Garve, Christian (1742–1798)

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Christian Garve, the German "popular philosopher," was born in Breslau. After studying at Frankfurt an der Oder, Halle, and Leipzig, he became extraordinary professor of philosophy at Leipzig in 1770, but in 1772 he resigned on account of ill health and moved to Breslau. In 1779 Frederick II called him to Charlottenburg, where he remained until his death.

Garve's interests were mainly in practical morality and empirical psychology. He sought useful knowledge and was averse to abstract speculation. He drew inspiration from Duc François de La Rochefoucauld and Claude-Adrien Helvétius, and especially from the British moralists. His translations of Adam Ferguson, Edmund Burke, Alexander Gerard, Adam Smith, and other British authors were important in popularizing British moral philosophy and aesthetics in Germany. He also translated and commented on the moral and political works of Aristotle and Cicero.

In his own writings Garve studied the individual characteristics and inclinations of different men, and their interrelation in society. He explained their differences by a difference in the degree of clarity and vividness of the ideas they possessed. Interestthe participation of an individual in the feelings, ideas, and actions of anotherwas a central notion in his psychology. It was derived from the "benevolence" and "sympathy" then current in British thought. In Garve's works psychology, sociology, and ethics were interwoven. His goal was that of a social psychologist, moralist, and educator. Immanuel Kant drew from Garve some elements of his moral and religious philosophy.


works by garve

Über die Verbindung der Moral mit der Politik. Breslau, 1788.

Über verschiedene Gegenstände aus der Moral, Literatur und dem gesellschaftlichen Leben, 5 vols. Breslau, 1792.

Vermischte Aufsätze. 2 vols. Breslau, 17961800.

Über Gesellschaft und Einsamkeit. 2 vols. Breslau, 17971800.

Übersicht der vornehmsten Principien der Sittenlehre. Breslau, 1798.

Einige Betrachtungen über die allgemeinen Grundsätze der Sittenlehre. Breslau, 1798.

Sammlung einiger Abhandlungen. 2 vols. Breslau, 1802.

works on garve

Manso, S. J. C. Chr. Garve in seinem schriftstellerischen Charakter. Breslau, 1799.

Müller, P. Christian Garves Moralphilosophie und seine Stellungnahme zu Kants Ethik. Erlangen, 1905.

Schelle, G. G. Briefe über Garves Schriften und Philosophie. Leipzig, 1800.

Stern, A. Ueber die Beziehungen Christian Garves zu Kant. Leipzig, 1884.

Van Der Zande, Johan. "The Microscope of Experience: Christian Garve's Translation of Cicero's De Officiis (1783)." Journal of the History of Ideas 59 (1) (1998): 7594.

Giorgio Tonelli (1967)

Bibliography updated by Tamra Frei (2005)