Franz Xaver von Baader

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Franz Xaver von Baader

Benedikt Franz Xaver von Baader (March 27, 1765 – May 23, 1841) was a German Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian.


Benedikt Franz Xaver von Baader was born in Munich. He was the third son of Joseph Franz von Paula Baader[1] (1733-1794) and Maria Dorothea Rosalia von Schöpf (1742-1829),[2][3][4][5] who were married on May 23, 1761. In 1775, Franz' father Joseph became a personal physician to Maximilian III Joseph[6] (1727-1777), who from 1745-1777 was a Kurfürst (Prince-elector) of the Holy Roman Empire and Duke of Bavaria. Franz' two older brothers were both distinguished men. His brother Clemens Alois Baader[7] (1762-1838) was an author, and his brother Joseph Anton Baader[8] (1763-1835) was an engineer.[9] Franz studied medicine at Ingolstadt and Vienna, and for a short time assisted his father in his medical practice. However, Franz soon discovered that life as a physician did not suit him, and he decided to become a mining engineer instead. He studied under Abraham Gottlob Werner at Freiberg, travelled through several of the mining districts in north Germany, and for four years (1792-1796) resided in England.

In England Franz became acquainted with the ideas of David Hume, David Hartley and William Godwin, which were all distasteful to him. But he also came into contact with the mystical speculations of Meister Eckhart, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (1743–1803), and above all those of Jakob Boehme, which were more to his liking. In 1796 he returned to Germany from England, and in Hamburg became acquainted with F. H. Jacobi, with whom he remained friendly. He now 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.[10] Their friendship continued till about the year 1822, when Baader's denunciation of modern philosophy in his letter to Tsar Alexander I of Russia entirely alienated Schelling.

All this time Baader continued to apply himself to his profession of engineer. He gained a prize of 12,000 gulden (about £1000) for his new method of employing sodium sulfate instead of potash in the making of glass. From 1817 to 1820 he held the post of superintendent of mines, and was raised to the rank of nobility for his services. He retired in 1820, and soon after published one of the best of his works, Fermenta Cognitionis, 6 parts, 1822–1825, in which he combats modern philosophy and recommends the study of Boehme. In 1826, when the new university was opened in Munich, he was appointed professor of philosophy and speculative theology. Some of the lectures delivered there he published under the title Spekulative Dogmatik, 4 parts, 1827–1836. In 1838 he opposed the interference in civil matters of the Roman Catholic Church, to which he belonged, and in consequence was, during the last three years of his life, interdicted from lecturing on the philosophy of religion. He is buried in the Alter Südfriedhof in Munich.


It is difficult to summarize Baader's philosophy, for he expressed his deepest thoughts in obscure aphorisms, or mystical symbols and analogies (see Eduard Zeller's Ges. d. deut. Phil. 732, 736). His doctrines are mostly expounded in short detached essays, in comments on the writings of Boehme and Saint-Martin, or in his extensive correspondence and journals. 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; for, like the scholastic doctors, he believes that theology and philosophy are not opposed sciences, but that reason has to make clear the truths given by authority and revelation. But in his attempt to draw still closer the realms of faith and knowledge, he approaches more nearly to the mysticism of Meister Eckhart, Paracelsus, and Boehme. Our existence depends on the act that we are cognized by God (cogitor ergo cogito et sum). All self-consciousness is at the same time God-consciousness; our knowledge is never mere scientia, it is invariably con-scientia — a knowing with, consciousness of, or participation in God.

Baader's philosophy is thus essentially a form of theosophy. God is not to be conceived as mere abstract Being (substantia), but as everlasting process, activity (actus). Of this process, this self-generation of God, we may distinguish two aspects — the immanent or esoteric, and the eminent or exoteric. God has reality only insofar as He is absolute spirit, and only insofar as the primitive will is conscious of itself can it become spirit at all. But in this very cognition of self is involved the distinction of knower and known, from which proceeds the power to become spirit. This immanent process of self-consciousness, therein indeed a trinity of persons is not given but only rendered possible, is mirrored in, and takes place through, the eternal and impersonal idea or wisdom of God, which exists beside, though not distinct from, the primitive will. Concrete reality or personality is given to this divine Ternar (trinity), as Baader calls it, through nature, the principle of self-hood, of individual being, which is eternally and necessarily produced by God. Only in nature is the trinity of persons attained. These processes, it must be noticed, are not to be conceived as successive, or as taking place in time; they are to be looked at sub specie aeternitatis, as the necessary elements or moments in the self-evolution of the divine Being. Nor is nature to be confounded with created substance, or with matter as it exists in space and time; it is pure non-being, the mere otherness (alteritas) of God — his shadow, desire, want, or desiderium sui, as it is called by mystical writers. Creation, itself a free and non-temporal act of God's love and will, cannot be speculatively deduced, but must be accepted as a historic fact.

