Rudolf Lotze – German philosopher, psychologist and physiolog

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Rudolf Lotze

Rudolf Hermann Lotze
(21 May 1817, Bautzen, Germany -1 July 1881, Berlin)
Nationality: Germany
Category: Scientists
Occupation: Psychologists, Physiologists, Philosophers, Physicians
Specification: Empirical philosophy, Idealistic Monism.
Unique distinction: Founder of the metaphysical system: Theistic or Teleological Idealism,  in which he reconciled science with religion, reason with feeling, knowledge with value.

Gender: Male
Rudolf Lotze Quotes:
1. To do good to others and increase the sum of general happiness is the one task the fulfilment of which comprises all his moral obligation.
2. For all the laws of this mechanism are but the very will of the universal soul, nothing else than the condition for the realization of God.
3. …how advantageous for the heart the simultaneous overview of huge spaces is; what a pleasure the ability to review a multiplicity of different objects in their reciprocal positions, as if embedded in a secure mesh of relations, is.
4. Every person, every generation poses questions not just to the being in its reality in itself, but in connection with the sense and value, in which the being confronts them through life and history.
5. The constant whetting of the knife is tedious if it is not proposed to cut anything with it.
6. Without a light-sensing eye, and a sound-sensing ear, the whole world would be dark and silent. There would be in it just as little light or sound as there could be toothache without the pain-feeling nerve of the tooth.
7. All the processes in nature are only understandable through the continuant involvement of God; only this involvement arranges the transition of the interaction between different parts of the world.

Achievements and contributions:


Social and professional position: Rudolf Lotze was a German philosopher, psychologist and physiologist.
The main contribution to (what is known): He was a key figure in the philosophy of the 19 century as the main contributor to an anti-Hegelian objectivist movement. His ideas and revolutionary conception of metaphysics influenced practically all the leading philosophical schools of 20-the century. He also had a medical degree and his medical studies were pioneering works in scientific psychology.

Contributions to Philosophy:

1. Founded Theistic or Teleological Idealism, a metaphysical system, which attempted to reconcile science with religion, reason with feeling, knowledge with value, stated that the laws of nature were tools of a divine purpose or telos.
2. Introduced a distinction between the existence of things (Sein) and their significance (Bedeutung), he was the first who introduce the new concept of value (Geltung).
3. Promoted the “universal inner connection of all reality”, arguing that being (Sein) is the proper domain of science and metaphysical speculation ordering it according to values (Geltung).
4. Developed theory of space perception (conceptions of local signs).

Notable ideas:

Teleological idealism.
Teleomechanism.
Metaphysics has for its parts ontology, cosmology, and phenomenology.Hermann Lotze influenced practically all the leading philosophical schools of  20-the century: the neo-Kantians; Brentano and his school; The British idealists; William James’s pragmatism; Husserl’s phenomenology; Dilthey’s philosophy of life; Frege’s new logic; the early Cambridge analytic philosophy.
Lotze also published a volume of his Poetry (Lotze 1840).
Major works: Metaphysik (1841), Allgemeine Pathologie and Therapie als mechanische Naturwissenschaften (1842), Logik (1843), Allgemeine Physiologie des körperlichen Lebens (1851), Medizinische Psychologie oder Physiologie der Seele (1852), Mikrokosmos ( Bd. 1, 1856; Bd. 2, 1858; Bd. 3, 1864), Geschichte der Ästhetik in Deutschland. Münch (1868), System der Philosophie ( In two volumes: the Logik (1874), the Metaphysik (1879), Grundzüge der Psychologie (1881).

Career and personal life:


Origin: Rudolf Lotze was born in Bautzen (Saxony) on May 21, 1817, the third child of a military medical doctor. Two years later the family moved to nearby Zittau. Lotze’s father died in 1827 when Hermann was 12.
Education: He was educated at the grammar school of Zittau (Gymnasium) (1828 – 1834). In 1834 he attended the University of Leipzig as a student of medicine, philosophy and natural sciences.
Influenced by: Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Friedrich Herbart, Gustav Fechner, Ernst Weber.

Career highlights: 

In 1838 he gained the degree of doctor of medicine and four months after obtained the degree of doctor of philosophy.  In 1839 Lotze joined the University of Leipzig where he began to teach medicine as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Medicine (1839-1844).
In 1840 Lotze achieved dual degrees, based on post-doctoral dissertations (Habilitation), in medicine and philosophy.
He laid the foundation of his philosophical system in his first publications: Metaphysik (Leipzig, 1841) and Logik (1843), in which he charted his philosophical program.
In the year of his marriage, 1844, Lotze was appointed professor at the University of Göttingen. There he was named Herbart’s successor as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Göttingen (1844-1880).
Over the next ten years, Lotze worked on problems at the intersection of medicine and philosophy. In 1852 was published his Medical Psychology.
Between 1856 and 1864  were published 3 volumes of Microcosm.
In 1880 he accepted the offer conveyed by Zeller, to move to  Berlin, where he one year worked as a  Professor of Philosophy at the University of Berlin.

Personal life:

In 1839, Lotze became engaged to Ferdinande Hoffmann of Zittau (b. 1819), and they were married in 1844.  They had four sons.  Lotze was deeply attached to his wife, and her death in 1875 was a loss from which he never recovered.
He lives a sort of solitary life in the country where his home is, about half a mile from Göttingen, and is looked upon as unsociable. Lotze possessed an extraordinary ability for studying languages. Many of his papers were written in French,  in Latin and one in English.
He died on July 1, 1881, in Berlin of pneumonia and a cardiac defect that he had suffered from all his life.
He was succeeded in the Berlin Chair by Wilhelm Dilthey.
Lotze was buried beside his wife in Göttingen.
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