Garve, Christian: Gesammelte Werke
Goethe in his autobiography summed up the opinion which his contemporaries held of the popular philosopher Christian Garve (124-1798): “And at this time [around 1770] even philosophers found it necessary, in order to achieve popularity, to write clearly and comprehensibly. Mendelssohn and Garve appeared upon the scene and aroused general interest and admiration.”
In his work Garve rejects the systematic and speculative thought of academic philosophy in favour of the observation of “human nature” and “ordinary life”. He turns towards the objective sphere of experience in its social context. Of course this brought him into disagreement with contemporary philosophy, for example countering Kant with his stated belief in eudaemonic ethics. Otherwise in tune with the intellectual trends of his time, he was in the forefront of the developing economic and social sciences, inspired by the English and Scottish social philosophers of the 18th century.
His writings, essays, commentaries and translations have only recently received their due recognition as an important and invaluable source for the study of the German Enlightenment. The new “Collected Works”, edited by the Bonn Professor Kurt Wölfel is the first almost entirely complete edition of Garve’s writings (translations without commentary and some reviews are not included).