Adam Karl August von Eschenmayer

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Karl August von Eschenmayer
Born 4 July 1768
Neuenbürg, Duchy of Württemberg
Died 17 November 1852 (1852-11-18) (aged 84)
Kirchheim unter Teck, Kingdom of Württemberg
Alma mater University of Tübingen
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School German idealism
Main interests
Notable ideas

Adam Karl August von Eschenmayer (originally Carl; 4 July 1768 – 17 November 1852) was a German philosopher and physician.


He was born at Neuenbürg in Württemberg in 1768. After receiving his early education at the Caroline academy of Stuttgart, he entered the University of Tübingen, where he was given the degree of doctor of medicine. He practised for some time as a physician at Sulz, and then at Kirchheim, and in 1811 he was chosen extraordinary professor of philosophy and medicine at Tübingen. In 1818 he became ordinary professor of practical philosophy, but in 1836 he resigned and took up his residence at Kirchheim, where he devoted his whole attention to philosophical studies.[3]


Eschenmayer's views are largely identical with those of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, but he differed from him in regard to the knowledge of the absolute. He believed that in order to complete the arc of truth, philosophy must be supplemented by what he called non-philosophy (German: Nichtphilosophie), a kind of mystical illumination by which was obtained a belief in God that could not be reached by mere intellectual effort.[4] He carried this tendency to mysticism into his physical researches, and was led by it to take a deep interest in the phenomena of animal magnetism. He ultimately became a devout believer in demoniacal and spiritual possession; and his later writings are all strongly impregnated with supernaturalism.[3]

Works (selection)

  • Die Philosophie in ihrem Übergange zur Nichtphilosophie (1803);
  • Versuch die scheinbare Magie des thierischen Magnetismus aus physiol. und psychischen Gesetzen in erklären (1816);
  • System der Moralphilosophie (1818);
  • Psychologie in drei Theilen, als empirische, reine, angewandte (1817, 2nd ed. 1822);
  • Religionsphilosophie (3 yols., 1818-1824);
  • Die Hegelsche Religionsphilosophie verglichen mit dem christl. Princip (1834);
  • Der Ischariotismus unserer Täge (1835) (directed against David Strauss's Life of Jesus);
  • Konflikt zwischen Himmel und Hölle, an dem Damon eines besessenen Mädchens beobachtet (1837);
  • Grundriss der Naturphilosophie (1832);
  • Grundzüge der christl. Philosophie (1840); and
  • Betrachtungen über den physischen Weltbau (1852).[3]


  1. Maier, S. (2009). "Der Einfluss der Fichteschen Philosophie in der Medizin bei Adolph Karl August Eschenmayer. Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen: Medizinische Fakultät.
  2. François Laruelle, "The Generic as Predicate and Constant (Non-Philosophy and Materialism)." in: Bryant, Levi, Graham Harman, and Nick Srnicek (eds.). 2011. The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. Melbourne: Re-Press. p. 237.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [ "Eschenmayer, Adam Karl August von" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 764–765.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Höffding, H., Hist. of Mod. Phil., Eng. trans. vol. 2, 1900, p. 170.


  • Vladimir Abashnik, Adolph Karl August Eschenmayer. In: The Dictionary of eighteenth-century German philosophers. General editors: Heiner F. Klemme, Manfred Kuehn. In 3 vol. London: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., 2010, Vol. 1: A – G, pp. 294–295.

Further reading