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Franz Jacob Clemens

German Catholic philosopher (1815-1862)

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Clemens, FRANZ JACOB, a German Catholic philosopher, b. October 4, 1815, at Coblenz; d. February 24, 1862, at Rome. After spending some time in an educational institution at Metz, he entered, at the age of sixteen, the Jesuit College of Fribourg, Switzerland, attended the Gymnasium at Coblenz, and thence passed to the University of Bonn. In 1835 he matriculated at the University of Berlin, where he devoted special attention to the study of philosophy and received the doctorate in philosophy (1839). At the end of a literary journey through Germany and Italy, he became, in 1843, instructor in philosophy at the University of Bonn, and taught there with great success until 1856. In 1848 he was elected a member of the Frankfort Parliament, and attended, at Mainz, the first General Congress of German Catholics, at which he suggested the foundation of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Germany. In 1856 he was appointed professor of philosophy in the Academy of Munster. So great was his popularity as a teacher at Bonn that, when he removed to Munster, he was followed by some seventy students. The attendance at his lectures in the Westphalian capital was an extraordinarily large one; but his health failed after a few years. In 1861, upon the advice of his physicians, he sought relief in a southern climate; he died at Rome in the beginning of the following year and was buried at the Gesfi.

Clemens was a layman of sound Catholic principles, who ably defended the Church even on theological questions. He published his first great work, “Giordano Bruno and Nikolaus von Cusa”, in 1847, at Bonn. He also wrote in defense of the Holy Coat of Trier, “Der heilige Rock zu Trier and die protestantische Kritik” (1845), against Gildemeister and von Sybel. His other principal writings were connected with two controversies in which he became involved. His book, “Die speculative Theologie A. Gunthers” (Cologne, 1853), a clear demonstration of the contra-diction between Catholic doctrine and the views of Gunther, elicited answers from Professors Baltzer and Knoodt, to which Clemens replied. His “De Scholasticorum sententia, philosophiam esse theologim ancillam, commentatio” (Munster, 1856) treated of the subordinate position which philosophy should occupy in regard to theology. It brought him into conflict with Professor Kuhn of Tubingen, against whom he published, in defense of his position: “Die Wahrheit etc.” (Munster, 1860) and “Uber das Verhaltniss etc.” (Mainz, 1860).


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