Outlines of practical philosophy - PDF by Hermann Lotze

Outlines of practical philosophy

Outlines of practical philosophy

The second German edition of the * Outlines of Practical Philosophy,' from which this translation has been prepared, was based upon the Dictate of Lotze's lectures as delivered in the Summer-Semester of 1878. The first German edition had followed the form of the Dictate as given in the same course for the Summer-Semester of 1880. 

A comparison of the two editions shows that consideration has been gained in fulness, and nothing lost in maturity, of thought by recurring to the author's earlier treatment of applied ethics. Moreover, the second edition contains two interesting chapters on i Marriage and the Family ' (chap, v.), and on ' the Intercourse of Men' (chap, vi.), which are not found in the first edition. 

These reasons have seemed to me to justify the choice for translation of the Dictate of the date of 1878. The following pages have the great though somewhat melancholy claim to interest that they present a large proportion of all which remains of Lotze's thinking upon a most important subject. Nothing else vi editor's preface. more expanded and technically exact is left us to take the place of these pages; and, besides a brief article on the Principles of Ethics ' in Nord und Süd, and certain scattered remarks in portions of the Mikrokosmus, there is nothing to supplement them. 

Yet the entire philosophical system of their author is distinctively, and almost in a unique manner, founded upon the ethical idea. So true is this statement, that an intelligent apprehension of the specific points of view taken by this system — especially as presented in its Metaphysic — cannot be gained at all without recognition of their ethical character. 

The idea of Value everywhere dominates and makes intelligible those conceptions of mechanism with which it is the business of all science to deal. But, as we are assured (see ' Outlines of Metaphysic,' p. 151 f.) the morally Good is to be united with 'the beautiful' and 'the blessed' into "one complex of all that has Value." The sole genuine Reality in the world is this Good. And all the mechanism of the world of phenomena, whether in the realm of physical Things or of finite Mind, exists in order that this Highest Good may become for the spirit an object of enjoyment.

 Even those so-called a priori or necessary principles with which the Metaphysic itself deals, are declared (p. 153) to be only "the forms which must be assumed by a world that de- editor's preface. vii pends upon the principle of the Good."

 The Highest Good is "the one Real Principle on which the validity of the metaphysical axioms in the world depends." No student of Lotze, whether favourably or unfavourably disposed toward his metaphysical tenets, can fail to wish, however, that he had left in more comprehensive and definite form his views on theoretical and applied ethics. The first three chapters of this volume do indeed suggest the answers which the author would probably have given to some of those questions of the theory that are of so much interest and so warmly debated. Yet they do little more than suggest some of these answers. 

The chapter on the Freedom of the Will seems to me, however, peculiarly rich in suggestiveness. Indeed it will be found, I think, to touch almost every important point in that discussion, so old in time, so deep in mystery, and so fraught with vexatious misunderstandings. 

This chapter will repay a careful study from the various points of view assumed by the different parties in the debate of the main inquiry. It should be borne in mind by the reader that Lotze intends to distinguish the task which he sets before himself in this course of lectures from that which belongs to the treatment of Morals or Ethics. Ethics, as he would understand the term, includes a collection of "those general propositions according to viii editor's preface. which the praiseworthiness or blameworthiness of the disposition is estimated" (see p. 2). Practical Philosophy, on the other hand, includes, besides these general propositions, "the rules of that prudence of life which secures the acquisition of different forms of outward good."

 Accordingly, a considerable part of this volume is devoted to the discussion of matters which are customarily treated under the head of applied ethics. It is distinctly stated, however, that such particular problems are subordinated to those primary problems which come up for discussion under the titles of Ethical Principles and Moral Ideals (chapters i. and ii.). It is, of course, inevitable that the difference of social and political institutions, which obtains among the different highly civilized peoples, should influence the discussion of subjects like Marriage, Society, the State, etc.

 The yet more special remarks on topics subordinated to these — such as Divorce, Trades Unions, Representative Government, etc. — will doubtless seem, in certain regards, foreign to the customary thoughts of some who read them. But they may be of all the more value on that account.

 The precise shaping received by the institutions in the midst of which we are living not infrequently is first seen in its true significance when we aim to regard it with other and philosophic eyes, as it editor's preface. ix appears in its particulars amid the world of universal ideas. I think it will be admitted by all that Lotze shows a rare and delicate tact in discerning the weak places in the extremes of Rigorism and Eudaemonism in morals. How far he himself proposes any middle ground of standing, as it were, is another question. 

Probably his treatment of the subject will not be thought sufficiently extended and definite to be satisfactory. It is perhaps somewhat characteristic of all his philosophical writings that he conscientiously sacrifices the appearance of forming a consistent system, to his love of candour and his desire to regard every subject from several points of view. But it is just this in large measure which gives his writings their value and their charm.


Chapter I. Investigation of Ethical Principles . .
Chapter II. The Simple Moral Ideals
Chapter III. Concerning the Freedom of the Will . .
Chapter IV. Of the Individual Person
Chapter V. Marriage and the Family
Chapter VI. Of the Intercourse of Men . . . .
Chapter VII. Of Society
Chapter VIII. Of the State 

the book details :
  • Author: Hermann Lotze
  • Translator: GEORGE T. LADD.
  • Publication date:1885
  • Company:  Boston, Ginn

  • Download 9.8 MB

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