Christian Thomasius (1655-1728) reform and education

Fuhrer, Ursula (2006) Christian Thomasius (1655-1728) reform and education. (MA(R) thesis), Kingston University, .


Christian Thomasius (1655-1728), philosopher and jurist, is considered by many historians to be one of the most influential thinkers of the early German Enlightenment. This thesis considers the historical importance of Thomasius and his intellectual and cultural reform efforts during the period of transition towards "modernity". A short survey of the complicated development of Germany's history up to the time of Thomasius, and a look at his family history offer the necessary background information. This is followed by a study both of his philosophy of critical eclecticism and of his natural law theories, which illustrate the philosophical basis of his reformism. His reform efforts are discussed, with special emphasis on the reform of German university education. Thomasius began his academic career in Leipzig towards the end of the 17th century. It was the time of change towards a new era, when the individual human person and his worldly existence became increasingly the object of philosophical interest. This change is particularly manifested in Thomasius' philosophical work. For Thomasius, philosophy was an activity which had to result in practical improvements. As a university professor, he considered it as his most important task to educate his students, for the benefit of the whole of society, to become rational and virtuous individuals, who were able to think independently. His fight against sectarian dogmatism, injustice and intolerance, and especially against the unquestioned acceptance of outdated learned authorities resulted in many bitter disputes, particularly with the ecclesiastical establishment. The connection between Thomasius' philosophy and his reform efforts found its most famous expression in the foundation of Halle University. There, as a founding professor and teacher, Thomasius was able to realise many of his reform ideas.

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