Justus Möser

Last updated
Justus Moser Justus-moeser 1.jpg
Justus Möser

Justus Möser (December 14, 1720, Osnabrück January 8, 1794, Osnabrück) was a German jurist and social theorist, best known for his innovative history of Osnabrück which stressed social and cultural themes.



Having studied law at the universities of Jena and Göttingen, he settled in his native town as a lawyer and was soon appointed advocatus patriae (state attorney) by his fellow citizens. From 1762 to 1768 he was justiciarius (chief justice) of the criminal court in Osnabrück, and in 1768 was made Geheimer Referendar (privy councillor of justice). For 20 years, he was the legal adviser of the lay Protestant bishop of Osnabrück, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, a son of George III of the United Kingdom and of his Queen consort Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

In addition to being a statesman and administrator, Möser was also a publicist, historian, and social analyst. His history of Osnabrück (1768; 2nd ed. 1780; 3rd ed. 1819) was and remains highly regarded. In his Patriotische Phantasien (1775-1786; 2nd ed. by his daughter, IWJ von Voigts, 1804; new ed. by Reinhard Zöllner, 1871) he pleaded for a natural, organic development of the state in place of arbitrary laws imposed by the sovereign.

In his review of Justus Moser's economic views, Jerry Muller (1990) is careful to point out that Moser was likely a "precursor of modern conservatism" for his views on 18th Century capitalism would offend many a 21st Century conservative. Muller (1990) points out that "for Moser the expansion of the market was primarily a threat, ... in tandem, cameralism and capitalism threatened to erode the existing ... institutions which he so valued." Muller (1990) added more on this point: "New forms of capitalist economic organization ... have led to the disappearance of the link between ownership of property and civic responsibility. Men are so involved in acquisition ... that they no longer have time for political concerns and public life."

Thus Jerry Muller (2002) argues that Möser's views on the economic and political aspects of society contrast sharply with those of his much more renowned contemporary, Adam Smith, and anticipate some of the ideas of the German Historical School and the social market economy. In some ways, Möser can be seen as the German counterpart to Edmund Burke. Knudsen (1986) sees him as a man of the enlightenment who sought to understand the world around him. He only came to be seen as a man of the right after the French Revolution had pushed everything much further left.

Möser's Vermischte Schriften (1797–98, published by Nicolai with a biography) balances its insights into human nature with humour and witty sallies. He was also a poet of some repute, and in 1749 published a tragedy, Arminius. Möser also wrote short stories, at least one of which has been published in English, a witty letter from a lady to her Chaplain, on the terrors of idleness. [1] A statue of him by Drake was unveiled in Osnabrück in 1836.

His collected works in 10 volumes, Sämtliche Werke, were published by B.R. Abeken, 1842–1844. They are online in German at the Internet Archive. Johann Goethe was interested in his writings and included information about him in his own autobiography. [2]


Related Research Articles

Joseph Schumpeter Austrian economist

Joseph Alois Schumpeter was an Austrian political economist. He later emigrated to the US and, in 1939, he obtained American citizenship. He was born in Moravia, and briefly served as Finance Minister of German-Austria in 1919. In 1932, he became a professor at Harvard University where he remained until the end of his career.

Max Horkheimer German philosopher and sociologist

Max Horkheimer was a German philosopher and sociologist who was famous for his work in critical theory as a member of the 'Frankfurt School' of social research. Horkheimer addressed authoritarianism, militarism, economic disruption, environmental crisis, and the poverty of mass culture using the philosophy of history as a framework. This became the foundation of critical theory. His most important works include Eclipse of Reason (1947), Between Philosophy and Social Science (1930–1938) and, in collaboration with Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947). Through the Frankfurt School, Horkheimer planned, supported and made other significant works possible.

Osnabrück Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Osnabrück is a city in the federal state of Lower Saxony in north-west Germany. It is situated in a valley penned between the Wiehen Hills and the northern tip of the Teutoburg Forest. With a population of 168,145 Osnabrück is one of the four largest cities in Lower Saxony. The city is the centrepoint of the Osnabrück Land region as well as the District of Osnabrück.

