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NOTE J.—P. 57.

MATERIALISM IN GERMANY.

The descent from an overstrained idealistic Pantheism to materialistic Atheism in Germany—through Feuerbach, Stirner, lingo, etc.—is matter of notoriety. The following extract from an able article on “Lotze’s Theistic Philosophy,” in the Presbyterian Review, vol. vi. (1885), will illustrate the length to which things went in that direction:—“The one-sided opposition of Empiricism to Idealism developed into dogmatic Materialism. From the 18th September 1854, when Rudolf Wagner delivered at Göttingen his famous address on ‘The Creation of Man and the Substance of the Soul,’ the Materialistic conflict raged in Germany for a couple of decades with unabated vigour. Taking up the gauntlet which Wagner had thrown down Karl Vogt entered the lists with ‘Kohlerglaube und Wissenschaft,’ flaunting, amidst satire and ridicule, in the face of his opponent, 403who had declared himself content with the simple religious faith of the collier, the new famous sentence that ‘thought stands in about the same relation to the brain, as gall to the liver or urine to the kidneys.’ A flood of writings, more or less popular in style, followed, and a sort of religious propaganda was made of the gospel of Materialism, while a fierce crusade was waged against everything claiming to be superior to matter, or a ‘function ‘ of matter. The hostility against religion was pronounced and bitter. The creed preached was Atheism, naked and unashamed. Matter is held to be eternal; physical and chemical forces are the only ultimate agents; the world exists, Vogt tells us, ‘ without organic substance, without a known Creator, nay, without a leading idea.’ Hellwald expressly announces that the task of science is ‘to destroy all ideals, to manifest their hollowness and nothingness, to show that belief in God and religion is deception’; while Buchner, who is ever, if possible, a little more audacious than the rest, sums up the matter as follows: ‘Theism, or belief in a personal God, leads, as all history shows, to monachism, and the rule of priests; Pantheism, or belief in an all-pervading God, leads, where it is in the ascendancy, to contempt of the senses, denial of the Ego , to absorption in God, and to a state of stagnation. Atheism, or philosophical Monism, alone leads to freedom, to intelligence, to progress, to due recognition of man—in a word, to Humanism.’ . . . The progress of Materialism was rapid. Buchner’s Force and Matter, the ‘Bible of German Materialism,’ passed, within twenty years from its first appearance (1858), through no less than fourteen editions, and was translated into almost every language in Europe. The scientific camp was said to be materialistic almost to a man. The common people, among whom this way of thinking was frequently allied with the political tenets of social democracy, were, and are still to-day largely leavened by the infection. The philosophical chairs in the Universities were feeble to resist it. . . . Materialism in Germany is no longer as strong as it was; good authorities express it as their opinion that, as it grew, so also is it waning ‘rapidly ‘” (pp. 652–655).

See also the sketch of the German atheistic parties in Lichtenberger’s “History of German Theology in the Nineteenth Century” (Histoire des Idées religieuses en Allemagne), pp. 360–70 (Eng. trans.); and Christlieb’s “Modern Doubt and Christian Belief” (Moderne Zweifel am christlichen Glaube), pp. 138–140 (Eng. trans.).

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