Über die Unsterblichkeit der Seele

Hildesheim: Olms (2018)


Meier’s Gedancken von dem Zustande der Seele nach dem Tode (Gedancken) deserves a prominent place among treatments of the immortality of the soul in 18th century German philosophy, both within and without the Wolffian tradition of rational psychology. It does not wilt next to Mendelssohn’s Phädon in its quality of expression, and might even be compared with Kant’s discussion in the Paralogisms chapter of his Kritik der reinen Vernunft in terms of the boldness of its argument and its philosophical rigour. The Gedancken contributed greatly to Meier’s growing reputation as an original thinker and helped him emerge from the shadow of his famous colleague in the philosophy faculty at the Friedrichs-Universität in Halle, Christian Wolff; moreover, it provoked detailed responses on the part of its critics and even made Meier himself the subject of official investigation as an accused aider and abettor of freethinkers. Meier’s Gedancken thus stands as a work of central importance within his own philosophical corpus and in the history of 18th century German rational psychology more generally. Accordingly, in this Introductory Essay, I will present the context and argument, as well as the reception, of the Gedancken, and then consider Meier’s subsequent defense of his controversial text.

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Corey W. Dyck
University of Western Ontario

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