Friedrich Paulsen, an Autobiography

Friedrich Paulsen, an Autobiography

Friedrich Paulsen, an Autobiography

Friedrich Paulsen, an Autobiography

Excerpt

This is a fascinating book. Rarely indeed has anyone of Professor Paulsen's outstanding intellectual importance and influence ever recorded in so intimate and so precise a fashion the story of the development of his intellectual life through childhood, adolescence and early manhood, until that life gained the content and took on the form which characterized it in its riper years. In these pages one may read the stumblings, the gropings, of the child and the wanderings of the youth, as one personality and one influence after another played upon his mind and character.

From humble beginnings in the truly democratic society of what was then far-off Frisia, subject to personal, religious and educational influences of the simplest kind, Friedrich Paulsen steadily grew to the stature which has given him his permanent place in the history of the intellectual life of the German people. Through several years of his youth and early manhood, Paulsen was plainly at sea and uncertain as to what was to become his dominant intellectual interest or the character of his career. Starting his university life at Erlangen as a student of theology, he soon lost interest in that objective and was led by a series of powerful influences to turn toward the study of philosophy. It was not philosophy in any technical or narrow sense which appealed to his interest and his intellectual labor, but philosophy in the fullest and deepest sense, by which is meant an understanding of the life of man and its interpretation in terms of sound and well-established underlying principles of thought and action. Philosophy as a reasoned and reasonable mode of life was what appealed to Paulsen and eventually shaped his remarkable career and gave him his equally remarkable influence.

It is not often that a scholar can point with definiteness to the personality or the book which has guided or altered his mode of thinking. Paulsen is able to do precisely this. He names one after another of the great university scholars of the marvelous Germany . . .

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