Karl Christian Friedrich Krause

Karl Christian Friedrich Krause

Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (May 6, 1781September 27, 1832), was a German philosopher, born at Eisenberg, Thuringia.

Educated at first at Eisenberg, he proceeded to the nearby Jena, where he studied philosophy under Professor Friedrich W. Schelling, Hegel and Fichte and became "privatdozent" in 1802. In the same year, with characteristic imprudence, he married a wife without dowry. Two years after, lack of pupils compelled him to move to Rudolstadt and later to Dresden, where he gave lessons in music. In 1805 his ideal of a universal world-society led him to join the Freemasons, whose principles seemed to tend in the direction he desired.

He published two books on Freemasonry, "Die drei ältesten Kunsturkunden der Freimaurerbrüderschaft" and "Höhere Vergeistigung der echt überlieferten Grundsymbole der Freimaurerei in zwölf Logenvorträgen", but his opinions drew upon him the opposition of the Masons. He lived for a time in Berlin and became a "privatdozent", but was unable to obtain a professorship. He therefore proceeded to Göttingen where he taught Arthur Schopenhauer and afterwards to Munich, where he died of apoplexy at the very moment when the influence of Franz von Baader had at last obtained a position for him.

One of the so-called philosophers of identity, Krause endeavoured to reconcile the ideas of a God known by faith or conscience and the world as known to sense. God, intuitively known by conscience, is not a personality (which implies limitations), but an all-inclusive essence ("Wesen"), which contains the universe within itself. This system he called panentheism, a combination of theism and pantheism. His theory of the world and of humanity is universal and idealistic. In many ways following the general outline of Schelling's "Philosophy of Nature", he argued that the world itself and mankind, its highest component, constitute an organism ("Gliedbau"), and the universe is therefore a divine organism ("Wesengliedbau"). The process of development is the formation of higher unities, and the last stage is the identification of the world with God. The form which this development takes, according to Krause, is Right or the Perfect Law. Right is not the sum of the conditions of external liberty but of absolute liberty, and embraces all the existence of nature, reason and humanity. It is the mode, or rationale, of all progress from the lower to the highest unity or identification. By its operation the reality of nature and reason rises into the reality of humanity. God is the reality which transcends and includes both nature and humanity. Right is, therefore, at once the dynamic and the safeguard of progress. Ideal society results from the widening of the organic operation of this principle from the individual man to small groups of men, and finally to mankind as a whole. The differences disappear as the inherent identity of structure predominates in an ever-increasing degree, and in the final unity Man is merged in God.

The comparatively small area of Krause's influence was due partly to him being overshadowed by Schelling and Hegel, and partly to two intrinsic defects. The spirit of his thought is mystical and by no means easy to follow, and this difficulty is accentuated, even to German readers, by the use of artificial terminology. He makes use of Germanized foreign terms which are unintelligible to the ordinary man. His principal works are (beside those quoted above): "Entwurf des Systems der Philosophie" (1804); "System der Sittenlehre" (1810); "Das Urbild der Menschheit" (1811); and "Vorlesungen über das System der Philosophie" (1828). He left behind him at his death a mass of unpublished notes, part of which has been collected and published by his disciples, H Ahrens (1808-1874), Leonhardi, Tiberghien and others.

See H. S. Lindemann, "Uebersichtliche Darstellung des Lebens Krauses" (1839); P. Hohlfeld, "Die Krausesche Philosophie" (1879); A. Procksch, "Krause, ein Lebensbild nach seinen Briefen" (1880); Rudolf Eucken, "Zur Erinnerung an Krause" (1881); B. Martin, "Krauses Leben und Bedeutung" (1881), and Histories of Philosophy by Zeller, Windelband and Høffding.



econdary literature

*Rafael V. Orden, 1998. "El Sistema de la Filosofía de Krause. Génesis y desarrollo del panenteísmo". UPCo, Madrid (Spain). ISBN 84-89708-30-4.

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