record of this title is available from the British Library

Publisher's Note
The Publisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the
quality of this reprint but points out that some
imperfections in the original book may be apparent.
This book is printed on acid-free paper, sewn, and
cased in a durable buckram cloth.
INTRODUCTION

Adam Smith published The Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759.


It was based on the lectures on moral philosophy he delivered
when occupying the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University
of Glasgow. The second, revised edition was published in 1761.
While there are no significant alterations in the third (1767), fourth
(1774) and fifth (1781) editions, the sixth edition (1790) contains
extensive additions and revisions. The third edition of Smith's
first book was translated into German in 1770 by Christian
Giinther Rautenberg1 (1728-76), then first preacher at Martins
Church in Braunschweig (Lower Saxony), as Theorie der
moralischen Empfindungen. This translation is reprinted here for
the first time. The second German translation by Ludwig Theobul
Kosegarten appeared in 1791. A supplementary volume, published
in 1795, comprises some additions to the sixth original edition and
the whole of Part 3 as revised of the 1790 edition.2 The third
German translation by Walther Eckstein was the first ever critical
edition. It appeared in 1926 and contains practically all of the
substantial revisions that were made by Smith during his lifetime.4

1
Rautenberg is also known as the translator of Henry Home, Lord Kames,
Principles of Morality and Natural Religion, published as Versuche uber die
ersten Grundsatze der Sittlichkett und der naturlichen Religion (Braunschweig,
1768).
2
Theorte der stttlichen Gefuhle Ubersetzt, vorgeredet und hm und wieder kommen-
tiert von Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Graffsche Buchhandlung,
1791,1795).
Adam Smith, Theorie der ethischen Gefuhle. Nach der Auflage letzter Hand
ubersetzt und mit Einleitung, Anmerkungen und Registern herausgegeben von Dr.
Walther Eckstein, 2 vols (Leipzig: Felix Memer, 1926). Second edition, mit emer
Bibliographic von Gunter Gawlick, 2 vols. in 1 (Hamburg: Felix Memer, 1977)
A fourth (incomplete) German translation by Ehsa von Loeschebrand-Horn was
published in 1949 as Theorie der ethischen Gefuhle. Bearbeitet nach der letzten
Auflage von Hans Georg Schaehtschabel (Frankfurt am Main. Schauer, 1949, =
Smith, Werke, vol 1), cf D D Raphael and A. L. Macfie,'Introduction', in Smith,
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed D. D. Raphael and A. L. MacFie (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1976), p 31
vi Introduction

It should be noted, however, that Smith's Theory of Moral


Sentiments was known in Germany before 1770. Lessing
mentioned Smith in his Laokoon5 and quotes in his own German
translation from the second edition of 1761. There are also several
references to Smith in Herder's Kritische Wdlder (1769). The first
French translation by Marc-Antoine Eidous appeared in 1764 as
Metaphysique de I'Ame.6 French was at that time much better
known in Germany than English, and there was a significant French
colony of literati and intellectuals at Berlin.
Johann Georg Heinrich Feder, one of the leading German
empiricist philosophers and in the 1780s an opponent of Kant's
Critical philosophy, stated in his 1771 review of the Theorie der
moralischen Empfindungen in the Gottingische Anzeigen von
gelehrten Sachen7: 'Because this book is surely known by many
through its English editions or its French translation, we will not
engage here in an extensive review. But it does not seem to be so
well known that any information about its content and worth is
superfluous.' Feder actually claimed that Smith's Theory deserved
a translation more than most of the books chosen for translation
(cf. 1771, p. 85). Indeed, Feder was convinced that Smith and not
Hutcheson was the first to clearly formulate and analyse the
principle of sympathy. Actually sympathy is Smith's 'Lieblingsidee'
(1771, p. 86). Although there were some minor faults to be found
in the Theorie, to him it remained 'classic'.9 He considered that
Rautenberg's translation made quite good reading and that the two
notes he added to the Theorie were well chosen.

5
Cf. Eckstein, pp. xxxii, 282 n.6, and Arnold Heidsieck, 'Adam Smith's Influence
on Lessing's View of Man and Society', Lessing Yearbook, vol. 15 (1983),
pp. 125-43 (pp. 127ff.).
6
Cf. Eckstein, p. xxxi, and Raphael and Mackfie, 'Introduction', pp. 30, 32.
Gottingische Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen, 11. Stuck (26 January 1771),
pp. 85-7.
8
'Da das Buch aus den englischen Ausgaben, oder der franzosischen Uebersetzung,
vielen bekannt seyn muf?: so wollen wir uns itzt nicht erst in weitlaufige Recension
dariiber einlassen. Aber nicht genug bekannt scheint es uns doch, urn gar nichts
von seinem Inhaite und Werthe zu erwahnen' (1771, p. 83).
'[...] aber das Buch bleibt bey allem dem classisch' (1771, p. 86).
Feder writes about Rautenberg's second note: 'Sie enthalt Lessings und Herders
Gedanken iiber eben diesen, besonders den Philoktet des Sophokles treffenden,
Vorwurf, mit einem kurzen Urtheile des Uebersetzers, das sich auf die Seite des
letztern der beyden Kunstrichter neiget' (1771, p. 87).
Introduction vii

Immanuel Kant must have been impressed by Smith's Theorie.


He did not read English and there is no evidence that he knew the
French translation.11 But he surely knew Rautenberg's translation.
In his letter to his former teacher Kant, Marcus Herz writes on 9
July 1771 from Berlin to Konigsberg: 'On the Englishman Smith,
who, Mr. Friedlander tells me, is your favourite, I have to make
several remarks. This man immensely pleased me too, although I
put him by far behind Part one of Home's Kritik.'u Herz's letter
is remarkable for three reasons: it shows that Smith was discussed
in Berlin, that Herz preferred Lord Kames to Smith and, most
importantly, that Kant was still interested in moral sense theory in
1771.1 And Kant's interest in Smith is surprising. Kant wrote in
his letter to Johann Heinrich Lambert on 9 September 1770 that he
intended to write that winter a 'metaphysics of morals' in which no
empirical principles would be found. While it actually took Kant
another fifteen years to publish the Groundwork to the Metaphysic
of Morals and almost three decades to write the Metaphysic of
Morals, it seems clear that Kant believed at least from 1769 that the
main principles of morality must be a priori and not empirical.15
1
' On Kant's knowledge of French see H. F. Klemme, Die Schule Immanuel Kants.
Mit dem Text von Christian Schtffert uber das Kontgsberger Collegium
Fridertctanum (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1994), pp. 47, 80-81.
1
Cf. Henry Home, Lord Kames, Grundsatze der Cntik. In drei Theilen aus dem
Englischen ubersetzt (Leipzig: Dyck, 1763). A second translation appeared in
1772 in two volumes, Grundsatze der Krtttk. Nach der vierten enghschen
verbesserten Ausgabe [translated by Johann Nikolaus Memhard] (Leipzig: Dyck).
1
' Although it is true that Kant never noted Smith explicitly in his own writings 'other
than in connection to his tract on economy' (Willem Perreijn, 'Kant, Smith and
Locke The Lockesmith's Mending of Tradition. A Reaction to Mr. Fleischacker's
Thesis', Kant-Studien, vol. 88 (1997) pp. 105-18, p. 107), clear evidence of Kant's
reading of the Theorie der moraltschen Empfindungen is provided by student
lecture notes of his lecture on anthropology in 1781/2 in which Kant quotes
explicitly from the Theorie; cf. Kant, Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Berhn-
Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, vol 25 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter
& Co, 1997), p. 1035
Kant, Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 10, pp. 96-9, p. 97
15
On the decisive importance of Kant's Inaugural Dissertation of 1770 for his
position in moral philosophy, see Manfred Kuehn, The Moral Dimension of
Kant's Inaugural Dissertation: A New Perspective on the "Great Light of 1769?"',
in Proceedings of the Eighth International Kant Congress Memphis, 1995, vol. I,
part 2, ed Hoke Robinson (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1995),
pp 373-92, and Clemens Schwaiger, Kategortsche und andere Imperative. Zur
hntwicklung von Kants praktischer Philosophic bis 1785 (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt:
frommann-holzboog, 1999).
viii Introduction

