Born in Munich, he originally studied mathematics, physics, and chemistry, graduating with a Ph.D. in 1886, before turning to philosophy. In 1894, he habilitated in philosophy and subsequently held a post in philosophy at the University of Munich (until 1903 as a Privatdozent). In 1910, Cornelius moved as a full professor to the Akademie für Sozialwissenschaften, which four years later would become a department of the newly founded University of Frankfurt. Among his students in Frankfurt were Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. He retired in 1928.
Cornelius died in 1947 in Gräfelfing.
- Hans Cornelius from philolex (German)
- Matthias Wolfes (1999). "Cornelius, Hans (Johannes Wilhelm)". In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German) 16. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 326–331. ISBN 3-88309-079-4.
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