Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus
Chapter 61: Christian Wolff (1679–1754)
Wolfgang Drechsler Introduction Christian Wolff is the most eminent German philosopher between Leibniz and Kant. His main achievement is a complete set of work on practically any scholarly subject of his time, displayed and unfolded according to his demonstrative–deductive, mathematical method, which perhaps represents the peak of Enlightenment rationality in Germany. Wolff is also the creator of German as the language of scholarly instruction and research, although he published also in Latin, so that an international audience could, and did, read him. A founding father of, inter alia, economics and public administration as academic disciplines, he concentrated especially in these ﬁelds on advice, on practical matters for members of government, and on the professional nature of university education. Although he was a quintessentially continental thinker, both in form and in content, his work is said to have had a strong impact even on the American Declaration of Independence (Goebel, 1920). Biography1 Wolff was born on 24 January 1679 in Breslau, Silesia. Coming from a modest background, he received his degrees from the University of Leipzig and spent his entire life as a university professor of mathematics, sciences, philosophy and, later, public law at the Universities of Halle, Prussia (1706– 23 and 1740–54) and Marburg, Hesse-Cassel (1723–40). In 1723, Wolff was ousted from his ﬁrst chair at Halle in one of the most celebrated academic dramas of the eighteenth century. By decree of the King of Prussia, initiated by the pietist Divinity Faculty, which saw in Wolff a...
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