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The Early Reception of Reid, Oswald, and Beattie in Germany: 1768 - x8oo MANFRED KUEHN REID, OSWALD AND BEATTIE were not very influential in Germany--at least this is what we are led to believe, when we read the historical accounts of Scottish and German philosophy.' About the only widely known effect the Scots had in Germany is the devastating criticism they received from Kant in 1783: they completely misunderstood Hume, "were ever taking for granted that which he doubted, and demonstrating with zeal and often with impudence that which he never thought of doubting." Instead of answering Hume or solving his problems, they appealed to the opinion of the muhitude ([86], 6-8). Though certain studies and bibliographies, cited in section II below, ([117]; [119]; [12o]; [121]; [13o]; [142 ], vol. I, 342; [150]) might have served to suggest otherwise, this condemnation of the Scots by Kant has always been taken to show that they they could have played, at best, a marginal role in Germany. To be sure, Beattie was found to be relevant as a possible source for Kant's knowledge of Hume's Treatise ([122]; [127]; [129]; [139]; [142]; [148]) and Berkeley's supposed idealism ([126]; [132]; [14o]; [142]; [143]; [144]), but he and his compatriots certainly could not have had any influence in their own right upon any distinguished German thinker. Their commonsense philosophy was far too shallow to have been helpful for the Germans ---or so the prejudice goes. ' i would like to thank Professors Lewis White Beck and David Fate Norton for their useful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Further, I would liketo point out that ! have structured this version after Karl Ameriks's "Recent Work on Kant's Theoretical Philosophy," American PhilosophicalQuarterly 19 (198~), l-~ 4. The original research upon which this paper is based was undertaken in Germany in 1976-1977 and funded by the Canada Council (now: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada). [479l 480 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 2I: 4 OCT 1983 The aim of this article is to show that the prejudice is not supported by the facts, and that Kant's attack upon Reid, Oswald and Beattie represents only the tip of an iceberg, as it were. The Scots were very well-known by German philosophers; and their works had a significant influence upon the development of German thought. Kant had good reasons for attempting to disqualify the Scots because his own critical philosophy could only succeed by replacing the popular common-sense philosophy of his contemporaries which was modeled, at least to some extent, after that of Reid, Oswald and Beattie. The Scottish influence began almost immediately after the publication of Reid's Inquiry [7]. For this work was not only reviewed positively in a number of important French journals ([51]; [52]; [53]), but also translated into French in 1768 ([16]; see also [6o]; [6a]). Thus Reid was available to German philosophers. That they made use of his theories may be seen from the following: Christian Garve discusses Reid's critique of the "ideal system" in his introductory lecture to the University of Leipzig in I77O [77]. Johann Georg Heinrich Feder refers in the same year to Reid in a discussion of truth and objective knowledge, adding that the Inquiry is a book well-worth reading ([71], 256). Again in 177o, Moses Mendelssohn asks his friend and publisher Friedrich Nicolai to secure the Inquiry fbr him in English ([97], 32-33) 9 He cleary appreciated Reid very much. For in a letter, dated .July 1774, he mentions the Inquiry as the authoritative critique of sensationism and recommended that Condilllac should be read in conjunction with Reid ([96], vol. 3.I, 3o5-3o6). Johann Georg Hamann makes use of Reid's theory of "natural language" in 1772 [8o]. And Christian Garve includes an extensive and sympathetic note on Reid's theory of sensation in his translation of Adam Ferguson's Institutes ([75]; [78], 32~ 9 Thus by the early seventies Reid was known to a significant number of German philosophers. The reception of Reid's thought was helped along by the appearance of the works by Oswald and Beattie. Oswald was extensively reviewed...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 479-496
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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