This raises the question as to what Kant could have found so inter-
esting in Smith in 1770.
This question has not received an adequate answer. Generally
speaking, there are four possible reasons. First, Kant was simply
impressed by Smith's careful observations of human feelings,
motives and actions, even though he thought they did not belong
to the sphere of pure morals. Second, Smith had something
important to say about moral motivation, a topic on which Kant
had not arrived at a settled view during the early 1770s. Third,
Kant found in Smith important conceptual distinctions. Fourth,
perhaps most important or interesting, Smith's theory of the
impartial spectator and his illustrations on the 'Sense of Duty'
influenced Kant's own idea of the categorical imperative.
Some students of Kant's moral philosophy were already
claiming at the end of the eighteenth century that Smith's
impartial spectator and Kant's categorial imperative were making
the same claim on human beings. Thus Christian Garve argued
in his Uebersicht der vornehmsten Principien der Sittenlehre
(1798) that the 'sympathetic spectator of Smith...is in fact the
lawgiver of Kant' . Smith was for Garve the 'first among my
Scottish teachers and friends' (p. 160), but this did not mean that
he was not somewhat critical of his views. He in fact believed that
Kant's principle of morality was much clearer and less ambiguous
than Smith's. However, Garve learned much from the Theory of

16
In the Theory it says for instance: 'We ought not to be grateful from gratitude,
we ought not be charitable from humanity, we ought not to be public-spirited
from the love of our country, nor generous and just from the love of mankind.
The sole principle and motive of our conduct in the performance of all those
different duties, ought to be a sense that God has commanded us to perform them'
(III, 6.1: 'In what cases the Sense of Duty ought to be the sole principle of our
conduct..', Theory, ed. Raphael and MacFie, p. 171). If we simply substitute
'practical reason' for 'God', these sentences could have been written by Kant.
Uebersicht der vornehmsten Principien der Sittenlehre, von dem Zeitalter des
Artstoteles an bis aufunsre Zeiten, Breslau, 1798, p. 166 (= Gesamtnelte Werke,
vol. 8). This thesis was later brought forward again by August Oncken, Adam
Smith und Immanuel Kant Der Emklang und das Wechselverhaltnis ihrer Lehre
uberSttte, Staatund Wirtschaft (Leipzig: Duncken and Humblot, 1877). See also
Knud Haakonssen, Natural Law and Moral Philosophy From Grottus to the
Scottish Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 148-53. Garve's
and Schopenhauer's discussion of the Smith-Kant connection is not mentioned
in Samuel Fleischacker, 'Philosophy in Moral Practice- Kant and Adam Smith',
Kant-Studien, vol. 82 (1991) pp 249-69
Introduction ix

Moral Sentiments, even though he found its first principle implau-


sible ('ungereimt') (cf. pp. 160-61).
Arthur Schopenhauer owned a copy of the 1793 imprint of The
Theory of Moral Sentiments.™ At the head of vol. 1, p. 224 of
this edition, Schopenhauer noted in plain English: This may
have occasioned Kant's categorical imperative.' Smith asked
himself 'what prompts the generous, upon all occasions, and the
mean upon many, to sacrifice their own interests to the greater
interests of others?' (1793, vol. 1, p. 223). He answered:

reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant of the breast, the


man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct. It is
he who, whenever we are about to act so as to affect the
happiness of others, calls to us, with a voice capable of aston-
ishing the most presumptuous of our passions, that we are but
one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it;
and that when we prefer ourselves so shamefully and so blindly
to others, we become the proper objects of resentment, abhor-
rence, and execration. It is from him only that we learn the real
littleness of ourselves, and of whatever relates to ourselves, and
the natural misrepresentations of self-love can be corrected
only by the eye of this impartial spectator. ... It is not the love
of our neighbour, it is not the love of mankind, which upon
many occasions prompts us to the practice of those divine
virtues. It is a stronger love, a more powerful affection, which
generally takes place upon such occasions; the love of what is
honorable and noble, of the grandeur, and dignity, and superi-
ority of our own characters. 21

18
The Theory of Moral Sentiments To which is added, A Dissertation on the
Origin of Languages A new edition, two vols in one (Basel J J Tourneisen,
1793)
19
Arthur Schopenhauer, Der handschnftliche Nachlafi, vol 5 Randschnften zu
Buchern, ed Arthur Hubscher (Munich DTV, 1985), p 166
0
In Reflexion 6864 Kant writes, 'In Smiths system warum nimmt der
Unpartheyische nchter (der nicht emer von den participanten ist) sich dessen,
was allgemem gut ist, an-* Und warum hat er daran irgend em wohlgefallen''
Kant, Gesammelte Schnften, vol 19 (Berlin, Leipzig Walter de Gruyter 5c Co ,
1934), p 185
21
Vol 1(1793), p 224, Theory, ed Raphael and MacFie, p 137(11134 'Of the
Influence and Authority of Conscience')
x Introduction

On the same page Schopenhauer also criticizes Smith's theory of


sympathy:

The sympathy of others, that is their agreem[en]t with us, their


approbation of our doings, is certainly in many cases the touch-
stone, the control, of our acting rightly, as it is also that of our
feeling or reasoning justly: but it is not the last reason of our
acting with justice &c benevolence, it is not the foundation of
morality. It is a matter of course, that any human being exempt
of our particular feelings & attentions in given case, may judge
impartially of the justice & humanity of our behaviour. But the
electromatic is not the electromotor. I regulate my watch by
another man's; but only on the supposition that his agrees
with the general dial, the sun's course.

It is doubtless the case that Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments


was widely appreciated and discussed in eighteenth-century
Germany. But it is likewise true that his concept of sympathy and
his theory of the impartial observer were discussed rather criti-
cally. With the publication of the Wealth of Nations and its
German translation, interest in the Theory diminished. This
only changed with the so-called 'Adam Smith problem'. In the
nineteenth century in Germany we find an extensive literature on
the question of whether Smith underwent any radical change of
view about human conduct between the Theory and the Wealth
of Nations.

Heiner F. Klemme
Otto-von-Guericke- Universita't Magdeburg
Germany, 2000

22
Schopenhauer, Der handschnftliche Nachlafi, p. 166.
21
See the Introduction by Raphael and MacFie to Smith's Theory, pp 20-25.
Further information on the impact of Smith in Germany can be found in:
Norbert Waszek, Man's Social Nature. A Topic of the Scottish Enlightenment
in its Historical Setting, 2nd ed. (Frankfurt am Main, Bern, New York, Pans-
Peter Lang, 1988); N. Waszek, The Scottish Enlightenment and Hegel's
Account of 'Civil Society' (Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic
Publ., 1988); N. Waszek, 'Adam Smith in Germany, 1776-1832', in Adam
Smith: International Perspectives, ed Hiroshi Mizuta and Chuhei Sugiyama
(Houndmills, London: The MacMillan Press, 1993), pp. 163-80; Adam Smith
(1723-1790) - Em Werk und seme Wtrkungsgeschichte, ed. Heinz D. Kurz
(Marburg- Metropohs-Verlag, 1990).
This page intentionally left blank
RECEPTION OF THE
SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT
IN GERMANY:
Six Significant Translations,
1755-1782

Volume 5

Edited and Introduced by


Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

THOEMMES
Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany:
Six Significant Translations, 1755-1782
Edited and Introduced by Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

Volume 1
David Hume
Anonymous translation; edited by Johann Georg Sulzer
Phthsophische Versuche uber die Menschltche Erkenntmf. Als (lessen vermischter Schnften
Zu/eyter Tbeil. Nach der zweylen vermehrten Ausgabe aus dem Englischeit ubersetzt and mil
Anmerkungen des Herausgebers begleitet (1755)

Volumes 2 and 3
Francis Hutcheson
Translated by Gotthotd Ephraim Lessing
Stttenlehre der Vernunft. Aus dem Engliscben ubersetzt (1756)

Volume 4
Adam Smith
Translated by Christian Gunther Rautenberg
Theone der moralischen Empfmdungen. Nach der dntten Englischeii Ausgabe ubersetzt
(1770)

