The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Jacobi, Friedrich Heinrich

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JACOBI, Friedrich Heinrich, German philosopher: b. Düsseldorf, 25 Jan. 1743; d. Munich, 10 March 1819. He was educated at the University of Geneva, and in 1764 entered upon a commercial career in his native town; after a few years he retired from business, and in 1770 became a member of the councils for the duchies of Juliers and Berg. From his university days he was actively interested in literature and philosophy, and with Wieland started a journal in which some of his own writings were first published. In 1779 he went to Munich for a short time; and in 1793 left Düsseldorf and settled in Holstein. In 1804 he was called to Munich as a member of the Academy of Sciences then newly established; from 1807 to 1812 he was president of the academy; and in 1812 retired to prepare a collected edition of his works, which, however, was not finished before his death. His writings include two philosophical romances, ‘Allwills Brief-Sammlung’ (1774) and ‘Woldemar’ (1779); and the more important philosophical treatises, ‘Briefe über die Lehre Spinoza's’ (1785); ‘David Hume über den Glauben oder Idealismus and Realismus’ (1785); ‘Von den Göttlichen Dingen’ (1811). In these treatises he defines his theory that man's thought — or reason — is by its nature partial and limited, and can only connect facts, not explain their existence; and that the higher truths must be understood through another different faculty which he calls “faith” or “belief” (“Glaube”); he does not, therefore, seek to establish a systematic philosophy. His theories involved him in considerable controversy, especially with the adherents of the critical philosophy. His collected works were published at Leipzig (6 vols., 1812-24). Consult Deycke, ‘F. H. Jacobi im Verhältniss zu seinen Zeitgenossen’ (Frankfort 1848); Wilde, ‘F. H. Jacobi: A Study of the Origin of German Realism’ (New York 1894); Crawford, ‘Philosophy of F. H. Jacobi’ (ib. 1905); and Isenberg, ‘Der Einfluss der Philosophie Charles Bonnets auf F. H. Jacobi’ (Tübingen 1906).