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CHRISTIAN WOLFF (1679–1754)
 
cover for Wolff's Ontology
FIRST PHILOSOPHY, OR ONTOLOGY
TREATED ACCORDING TO THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD,
CONTAINING THE PRINCIPLES OF ALL HUMAN COGNITION
(1730)
PART 1: §§1–78
Translated, annotated, and with an introduction
by KLAUS OTTMANN
Paperback original, 120 pages, $22
ISBN: 978-0-88214-968-4
Kindle e-book edition, $9.99
ISBN: 978-0-88214-969-1

Available in July 2022
The first English translation of Part 1 of Christian Wolff’s Ontology (1730). Considered one of the seminal thinkers of the German Enlightenment—a group that included Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Moses Mendelssohn, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, and Immanuel Kant—Wolff exerted his influence on the German Enlightenment through his development of a rationalist system of knowledge in which all the propositions of science are demonstrated from first principles. By grounding metaphysics in mathematics, detangling it from the Scholastics’ focus on the supernatural (that which is beyond the physical), and making ontology the first philosophy—elevating it above metaphysics as a science that subsumes metaphysics (i.e., natural theology) as well as psychology and cosmology—he took the first significant steps towards a Philosophy of Enlightenment.
Antiquity knew of nothing more superior than philosophy, which has been given to the human race by the immortal God, yet philosophy is still awaiting a correcting hand so that mortals may perceive its splendid fruits. I have placed this considerable burden on my shoulders and, through the persistent effort and work of many years, have endeavored to meet this challenge as much as possible. Just as Euclid early on brought the principles of the mathematical sciences into a system so that its unshakable truth could be revealed, so I, following his example, have brought together the first principles of all human knowledge … in a similar system, whose the manifold and perhaps unexpected uses I shall demonstrate later.
—Christian Wolff, from the Dedication to the Ontology.