Volume 5
James Beattie
Anonymous translation
Versuch uber die Natur und Unveranderlichkeit der Wahrheit; im Gegensatze der Klugeley
und der Ztveifelsucht. Aus dem Englischeii (1772)

Volume 6
Adam Ferguson
Translated by Christian Garve
Grundsatze der Moralphilosophte Obersetzt und mtt eimgen Attmerkungen versehen von
Christian Garve (1772)

Volume 7
Thomas Reid
Anonymous translation
Utitersuchungen uber den menschlichen Geist, nach den Grundsatzen des gememen
Menschenverstandes. Aus dem Cnglischen, nach der dntten Auflage ubersetzt (1782)

Printed in England by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham


VERSUCH UBER DIE NATUR
UND UNVERANDERLICHKEIT
DER WAHRHEIT;
IM GEGENSATZE DER KLUGELEY
UND DER ZWEIFELSUCHT

James Beattie

With an Introduction by
Heiner F. Klemme

THOEMMES PRESS
This edition published by Thoemmes Press, 2000

Thoemmes Press
11 Great George Street
Bristol BS1 5RR, England

Thoemmes Press US Office


22883 Quicksilver Drive
Sterling, Virginia 20166, USA

http://www.thoemmes.com

Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany


7 Volumes : ISBN 1 85506 840 0

Introductions and editorial selection © Hemer F. Klemme, 2000

This volume is reproduced courtesy of Universitatsbibhothek


Marburg

British Library Catalogumg-tn-Publicatton Data


A CIP record of this title is available from the British Library

Publisher's Note
The Publisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the
quality of this reprint but points out that some
imperfections in the original book may be apparent.
This book is printed on acid-free paper, sewn, and
cased in a durable buckram cloth.
INTRODUCTION

James Beattie's An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth


in Opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism (Edinburgh, 1770) was
in its time a bestseller. Beattie was known as a poet and literary
critic, and his Essay was written in an attractive, lively style appre-
ciated by many readers. No less than five editions appeared within
four years of publication. The book was translated into French,
Italian, Dutch and German.2 The title of the German translation,
the only one ever made and republished here for the first time, reads
Versuch tiber die Natur und Unverdnderlichkeit der Wahrheit; im
Gegensatze der Kliigeley und Zweifelsucht (Kopenhagen, Leipzig,
1772).
It is easy to see why Beattie's book was so successful. Beattie
belonged to the Scottish school of Common Sense which saw its
origins in the Aberdeen 'Philosophical Society' (also called the
'Wise Club') which was founded by Thomas Reid, John Gregory,
George Campbell and others in 1758. Beattie was chosen to be a
member in 1761. According to the Minutes of the Society, one of
the aims of the Wise Club was 'the examination of false schemes
of Philosophy and false methods of Philosophizing'. The main
object of their criticism was notably David Hume. Reid, Beattie and
others tried to show that Hume was a radical sceptic, whose
1
Cf. especially his The Minstrel; or, the Progress of Genius (1771, 1774).
2
Cf. T. E. Jessop, A Bibliography of David Hume and of Scottish Philosophy, from
Francis Hutcheson to Lord Half our (London: A. Brown and Son, Limited, 1938;
repr. New York, London: Garland Publishing, 1983), pp. 97—100, and Karen
Kloth and Bernhard Fabian, 'James Beattie. Contributions towards a
Bibliography', Bibhothek, vol. 5 (1970), pp. 232-45.
3
See James McCosh, The Scottish Philosophy, Biographical, Expository, Critical,
from Hutcheson to Hamilton (London: Macmillan, 1875; repr. Hildesheim:
Georg Olms, 1966, Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1990), H. Lewis Ulman, The
Minutes of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society, 1758-1773 (Aberdeen, 1990),
and Heiner F. Klemme, 'Anmerkungen zur schottischen Aufklarung (in
Aberdeen). Neue Bnefe von Baxter, Beattie, Fordyce, Reid und Stewart', Archw
fur Geschichte der Philosophic, vol. 74 (1992) pp. 247-71 (pp. 247-50).
4
McCosh, The Scottish Philosophy, p. 228 (Rule 17).

V
vi Introduction

Treatise of Human Nature (1739,1740) undermined all knowledge.


They argued that Hume's philosophy was the logical outcome of the
'ideal system', which started in modern times with Descartes and
Locke, eventually led to George Berkeley, and then led to Hume.
Whereas Berkeley only attacked the concept of matter existing
independently of any perceiver, Hume also denied that there was
such a thing as a perceiver. According to Hume's system, there exist
neither material things nor a unified thinking self. Indeed, a
Humean self is nothing more than a bundle of perceptions. At the
heart of the 'ideal system' lies the assertion that we acquire our
knowledge only through ideas. We do not immediately perceive the
moon, trees and human beings, but only ideas of them. The ideal
philosophers put everything into an Epicurean dance of atoms.
Many of Beattie's reader were of the opinion that he successfully
refuted Hume. King George HI was convinced that Beattie had 'cut
Mr. Hume up by the roots', and Samuel Johnson wrote to Boswell:
'Beattie's book is, I believe, every day more liked; at least I like it
more as I look upon it.'
The Scottish Common Sense philosophers not only tried to refute
Hume, they also argued as against the ideal philosophers that there
are immutable principles of human nature. We can rely on our daily
experience. There are indeed material objects, other persons, and
we are beings endowed with personal identity.
Compared with Reid's Inquiry into the Human Mind on the
Principles of Common Sense (Edinburgh, 1764), which was
respected by Hume because of its lucid arguments, Beattie's work
is philosophically less interesting. Beattie did not contribute in any
specific way to the theory of Common Sense, and he did not intend
to do so. His main aim was the refutation of Hume on the basis of
Reid's principles of common sense, laying more emphasis, however,
on the instinctual character of Common Sense than Reid did.7

5
James Beattie's London Diary, 1773, ed. R. S. Walker (Aberdeen University
Press, 1946), p. 42 (quoted in Ernest Campbell Mossner, 'Beattie's "Castle of
Scepticism": An unpublished Allegory against Hume, Voltaire, and Hobbes',
University of Texas Studies in English, vol. 27 (1948), pp. 108-45 (p. 108)).
6
Quoted in E. H. King, 'James Beattie's Essay on Truth [1770]: An Eighteenth-
Century "Best-Seller"', The Dalhousie Review, vol. 51 (1971-2), pp. 390^403
(p. 390).
7
Cf. Manfred Kuehn: Scottish Common Sense in Germany, 1768-1800: A
Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy. Foreword by Lewis White
Beck (Kingston, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1987), p. 33.
Introduction vn

Discussion of Beattie's Essay in Germany began immediately


after the publication of the English original in 1770. Beattie was
discussed either on his own or in conjunction with Reid and
Oswald.8 Among those contributing to the debate about Beattie
were such disparate philosophers and writers as Johann Nicolaus
Tetens, Johann Georg Lichtenberg, Johann Gottfried Herder
and Immanuel Kant.
For convenience's sake, we can distinguish between four main
threads in this debate:

The empiricist view. The first review of Beattie's Essay appeared


in the Gotttngische Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen as early as
January 1771. The reviewer was the empiricist philosopher and
psychologist Johann Georg Hemnch Feder, a leading figure in
German 'popular philosophy' and sometimes even called the
German Locke. At the time Beattie's work appeared, Feder was
a professor of philosophy at the University of Gottmgen, where
a group of able scholars devoted themselves to studies in the spirit
of British empiricism.
Feder praised Beattie's excellent style of writing and pointed out
that the Scottish writer attacked Hume much more polemically than
Reid and Oswald had done earlier. He argued that Beattie accepted
too many principles and that he did not show, as against Hume,
that the principle of causality is not based on experience. It has a
different basis. However, Feder also pointed out that Beattie's
enterprise was important, and that his thesis that truth is for us
what we are forced to believe by nature, is true. On the whole,
Feder was critical of particular doctrines of Beattie, but he very
much appreciated his common sense approach to philosophizing.

