Christian Thomasius

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Thomasius, Christian


Born Jan. 1, 1655, in Leipzig; died Sept. 23, 1728, in Halle. German jurist, Enlightenment philosopher, and educator; proponent of natural law.

Thomasius taught at the universities of Leipzig and Halle. In 1688 he founded the first scientific journal in the German language. Thomasius believed that the law’s immediate task was to free the state from the influence of religion and to render secular knowledge independent of theology and medieval Scholasticism. He was among the first to point out the distinction between morality and law and held that the observance of law should be ensured by the state. His principal work was Fundamenta iuris naturae et gentium (1705).

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He also relied on enlightened Protestant criticism such as that of Balthasar Bekker, Christian Thomasius, Peter Eberhard, and Johann David Michaelis.
Vossius and Christian Thomasius come in for special consideration here, as do a number of others, including Brucker, who, despite stigmatizing late ancient eclecticism in his work, is happily eclectic himself, explicitly paying attention to external as well as internal dimensions of the history of philosophy.
Essays on Church, State, and Politics collects six texts of classic literature by German jurist, philosopher, reformer, and early advocate of separation of church and state, Christian Thomasius (1655-1728).
In "The Secrets of Princes," Linda Gregerson describes the making public of politically relevant secrets of a woman's body in sixteenth-century England, while Leonida Tedoldi's "Secrecy, Justice, and Courts" takes a close look at inquisitorial processes in Venice, which relied heavily on secret witnesses (who also had to swear secrecy) and finds that the system, eventually of course wiped out by such progressive legal thinkers of the Enlightenment as Christian Thomasius, worked with extraordinary celerity and was in fact a means of the oppressed to obtain redress for wrongs of the powerful.
Hunter wishes to argue, however, that a rival to this view can be demonstrated in the work of two early German thinkers, Samuel Pufendorf and Christian Thomasius, whose work is now largely ignored.
Chapter one offers a short preliminary discussion of Kant's project, while chapter two gives an excellent survey of its cultural and philosophical context, demonstrating to what extent Kant was indebted not only to well-known figures like Newton, Leibniz and Wolff, but also to unjustly ignored ones, such as Christian Thomasius, Alexander Baumgarten and Martin Knutzen (Christian August Crusius should be added here).
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