Year of creation

Eclecticism was a trend in ancient Greek philosophy of the Hellenistic era, in the 2nd century BCE, which is characterized by combinations of elements of various philosophical systems and a tendency to level the differences between teachings and schools.

This term was introduced into use by the Alexandrian philosopher of the II century Potamon, whom Diogenes Laertius mentions at the end of his introduction to the treatise “On the life, teachings and sayings of famous philosophers”

Eclecticism was widespread in the schools of Epicureans, Stoics, academics, peripatetics, cynics.

Media about the teaching

Eclecticism is actively covered on the pages of peer-reviewed scientific and philosophical journals and religious press published on all five continents.

Territorial coverage

The European continent

Number of followers

The exact number is unknown

The eclectic trend, approaching syncretism, that is, the union of heterogeneous systems, marks the decline of philosophical creativity and appears in history, usually after a certain principle loses its power and dominant position in the minds of people. After Plato and Aristotle, eclecticism gradually spread until, finally, it received universal recognition in Alexandrian philosophy. The same is seen in the philosophy of Christian Wolff in relation to the philosophy of Leibniz. In the XIX century, the eclecticists were Victor Cousin and Theodore Simone Jouffroy, who tried to combine the principles of German idealism with the beginnings of English empiricism.

The criterion for determining the truth of the principles that they try to combine is usually “common sense”. Although such a trend in philosophy does not stand up to criticism, this does not mean that every eclecticism should be condemned. Every system must take into account firmly established facts and true propositions, no matter what philosophical school they belong to. This was well expressed by Leibniz, who argued that “all systems of philosophy are right in what they assert, being wrong only about what they deny.” Expressing the desire to reckon with all possible directions and find the grain of truth in them through criticism, eclecticism, therefore, can denote the requirement of breadth of outlook in the justification of its own system.

Potamon (I century CE) is one of the last significant philosophers of the Hellenistic era, a representative of eclecticism.

Christian von Wolff (1679-1754) was an outstanding German encyclopedist, philosopher, lawyer and mathematician, one of the most notable philosophers in the period after Leibniz and Kant.

A follower of Leibniz. He refined Leibniz’s philosophy to the level of a rationalistic schematic doctrine, created a complete formal philosophy of common sense based on ideas about the mind.

Wolf considers his philosophy as a means of achieving universal bliss on the basis of the harmony he saw, which lies at the original basis of the existence of all creatures. Believing that the harmony of the world is in a completely powerful being (God) who creates the world, guided by logical principles, Wolf develops the concept of a system of knowledge. This theological principle is the basis of the system. Wolf distinguishes physical knowledge – about “simple substances”; the movement and spatial relations of bodies, explained by mechanical forces, are considered as ways to establish harmony. There is also the science of “pneumatology” – about the activity of spirits, mathematics – about the causes of things, ethics, law, politics – about freedom as a property of the soul, philosophy – about the connection of all spiritual and bodily entities.

Engaged in the systematic formalization and coordination of knowledge accumulated by philosophy, consistently defining concepts that should not deny each other, Wolf develops the principles of axiomatic construction of scientific theory. These principles became a noticeable impetus for the development of natural science in the XVIII century.

Victor Cousin (1792 – 1867) was a French philosopher, historian and politician, a student of Men de Biran and Royer-Collard, the creator of the doctrines of eclecticism and spiritualism, professor at the Sorbonne, a member of the French Academy, in 1840 the Minister of Public Education of France.

Theodore Simon Jouffroy (1796 – 1842) was a French spiritualist philosopher, writer and politician, professor at the Sorbonne and the College de France, a student of V. Cousin.

In philosophy, Jouffroy was a follower of V. Cousin, one of the founders of French spiritualism; the formation of his views was also influenced by the teachings of I. Kant, Maine de Biran and P. P. Royer-Collard. Following Pierre Laromiguiere and Maine de Biran, Jouffroy criticized the sensualistic ideas of Condillac and the French “ideologues”.

One of the sources of his teaching was also the Scottish philosophy of “common sense”, the works of the founders of which, T. Reed and D. Stewart, he translated into French. The philosophy of Theodore Simon Jouffroy understood as the science of man; he considered self-observation to be the main method of philosophy, and attached the key importance to psychology in it. The main question that occupied the philosopher was the question of the difference between the soul and the body and the difference between the psychological and physiological point of view of a person. According to Jouffroy, the existence of the soul is proved by internal experience, and the existence of matter is proved by external experience. The world is a combination of two opposing and opposing principles. “Matter is disturbed in its inertia by the activity of force; force is constrained in its development by the inertia of matter… The world is nothing but a struggle between these two principles”




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