The rationalist view was very different. Thus, the reviewer of the
Allgemetne deutsche Bibltothek12 published by Friedrich Nicolai

8
A comprehensive account of this can be found in Kuehn, Scottish Common
Sense
9 Phtlosophtsche Versuche uber die menschltche Natur und thre Entwtcklung,
2 vols (Leipzig, 1777)
10
Cf Kuehn, Scottish Common Sense, p 72, n 9
" Number 12, 28 January, pp 91-6
12
Supplements to vols 13-24 in 3 vols , vol 1 (1776), pp 497-503
viii Introduction

in Berlin clearly belonged to the so-called 'neo-Wolffians', who


argued in favour of rationalism. They were metaphysicians.
The reviewer was highly critical of the very idea of common
sense philosophy in general. But he was even more critical of
Beattie's Versuch, and he had a low opinion of the author.
Beattie seemed to him to undermine all rational argument with
his conception of common sense and his notion of psychology.
Beattie, if successful, destroyed reason by making its meaning
ambiguous. In this way, Beattie inhibited the progress of science.
The reviewer concluded:

This may be enough to show the weakness of this enemy of


speculative philosophy. If space and time allowed it, I would
also show him to the reader as one of the most unlucky and
silly makers of consequences. For he fights against the theories
which he does not like especially by means of spiteful conclu-
sions. ... He succeeds best against Hume who, in his book
about human nature, has driven scepticism to such heights
and entangled himself in his own web so thoroughly that it does
not require outstanding discernment to convict him by means
of his own words as well as by the consequences of them.13

Beattie might be wrong with his Common Sense philosophy, but


he was at least successful in refuting Hume, which is in any case
not difficult.

The critics of the Enlightenment appreciated Beattie very much.


Johann Gottfried Herder, during his early period of 'Storm and
Stress', saw in Beattie a genius of his liking. In his review of the
German translation of the Essay Herder writes:

Beattie is a friend of, a fighter, a zealot for the truth, but not for
that colourful, iridescent kind of truth which a few rays of
sunlight paint upon the dark, cloudy, and watery brain of so-
called philosophers. Such truth shines on fumes and dissolves
with them. Our author is one of those robust people with whom
healthy reason is everything, and with which even the 'under-
standing' cannot so much compare itself (for we Germans, and

13
Pages 502-503; the translation is Manfred Kuehn's, Scottish Common Sense,
p. 63.
Introduction ix

that should have been noticed by the translator! call common


sense in this opposition to the understanding rather Vemunft).
He thus boldly attacks the hair-splitters, quibblers, metaphysi-
cians, idealists, sceptics, and whatever else I should call them.14

Herder endorsed Beattie's strong anti-metaphysical position and


believed that common sense was superior to all school logic
because it is accessible to everyone. Herder was critical, however,
of Beattie's attempt to refute Berkeley's idealism and Hume's
scepticism. In fact, he thought that Beattie was not fair to Berkeley.
In his sermon to preachers, or An Prediger,15 Herder invoked
Beattie as a witness against Hume and the theologian Johann
Joachim Spalding. According to him, 'Spalding is a weakling who
waters down Christianity in order to make it more acceptable,
and he must be opposed to robust men such as Martin Luther.
...It appears to be Beattie whom he regards, at least for a time, as
coming closest to this idol.'16

Kant's reading of Beattie. In his published work, Kant referred only


twice to Beattie. As against the rationalist critics of Beattie in
Germany, Kant took Hume seriously and confessed in his
Prolegomena (1783) that 'my recollection of David Hume was the
very thing which many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic
slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative
philosophy a quite new direction.'17 Kant accused the Scots of
misrepresenting Hume's position:

But Hume suffered the usual misfortune of metaphysicians, of not


being understood. It is positively painful to see how utterly his
opponents, Reid, Oswald, Beattie, and lastly Priestley, missed the
point of the problem; for while they were ever taking for granted
that which he doubted, and demonstrating with zeal and often

14
Frankfurter gelehrte Anzetgen 1772, p. 666; the translation is Manfred
Kuehn's, Scottish Common Sense, p. 153.
15
An Prediger. Funfzehn Provincialblatter (Leipzig, 1774), reprinted in Herder,
Sammtliche Werke, ed. Bernhard Suphan, vol. 7 (Berlin, 1884), pp. 225-312.
16
Kuehn, Scottish Common Sense, p. 157.
17
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. With an Introduction by Lewis
White Beck (Indianapolis, New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc.,
1950), p. 8.
x Introduction

with impudence that which he never thought of doubting, they


so misconstrued his valuable suggestion that everything remained
in its old condition, as if nothing had happened. The question
was not whether the concept of cause was right, useful, and even
indispensable for our knowledge of nature, for this Hume had
never doubted; but whether that concept could be thought by
reason a priori....

Hume did possess common sense, but Beattie fell short of critical
reason. Kant wrote:

I should think that Hume might fairly have laid as much claim
to common sense as Beattie and, in addition, to a critical reason
(such as the latter did not possess), which keeps common sense
in check and prevents it from speculating, or, if speculations are
under discussion, restrains the desire to decide because it cannot
satisfy itself concerning its own premises— Thus common sense
and speculative understanding are each serviceable, but each in
its own way: the former in judgments which apply immediately
to experience; the latter when we judge universally from mere
concepts, as in metaphysics... ,19

The Prolegomena seem to rule out any positive influence of Beattie


on Kant. However, it has been argued that his Versuch was indeed
very influential on Kant, and that it provided the occasion for his
awakening from his dogmatic slumber in 1772. Beattie refers in his
book extensively to Hume's Treatise and discusses, besides others,
Hume's critique of the validity of the general law of causality.
Because Hume did not do this in his Enquiry concerning the
Principles of Understanding, and because Kant's awakening took
place in 1772 - or so the argument goes - the translation of Beattie's
work must have been very important for Kant. It is doubtful,
however, that Kant knew about Hume's critique only through his
reading of Beattie's Versuch. Kant's closest acquaintance in

A
Prolegomena, pp. 6-7.
19
Prolegomena, pp. 7-8.
20
Cf. Julius Janitsch, Kants Urtetle fiber Berkeley. Etn Bettrag zur Kantphilologie
(Strassburg, 1879) (Janitsch also argues that Beattie is the source of Kant's
knowledge of Berkeley); Hans Vaihinger, Commentar zu Kant's Krtttk der
remen Vernunft, vol. 1 (Stuttgart, 1881), pp. 275, 342, 348; Robert Paul
Introduction xi

Komgsberg, Joseph Green, had intimate knowledge of Hume's


Treatise.21 Johann Georg Hamann's translation of the Conclusion
of Book I of the Treatise was probably also important, as were the
discussions of Moses Mendelssohn and Marcus Herz.
In summary, Beattie's work was well known and discussed in
Germany. Yet he was controversial and was never accepted as
a first-rate philosopher, even if Herder liked his religious enthu-
siasm. The decline of Beattie and of Scottish Common Sense
philosophy in general began with the rising influence of Kant's
critical philosophy in the 1790s.

Heiner F. Klemme
Otto-von-Guencke- Universitat Magdeburg
Germany, 2000

Wolff, 'Kant's Debt to Hume via Beattie', Journal of the History of Ideas,
vol 21 (1960), pp. 117-23; and Lewis White Beck, 'A Prussian Hume and a
Scottish Kant', in Beck, Essays on Kant and Hume (New Haven, London: Yale
University Press, 1978; reprinted in Immanuel Kant's Prolegomena to Any
Future Metaphysics in focus, ed Beryl Logan (London, New York: Routledge,
1996)). For further information on this strain of interpretation see Kuehn,
Scottish Common Sense, pp. 178—9, and Lothar Kreimendahl, Kant — Der
Durchbruch von 1769 (Koln: Jurgen Duller - Verlag fur Philosophic, 1990),
pp. 47-50. Kuehn argues that Beattie might have been important for Kant's
formulation of the first antinomy of pure reason; cf. Kuehn, Scottish Common
Sense, pp. 187-91, and Kuehn, 'Kant's conception of Hume's Problem',
Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 21 (1983), pp. 175-93 (reprinted
in Immanuel Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics in Focus, ed.
Beryl Logan (London, New York- Routledge, 1996)).
21
Cf Kuehn, Scottish Common Sense, p. 178 Against Kuehn's conjecture that
Christian Jakob Kraus was important in this matter, it must be said that
Kraus could not have played much of a role m Kant's knowledge of Hume at
the relevant time, as he started to attend Kant's lectures only in 1773. See also
Manfred Kuehn, Immanuel Kant: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge
University Press, forthcoming).
22
On Hume's influence on Kant via Mendelssohn and Herz, see Heiner F.
Klemme, Kants Philosophie des Subjekts. Systematische und entwicklungs-
geschichtltche Untersuchungen zum Verhaltnis von Selbstbewufitsem und
Selbsterkenntms (Hamburg: Fehx Meiner, 1996), pp. 55-75. See also my intro-
duction to Hume's Philosophische Versuche in vol 1 of the present collection
23
Cf Kuehn, Scottish Common Sense, chap. 10.
This page intentionally left blank
This page intentionally left blank
RECEPTION OF THE
SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT
IN GERMANY:
Six Significant Translations,
1755-1782

