BENEKE Friedrich Eduard—philosopher and psychologist, b. February 17, 1798 in Berlin, d. March 1, 1854 in Berlin.
Beneke studied theology and philosophy in Halle and Berlin. He completed his habilitation at the University of Berlin in 1820 and lectured philosophy there. After publishing Grundlegung zur Physik der Sitten (B 1821) his right to teach was taken away on account of his empiricist and relativist position in ethics. From 1824 to 1827 he lectured at the University of Göttingen and then once more at the University of Berlin, where in 1832 he became a professor. His influence in Germany was primarily as a teacher.
Besides Grundlegung zur Physik der Sitten he published the following works: Erfahrungseelenlehre als Grundlage aller Wissens in ihren Hauptzügen dargestellt (B 1820, A 1965); Erkenntnislehre nach dem Bewusstsein der reinen Vernunft (Je 1820); Psychologische Skizzen (Gö 1825–1827); Das Verhältnis von Seele und Leib (Gö 1826, A 1965); Kant und die philosophische Aufgabe unserer Zeit (B 1832); Lehrbuch der Psychologie als Naturwissenschaft (B 1833, A 1964)—Beneke’s greatest systematic work; Erziehungs- und Unterrichtslehre (I–II, B 1835–1836); Syllogismorum analyticorum origines et ordinem naturalem (B 1839); Metaphysik und Philosophie der Religion (B 1840); System der Logik als Kundstlehre des Denkens (B 1842); Die neue Psychologie (B 1845)—Beneke’s philosophical testament.
He was an adherent of empiricism and supported relativism. He was influenced by I. Kant, F. H. Jakobi, F. E. D. Schleiermacher, J. F. Herbart, J. F. Fries, and John Locke and the British empiricists. He influenced G. T. Fechner, H. Lotz, E. von Hartmann, and W. Wundt; he opposed G. W. F. Hegel and German idealism. He made psychology, which he practised according to his own interpretation of the method of natural science (observation and induction), limiting the method to internal perception (introspection), into the foundation of philosophy as a whole (psychologism). Under philosophy he included logic, metaphysics, the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of law, ethics, and pedagogy. He treated these as particular types of psychology; psychology was the science of the soul, without the soul. Following Locke he held that the soul has no innate ideas, and following Herbart he held that it possesses no faculties; one may only discover predispositions and drives that when harmonized constitute the self (associationism). He regarded psychological phenomena as knowable, while logic and the other sciences should help in realizing the processes of internal experience. In metaphysics he discussed epistemological problems and combined the criticism of Kant with empiricism. In the philosophy of religion he was a theist and a fideist; he stated that truths concerning the existence of God and the immortality of the soul have no rational foundation, but are accessible only to faith. He reduced religiosity to a religious experience. He made a radical distinction between knowledge and faith. He reduced the experience of morality to a moral feeling that replaced Kant’s moral imperative; hence his moral relativism and pragmatism in pedagogy.
A/ Wandschneider, Die Metaphysik B., B 1903; V. Gargano, L’etica di B., Catania 1912; A. Kempen, B. Religionsphilosophie, Mr 1914; Ueberweg IV 186–197, 694–695; Copleston HPh VII 258–259.