[Index of Biographies]

Karl Heinrich Ludwig Pölitz (1772-1838)

[This is a draft of an article in The Dictionary of Eighteenth Century German Philosophers, 3 vols., edited by Manfred Kuehn and Heiner Klemme (London/New York: Continuum, 2010).]

Karl Heinrich Ludwig Pölitz, the son of a pastor, was born 17 August 1772 in Ernstthal im Schönburgischen, and died 27 February 1838 in Leipzig, where he was a professor of philosophy, history, and political science.

Pölitz attended the gymnasium at Chemnitz (1786-91) before entering the university in Leipzig to study philosophy, history, and theology, receiving his magister degree two years later in 1793. He habilitated to the philosophy faculty in 1794 and began offering lectures, but in 1795 accepted a full professorship of morality and history at the Ritterakademie in Dresden. Pölitz returned to Leipzig eight years later (1803), where he was made associate professor of philosophy at the university, but the very next year he moved to the university at Wittenberg as a full professor of natural and international law. After eleven years he returned to Leipzig (1815) to become the full professor of history and statistics, and in 1820 he was made full professor of political science (replacing Arndt).

Pölitz is best remembered for his library and his popular publications. He was an avid book collector from his earliest years, and his collection, acquired by the Leipzig City Library after his death, included 13,360 volumes. His own writing and editing output was extraordinary in quantity, but rather less so in terms of quality, and appears to have been driven more by pecuniary than by scholarly motivations; some volumes amounted to little more than a pastiche of unreferenced quotations from the work of others.[1] The early writings focused on ethics and religion, the latter on history and political science, as fit his academic appointments, but most of what he wrote was intended for popular audiences. See the much longer bibliographies provided in DLL and Hamberger/Meusel.

Among his publications are two poorly edited compilations of student notes (metaphysics [text] and rational theology [text]) from Kant’s lecture hall, important primarily because they were the first published of such notes and the only available for nearly a century (see Pölitz 1817, 1821). Adickes (1893, 273-80) offers brief, and for the most part dismissive, assessments of about twenty of his publications relevant to the Kantian philosophy.


[1] See, for instance, the review of his Lehrbuch für den ersten Cursus der Philosophie (Leipzig u. Gera: Heinsius, 1795), as reviewed in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (June 1796), #200.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

(anon.), Moralisches Handbuch, oder Grundsätze eines vernünftigen und glücklichen Lebens; als beytrag zu einer populären Philosophie für unser Zeitalter (Leipzig: Heinsius, 1794). 2nd ed: 1795.

Ueber den nothwendigen Zusammenhang der Philosophie mit der Geschichte der Menschheit (Leipzig: Breitkopf, 1795).

System des deutschen Styls, 4 parts (1800-02).

(anon.), Heinrich von Feldheim, oder der Officier, wie er seyn sollte. Ein Beytrag zur militärischen Paedagogik (Jena and Leipzig, 1801).

Fragmente zur Philosophie des Lebens, aus dem Gebiete der Moral, der Rechtslehre, der Erziehungswissenschaft und der Teutschen Sprache (1802).

Weltgeschichte, 3 vols. (1806); 6th ed. in 4 vols. (1830).

Die Aesthetik für gebildete Leser, 2 parts (1806).

Encyclopädie der gesammten philosophischen Wissenschaften, im Geiste des Systems einer neutralen Philosophie, 2 pts. (1807-8).

(anon. ed.), Immanuel Kant, Vorlesungen über die philosophische Religionslehre (Leipzig: Carl Friedrich Franz, 1817). 2nd edition (1830), with editor's name.

(anon. ed.), Immanuel Kant, Vorlesungen über die Metaphysik, zum Drucke befördert von dem Hrsg. der Kantischen Vorlesungen über die philosophische Religionslehre. Nebst einer Einleitung, welche eine kurze Übersicht der wichtigsten Veränderungen der Metaphysik seit Kant enthält (Erfurt: Keyser, 1821).

(anon.), Die Constitutionen der europäischen Staaten, 4 vols. (1817).

Geschichte des österreichischen Kaiserstaates (1817).

Die Staatswissenschaften im Lichte unsere Zeit, 5 vols. (1823-24).

Die Geschichte Preußens von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf unsere Tage, 4 vols. (Dresden 1824)

Further Reading

ADB, vol. 26, pp. 389-92 (Mataja).

Adickes, Erich, German Kantian Bibliography (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1895-96). Reprint: New York, Burt Franklin, 1970.

DLL, vol. 12, cols. 100-102 (Ingrid Bigler).

Hamberger/Meusel (1798) vol. 6, pp. 138-39; (1803) vol. 10, pp. 423-27; (1805) vol. 11, p. 618; (1811) vol. 15, pp. 61-67; (1823) vol. 19, pp. 159-64.

NDB, vol. 20, p. 562 (Manfred Friedrich).

Wagner, Karl Theodor, Katalog der Pölitzischen (Karl Heinrich Ludwig Poelitz) Bibliothek (Leipzig 1839).

[Index of Biographies]

Copyright ©2006 Steve Naragon (Manchester University)
Last modified: 11 Jul 2010
Please send comments and questions to: ssnaragon@manchester.edu