Bernard Bolzano: Band II,A,22,2: Erbauungsreden des Studienjahres 1816/1817. Zweiter Teil

Edited by Kurt F. Strasser.
Edited by Kurt F. Strasser.
208 p., 18,3 x 25,3 cm.
ISBN 978-3-7728-2320-6
Single price:
€ 278.–

From 1805 to 1820, Bernard Bolzano was professor of »religious doctrine« (Religionslehre) at the University of Prague. The lectures he had to deliver were part of the so-called »Philosophical Studies« that every student of the university had to complete before he entered the »higher« studies, i.e. the studies of medicine, law or theology. As professor of religious doctrine, Bolzano also had the duty to deliver the homilies on Sundays and holidays during the academic year to all the students of the »Philosophical Studies«. This explains the enormous influence Bolzano exerted through these homilies on the intellectual and political life of Bohemia in his time, whose offshoots reached even the Charta 77 movement in former Czechoslovakia. The chairs of religious doctrine were established by the Austrian emperor Franz at all universities of the Austrian empire in order to shape the students into »good Christians and law-abiding citizens« as it was ordered in a decree. The homilies Bolzano had to deliver at the University of Prague (as did all professors of religious doctrine at Austrian universities) were called ›Erbauungsreden‹ (edifying addresses) or ›exhortations‹. There is evidence for 582 ›Erbauungsreden‹ Bolzano delivered as a professor at the University of Prague of which 414 are extant; of these, 153 have not yet been published at all. The 414 ›Erbauungsreden‹ that are extant have survived in different form: some of them (70) as autographs, i.e. in Bolzano’s own handwriting, others in handwritten copies of Bolzano’s manuscripts, others in notes taken by Bolzano’s students. Several collections of Bolzano’s ›Erbauungsreden‹ have already appeared in print, some of them during Bolzano’s lifetime, while others were published posthumously by his students or other editors. – The new critical edition of Bolzano’s ›Erbauungsreden‹ presents all of them in chronological order. Those which are extant will be edited on the basis of the best version which has remained. Those ›Erbauungsreden‹ which are not extant will be documented and described according to an index Bolzano himself has prepared.

In this academic year, Bolzano persevered with his series of fundamental reforms. He began by explaining why these were necessary: It was time to replace superstition and error with a sensible faith in God and a religious enlightenment. The aim of this was to create better conditions for human beings in his native country Bohemia and ultimately everywhere on earth. He saw this as a task which could be accomplished with the combined efforts of all those who together were willing to stand up for the »good cause of mankind.« Alliances of this nature were however observed with increasing distrust by the Austrian state. This was understandable, since in his work for a better society Bolzano was pressing for social justice in all forms, was calling for a »more reasonable« constitution, wanted to replace hereditary nobility with nobility of mind etc. His statements indicating that anyone who did not make every effort to support the common good did not deserve to live as far as he was concerned show how radical his thinking was in these issues. He condemned the misuse of intelligence such as »deceiving the world because it wanted to be deceived,« as well as the abuse of religion. He recognized the excessive enthusiasm with which mainly those who were wise in the ways of the world or the romantics in Germany were afflicted in his time as a dangerous kind of rampant scientific uncertainty. He was not grimly determined in his way of doing things, but rather of a »cheerful disposition.«


Peter Demetz, Stifter-Jahrbuch

»Ungeachtet aller Presseempfänge und Bestsellerpartys kommt auch in der Welt der Bücher das Dauernde auf leisen Sohlen einher, und die fruchtbaren Fortschritte der Bernard-Bolzano-Gesamtausgabe [...] bieten mehr als einen berechtigten Grund, dem loyalen Verlag und den Herausgebern Dank zu sagen.«

Peter Demetz,

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