Christian Wolff

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Christian Wolff (Wrocław, 1679 - Halle, 1754) was a German philosopher. His philosophical system was that of Gottfried Leibniz, with Aristotelean features. Wolff reproduced and systematized Leibniz's theory (determinism and optimism), but with differences like the intention to make the principle of contradiction the fundamental principle of philosophy, discarding the principle of sufficient reason introduced by Leibniz.

Wolff himself was expelled from his chair at the University of Halle on account of the Rationalistic nature of his teaching, principally owing to the action of Lange (1670-1774; cf. "Causa Dei et reilgionis naturals adversus atheismum", and "Modesta Disputatio", Halle, 1723). Retiring to Marburg, he taught there until 1740, when he was recalled to Halle by Frederick II. Wolff's attempt to demonstrate natural religion rationally was in no sense an attack upon revelation. As a "supranaturalist" he admitted truths above reason, and he attempted to support by reason the supernatural truths contained in the Holy Scripture. But his attempt, while it incensed the pietistic school and was readily welcomed by the more liberal and moderate among the orthodox Lutherans, in reality turned out to be strongly in favour of the Naturalism that he wished to condemn. Natural religion, he asserted, is demonstrable; revealed religion is to be found in the Bible alone. But in his method of proof of the authority of Scripture recourse was had to reason, and thus the human mind became, logically, the ultimate arbiter in the case of both. Rationalism Catholic Encyclopedia.

The most widely accepted scheme, that which still governs the division of the branches of philosophy is due to him.

See also