Materialism in the mainstream of early German philosophy

Abstract
ABSTRACTDiscussions of the reception of materialist thought in Germany in the first half of the eighteenth century tend to focus, naturally enough, upon the homegrown freethinkers who advanced the cause of Lucretius, Hobbes, and Spinoza in clandestine publications and frequently courted the ire of the state for doing so. If the philosophers belonging to the mainstream of German intellectual life in that period are accorded a place in the story, it is only insofar as they actively set themselves against the materialist threat and, in the course of working to undermine it, actually only succeeded in inadvertently drawing more popular attention to it. By contrast, in this paper I will show that it was not just insofar as the thinkers of the early eighteenth century played the role of the diligent critic and unwittingly propagated the views of their opponents that materialism can be said to have penetrated into the very mainstream of the German Enlightenment. Rather, as I will argue, there was a striking degr...
Keywords materialism  Wolff  Pietism
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2016.1154007
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