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Jakob Friedrich Fries

Jakob Friedrich Fries (August 23, 1773 - August 10, 1843), German philosopher, was born at Barby, Saxony.

Having studied theology in the academy of the Moravian brethren at Niesky, and philosophy at Leipzig[?] and Jena[?], he travelled for some time, and in 1806 became professor of philosophy and elementary mathematics at Heidelberg.

Though the progress of his psychological thought compelled him to abandon the positive theology of the Moravians, he always retained an appreciation of its spiritual or symbolic significance. His philosophical position with regard to his contemporaries he had already made clear in the critical work Reinhold, Fichte und Schelling (1803; reprinted in 1824 as Polemische Schriften), and in the more systematic treatises System der Philosophie als evidente Wissenschaft (1804), Wissen, Glaube und Ahnung (1805, new ed. 1905).

His most important treatise, the Neue oder anthropologische Kritik der Vernunft (2nd ed., 1828-1831), was an attempt to give a new foundation of psychological analysis to the critical theory of Kant. In 1811 appeared his System der Logik (ed. 1819 and 1837), a very instructive work, and in 1814 Julius und Evagoras, a philosophical romance. In 1816 he was invited to Jena to fill the chair of theoretical philosophy (including mathematics and physics, and philosophy proper), and entered upon a crusade against the prevailing Romanticism. In politics he was a strong Liberal and Unionist, and did much to inspire the organization of the Burschenschaft. In 1816 he had published his views in a brochure, Von deutschen Bund und deutscher Staatsverfassung, dedicated to "the youth of Germany," and his influence gave a powerful impetus to the agitation which led in 1819 to the issue of the Carlsbad Decrees[?] by the representatives of the German governments.

Karl Sand[?], the murderer of Kotzebue, was one of his pupils; and a letter of his, found on another student, warning the lad against participation in secret societies, was twisted by the suspicious authorities into evidence of his guilt. He was condemned by the Mainz Commission; the grand-duke of Weimar was compelled to deprive him of his professorship; and he was forbidden to lecture on philosophy. The grand-duke, however, continued to pay him his stipend, and in 1824 he was recalled to Jena as professor of mathematics and physics, receiving permission also to lecture on philosophy in his own rooms to a select number of students. Finally, in 1838, the unrestricted right of lecturing was restored to him. He died on the 10th of August 1843.

The most important of the many works written during his Jena professorate are the Handbuch der praktischen Philosophse (1817- 1832), the Handbuch der psychischen Anthropologie (1820-1821, 2nd ed. 1837-1839), Die mathematische Naturphilosophie (1822),


This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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