Carus, Carl Gustav (1789–1869)
CARUS, CARL GUSTAV
Carl Gustav Carus, a German physician, biologist, and philosopher, was born in Leipzig and studied chemistry and then medicine at the University of Leipzig. In 1811 he became the first person to lecture there on comparative anatomy. Two years later he became director of the military hospital at Pfaffendorf and, in 1814, professor of medicine at the medical college of the University of Dresden, where he remained to the end of his life. He was appointed royal physician in 1827 and privy councilor in 1862.
Carus was widely known for his work in physiology, psychology, and philosophy, and was one of the first to do experimental work in comparative osteology, insect anatomy, and zootomy. He is also remembered as a landscape painter and art critic. He was influenced by Aristotle, Plato, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, about whom Carus wrote several works, the most important of which is Goethe dessen seine Bedeutung für unsere und die kommende Zeit (Vienna, 1863). Carus's philosophical writings were more or less forgotten until the German philosopher and psychologist, Ludwig Klages, resurrected them.
Carus's philosophy was essentially Aristotelian in that it followed the unfolding or elaboration of an idea in experience from an unorganized multiplicity to an organized unity. This universal, unfolding unity or developing multiplicity within unity Carus called God. God, or the Divine, is not a being analogous to human intelligence; rather, it is the ground of being revealed through becoming, through the infinitely numerous and infinitely varying beings or organisms that come into being through the Divine in space and time.
Carus called his theory of a divine or creative force "entheism." The unknown Divine is revealed in nature through organization, structure, and organic unity. As the ground of being, it is outside space and time, unchanging, and eternal. As thought or insight, it is the God-idea of religion, found everywhere in life and the cosmos. As life, it is the sphere, the basic form taken by living cells and the heavenly stars. As matter, it is the ether exfoliating in infinitely varied things.
According to Carus, the body cannot be separated from the soul. Both are soul, but we speak of "body" when some unknown part of the soul affects the known part; and we speak of "soul" when the known part affects the unknown part.
Carus's metaphysics, and his important contribution to psychology, is a theory of movement from unconsciousness to consciousness and back again. Whatever understanding we can have of life and the human spirit hinges upon observation of how universal unconsciousness, the unknown Divine, becomes conscious. Universal unconsciousness is not teleological in itself; it achieves purpose only as it becomes conscious through conscious individuals. Consciousness is not more permanent than things; it is a moment between past and future. As a moment, it can maintain itself only through sleep or a return to the unknown.
principal works by carus
Psyche: zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Seele. Pforzheim, 1846; 3rd ed., Stuttgart, 1860.
Physis: zur Geschichte des leiblichen Lebens. Stuttgart: Scheitlin, 1851.
Symbolik der menschlichen Gestalt. Leipzig, 1853.
Natur und Idee. Vienna: W. Braumüller, 1861.
Lebenserinnerungen und Denkwürdigkeiten, 4 vols. Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1865–1866.
Vergleichende Psychologie. Vienna: W. Braumüller, 1866.
works on carus
Bernouilli, Christoph. Die Psychologie von Carl Gustav Carus. Jena, Germany: E. Diederichs, 1925.
Kern, Hans. Carus: Personlichkeit und Werk. Berlin, 1942.
Rubin Gotesky (1967)
"Carus, Carl Gustav (1789–1869)." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carus-carl-gustav-1789-1869
"Carus, Carl Gustav (1789–1869)." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Retrieved December 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carus-carl-gustav-1789-1869
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.