Johann Joachim Winckelmann German art historian and archaeologist

Johann Joachim Winckelmann was a German art historian and archaeologist. He was a pioneering Hellenist who first articulated the difference between Greek, Greco-Roman and Roman art. "The prophet and founding hero of modern archaeology", Winckelmann was one of the founders of scientific archaeology and first applied the categories of style on a large, systematic basis to the history of art. Many consider him the father of the discipline of art history. He was one of the first to separate Greek Art into periods, and time classifications. His would be the decisive influence on the rise of the Neoclassical movement during the late 18th century. His writings influenced not only a new science of archaeology and art history but Western painting, sculpture, literature and even philosophy. Winckelmann's History of Ancient Art (1764) was one of the first books written in German to become a classic of European literature. His subsequent influence on Lessing, Herder, Goethe, Hölderlin, Heine, Nietzsche, George, and Spengler has been provocatively called "the Tyranny of Greece over Germany."

Johann Georg Hamann German philosopher

Johann Georg Hamann was a German Lutheran philosopher from Königsberg known as “the Wizard of the North” who was one of the leader figures of post Kantian philosophy. His work was used by his student J. G. Herder as the main support of the Sturm und Drang movement, and is associated with the Counter-Enlightenment and Romanticism.

Johann Gottfried Herder German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic

Johann GottfriedHerder was a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic. He is associated with the Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, and Weimar Classicism.

Werner Sombart German economist, sociologist, historian

Werner Sombart was a German economist and sociologist, the head of the "Youngest Historical School" and one of the leading Continental European social scientists during the first quarter of the 20th century. The term late capitalism is accredited to him. His magnum opus was Der moderne Kapitalismus. It was published in 3 volumes from 1902 through 1927. In Kapitalismus he described four stages in the development of capitalism from its earliest iteration as it evolved out of feudalism, which he called proto-capitalism to early, high and, finally, late capitalism —Spätkapitalismus— in the post World War I period.

The social market economy, also called Rhine capitalism or social capitalism, is a socioeconomic model combining a free market capitalist economic system alongside social policies that establish both fair competition within the market and a welfare state. It is sometimes classified as a coordinated market economy. The social market economy was originally promoted and implemented in West Germany by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1949. Its origins can be traced to the interwar Freiburg school of economic thought.

Bernhard Rudolf Abeken was a German philologist and literature historian.

Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz German writer

Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz was a Baltic German writer of the Sturm und Drang movement.

Johann Heinrich Jung German ophthalmologist, economist and author

Johann Heinrich Jung, better known by his assumed name Heinrich Stilling, was a German author.

Friedrich Drake German sculptor

Friedrich Drake was a German sculptor, best known for his huge memorial statues.

Sturm und Drang was a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music that occurred between the late 1760s and early 1780s. Within the movement, individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements. The period is named for Friedrich Maximilian Klinger's play of the same name, which was first performed by Abel Seyler's famed theatrical company in 1777.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 18th/19th-century German writer, artist, and politician

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His works include: four novels; epic and lyric poetry; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; and treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him have survived. He is considered the greatest German literary figure of the modern era.

<i>Dichtung und Wahrheit</i> autobiography

Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit is an autobiography by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that comprises the time from the poet's childhood to the days in 1775, when he was about to leave for Weimar.

Prince August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg German prince

Prince August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg was a German prince of the Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg line of the Ernestine Wettins and a patron of the arts during the Age of Enlightenment.

Thilo Marauhn is a German expert on international law. He currently holds the professorship for Public Law and International Law at the Justus Liebig University Giessen and heads the research group “International Law” at the Leibniz Institute Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung / Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF).

Historiography of Germany

The historiography of Germany deals with the manner in which historians have depicted, analyzed and debated the History of Germany. It also covers the popular memory of critical historical events, ideas and leaders, as well as the depiction of those events in museums, monuments, reenactments, pageants and historic sites, and the editing of historical documents.

Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Jerusalem German theologian

Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Jerusalem was a German Lutheran theologian during the Age of Enlightenment. He was also known as "Abt Jerusalem".

Jonathan B. Knudsen was an American historian who specialized in 18th Century German history, a translator from German to English, and a Professor of history at Wellesley College. He did his graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley and was the last advisee of Hans Rosenberg. His other graduate advisors were Gerald Feldman and Wolfgang Sauer (de).