Franz Xaver von Baader

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Franz Xaver von Baader

Franz von Baader (27 March 1765 – 23 May 1841), born Benedikt Franz Xaver Baader, was a German Catholic philosopher, theologian, physician and mining engineer. Resisting the empiricism of his day, he denounced most Western philosophy since Descartes as trending into atheism and has been considered a revival of the Scholastic school. He was one of the most influential theologians of his age but his influence on subsequent philosophy has been less marked. Today he is thought to have re-introduced theological engagement with Meister Eckhart into academia and even Christianity and Theosophy more generally. [1]

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term “philosopher” comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning “lover of wisdom.” The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.

Theology Study of the nature of deities and religious belief

Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine, and more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also especially with epistemology, and asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.

Physician professional who practices medicine

A physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practises medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. Physicians may focus their practice on certain disease categories, types of patients, and methods of treatment—known as specialities—or they may assume responsibility for the provision of continuing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities—known as general practice. Medical practice properly requires both a detailed knowledge of the academic disciplines, such as anatomy and physiology, underlying diseases and their treatment—the science of medicine—and also a decent competence in its applied practice—the art or craft of medicine.



Benedikt Franz Xaver Baader [2] was born in Munich, Bavaria, on 27 March 1765. [3] He was the third son of Joseph Franz von Paula Baader [lower-alph 1] (15 September 1733 - 16 February 1794) and Maria Dorothea Rosalia von Schöpf (25 October 1742 - 5 February 1829), [4] [5] [lower-alph 2] who were married on 23 May 1761. In 1775, Franz's father Joseph became the court physician of Maximilian III Joseph, [6] the elector of Bavaria. (The elector died two years later.) Franz' two older brothers were both distinguished men. His brother Clemens Alois Andreas Baader [lower-alph 3] (8 April 1762 - 23 March 1838) was an author, and his brother Joseph Anton Ignaz Baader (30 September 1763 - 20 November 1835) was an engineer. [7] Franz studied medicine at Ingolstadt and Vienna, and for a short time assisted his father in his medical practice. [3] However, Franz soon discovered that life as a physician did not suit him, and he decided to become a mining engineer instead. [3] He studied under Abraham Gottlob Werner at Freiberg, travelled through several of the mining districts in north Germany, and resided in England from 1792 to 1796. [3]

Munich Capital and most populous city of Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Electorate of Bavaria

The Electorate of Bavaria was an independent hereditary electorate of the Holy Roman Empire from 1623 to 1806, when it was succeeded by the Kingdom of Bavaria.

Engineer Professional practitioner of engineering and its sub classes

Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are professionals who invent, design, analyze, build, and test machines, systems, structures and materials to fulfill objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost. The word engineer is derived from the Latin words ingeniare and ingenium ("cleverness"). The foundational qualifications of an engineer typically include a four-year bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline, or in some jurisdictions, a master's degree in an engineering discipline plus four to six years of peer-reviewed professional practice and passage of engineering board examinations.

In England, Franz von Baader became acquainted with the empiricism of David Hume, David Hartley, and William Godwin, which was extremely distasteful to him. [3] But he also came into contact with the mystical speculations of Meister Eckhart, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, and above all those of Jakob Böhme, which were more to his liking. [3] In 1796, he returned to Germany and, in Hamburg, became acquainted with F. H. Jacobi, with whom he became close friends. [3] He also came into contact with Friedrich Schelling, and the works he published during this period were manifestly influenced by that philosopher. Yet Baader is no disciple of Schelling, and he probably gave more than he received. [3] [lower-alph 4] Their friendship continued till about the year 1822, when Baader's denunciation of modern philosophy in his letter to the tsar Alexander entirely alienated Schelling. [9]

Empiricism theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience

In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. It is one of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empiricism emphasises the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, rather than innate ideas or traditions. However, empiricists may argue that traditions arise due to relations of previous sense experiences.

David Hume Scottish philosopher, economist, and historian

David Hume was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, scepticism, and naturalism. Hume's empiricist approach to philosophy places him with John Locke, George Berkeley, Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes as a British Empiricist. Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1738), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic science of man that examined the psychological basis of human nature. Against philosophical rationalists, Hume held that passion rather than reason governs human behaviour. Hume argued against the existence of innate ideas, positing that all human knowledge is founded solely in experience.

David Hartley (philosopher) British philosopher

David Hartley was an English philosopher and founder of the Associationist school of psychology.

All this time, Baader continued to apply himself to his profession. [10] He gained a prize of 12,000 gulden (≈117  kg silver) for his new method of employing sodium sulfate instead of potash in the making of glass. [10] From 1817 to 1820, he held the post of superintendent of mines and was raised to the rank of nobility for his services. [10] He retired in 1820, and thereafter published one of the best of his works, Fermenta Cognitionis in 6 parts from 1822 to 1825. [10] In it, he combats modern philosophy and recommends the study of Böhme. [10] In 1826, when the new university was opened in Munich, he was appointed professor of philosophy and speculative theology. [10] He published some of his lectures there in 4 parts from 1827 to 1836 under the title Spekulative Dogmatik. [10] In 1838, he publicly opposed the interference of the Roman Catholic Church in civil matters and, in consequence, was interdicted from lecturing on the philosophy of religion during the last three years of his life. [10] He died on 23 May 1841. [10] He is buried in the Alter Südfriedhof in Munich.

