Christian Thomasius

(1655 – 1728)
German Educator, Writer and Jurist

Portuguese Version



  • University of Frankfurt an der Oder, Law degree (1679)


  • Professor of jurisprudence at University of Halle (1694-1724)
  • Direktor (President), University of Halle (1710-1728)

Major Contributions

  • Modern University – teaching in common language

Ideas and Interests

Thomasius’s early career was spent in Leipzig as an advocate, lecturer, and founder of a controversial publication, Monatsgesprache (Monthly Converstations). He made it his cause to criticize Aristotelianism, orthodox Lutheranism, and Roman jurisprudence, and the divine right of kingship. After leaving Saxon in 1690, he was instrumental in the founding of the University of Halle.

The University of Halle was founded in 1694 as a center for the Lutheran Party. Christian Thomasius was instrumental in making Halle the first modern University by lecturing in the vernacular (German) instead of Latin. Under the influence of Thomasius and another teacher, Francke, Halle became the pacesetter of academic thought and theology in Germany.

Thomasius was the principal philosophical writer of the beginning stage of German Enlightenment. He is best known for his innovative endeavor to delineate the distinction between law and morality. “[H]is claim that there is a sphere of right action not called for by law or by politeness has become a central feature of the modern conception of morality (Becker, p. 1248).” By the time of his death in 1728, Thomasius had established himself as a towering cultural figure, with a public philosophy promoting polite sociability.


  • Einleitungzu der Vernunft-Lehre (1691)
  • Fundamenta Juris Naturae et Gentium (1705)

References: 1, 4, 26

Image reprinted from Fleischmann, M. (1931). Christian Thomasius: Leben un Lebenswerk. Germany: Max Neimeyer