Created beings were originally of three orders — the intelligent or angels; the non-intelligent natural existences; and man, who mediated between these two orders. Intelligent beings are endowed with freedom; it is possible, but not necessary, that they should fall. Hence the fact of the fall is not a speculative but a historic truth. The angels fell through pride-through desire to raise themselves to equality with God; man fell by lowering himself to the level of nature. Only after the fall of man begins the creation of space, time and matter, or of the world as we now know it; and the motive of this creation was the desire to afford man an opportunity for taking advantage of the scheme of redemption, for bringing forth in purity the image of God according to which he has been fashioned. The physical philosophy and anthropology which Baader, in connection with this, unfolds in various works, is but little instructive, and coincides in the main with the utterances of Boehme. In nature and in man he finds traces of the dire effects of sin, which has corrupted both and has destroyed their natural harmony.

As regards ethics, Baader rejects the Kantian or any autonomic system of morals. Not obedience to a moral law, but realization in ourselves of the divine life is the true ethical end. But man has lost the power to effect this by himself; he has alienated himself from God, and therefore no ethical theory which neglects the facts of sin and redemption is satisfactory or even possible. The history of man and of humanity is the history of the redeeming love of God. The means whereby we put ourselves so in relation with Christ as to receive from Him his healing virtue are chiefly prayer and the sacraments of the church; mere works are never sufficient. Man in his social relations is under two great institutions. One is temporal, natural and limited-the state; the other is eternal, cosmopolitan and universal — the church. In the state two things are requisite: first, common submission to the ruler, which can be secured or given only when the state is Christian, for God alone is the true ruler of men; and, secondly, inequality of rank, without which there can be no organization. A despotism of mere power and liberalism, which naturally produces socialism, are equally objectionable. The ideal state is a civil community ruled by a universal or Catholic church, the principles of which are equally distinct from mere passive pietism, or faith which will know nothing, and from the Protestant doctrine, which is the very radicalism of reason.

One of Baader’s central ideas in philosophy 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 in the footsteps of Jakob Boehme, Baader says that Man was originally an androgynous being. In truth 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.[11]:57

Von Baader is, without doubt, among the greatest speculative theologians of modern Catholicism, and his influence has extended itself even beyond the precincts of his own church. Among those whom he influenced were Richard Rothe, Julius Müller and Hans Lassen Martensen[12] (1808-1884)


Several years after his death, Franz von Baader's works were collected and edited by a number of his disciples, who published the collection under the title Franz von Baader's Sämmtliche Werke (16 vols) (Leipzig: Verlag von Herrmann Bethmann, 1850-1860). Valuable introductions by the editors are prefixed to the several volumes. Vol. XV contains a full biography of Von Baader, and Vol. XVI contains an Index and an able sketch of Von Baader's whole system by Lutterbeck. The editors of this collection included:

Franz Hoffmann[13] (1804-1881)

Julius Wilhelm Franz Hamberger[14] (1801-1885)

Emil August von Schaden[15] (1814-1852)

Johann Anton Bernhard Lutterbeck[16] (1812-1882)

Friedrich von Osten-Sacken[17] (1775-1846)

Christoph Bernhard Schlüter[18] (1801-1884)

Also see:

Franz Hoffmann:

Vorhalle zur speculativen Lehre Franz Baader's[19] (Aschaffenburg: Verlag von Theodor Pergay, 1836) ( xxviii, 314 pages)

Grundzüge der Societätsphilosophie, von Franz Baader ... (herausgegeben von F. Hoffmann) (Würzburg: Stahel'sche Universitäts-Buchhandlung, 1837) (viii, 103 pages)[20]

Die Weltalter: Lichtstrahlen aus Franz von Baader's Werken. Von Dr. Franz Hoffmann (Erlangen: Verlag von Eduard Besold, 1868) (410 pages)

Philosophische Schriften[21] (Erlangen: Verlag von Andreas Deichert, 8 vols., 1868-1882)

Franz von Baader's Biographie und Briefwechsel[22] (Leipzig: Verlag von Herrmann Bethmann, 1857) (xiii, 704 pages) (This work is Vol. XV in the 16-vol. collection titled Franz von Baader's Sämmtliche Werke.)

