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Lange, Friedrich Albert (1828–75)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC048-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2021
Retrieved July 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

The German philosopher Friedrich Albert Lange was a pivotal figure in the nineteenth century, due to the publication of the extremely influential History of Materialism (1866). In his book, Lange proposed a compelling reconstruction of the development of materialism, from ancient Greece to the modern Materialismusstreit (controversy on materialism), which revolved around the possibility to reduce mental activity to physiological processes. Despite acknowledging the merits of materialism for the advancement of science and the overcoming of metaphysics, Lange championed a recovery of Kant’s theory of knowledge, where the transcendental forms were to be established on the physiological organisation of human beings, although not being reducible to it. Thus, Lange became one of the main representatives of the physiological Neo-Kantianism that was typical of the mid-nineteenth century, and a point of reference for later Neo-Kantians of Marburg and Baden Schools.

Lange was also a political activist and theorist, who wanted to improve the condition of the working class by pursuing a socialist policy that differed both from democratic liberalism and the then rising Marxism. While he held that the former was not sincerely in the interest of the working class, he rejected the latter, believing that only constant progress, rather than revolutions, could obtain real improvements. Moreover, he was wary of Marx’s Hegelianism, preferring to establish his political ideas on scientific knowledge, such as Darwinism and Malthusianism.

Citing this article:
Russo Krauss, Chiara. Lange, Friedrich Albert (1828–75), 2021, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC048-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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