Chinese Thought in Early German Enlightenment from Leibniz to Goethe: Abortive Approaches to Transcultural Understanding
This book is a philosophical-historical examination of the influence of the knowledge of China imparted by the Jesuits on the thinking of the German Enlightenment in the 18th century. It is not primarily concerned with a comprehensive reconstruction of the philosophy of the thinkers discussed, but rather with the political and intellectual contextualisation of a line of thought that recognised the practical philosophy and state organisation of China as different from that of Europe, while equal to it and in some respects superior to it. This challenged the claim of theology that Christian revelation alone provided access to truth. The volume analyses the opposition to this line of thought, especially on the part of Protestant orthodoxy. It argues that in the German Enlightenment of the 18th century, the possibility emerged to conceive philosophy on the basis of reason as a phenomenon not limited to Europe but as a path followed under different conditions in China.