Bavarian gulden currency of Bavaria until 1873

The Gulden was the currency of Bavaria until 1873. Between 1754 and 1837 it was a unit of account, worth ​512 of a Conventionsthaler, used to denominate banknotes but not issued as a coin. The Gulden was worth 50 Conventionskreuzer or 60 Kreuzer Landmünze.

Kilogram SI unit of mass

The kilogram or kilogramme is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units (SI). Since 20 May 2019, it has been defined in terms of fundamental physical constants. Prior to 20 May 2019, it was defined by a platinum alloy cylinder, the International Prototype Kilogram, manufactured in 1889, and carefully stored in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris.

Silver Chemical element with atomic number 47

Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity of any metal. The metal is found in the Earth's crust in the pure, free elemental form, as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining.


It is difficult to summarize Baader's philosophy, for he expressed his deepest thoughts in obscure aphorisms or mystical symbols and analogies. [10] [11] His doctrines are mostly expounded in short detached essays, in comments on the writings of Böhme and St-Martin, or in his extensive correspondence and journals. [12] However, there are salient points which mark the outline of his thought. Baader starts from the position that human reason by itself can never reach the end it aims at and maintains that we cannot throw aside the presuppositions of faith, church, and tradition. His point of view may be described as Scholasticism, since like the Scholastics he believed that theology and philosophy are not opposed but that reason has to make clear the truths given by authority and revelation. [10] In his attempts to draw the realms of faith and knowledge still closer, however, he approaches the mysticism of Meister Eckhart, Paracelsus, and Böhme. [10] Our existence depends upon God's cognition of us. [12] [lower-alph 5] All self-consciousness is at the same time God-consciousness, and all knowledge is knowing with, consciousness of, or participation in God. [10]

An aphorism is a concise, terse, laconic, and/or memorable expression of a general truth or principle. They are often handed down by tradition from generation to generation. The concept is distinct from those of an adage, brocard, chiasmus, epigram, maxim, principle, proverb, and saying; some of these concepts are species of aphorism.


Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and a departure from Christian theology within the monastic schools at the earliest European universities. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of the 12th and 13th century schools that developed into the earliest modern universities, including those in Italy, France, Spain and England.

Meister Eckhart German theologian

Eckhart von Hochheim, commonly known as Meister Eckhart or Eckehart, was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic, born near Gotha, in the Landgraviate of Thuringia in the Holy Roman Empire.


Baader's philosophy is thus essentially a form of theosophy. [10] God is not to be conceived as mere abstract Being (Latin : substantia) but as the primary Will at the basis of all things and an everlasting process or activity (actus). [10] This process functions as a self-generation of God, in which we may distinguish two aspects—the immanent or esoteric and the eminent or exoteric. [10] Only insofar as the "primitive will" thinks or is conscious of itself can it distinguish knower and known, producer and produced, from which proceeds the power to become spirit. [10] God has His reality only insofar as He is absolute spirit. [10] The Trinity (called Ternar in Baader) is not a given but is rendered possible, is mirrored in, and takes place through the eternal and impersonal idea or wisdom of God, which exists beside through not distinct from the "primitive will". [10] Personality and concrete reality is given to separate aspects of this Trinity through nature, which is eternally and necessarily produced by God. [10] These aspects of existence do not occur successively within time but occur sub specie aeternitatis as necessary elements of the self-evolution of divine Being. [10] Its "nature" is not to be confused with the nature of Creation, which is an unnecessary, free, and non-temporal act of God's love and will which cannot be speculatively deduced but must be accepted as a historic fact. [10]

Will, generally, is that faculty of the mind which selects, at the moment of decision, a desire from among the various desires present. Will does not refer to any particular desire, but rather to the mechanism for choosing from among one's desires. Within philosophy the will is important as one of the distinct parts of the mind - along with reason and understanding. It is considered central to the field of ethics because of its role in enabling deliberate action.

Sub specie aeternitatis, is, from Baruch Spinoza onwards, an honorific expression describing what is universally and eternally true, without any reference to or dependence upon the temporal portions of reality.

Nature Universe events since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago

Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, or material world or universe. "Nature" can refer to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. The study of nature is a large, if not the only, part of science. Although humans are part of nature, human activity is often understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena.