Volume 6

Edited and Introduced by


Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

THOEMMES
Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany:
Six Significant Translations, 1755-1782
Edited and Introduced by Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

Volume 1
David Hume
Anonymous translation; edited by Johann Georg Sulzer
Philosophtsche Versuche uber die Menschliche Erkenntnifi. Als dessen vermtschter Schnften
Zweyter Thetl. Nach der zweyten vermehrten Ausgabe aus dem Enghschen ubersetzt und mit
Anmerkungen des Herausgebers beglettet (1755)

Volumes 2 and 3
Francis Hutcheson
Translated by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Stttenlehre der Vemunft. Aus dem Enghschen ubersetzt (1756)

Volume 4
Adam Smith
Translated by Christian Gunther Rautenberg
Theone der moraltschen Empfindungen. Nach der drttten Enghschen Ausgabe ubersetzt
(1770)

Volume 5
James Beattie
Anonymous translation
Versuch uber die Natur und Unveranderhchkeit der Wahrhett; tm Gegensatze der Klugeley
und der Zwetfelsucht. Aus dem Enghschen (1772)

Volume 6
Adam Ferguson
Translated by Christian Garve
Grundsatze der Moralphtlosophte. Ubersetzt und mtt etntgen Anmerkungen versehen von
Christian Garve (1772)

Volume 7
Thomas Reid
Anonymous translation
Untersuchungen uber den menschhchen Geist, nach den Grundsatzen des gemetnen
Menschenverstandes. Aus dem Enghschen, nach der drttten Auflage ubersetzt (1782)

Printed in England by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham


GRUNDSATZE DER
MORALPHILOSOPHIE

Adam Ferguson

Translated by
Christian Garve

With an Introduction by
Heiner F. Klemme

THOEMMES PRESS
This edition published by Thoemmes Press, 2000

Thoemmes Press
11 Great George Street
Bristol BS1 5RR, England

Thoemmes Press US Office


22883 Quicksilver Drive
Sterling, Virginia 20166, USA

http://www.thoemmes.com

Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany


7 Volumes : ISBN 1 85506 840 0

Introductions and editorial selection © Heiner F. Klemme, 2000

This volume is reproduced courtesy of Kyokuto Shoten Ltd

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data


A CIP record of this title is available from the British Library

Publisher's Note
The Publisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the
quality of this reprint but points out that some
imperfections in the original book may be apparent.
This book is printed on acid-free paper, sewn, and
cased in a durable buckram cloth.
INTRODUCTION

Adam Ferguson was widely known in eighteenth-century Germany


as the author of An Essay on the History of Civil Society
(Edinburgh, 1767), which was translated immediately into German
by Christian Friedrich Jiinger (1724-94) under the title Versuch
uber die Geschichte der biirgerlichen Gesellschaft (Leipzig: Johann
Friedrich Junius, 1768). It can even be argued that Ferguson's
Essay was more successful in Germany than it was anywhere else
because of its impact on the work of Christian Garve, Georg
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx and others. But Ferguson was
also known, though to a lesser degree, for his Institutes of Moral
Philosophy (Edinburgh, 1769; repr. Thoemmes Press, 1999), a
compendium of moral philosophy, written for the use of his students
at the University of Edinburgh.
Institutes was favourably reviewed by Johann Georg Heinrich
Feder (1740-1821), a leading German empiricist and popular
philosopher, in the Gottingische Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen.2
Feder saw in Ferguson a Stoic philosopher, who was arguing in the
tradition of Epictetus against Aristippus and Epicurus. He went so
far as to claim that the Institutes might be suitable even in Germany
for the private instruction of young men. Feder therefore suggested
that a German translation might be useful, if done by someone well
acquainted with Ferguson's terminology. Feder himself was the
author of some very successful teaching manuals. He knew what

1 Cf. Zwi Batscha and Hans Medick, 'Emleitung', in Adam Ferguson, Versuch
uber die Geschtchte der burgerlichen Gesellschaft, ed. Zwi Batscha and Hans
Medick (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1986), pp. 7-91, and Norbert Waszek,
The Scottish Enlightenment and Hegel's Account of 'Civil Society' (Dordrecht,
Boston, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1988).
2 Zugabe zu den Gottmgischen gelehrten Anzeigen, 14. Stuck, 13 April 1771,
pp. cxiu-cxv.
3 Cf. Zugabe, 1771, p. cxiv.
4 Cf. his Logik und Metaphysik nebst der philosophischen Geschichte im Grundrisse
(Gottmgen, Gotha, 1769), Lehrbuch der praktischen Philosophic (Gottingen,
Gotha, 1770), and Untersuchungen uber den menschlichen Willen, dessen
vi Introduction

he was talking about. However, we do not have any evidence that


it was used for private education or at universities.
As far as the German translation is concerned, Feder's hope was
soon fulfilled. Christian Garve (1742-98) published a translation
in 1772 under the title Grundsdtze der Moralphtlosophte. This
translation was not only very much appreciated for its high stylistic
quality, it was particularly highly rated because of Garve's extensive
and substantial notes on Ferguson's text (pp. 285-420). These notes
are sometimes small essays on their own.
It is no exaggeration to say that Garve was of seminal importance
for the development of German thought in the last three decades of
the eighteenth century. There are several reasons for this. Garve
described himself as a 'popular philosopher in the most general sense
of the word', as a 'preacher of common sense'. Besides the Stoa,
rationalism and the natural law theory of Christian Wolff, it was
Scottish philosophy which influenced him most. His favourite in
stylistic matters was David Hume. Indeed, Garve had the ambition
to write essays that were as good as Hume's.6 But as a moral
philosopher, he most liked Adam Smith. He thus said once: 'Adam
Smith, the first among my Scottish teachers and friends, who is a
much more original mind...than Ferguson'.7
Garve is not only important as a friend of Scottish philosophy as
such, but because he translated British philosophers into German.
Besides Ferguson, he translated Edmund Burke, Alexander Gerard,

Naturtnebe, Veranderltchkeit, Verhaltnisse zur Tugend und Gluckseligkeit, und


die Grundregeln, die menschhchen Gemuther zu erkennen und zu regieren, 4 vols.
(Gottingen, Lemgo, 1779-93).
5 Etgene Betrachtungen uber die allgetnemsten Grundsatze der Sittenlehre. Breslau
1798, 4 (= Gesammelte Werke, vol. 8, ed. Kurt Wolfel, Hildesheim, New York:
Georg Olms, 1985-7).
6 Versuche uber verschiedene Gegenstande..., 2. Theil (Breslau, 1796), p. 427
(= Gesammelte Werke, vol. 1).
7 Uebersicht der vornehmsten Pnnapien der Sittenlehre, von dem Zeitalter des
Aristoteles an bis aufunsre Zeiten (Breslau, 1798), p. 160 (= Gesammelte Werke,
vol. 8).
8 Ferguson's impact on Garve's concept of society is discussed in Norbert Waszek,
'Christian Garve als Zentralgestalt der deutschen Rezeption schottischer
Aufklarung', in Schottische Aufklarung: 'A Hotbed of Genius', ed. Daniel
Bruhlmeier, Helmut Holzhey and Vilem Mudroch (Berlin: Akademie Verlag,
1996), pp. 123^5 (pp. 136-45); see also Norbert Waszek, Man's Social Nature:
A Topic of the Scottish Enlightenment in its Historical Setting (Frankfurt am Main,
Bern, New York: Peter Lang, 1986).
Introduction vii

