Franz Xaver von Baader
See my translations of these three articles by Baader:
1. Concerning the conflict of religious faith and knowledge as the spiritual root of the decline of religious and political society in our time as in every time (1833) [Über den Zwiespalt des Religiösen Glaubens und Wissens als die geistige Wurzel des Verfalls der religiösen und politischen Societät in unserer wie in jeder Zeit]
2. Concerning the Concept of Time (1818) [Über den Begriff der Zeit]
3. Elementary concepts concerning Time: As Introduction to the Philosophy of Society and History (1831) [Elementarbegriffe über die Zeit: als Einleitung zur Philosophie der Sozietät und Geschichte]
And see the links indicated below for the original German text of all 16 volumes of Baader’s Collected Works [Werke]
Baader is known for his Christian philosophy. He was a Roman Catholic, but he believed that the Russian Orthodox Church represented the best Christian path. He considered Protestantism to be too literal and rationalistic, and he found Catholicism too rigid and ‘petrified.’ He was strongly opposed to any pietistic flight from rationality, but he was also opposed to the rationalism of the Enlightenment. Baader ignored the art of compromise, and his writings are very polemical. For example, he invites his reader to take part in ‘a war of life and death’ (Werke I, 385).
Baader was opposed to the Enlightenment’s mechanistic and atomistic idea of nature. Because of this, Baader is often referred to as a philosopher of Romanticism, which emphasized the unmediated knowledge of intuition, and the importance of our experience. But Baader’s Romanticism must not be understood as irrationalism or emotionalism. Nor should his emphasis on experience be misunderstood as a subjectivistic Erlebnis. Subjectivism is not compatible with Baader’s view of the Subject-Object relation. And unlike an irrationalist Romanticism, Baader emphasizes the importance of theory when it is seen in its proper relation to our experience.
Baader’s most important influences were Böhme, Eckhart and Luois Claude de St. Martin. St. Martin (1743-1803) wrote under the name of ‘the Unknown Philosopher’ (‘le philosophe inconnu’). He was the author of Des erreurs et de la vérité and Le Tableau Naturel. The latter book showed the relations between God, Man and the universe. St. Martin should not be confused with the Jewish mystic Martines Pasqualis, who also influenced Baader.
Baadeer also studied Tauler, Suso, Ruysbroeck, Paracelsus, Kepler, Aquinas, Anselm, Eriugena, Augustine, the Church Fathers, Angelus Silesius, Oetinger and Swedenborg. He derived his ideas not only from Christian sources, but from natural philosophy, hermetic and alchemical thought, and from the Jewish Kabbalah, although Baumgardt says that Baader had only a superficial knowledge of Kabbalah. Baader regarded the Sefer Yetsirah [‘The Book of Creation’] as an original revelation to the Jews. See David Baumgardt: Franz von Baader und die Philosophische Romantik (Halle: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1927),
Baader was also familiar with the ideas of Freemasonry and the Rosicrucians. He is often referred to as a theosophist because of his views relating creation to an emanation from God. But unlike some forms of theosophy, Baader’s theosophy is not pantheistic; he emphasizes the separation of Creator and creature. He is also opposed to any idea that would ascribe evil to God; he says that evil is a result of our free choice. Gershom Scholem says that ‘theosophy’ should not be understood in the sense of Madame Blavatsky’s later movement of that name. ‘Theosophy postulates a kind of divine emanation whereby God, abandoning his self-contained repose, awakens to mysterious life; further, it maintains that the mysteries of creation reflect the pulsation of this divine life.’ Gershom G. Scholem: Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York: Schocken, 1961), 206.
In his book Philosophien der Offenbarung (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2001), Peter Koslowski distinguishes Baader’s orthodox theosophy from pantheistic theosophy.
Baader’s two major works were Fermenta Cognitionis (4 volumes) and Spekulative Dogmatik (5 volumes). In 1826 he was appointed professor of philosophy and speculative theology at the new University of Munich. He had to stop lecturing on theology in 1838 when the Catholic bishop banned the public discussion of theology by laymen.
Baader’s writings are extremely difficult to read, even for German readers. Although he was known as a brilliant conversationalist, his style of writing is so notoriously difficult that it became known even in his lifetime as the ‘Baader style’ (Baaderstil). Franz Hoffmann, who edited Baader’s writings, acknowledges the difficulty of Baader’s style (Werke II, lxxviii; cited by Sauer 20). Baader’s sentences are much too long, with confusing linkages between clauses. He uses theosophical language, he frequently uses untranslated words from other languages such as French, and he sometimes invents new words. He often uses symbols and analogies. His writings are not systematic, but merely aphoristic. Baader said he did not mind if his work was regarded as unsystematic; he saw his own work in more organic terms, as ‘ferment,’ or ‘seeds’ (Werke I, 153f; Schumacher 33). The title of his main work, Fermenta Cognitionis, reflects this view. Many of his ideas are only developed in personal correspondence or in his reviews of other works.
