Franz Xaver von Baader

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



He was born in Munich, the third son of F. P. Baader, court physician to the Prince-elector of Bavaria. His brothers were both distinguished — the elder, Clemens, as an author; the second, Joseph (1763–1835), as an engineer. Franz studied medicine at Ingolstadt and Vienna, and for a short time assisted his father in his practice. This life he soon found uncongenial, and decided on becoming a mining engineer. 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.

There he 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 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. 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.

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