A Sketch Of German Philosophy -- By: Henry B. Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 002:6 (May 1845)
Article: A Sketch Of German Philosophy
Author: Henry B. Smith


A Sketch Of German Philosophy

Rev. Henry B. Smith

[The following Article is rather a paraphrase than a translation of the original. Much matter also from other sources which seemed necessary to the elucidation of some of the positions has been incorporated into it. The paragraphs upon some of the re-

sults of the Hegelian system, and a general statement of Schelling’s new scheme, were condensed from an essay by professor Bachmann of Jena in the “Allgemeine Literatur- Zeitung” of that university for the month of December, 1843. The chief addition, however, is an analysis or summary of Hegel’s System from the German Conversations-Lexikon” which occupies several pages, and is a free and full paraphrase of the original. A literal rendering, word for word, of a mere abstract of an abstruse German system could only mislead the reader, and give a most unfair view of the system itself.

The present Article does not pretend to be anything more than a very general and cursory view of the subject. The title of the original was “New Schellingism,” and the body of it will be found to refer to the old and the new schemes of this philosopher. In connection with this it gives a sketch of the leading opinions of the other philosophers, and of the course of philosophical inquiry in Germany. Upon, the whole it is perhaps as clear an account as can be found within the same compass. It is chiefly open to objection in its depreciation of Schelling, and the correctness of the author’s statement of all of Schelling’s views, especially of his later system, would be questioned by the adherents of this remarkable man.

Many are asking, what is German Philosophy? And it is easier to ask the question than to answer it. Some seem to imagine it a mere mass of fantastic conceits—and call it mysticism. But a German smiles when he hears the clear-headed Kant called a mystic. Others seem to think it a certain something whose only possible use is to raise a broad laugh on the faces of all sensible men, women and children—a farrago of words and nonsense. A few it may be are looking to German speculations as the means of giving them a higher and more comprehensive system than they have been able elsewhere to find; of solving some of the questions and problems which are forcing themselves upon their minds. Many, the most, regard it with unmingled aversion and distrust. Perhaps it may be found upon a closer examination of the subject that none of these parties and opinions are wholly correct. It may be that German philosophy and mysticism are two entirely distinct things. It may be that there are some things in the German schemes which are intelligible; that though he may be a bold man who wou...

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