John MacFarlan and William Paley. Garve is also known for his
translations of Aristotle and Cicero, and as the author of a number
of influential essays, books and reviews. He is regarded today as
one of the leading German essayists at the end of the eighteenth
10
century and one of the founding fathers of sociology.
Garve is quite sceptical about the philosophical importance of
Ferguson's Grundsdtze: 'I did not translate this book, because I
think it is the first and most excellent textbook of morals;.. .1 did
translate it, because I regard it as the work of an honest and great
man, and because I believe that it bears the signs thereof (p. 287).
He points out that Ferguson does not cover the whole of moral
philosophy, saying little about freedom and family duties (cf.
p. 288). Some of Ferguson's decisions appear to him to be
arbitrary, others are not very systematic and rather aphoristic. In
his discussion of Reid and Ferguson's re-affirmation of Locke's
distinction between primary and secondary qualities as real, he
points out that the senses and their instruments have not been
investigated in full. Without going into any detail, he points out
that there are sensations which are not merely assumed but
conceptualized. In contrast, Ferguson differentiates, according
to Garve, correctly between the Stoic and Peripatetic systems (cf.
p. 378). In addition to other matters, Garve discusses at some
length the nature of happiness. He is impressed by Ferguson's
expositions in part 4 of the Grundsatze: 'My soul is exhilarated
if I read them. I feel their truth, and I feel that I can be happy
too' (p. 402). Garve agrees with the results, but misses in many

9
Garve's debate with Kant on the nature of morality and happiness is discussed in
H. F. Klemme, 'Motive und Zwecke unseres Handelns. Zu Garves Verteidigung
des Eudamomsmus gegenuber der rationahstischen Moraltheone', in Christian
Garves Lebensivelten, ed. Hans-Erich Bodeker and Johan van der Zande
(Wolfenbuttel: to be pubhshed). See also Gunter Schulz, 'Christian Garve und
Immanuel Kant. Gelehrten-Tugenden im 18. Jahrhundert', Jahrbuch der
Schlesischen Fnedrich-Wilhelm-Unwersitat zu Breslau, vol. 5 (1960) pp. 123-88.
10
Cf. Ueber Emsamkeit und Gesellschaft, 2 vols. (Breslau, 1797, 1800). See also
Robert van Dusen, Christian Garve and English Belles Lettres (Bern: Peter Lang,
1970), Norbert Waszek, Man's Social Nature, pp. 137-70, and Dons Bachmann-
Medick, Die asthetische Ordnung des Handelns. Moralphilosophie und Asthetik
in der Popularphilosophie des 18. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1989).
11
Grundsatze der Moralphilosophie, pp. 304-5, cf. Manfred Kuehn, Scottish
Common Sense in Germany, 1768-1800: A Contribution to the History of
Critical Philosophy. Foreword by Lewis White Beck (Kingston, Montreal: McGill-
Queen's University Press, 1987), pp. 68-9.
viii Introduction

cases Ferguson's reasons. To quote just one example, Why is


religion not necessary for our being moral? Garve points out that
virtue must be chosen on its own. Virtue is the true and only
reward of virtue because there can be no rewards in afterlife
which are not already connected with our actions in this life (cf.
p. 401). There are also detailed discussions as to how to
translate certain concepts, like 'sensation', 'interest', 'probity'
and 'Candeur' into German. These discussions became
important for German philosophical terminology.
In his review of the Grundsatze, Feder is enthusiastic about
Garve's reflections. According to him, they make up a short and
true philosophy, deeply thought out and presented with appealing
modesty (1772, p. 861), concluding that the notes are at least as
good as Ferguson's own reflections.
The reviewer of the Berlin Allgememe deutsche Bibliothek 14
shared Garve's assessment of Ferguson as an excellent character
and was just as critical of the Scot's philosophical achievements.
This assessment does not come as a surprise. As against the
Gottingtsche gelehrte Zettungen, the Allgememe deutsche
Bibliothek was the melting pot of rationalist philosophers arguing
in the Leibniz-Wolffian fashion. According to the reviewer,
there are only two methods of treating morality. The first method
is systematic, starting with the first principles of reason and
deducing from them particular actions. The other method
proceeds in the reverse direction, beginning with particular
actions, desires, passions and affections and trying to arrive at
some general principles of morality. What it is reasonable to do
in some particular situation is a matter of seeing which desires or
passions are more suitable. 16

12
This argument will be at the heart of Garve's critique of Kant's concept of the
highest good in the 1780s; cf. Klemme, 'Motive und Zwecke unseres Handelns'.
13
Gottingtsche Gelehrte Anzetgen, 101 Stuck (22 August 1772), pp. 860-63.
14
Allgememe deutsche Btbltothek, vol. 17 (1772), pp. 319-42.
5
'Es lassen sich in der That nur zwey Hauptarten die Sittenlehre vorzutragen,
gedenken, deren Werth nach sehr verschiednen Grunden bestimmt werden muS.
Die erste ist diejenige, die man die systematische nennet, und welche die Vernunft,
in so fern sie in unsere Handlungen em fliessen soil, zum Vorwurf hat' (1772,
p. 319).
16
'Moralische Schriften der zweyten Art sind diejemgen, die nut den Handlungen der
Menschen in nachster Verwandtschaft stehen, die sich nicht fremder Mittel
Introduction ix

The reviewer is proud to state that the first method is


exemplarily used in German textbooks. Looking at the
Grundsatze, he comes to the conclusion that Ferguson followed
neither method perfectly. Ferguson neither gives his definitions
with precision nor does he distinguish accurately between our
passions. Although he is not completely negative about
Ferguson, he clearly has more reservations about the Grundsatze
than Feder had. On the other hand, the reviewer shares with
Feder a high esteem for Garve's notes: 'One can only wish that
every translator would give the original to the world with such
an addition' (p. 323).
Another reviewer of the English edition of Ferguson's work,
18
which appeared in 1789 in the Allgememe deutsche Bibhothek,
is much more positive. He refers to the Essay as an 'excep-
tionally good compendium' (1789, p. 151) whose new English
edition is welcomed even if Garve's translation is readily available
to the German reader. The reviewer emphasizes in particular the
accessible language of the Essay and contrasts it with the
language of most German textbooks, which are incomprehensible
without the instructions provided in the lectures. Ferguson's
sentences, instead, 'develop on their own in a thinking mind.
They should be learned by heart, like moral aphorisms' (1789,
p. 152).
Ferguson not only had considerable influence on the German
Enlightenment and such thinkers as Feder, Garve, Herder and
Kraus, for instance, but also had an impact on the younger gener-
ation. Schiller and the young Hegel learned much from his
writings.19 Hegel's understanding of British culture and mores
was determined very much by Ferguson and his Scottish compa-
triots. Even if, in the case of Ferguson's Grundsatze, this impact

bedienen, um dieser ihre Tnebfedern zu vermchten oder ihre Wirkung zu hemmen,


sondern sich diese Tnebfedern selbst zu Nutze machen, und in dem sie Leidenschaft
mil Leidenschaft, Neigung mit Neigung und Empfindung mit Empfindung
bestreiten Schriftsteller von dieser Art sind an die strenge Methode rucht gebunden,
von vorausgesetzten Prmcipien ihre ganze Kette von Folgerungen herzuleiten'
(1772, p 320)
17
Cf Allgemeine deutsche Bibhothek, pp 319-23
18
Allgemetne deutsche Btbltothek, vol 86 (1789), pp 151-2 The English edition
referred to is said to be published in 'Mentz and Francfort, printed for Schiller, sold
by Varrentrapp and Wenner 1786'
19
Cf Waszek, The Scottish Enlightenment, pp 81f, 103, 140
x Introduction

must have been coloured by Garve's additions and criticisms, it


was still Ferguson's impact. Moreover, one may say that
Ferguson's effect in Germany would have been much smaller
without Garve's critical notes. And even today, as Ferguson is
once again receiving greater attention in Germany, this is
connected with a new appreciation for Garve (who is far too little
known in English-speaking countries).