Baader had an influence on his contemporaries Schelling, Hegel, Goethe, Jacobi, Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel, Jean Paul, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Clemens Brentano. Baader introduced Hegel to the thought of Eckhart (Werke 14, 159; Baumgardt 34), and he introduced Schelling to the thought of Böhme, thereby changing Schelling’s orientation from pantheism to theism (Baumgardt 41). But influence does not necessarily mean agreement; Baader disagreed with Hegel, Schelling, as well as others that he influenced. He visited Friedrich Schleiermacher several times (Werke XV, 105; Betanzos 72). Despite these influences on his contemporaries Baader became isolated towards the end of his life, and after his death was for a time nearly forgotten. His obscurity is partly due to the dispute that Baader had with Schelling late in life. After Baader’s death, Schelling even tried to prevent publication of his collected works. Nevertheless, Baader’s writings continued to exert an influence on later writers such as Max Scheler, A.W. Schlegel, Kierkegaard and Berdyaev (Betanzos 12, 25). . Kierkegaard in his Concept of Dread refers to ‘the customary power and validity of Baader’s ideas.’ (Baumgardt, 7 and 398). Susini reports that there was a renaissance of interest in Baader in the years following the World War I.(Introduction to Fermenta Cognitionis, tr. Eugène Susini (Paris: Albin, 1985), 9.)
We must also include Abraham Kuyper and Herman Dooyeweerd in the list of people who were influenced by Baader. See my recent book, “Neo-Calvinism and Christian Theosophy: Franz von Baader, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd” (Calgary: Aevum Books, 2015). Available from Amazon and other booksellers.
My article “Sophia, Androgyny and the Feminine in Franz von Baader’s Christian Theosophy” has been published in “Adyan/Religions”, a bilingual Arabic/English journal based in Doha, in its issue devoted to the topic “Women and the Feminine in World Religions.”
Baader’s view of humanity’s original androgyny is a good counterweight to the early church’s wrongheaded emphasis on asceticism and denial of female sexuality. Baader’s “40 Propositions Taken from a Religious Philosophy of Love” celebrates the ecstasy of sex and provides the basis for a positive appreciation of marriage. His views on the inner feminine and masculine also anticipate C.G. Jung by almost a century. But of course Jung read Baader.
The Reformed theologian J.H. Gunning, Jr. adopted Baader’s views, and regarded Jesus as having been androgynous. Abraham Kuyper followed many ideas of Gunning and Baader, but disagreed on this point. Dooyeweerd was silent on this and most other theological issues.
Amazingly, Google has digitally scanned all 16 volumes of Baader’s Collected Works (Sämtliche Werke). They can do this because the copyright has expired. Apart from the fact that these books are very hard to find, the online version will save you the couple of thousand dollars I had to pay for a used set of these works. The digitized versions are available in .pdf form. But the .pdf downloadable file cannot be searched, so for each volume I have given another website for searching it:
Vol 1 Erkenntniswissenschaft [Epistemology]
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Vol. 2 Grundwissenschafat oder Metaphysik [Metaphysics]
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Vol. 3 Schriften zur Naturphilosophie [Nature Philosophy]
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Vol. 4 Philosophischen Anthropologie [Philosophical Anthropology]
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Vol. 5: Societätsphilosophie1 [Social Philosophy1]
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Vol. 6 Societätsphilosophie2 [Social Philosophy2]
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Vol. 7: Religionsphilosophie1 [Philosophy of Religion1]
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Vol. 8: Religionsphilosophie2 [Philosophy of Religion2]
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Vol. 9 Religionsphilosophie3 [Philosophy of Religion3]
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Vol 10 Religionsphilosophie4 [Philosophy of Religion4]
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Vol. 11 Tagebücher [Diaries]
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Vol. 12 Erläuterungen zu sämmtlichen Schriften Louis Claude de Saint-Martin’s [Commentary on the works of Louis Claude de Saint Martin]
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Vol. 13 Erläuterungen zu Böhme’s Lehre [Commentary on Boehme’s Teachings]
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Vol 14 Elementarbegriffe über die Zeit [Elementary Concepts Concerning Time]
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Vol. 15 Biografie und Briefwechsel [Biography and Correspondence]
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Vol. 16 Sach- und Namenregister [Index]
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Volume 15 of the Collected Works contains Baader’s Correspondence. But some of it was not included. Susini published a book of the unedited correspondence:
Here are separately published works by Baader, although I believe that all of them are included in his Collected Works, above. It is interesting to see them as originally published, before Hoffmann edited them.
Grundzüge der Societätsphilosophie
Vorlesungen über Speculative Dogmatik
Über das Verhalten des Wissens zum Glauben
Theorie des Opfers
Vorlesungen über religiöse Philosophie
Über den Begriff des gut–oder positive–und des nichtgut–oder negativ [Werke 7, 155-208)
Vom Segen und Fluch der Creatur
Über die Freiheit der Intelligenz
Beiträge zur dinamischen Philososophie
Franz Hoffman, the editor of Baader’s Collected Works, also wrote his own work, relying on Baader’s ideas, Philosophische Schriften (Erlangen, 1872). Note that this work should be distinguished from the earlier work, Philosophische Schriften und Aussätze (1831), which was a collection of excerpts from Baader. The 1872 work represents Hoffmann’s own views, which are not always the same as Baader’s.
Finally, here are some books about Baader that I refer to and recommend. You can only get limited views, or snippet views of these books.
David Baumgardt: Franz von Baader und die Philosophische Romantik (Halle: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1927)(snippet view)
Ramon J. Betanzos: Franz von Baader’s Philosophy of Love (Vienna: Passagen Verlag, 1998)