Julius Wilhelm Franz Hamberger:

Cardinalpunkte der Baaderschen Philosophie (1855)

Fundamentalbegriffe von F. B.'s Ethik, Politik, u. Religions-Philosophie (1858)

Johann Anton Bernhard Lutterbeck:

Philosophische Standpunkte Baaders (1854)

Baaders Lehre vom Weltgebäude (1866)

Some of the most satisfactory surveys of Von Baader's thought are contained in the following works:

Johann Eduard Erdmann (1805-1892) - Versuch einer Gesch. d. neuern Phil. iii. 2, pp. 583–636

Johannes Claassen (1835-1898):

Franz von Baaders Leben und theosophische Werke (Stuttgart, 1886–1887)

Franz von Baaders Gedanken über Staat und Gesellschaft (Gütersloh, 1890)

Otto Pfleiderer (1839-1908) - Philosophy of Religion (vol. ii., Eng. trans. 1887)

Richard Falckenberg[23] (1851-1920) - History of Philosophy pp. 472–475 (trans. AC Armstrong, New York, 1893)

Hans Friedrich Reichel (1878-1939) - Die Sozietätsphilosophie Franz v. Baaders (Tübingen, 1901)

Kuno Fischer[24] (1824-1907) - Zur hundertjährigen Geburtstagfeier Baaders (Erlangen, 1865).


  1. ^ Joseph Franz von Paula Baader (September 15, 1733 - February 16, 1794) - His first name is spelled "Josef" in some records.
  2. ^ Franz von Baader's Biographie und Briefwechsel (Leipzig: Verlag von Herrmann Bethmann, 1857), by Franz Hoffmann, pp. 1-3.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Maria Dorothea Rosalia von Schöpf (October 25, 1742 - February 5, 1829). In some records her middle name "Rosalia" is spelled "Rosalie." Also, in some records her last name is spelled "von Schöpff" instead of "von Schöpf." She was a daughter of Johann Adam von Schöpf (1702 - January 10, 1772).
  6. ^ Franz von Baader's Biographie und Briefwechsel (1857), p. 3.
  7. ^ Clemens Alois Baader (April 8, 1762 - March 23, 1838) - His full name was Clemens Alois Andreas Baader. In some records his middle name "Alois" is spelled "Aloys" or "Aloysius."
  8. ^ Joseph Anton Baader (September 30, 1763 - November 20, 1835) - His full name was Joseph Anton Ignaz Baader.
  9. ^ Franz von Baader's Biographie und Briefwechsel (1857), pp. 4-5.
  10. ^ Marie-Élise Zovko, Natur und Gott. Das wirkungsgeschichtliche Verhältnis Schellings und Baaders (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 1996). ISBN 978-3-8260-1187-0. On Baader's influence on and friendship with Schelling, and the reasons for their eventual break with one another, cf. 86-139;191-269; 270-312.
  11. ^ Androgyny - This is the article titled "Androgyny" by Wayne R. Dynes in Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (New York: Garland Publishing, 2 vols., 1990) (ed. by Wayne R. Dynes), vol. 1, pp. 56-58. The reference to Franz von Baader is located on p. 57 of the article. Wayne Robert Dynes was born on August 23, 1934.
  12. ^ Hans Lassen Martensen (August 19, 1808 - February 3, 1884)
  13. ^ Franz Hoffmann (January 19, 1804 - October 22, 1881) - His full name was Franz Karl Hoffmann. Beginning in 1835 he was professor of philosophy at the University of Würzburg.
  14. ^ Julius Wilhelm Franz Hamberger (August 3, 1801 - August 5, 1885)
  15. ^ Emil August von Schaden (September 24, 1814 - July 13, 1852)
  16. ^ Johann Anton Bernhard Lutterbeck (April 23, 1812 - December 30, 1882)
  17. ^ Friedrich von Osten-Sacken (December 2, 1775 - December 5, 1846) - His full name appears to have been Friedrich Wilhelm, Baron von der Osten-Sacken.
  18. ^ Christoph Bernhard Schlüter (March 27, 1801 - February 4, 1884)
  19. ^;view=1up;seq=7
  20. ^ See also: Grundzüge der Societätsphilosophie: Ideen uber Recht, Staat, Gesellschaft und Kirche (Würzburg: A. Stuber Buchhandlung, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged, 1865) (xiv, 208 pages)
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Richard Falckenberg (December 23, 1851 - September 28, 1920) - His full name was Friedrich Otto Richard Falckenberg.
  24. ^ Kuno Fischer (July 23, 1824 - July 5, 1907) - His full name was Ernst Kuno Berthold Fischer.
  • Ghervas, Stella. Réinventer la tradition. Alexandre Stourdza et l'Europe de la Sainte-Alliance. Paris, Honoré Champion, 2008. ISBN 978-2-7453-1669-1
  •  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Baader, Franz Xaver von". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Vladimir Abashnik, Benedikt Franz Xaver von Baader. In: The Dictionary of eighteenth-century German philosophers. General editors: Heiner F. Klemme, Manfred Kuehn. In 3 vol. London: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., 2010, Vol. 1: A – G, pp. 39–43.

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