Heiner F. Klemme
Otto-von-Guericke- Universitat Magdeburg
Germany, 2000
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RECEPTION OF THE
SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT
IN GERMANY:
Six Significant Translations,
1755-1782

Volume 7

Edited and Introduced by


Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

THOEMMES
Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany:
Six Significant Translations, 1755-1782
Edited and Introduced by Heiner F. Klemme
University of Magdeburg

Volume 1
David Hume
Anonymous translation; edited by Johann Georg Sulzer
Philosophische Versuche uber die Menschliche Erkenntmfl. Als dessen vermtschter Schnften
Zweyter Thetl. Nacb der zweyten vermehrten Ausgabe aus dem Engltschen ubersetzt und mtt
Anmerkungen des Herausgebers beglettet (1755)

Volumes 2 and 3
Francis Hutcheson
Translated by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Stttenlehre der Vernunft. Aus dem Englischen ubersetzt (1756)

Volume 4
Adam Smith
Translated by Christian Gunther Rautenberg
Theorte der moraltschen Empftndungen. Nach der dntten Englischen Ausgabe ubersetzt
(1770)

Volume 5
James Beattie
Anonymous translation
Versuch uber die Natur und Unveranderhchkeit der Wahrheit; im Gegensatze der Klugeley
und der Zweifelsucht. Aus dem Englischen (1772)

Volume 6
Adam Ferguson
Translated by Christian Garve
Grundsatze der Moralphtlosophie. Ubersetzt und mtt etnigen Anmerkungen versehen von
Christian Garve (1772)

Volume 7
Thomas Reid
Anonymous translation
Untersuchungen uber den menschltchen Getst, nach den Grundsatzen des gememen
Menschenverstandes. Aus dem Englischen, nach der dntten Auflage ubersetzt (1782)

Printed in England by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham


UNTERSUCHUNGEN UBER DEN
MENSCHLICHEN GEIST, NACH DEN
GRUNDSATZEN DES GEMEINEN
MENSCHENVERSTANDES

Thomas Reid

With an Introduction by
Heiner F. Klemme

THOEMMES PRESS
This edition published by Thoemmes Press, 2000

Thoemmes Press
11 Great George Street
Bristol BS1 5RR, England

Thoemmes Press US Office


22883 Quicksilver Drive
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http://www.thoemmes.com

Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Germany


7 Volumes : ISBN 1 85506 840 0

Introductions and editorial selection © Heiner F. Klemme, 2000

This volume is reproduced courtesy of Universitatsbibliothek


Marburg

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data


A CIP record of this title is available from the British Library

Publisher's Note
The Publisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the
quality of this reprint but points out that some
imperfections in the original book may be apparent.
This book is printed on acid-free paper, sewn, and
cased in a durable buckram cloth.
INTRODUCTION

Thomas Reid's first book, An Inquiry into the Human Mind, on


the Principles of Common Sense, was published in 1764 and
translated into French as Recherches sur I'entendement humain
(Amsterdam: Jean Meyer, 1768). The first and hitherto only
German translation of the third 1 original edition, entitled
Untersuchungen uber den menschhchen Geist nach den
Grundsatzen des gememen Menschenverstandes, appeared as
late as 1782. It is reprinted here for the first time ever. The
identity of the translator is unknown.
Unlike James Beattie's An Essay on the Nature and
Immutability of Truth in Opposition to Sophistry and
Scepticism, Reid's Inquiry was not a best-seller in his own time.
Yet it is undoubtedly the most profound attempt to defend the
principles of Common Sense against Hume's scepticism in the
Treatise of Human Nature (1739,1740). In 'An Abstract of the
"Inquiry into the human Mind on the Principles of common
Sense"' Reid confesses:

Ever since the Treatise of Human Nature was published, I


respected Mr. Hume as the greatest metaphysician of the age,
and have learned more from his writings in matters of that kind
than from all others put together. I read the treatise over and
over with great care, made an abstract of it and wrote my
observations upon it. I perceived that his system is all founded
upon one principle, from which his conclusions, however extra-
ordinary, are deduced with irresistible evidence. The principle
I mean is, that all the objects of human thought are either
impressions or ideas; which I was very much disposed to believe
until I read that treatise; but finding that if this is true I must

1
Third edition, 'corrected' (London Printed for T Cadell (Successor to
A Millar) in the Strand and T Longman, in Pater Noster Row, and A Kmcaid
&J Bell, 1769)
2
Edinburgh, 1770 It is reprinted as vol 4 of this collection

V
vi Introduction

be an absolute sceptic, I thought that it deserved a careful


examination.3

The Inquiry itself has its origins in the 'Aberdeen Philosophical


Society', sometimes also called the 'Wise Club'. Reid was a
founding member together with John Gregory, George Campbell
and others in 1758. Alexander Gerard and James Beattie were
elected as members in the same year. Although a wide variety of
subjects were discussed at the regular meetings, the main intention
of the 'Wise Club' was, at least according to the Rules of the
Society, the 'Examination of false schemes of Philosophy and false
methods of Philosophizing' . In this spirit, Reid presented early
versions of his refutations of Hume's arguments for the sceptical
conclusions of the Treatise to the audience of the Society. In his
letter dated 18 March 1763 to Hume, Reid writes: 'A little philo-
sophical society here...is much indebted to you for its enter-
tainment. Your company would, although we are all good
Christians, be more acceptable than that of St. Athanasius; and
since we cannot have you upon the bench, you are brought oftener
than any other man to the bar, accused and defended with great
zeal, but without bitterness. If you write no more in morals,
politics, or metaphysics, I am afraid we shall be at a loss for
subjects.' Hume was sufficiently impressed that he was willing to
read the whole manuscript of the Inquiry and to comment on it.
According to Reid, Hume's philosophy 'is not only coherent in
all its parts, but likewise justly deduced from principles
commonly received among philosophers' (ibid.}. These principles
were in modern times first formulated and defended by Descartes
and Locke. Their philosophies constituted for Reid the 'ideal
system', which eventually led, through Berkeley's and above all
Hume's more rigorous formulation, to scepticism. Reid believed
that, because scepticism contradicts the principles of Common
3
David F. Norton, 'Reid's Abstract of the "Inquiry into the Human Mind"', in
Stephen F. Baker and Tom L. Beauchamp (eds.), Thomas Reid: Critical
Interpretations (Philadelphia: University City Science Center, 1976),
pp. 125-31 (p. 128).
4
Rule 17, quoted in James McCosh, The Scottish Philosophy: Biographical,
Expository, Critical, from Hutcheson to Hamilton (London: Macmillan, 1875;
repr. Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1990), p. 228.
5
Reid, Philosophical Works, ed. William Hamilton (Edinburgh, 1846; repr.
Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1967), p. 91.
Introduction vii

Sense and the principles of common sense are basic principles of


human cognition, the theory of ideas must be wrong.
This description of the history of the ideal system clearly has
roots in Reid's biography. For he himself saw the defects of the
doctrine of ideas only as a result of reading Hume's Treatise.
Thus he declares in his Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man
(1785):

... I once believed the doctrine of ideas so firmly, as to embrace


the whole of Berkeley's system along with it; till finding other
consequences to follow from it, which gave me more than
forty years ago, to put the question, What evidence have I for
this doctrine, that all the objects of my knowledge are ideas in
my own mind? From that time to the present, I have been
candidly and impartially, as I think, seeking for the evidence of
this principle, but can find none, excepting the authority of
6
philosophers.

The reference is to vol. 1 of the Treatise. Similarly to Kant,


who was awakened from his dogmatic slumber by Humean
suggestions, Reid's idealistic reveries were cut short by Humean
doubts concerning the authority of philosophers.
In his Inquiry, Reid ventures to show on the one hand that
Hume and the ideal system subverts all our knowledge and on the
other hand that the only true fundamental principles of our
knowledge are those of Common Sense. We do not perceive
ideas and impressions, but trees, animals and persons around us.
There are no reasons to question the existence of our souls, of
material bodies, or of God. According to Reid's view, nature
always speaks the same language, though we may very well
misinterpret it. We can rely on the constancy of natural events.
In contrast to the Humean analysis of causality, we are entitled
to adopt the necessity of a connection between two events, which
previously we could observe in nature, as valid for the future too.
All rules of mechanics, astronomy and optics known to us by
experience are laws of nature itself.

