BAADER Franz Xaver Benedikt von—philosopher, sociologist, and theologian, b. March 27, 1765 in Munich, d. May 23, 1841 in Munich, one of the leading representatives of the so-called Munich Circle.
From 1781 to 1784 Baader studied medicine in Ingolstadt and Vienna. He quit medical practice and in 1788 began studies in mining engineering in Freiburg Br. Between 1792 and 1796 he worked as an engineer in England and Scotland where he became familiar with the liberal economic theory of A. Smith and the psychology of D. Hume. He came out with a critique of I. Kant’s, German idealism, and rationalist philosophy. After returning to Bavaria in 1799 and withdrawing from engineering work he began to study speculative theology. He was drawn to the views of G. W. F. Hegel and then to the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas and scholasticism. Up to 1826 he lectured on dogmatic theology as a lay Catholic in the University of Munich. He tried to overcome the opposition that existed between traditional Christian concepts and the assertions of the sciences that developed during the Enlightenment. Baader was regarded as one of the best lecturers in Germany. Along with J. J. von Görresen and other members of the Munich Circle he edited the periodical “Eos” from 1826 to 1829.
As the result of a memorandum addressed to Czar Alexander I and the writing Über das durch die französische Revolution herbeigeführte Bedürfnis einer neuen und innigeren Verbindung der Religion mit der Politik (1815) he influenced the creation of a Holy Alliance. He desired in this way to contribute to Protestants, Orthodox, and Catholics coming closer together. A journey to Russia between 1822 and 1824 attributed to Baader and the foundation of a Christian academy in Petersburg to support the work of unification were only planned by him (J. Beumer). Under the influence of contact with Russian thought (especially E. Meshcherski and the slavophile S. Shevyrev), Baader proclaimed that the rebirth of Christiantiy could be accomplished only by a renewal of the Orthodox Church by realizing within it the principle of conciliarity (sobornost). He stated that in the Church one should distinguish between enduring and changing elements. He postulated the need for incessant reform. He saw this as the way for a possible union with Protestantism. Hence he contrasted the monarchical structure of the Roman Catholic Church with the synodal structure, and he came out against papal primacy. He regarded the Eucharist as that which creates the ecclesial community. He emphasized the essential connection of the Jews with the Christian People of God and the salvific action of Christ beyond the confines of the visible Church. Because of his Christocentric conception of earthly realities, his concept of the Church had a cosmic dimension (the idea of the cosmic Christ).
In the theory of knowledge, Baader resolutely polemicized with Kant. He argued that in Kant’s system, the reason remains “blind to God” (gottblind), while meanwhile the reason is a unique internal sense and is capable of conceiving of God and the inner essence of created beings. God is expressed in a symbol, and by his revelation in Christ he enables man to have a higher degree of speculative knowledge. The conscience is the proper organ for direct knowledge of God and leads to meeting with God. Baader calls the conscience a participation in divine knowledge. He opposed Descartes’ subjectivist “cogito ergo sum” with the theonomic principle of knowledge, “cogitor, ergo cogito, ergo sum”. According to Baader, this means to be first known by God in his Word.
Baader’s theosophical thought took shape under the influence of Meister Eckhardt, J. M. Sailer, F. C. Otinger, L. C. Saint-Martin, J. G. Herder, J. C. Lavater, and especially J. Böhme. It is colored by neo-Platonisim and Gnostic tendencies.
Baader’s ethical views were not focused on the concept of law or moral duty (Kant), but on the idea of the harmonization of the opposing forces of fallen human nature, and the renewed attainment of the state of integrity that the first man possessed. Every creative action of man is a participation in God’s creativity. Baader spoke in favor of freedom of conscience. He taught that the spontaneity of the human will is based on a personal relation to God dwelling in man, not on man’s autonomy with respect to an abstract moral law. Christ is the perfect man in whom freedom and law are identical. Baader’s tendency do a certain ethical naturalism was evident in his conception of grace, which he considered almost exclusively in cosmic and physical terms.
Baader’s social thought was expressed chiefly in his critique of liberal politics and economics, in his defense of the proletariat (although he rejected the idea that the social order must be transformed by revolution), and in his vocal support for building a corporate society based on the principles of faith, love, authority, hierarchy, and subordination. He emphasized the Church’s responsibility for society and for the resolution of social problems.
Baader influenced the views of F. W. J. Schelling, J. J. I. Döllinger, E. von Lasaulx, S. A. Kierkegaard, slavophiles, W. S. Soloviyev, and N. A. Bierdiayev. Baader’s works have been published in an edition by F. Hoffman (I–XVI, L 1851–1860). His major works include the following: Fermenta cognitionis (I–IV, B 1822–1824; V, L 1825), and Vorlesungen über spekulative Dogmatik (I, St 1828; II–IV, Mr 1830–1836; V, Mn 1838). Baader’s letters wre published by E. Susini, Lettres de Fraz von Baader (I–III, P 1942–1951).
E. Gaugler, B. Kampf gegen die Alleinherrschaft des Papstes, Internationale Kirchliche Zeitschrift 7 (1917), 240–269; F. Werle, Der Mystiker Franz von Baader, L 1924; D. Baumgardt, Franz von Baader und die philosophische Romantik, Hl 1927; E. Susini, Franz von Baader et le romantisme mystique, P 1942; K. Hemmerle, LThK I 1161–1162; F. Lieb, RGG I 803–805; J. Siegel, Franz von Baader, Mn 1957; K. Hemmerle, Franz von B. Weg zur philosophischen Gotteserkenntnis, PhJ 70 (1963), 271–294; B. Lakebrink, Hgels Einfluss auf die Religionsphilosophie Franz von Baader, PhJ 72 (1964), 120–133; J. Beumer, Franz von Baader un sin Plan zur Vereinigung der römischen und russischen Kirche, in: Volk Gottes, Fr 1967, 430–454; F. Hartl, Franz von Baader und die Entwicklung seines Kirchenbegriffes, Mn 1970; idem, Franz von B. Leben und Werk, Gr 1971; L. Hein, Franz von Baader und seine Liebe zur Russischen Orthodoxen Kirche, Kyrios 12 (1972), 31–59.