Harald Høffding

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Høffding, Harald


Born Mar. 11, 1843, in Copenhagen; died there July 2, 1931. Danish idealist philosopher and historian of philosophy.

From 1883 to 1915 Høffding was a professor at the University of Copenhagen. Under the influence of Hegel’s historicophilosophical method he attempted to analyze the relationship of philosophy to science and to compare, on the level of epistemology, the philosophers of different ages, though within the framework of Western Europe, viewing their doctrines as stages in the development of a single body of thought (History of Modern Philosophy, 1894-95). In the spirit of positivism he examined philosophical problems in their relation to scientific and cognitive ones and unsuccessfully tried to reconcile the principles of empiricism and positivism with the basic propositions of Kant’s critical philosophy (Human Thought: Its Forms and Its Problems, 1910).

Høffding held that the basic philosophical questions were problems of the nature of consciousness, of the verity of cognition, of the nature of being, and, finally, of axiology. In his studies in psychology he tried to combine introspectionist concepts with the ideas and methods of Darwinism in biology, and he considered consciousness to be the highest form of biological development. Although Høffding identified the cultural history of man as a special factor, psychologism was central to his outlook; he viewed psychology as the basis of logic, ethics, and other sciences connected with the study of man and ignored the dependence of conscious processes on social and historical experience. In studying personality, Høffding attributed great significance to the principle of psychological activity and therefore, of the three psychological elements—knowledge, feeling, and will—he regarded will as the most important. Høffding’s criticism of the view of consciousness as the sum total of independent elements—of sensations and ideas—had a positive effect on the history of psychology. To this view he counterposed the “law of relations,” according to which the qualities of a particular psychological element are determined by the totality of relations and connections of which the element is a part.


In Russian translation:
Ocherki psykhologii, osnovannoi na opyte. Moscow, 1896.
O printsipakh etiki. Odessa, 1898.
Psikhologicheskie osnovy logicheskikh suzhdenii. Moscow, 1908.
Filosofiia reiigii, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1912.
Filosofskie problemy. Moscow, 1905.


Iaroshevskii, M. G. Istoriia psikhologii. Moscow, 1966. Chapter 12.
Hansen, V. Harald Høffding som Religionsfilosof, og andre Karakteristiker. Copenhagen, 1923.
Holm, S. Filosofien i Norden efter 1900. Copenhagen, 1967.


References in periodicals archive ?
Anders Thyring Andersen's article, "The Dialogic and Religious Theme of Welfare in Harald Hoffding and the Authors around Heretica", shows how religious ways of understanding have been of crucial importance forth literary idiom and the theme of welfare in a Danish context.
Volume 5, the conclusive one, Il secondo ottocento, dealing with the second half of the nineteenth century in the whole of Europe, begins with portraits of the Germans Heinrich Christoph Wilhelm Sigwart, Johann Eduard Erdmann, Friedrich Karl Albert Schwegler, Rudolf Haym, Eduard Zeller, Kuno Fischer, Friedrich Ueberweg, Albert Stockl, Wilhelm Windelband, Wilhelm Dilthey, and the Dane Harald Hoffding by Claudio Cesa (pp.
And to what extent the significance of the Danish philosopher Harald Hoffding (1843-1931) has been disregarded.
The contribution of Harald Hoffding lies in continuation at the utilitarianism in Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-73), whose normative theories on ethics claim that the correct action ethically is the one that compared to the other options, produces the greatest amount of positive values.
To a great extent Harald Hoffding replaced the conceptions of utility and happiness with "the principle of welfare" : a specification of the yardstick that must be used when evaluating actions.
In a succeeding issue of Tilskueren Harald Hoffding put forward an objection in the form of the article "Demokratisk Radikalisme" (Democratic radicalism), in which he in the light of his principle of welfare rejects the philosophy of the superman --as great people according to the welfare-principle are tools for more extensive ends than themselves, namely what they are working for.
Harald Hoffding defines welfare as "den til sund og kraftig Livsvirksomhed knyttede Lystfolelse)" (the feeling of pleasure tied to healthy and vigorous activity of life) (Brandes/Hoffding 59), and the principle of welfare is defined as a democratic principle, as it has the universal good in mind: "velfoerdMollersprincippet er et demokratisk Princip, for saa vidt det forbyder at glemme de manges Lidelser over de faas Nydelser.
In other words, here Harald Hoffding is expressing a dialogic and democratic standpoint, a fellowship and an ideal concerning equality--and consequently a distinct philosophical basis for the later realization of the formation of the welfare state.
During the article, Harald Hoffding a few times points out the historical and religious preconditions for this mindset and perception.
In this way, Harald Hoffding attach the decisive importance to the role of Christianity in the development of the self-esteem, a value of even the most inferior human being, due to the significance that Christianity attribute to the soul and salvation of every single human being.
Indeed Harald Hoffding had his starting point in utilitarianism but he transcended it's more narrow principle of happiness, as the welfare-principle in the end does not identify the supreme good with the happiness of the individual, but considers the utmost purpose of being as the appearante of men of sterling characters, who have a feeling of happiness in working for the common good.
Harald Hoffding had an eye for that welfare-thinking has its origins in the concept of equality expressed in the commandment concerning charity in the evangelical accounts of Jesus Christ, which since as a consequence of the historical development of Christianity in a new way has marked human beings understanding of themselves, their relations to each other, and the way they organize their society.