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1 - Religion, Law, and Politics: Historical Contexts

from PART I - FAITH

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 September 2017

Thomas Ahnert
Affiliation:
Lecturer in early modern intellectual history at the University of Edinburgh.
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Summary

CHRISTIAN THOMASIUS (1655–1728)

Christian Thomasius was born on New Year's Day in 1655, the son of the Leipzig professor of rhetoric and moral philosophy, Jacob Thomasius (1622–84), and his wife Maria, daughter of the archdeacon of the Leipzig Nicolai Church and professor of theology, Jeremias Weber. Jacob Thomasius was also headmaster of the Nicolaischule between 1653 and 1676, and later, until his death in 1684, of the Thomasschule. In 1663, he was the praeses of the young Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's bachelor's thesis. Although Jacob Thomasius's fame was later eclipsed by that of his more prolific son, he enjoyed a high scholarly reputation until well into the first decades of the eighteenth century, especially as an authority on the history of philosophy. Even in 1745 he is referred to as a “famous philosopher and polyhistorian” in Zedler's Universal-Lexikon.

Jacob Thomasius's son Christian entered the philosophical faculty of the University of Leipzig at the age of fourteen in 1669 and received his first academic degree, the bachelor of arts, as early as November 1669. In January 1672, he acquired the master of philosophy degree, but he remained at the philosophical faculty for another two years before entering the faculty of law. Thomasius later claimed that his decision in favor of law rather than theology had been influenced by reading Samuel Pufendorf's main work on natural jurisprudence, De Jure Naturae et Gentium, first published in 1672. In 1675, Thomasius held his first disputation, De iniusto Pontii Pilatii iudicio (On the Unjust Judgment of Pontius Pilate), at the legal faculty of the University of Leipzig. After a year and a half he moved from Lutheran Leipzig to the Calvinist University of Frankfurt an der Oder, where he was taught by Samuel Stryk (1640–1710), later his colleague at the University of Halle, and Friedrich Rhetius (1633–1707). It appears that his father encouraged him to move to Frankfurt, where Thomasius could deepen his knowledge of the natural law theories of Grotius and Pufendorf. There he also seems to have become acquainted with a number of Calvinists and Roman Catholics.

Type
Chapter
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Religion and the Origins of the German Enlightenment
Faith and the Reform of Learning in the Thought of Christian Thomasius
, pp. 9 - 26
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2006

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