Lotze, Rudolf Hermann

Lotze, Rudolf Hermann

Lotze, Rudolf Hermann (ro͞oˈdôlf hĕrˈmän lōˈtsə), 1817–81, German philosopher and psychologist. After studying medicine and philosophy at Leipzig, he was lecturer in both departments and professor after 1842. He succeeded Herbart as professor at Göttingen (1844–81) and in 1881 was appointed professor at Berlin. Among his works, which include medical and biological discussions, are Allgemeine Physiologie des körperlichen Lebens (1851), Medizinische Psychologie oder Physiologie der Seele (1852), and Mikrokosmus (1856–64, tr. 1885). The first parts of his projected, though never completed, System der Philosophie appeared as Logik (1874, tr. 1884) and Metaphysik (1879, tr. 1888). Lotze sought to reconcile the views of mechanistic science with the principles of romantic idealism. He started from the idea that all phenomena are determined by the interaction of atoms. He saw the atoms as centers of force operating in a matrix of a more basic substance. By analogy from the immediate knowledge of spiritual existence in the self, Lotze argued that the centers of force are stages of development within the underlying substance of the world mind. He held that being (Sein) is the proper domain of science and that metaphysical speculation, although it cannot add to scientific knowledge, has the important function of ordering it according to a value system (Geltung) that reflects an ethical ideal—an understanding not of what is but of what ought to be. His theory of space perception was an important contribution to philosophy.


See studies by E. E. Thomas (1921) and G. Santayana (new ed. 1971).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lotze, Rudolf Hermann


Born May 21, 1817, in Bautzen; died July 1, 1881, in Berlin. German philosopher, physician, and natural scientist.

Lotze was a professor of philosophy at the universities of Leipzig (from 1842), Göttingen (1844-81), and Berlin (1881). In his Medical Psychology (1852) and other specialized works on medicine and physiology, he defended certain tenets of mechanistic materialism, while criticizing vitalism. In his philosophical works, including Mikrokosmus (vols. 1-3, 1856-64; Russian translation, parts 1-3, 1866-67) and A System of Philosophy (1874-79), he developed ideas of objective idealism close to Leibnizian monadism. Lotze introduced the teleological concept of standards of meaning as a specific characteristic of the content of thought in cognition theory and logic; analogously, he introduced the concept of value in ethics.


Geschichte der Ästhetik in Deutschland. Munich, 1868.
Logik. Leipzig, 1912.
In Russian translation:
Osnovaniia prakticheskoi filosofii. St. Petersburg, 1882.
Osnovaniia psikhologii. St. Petersburg, 1884.


Mirtov, D. P. Uchenie Lome o dukhe chelovecheskom i dukhe absoliutnom. St. Petersburg, 1914.
Ambrosi, L. E. Lotze e la sua filosofia. Rome, 1912.
Wentscher, M. Lotze. Heidelberg, 1913.
Thomas, E. Lotze’s Theory of Reality. London, 1921.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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