Created beings were originally of three orders: the intelligent or angels; the non-intelligent material world; and man, who mediated between them. [10] Angels and man were endowed with freedom. The Fall of Adam and Lucifer were historic facts which were possible, though not necessary. [10] Baader considered the angels to have fallen through a desire to ascend to equality with God (i.e., pride) and man through permitting himself to sink to the level of nature (via the various bodily sins). [10] Baader considered that the world as we know it—with time, space, and matter—only began after the fall of mankind and was created as a gift from God permitting humanity the opportunity for redemption. [10] Baader developed theories of physiology and anthropology over a number of works based upon this understanding of the universe, but in the main coincides with the ideas of Böhme. [10] Principally, he traces the adverse effects of various sins and advocates the restoration of natural harmonies by its removal. [10]

His system of ethics rejects the idea that obedience to moral laws alone (as in Kantianism) is enough. Instead, though humanity has lost the ability to accomplish this on its own, it is necessary to realize and participate in our place in the divine order. [10] As grace is required for such a realization, no ethical theory neglecting sin and redemption is satisfactory or even possible. [10] Mere works are never sufficient, but Christ's healing virtue must be received, chiefly through prayer and the sacraments of the church. [13]

Baader was regarded as among the greatest speculative theologians of 19th-century Catholicism and influenced, among others, Richard Rothe, Julius Müller, and Hans Lassen Martensen. [14]


Baader argued that two things were requisite in the state: common submission to the ruler (without which there would be civil war or invasion) and inequality of rank (without which there would be no organization). [14] As Baader considered God alone to be the true ruler of mankind, he argued that loyalty to a government can only be secured or given when it was truly Christian; [14] he opposed despotism, socialism, liberalism equally. [14] His idea state was a civil community ruled by the Catholic Church, whose principles opposed both passive and irrational pietism and the excessively rational doctrines of Protestantism. [14]

Gender issues

One of Baader's central ideas is his concept of androgyny:

The Androgyne is the harmonious fusion of the sexes, resulting in a certain asexuality, a synthesis which creates an entirely new being, and which does not merely juxtapose the two sexes 'in an enflamed opposition' as the hermaphrodite does.

Following the literal wording of the first of Genesis's two accounts of the creation of man, Baader says that Man was originally an androgynous being. Neither man nor woman is the "image and likeness of God" but only the androgyne. Both sexes are equally fallen from the original divinity of the androgyne. Androgynism is man's likeness to God, his supernatural upsurge. Hence it follows that sexes must cease and vanish. From these positions Baader interpreted the sacrament of marriage as a symbolic restitution of angelic bisexuality:

The secret and the sacrament of true love in the indissoluble bond of the two lovers, consists in each helping the other, each in himself, towards the restoration of the androgyne, the pure and whole humanity.

Ultimately Christ's sacrifice will make possible a restoration of the primal androgyny. Baader believed that primordial androgyny would return as the world neared its end. [15]


Several years after his death, Baader's works were collected and edited by a number of his disciples. This was published in 16 volumes at Leipzig between 1851 and 1860, organized by topic. [16] Vol. I dealt with epistemology, Vol. II with metaphysics, Vol. III with natural philosophy, Vol. IV with anthropology, Vols. V & VI with social philosophy, Vols. VII through X with philosophy of religion, Vol. XI with Baader's diaries, Vol. XII with his commentaries on St-Martin, Vol. XIII with his commentaries on Böhme, Vol. XIV with time, and Vol. XV with his biography and correspondence. [16] Vol. XVI contained an index to the others, as well as an able sketch of his system by Lutterbeck. [14] Valuable introductions by the editors are prefixed to the several volumes. [14]


  1. His first name is spelled "Josef" in some records.[ citation needed ]
  2. In some records her middle name is spelled "Rosalie." Also, in some records her last name is spelled "von Schöpff". She was a daughter of Johann Adam von Schöpf (1702 – 10 January 1772).[ citation needed ]
  3. In some records, Clemens's middle name is spelled "Aloys" or "Aloysius".[ citation needed ]
  4. On Baader's influence on and friendship with Schelling and the reasons for their eventual break with one another, see Zovko. [8]
  5. In Latin: cogitor ergo cogito et sum. ("I am thought of, therefore I think and am.") [12] See also Descartes's cogito ergo sum .
  1. Josephson-Storm, Jason (2017). The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 189. ISBN   0-226-40336-X.
  2. Abashnik 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Adamson 1878, p. 173.
  4. Hoffman 1857, pp. 1–3.
  5. Grassl 1953, pp. 474.
  6. Hoffman 1857, p. 3.
  7. Hoffman 1857, pp. 4–5.
  8. Zovko 1996, pp. 86–139, 191–269, 270–312.
  9. Adamson 1878, pp. 173–174.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Adamson 1878, p. 174.
  11. Zeller, Eduard, Ges. d. deut. Phil. (in German), pp. 732, 736
  12. 1 2 3 Giles 1911, p. 88.
  13. Adamson 1878, pp. 174–175.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Adamson 1878, p. 175.
  15. Dynes 1990, p. 57.
  16. 1 2 Hoffman 1851–1860.

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