Jakob Josef Görres



Poet, publisher


Born: 25.01.1776 in Koblenz

Died: 29.01.1848 in Munich



University lecturer: 1806-1808 in Heidelberg, after 1827 in Munich


Josef Görres first achieved public awareness as an enthusiastic supporter of the French revolution. His publication Der allgemeine Friede, ein Ideal (the general peace, an ideal) (1798) demanded the application of revolutionary principles to all nations. When he realised that his goal was unreachable, he abandoned politics and became a physics teacher.

In his Aphorismen über die Kunst (aphorisms on art), first published in 1802, Görres considered not only literature and music, but also psychology and anthropology. He joined the staff of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (general literature magazine of Jena) and came thus into contact with Schiller and Goethe. Between 1806 and 1808 he taught at the university in Heidelberg, where his subjects included aesthetics and psychology. At the same time he was active in pharmacology and natural philosophy, following Schelling.

After returning to Koblenz, Görres started publishing politically critical essays again. He founded the Rheinische Merkur (Rhine Mercury), a newspaper which he wrote almost entirely himself and which soon became enormously important. The paper's criticism of bureaucracy earned Görres the enmity of the German princes, and after his publication of Teutschland und die Revolution (Germany and the revolution) orders were issued for his arrest.

Görres fled, converted to Catholicism soon afterwards and became the editor of a newspaper for theology and church politics. In 1827 he was made professor of general and literary history at the University of Munich, where he remained to his death. His call to the professorship was not without opposition, but his first lectures stuck a popular chord. Döllinger and Ringseis were among his circle of acquaintances and friends, the "Görres-Kreis", and there were also close contacts with the Catholic renewal movement in Vienna.

Görres was in part a revolutionary, in part a conservative, a natural scientist, a poet and a publisher. He is important in various parts of Romanticism – in Romantic Anthropology mainly because of his writings on man from a Catholic point of view.

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This page was designed by Uli Wunderlich, and translated by Adam Lawrence. Update: Manfred Engel. Please contact Prof. Dr. Manfred Engel if you have any questions.

FR 4.1 - Germanistik / Universität des Saarlandes
Last update:  2003-07-25 (me)