6
Philosophical Works, p 283
7
In his letter to Hume, Reid writes that he 'never thought of calling' the principles
of the doctrine of ideas 'into question, until the conclusion you draw from them
in the Treatise of Human Nature made me suspect them' (ibid , p 91)
viii Introduction

Although the Treatise fails entirely to provide a secure


foundation for the moral sciences, Hume's book is, according to
Reid, important because it shows that this foundation cannot be
provided by the doctrine of ideas. There are many readers of Reid,
who share his conviction that the Treatise leads directly into
scepticism. But not all of them are equally convinced that the
theory of ideas is at the root of Hume's scepticism or that the
principles of common sense are the one and only remedy against
scepticism.
Scottish Common Sense in general and Reid's philosophy in
particular were widely known in Germany. Especially at
Gottingen, Berlin, Erlangen and Konigsberg, Reid was already a
known quantity even before the Untersuchungen uber den
menschlichen Geist nach den Grundsdtzen des gememen
Menschenverstandes was published. One might speculate whether
it would have made an even greater impact in Germany if the trans-
lation had been released a few years before the publication of
Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. Because Kant's
Critical philosophy displaced the empiricist approach in
philosophy, the Scottish philosophy of Common Sense lost its
foothold and eventually disappeared in the 1790s.
The German translator of the Untersuchungen gives expression
to his conviction that Reid's work is still useful, despite Johann
Georg Sulzer's extensive comments on Hume in his edition of the
German translation of the Enquiry concerning Human
Understanding on the one hand, and Kant's discussion of causality

8
Cf. Manfred Kuehn's comprehensive Scottish Common Sense in Germany,
1768-1800: A Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy. Foreword
by Lewis White Beck (Kingston, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press,
1987). In a short review m the Leipzig Neue Zeitungen von gelehrten Sachen
of 14 June 1764, it is said that Reid is a 'learned and clear-sighted author, who,
m the beautiful work here advertised, has tried to refute the irrational system
of the sceptics in a very thorough fashion, and to defend with many new and
incontrovertible proofs the certainty of the cognition which we obtain through
the mediation of the external senses. He contests especially the Treatise of
Human Nature which first appeared m 1739 and contains the most obvious
defence of scepticism' (pp. 377-8; quoted and translated in Kuehn, Scottish
Common Sense, p. 53). The reviewer m the Allgemetne deutsche Bibliothek,
vol. 53 (1783), p. 417, restricts himself entirely to the quality of the German
translation. Although he notes some few minor mistakes and does not compare
it with the original, he thinks highly of the translation.
9
Philosophische Versuche uber die Menschliche Erkenntmfi. Als dessen ver
mischter Schnften Zweyter Theil. Nach der zweyten vermehrten Ausgabe aus
Introduction ix

in 1781 on the other. For, 'though there have been notes and
additions by a famous German philosopher added to the German
translation of the Enquiry, Reid still appears to have come closer
to the source of the evil - if indeed there is evil in this matter - than
any other enemy of Mr. Hume. I except the particular passages
in which Mr. Kant (in the Critique of Pure Reason) contests with
him.' Kant obviously did not share this assessment at all. In his
Prolegomena of 1783, he gave Common Sense its coup de grace.
Kant was not interested simply in refuting Common Sense as a
legitimate answer to Hume, as others did. His accusation went
even deeper. He expressed the view that Reid and others did not
even understand Hume's problem. Kant writes:

It is positively painful to see how utterly his [Hume's] opponents


Reid, Oswald, Beattie, and lastly Priestley, missed the point of
the problem; for while they were ever taking for granted that
which he doubted, and demonstrating with zeal and often with
impudence that which he never thought of doubting, they so
rmsconstructed his valuable suggestion that everything remained
in its old condition, as if nothing had happened. The question
was not whether the concept of cause was right, useful, and even
indispensable for our knowledge of nature, for this Hume had
never doubted; but whether that concept could be thought by
reason a priori, and consequently whether it possessed an inner
truth, independent of all experience, implying a perhaps more
extended use not restricted merely to objects of experience. This
was Hume's problem.11

In other words, Hume's problem was metaphysical, not empirical.


For Kant and the German rationalists, Hume raises the question
as to how we are entitled to say that causal judgements are a
priori and necessary. For Scottish Common Sense and the
adherents of empiricist philosophy in Germany, like Johann Georg

dem Enghschen ubersetzt und mit Anmerkungen des Herausgebers [Johann


Georg Sulzer] begleitet (Hamburg, Leipzig, 1755) This book is reprinted in
vol 1 of this collection
10
Reid, Untersuchungen uber den menschlichen Geist, pp 111 ff (slightly revised
translation in Kuehn, Scottish Common Sense, p 209)
11
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, ed Lewis White Beck (Indianapolis,
New York Bobbs Merrill Co , 1950), pp 6-7
x Introduction

Heinrich Feder, Nikolaus Tetens, Christoph Memers and others,


it is just an empirical question. Understanding Hume's problem
in this way, however, means missing the whole point.
It is not without irony that philosophers of traditional
metaphysics claimed that Kant had nothing of philosophical
importance to offer that would go beyond what Leibniz and Wolff
had maintained earlier. What is true in Kant was proved earlier
by Leibniz and Wolff, and what is in Kant but not in Leibniz and
Wolff - like the distinction between mundus sensibihs and mundus
intelltgibtlts - is truly false. Johann August Eberhard argued in this
fashion:

The critical philosophy assumes forms of thought, laws of the


understanding, functions of the understanding. How does it
prove the universality and necessity of these laws of the under-
standing and of reason, since it denies absolutely objective truth
of cognition? From the fact that I have to think in accordance
with them, it does not follow that everybody has to think in
accordance with them. With what right can critical philosophy
reject the refutations of Humean scepticism according to Reid,
Beattie and Oswald's method? It is true, the principles of
common sense are assumed by these Scottish philosophers as
certain without proof and only on subjective grounds, but do the
forms of thought and of pure intuition have another certainty,
and can they be regarded as universally certain with more
right?12

In Eberhard's mind, both Kant and the Scottish Common Sense


philosophers argued from a purely subjective point of view, and
it is only rationalistic metaphysics which can refute Hume.
Still, with the publication of the Critique, Scottish philosophy
became a counterforce to Kant's critical philosophy, with both
rationalist and empiricist philosophers.1 Yet many references to
Reid and Beattie were, like that of Eberhard, rather rhetorical in

1
Johann August Eberhard (ed ), Philosophisches Magazin, 4 vols (Halle,
1788-92), vol 4 (1792), p 101 (quoted and translated in Kuehn, Scottish
Common Sense, p 213)
13
Cf Kuehn, Scottish Common Sense, p 221 I am more sceptical than Kuehn
about the importance of Reid within the philosophical discussions at the end
of the eighteenth century in Germany
Introduction xi

nature. The most important questions of the philosophical debate


that took place during the 1790s in Germany were not concerned
with the problem of whether Reid or Kant refuted Hume. The
drummers and trumpeters on the battlefield were rather divided
on the question of whether Kant had refuted Hume, and the
related problem of whether Kant's transcendental philosophy
was superior to the rationalism of Leibniz and Wolff, or not.
That does not mean, however, that Reid and his Scottish
colleagues and friends were not held by many in high regard.
Reid's Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785) were
favourably received, to name just four examples, by Feder,
Johann Georg Hamann, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi and Gottlob
Ernst Schulze. Through Schulze, Reid had an influence on
Arthur Schopenhauer, who considered Reid a great philosopher
- a view that was decidedly a minority opinion. It is only today
that Reid is being taken more seriously in Germany. So far this
has been mainly an effect of arguments advanced by English-
speaking philosophers. It remains to be hoped that German
philosophers will once again begin to read the Inquiry itself.

Heiner F. Klemme
Otto-von-Guericke-Universitat Magdeburg
Germany, 2000

14
Cf. Kuehn, Scottish Common Sense, pp. 221 ff.
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