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Martin Deutinger

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Philosopher and religious writer, b. in Langenpreising, Bavaria, 24 March, 1815; d. at Pfäfers, Switzerland, 9 Sept., 1864. He was ordained priest in 1837, and after filling several clerical positions, taught philosophy at Freising (1841), Munich (1846), and Dillingen (1847-52). Like his predecessors, Baader (q.v.) and Anton Günther, he endeavoured to construct a philosophy that should mediate between Catholicism and the idealistic philosophy then prevailing in Germany, and thus conciliate the truths of faith with what he considered the demands of reason. The effort at conciliation, while no more successful than that of his predecessors, involved less sacrifice of the content of Faith and of objective reason. Deutinger's system is based on a scheme of trilogies. He places anthropology at the centre. Starting with universal methodical doubt, he finds in that doubt the Ego revealed as an independent self-conscious person. Further reflection shows the self to be conditioned by the non-self (nature), while both self and nature suppose a supreme, free cause. Hence the first trilogy — Man, Nature, God. The evolution of the Ego is effected by the interaction of Nature and God, and this results in a triple life. The first element and stage proceeds from nature (the body), the second from God (the spirit), the third, the intermediating ground, is the soul. Hence the second trilogy constituting man's nature and stages of his development — Body, Soul, Spirit. The attributes of the spirit are being, knowing, willing. But the unity of these attributes is merely subjective; personality is only potentially in them. The spirit comes to actual personality through interaction with nature. The vital process, consisting in the interplay of nature (i.e. the necessitated factor) with the personal (i.e. the free) element, unfolds in three stages: as movement inward from without (thought, Denken); as outward from within (power, Können); and as proceeding from both together (doing, acting, Tun.). Hence the trilogy of human faculty: Thought, Power, Action; and the departments of the philosophical system: science of thought (Denklehre), of art (Kunstlehre) and of conduct (moral philosophy). Outside these departments lie psychology and the philosophy of nature, while on the circumference extend jurisprudence and the philosophy of religion. Sensation and imagination are insufficient to explain the genesis of thought, the concept. The representation wherein the external and the internal factors unite is but one basis of conscious knowledge, the concept; the other lies in the free personal element, inward intuition, the idea. Idea, therefore, and representation must interact in order to engender the concept. Hence cognition is the product of the two opposing factors, representation and idea, between which it intermediates as concept. But just as the antinomy between the free personality and the necessitated outer nature urges to conciliation in action, so the antinomy between subject and object presses towards unification in thought. Now all intermediate unity comes of likeness, unlikeness, and the blending unity. Likeness lies in the subject; unlikeness in the object; unity in the interrelation of these two. From the first we get the principle of identity; from the second that of sequence, or reason; from the third that of disjunction, or exclusion. Hence the final trilogy of the laws of thought.

Each of the foregoing "ternalities" is developed with considerable insight, but with much artificiality and still more mistiness, which is felt at once in the distinction he makes between soul and spirit, and in the genesis of personality by the play of the necessitating nature-object on the free spirit. The similarity to the Hegelian idealism, if not the borrowed influence of that elusive system, is at once apparent.

Deutinger possessed a richly-endowed mind, a soaring, though somewhat exuberant, imagination, an ardent love of the beautiful in nature and in art, and a comprehensive, though not always sufficiently critical, intelligence. He failed in his main purpose not because he lacked philosophical power or energy, but chiefly because he broke with philosophical tradition to go his own way. He is said to have boasted that "he had builded a house of his own in philosophy, regardless of the form and material employed by other builders". "This is all very fine", observes Stöckl, "and it may well be that Deutinger wanted to do perfect justice to the faith which he strove to conciliate with a modernised philosophy. But just because he wrought by himself independently of the claims of the Christian philosophical tradition, his system manifests the characteristic of all other modern systems constructed, in a like spirit. Subjectivism predominates throughout, and therefore it enjoyed but an ephemeral existence." As a critic, Deutinger was brilliant and prolific. His style, though somewhat luxuriant is marked by a sparkling wit and sarcasm that is specially captivating with the young. His works comprise: "Grundlinien der positiven Philosophie" (Ratisbon, 1843-49); "Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie" (Ratisbon, 1852-53); "Bilder des Geistes im Kunst u. Natur" (Augsburg, 1846-49, and Ratisbon, 1851); "Grundriss der Moralphilosophie" (Dillingen, 1847); "Grundriss der Logik" (Dillingen, 1848); "Wallfahrt nach Oberammergau" (Munich, 1851); "Geist der christl. Ueberlieferung" (Augsburg, 1850); "Das Princip der neueren Philosophie und die christl. Wissenschaft" (Ratisbon, 1857); "Ueber das Verhaltniss der Poesie zur Religion" (Augsburg, 1861); "Das Reich Gottes nach dem Apostel Joannes" (Freiburg, 1862); "Renan und das Wunder" (Munich, 1864). Among his posthumous works, edited by his pupil Lorenz Kastner, are: "Der gegenwartige Zustand der deutschen Philosophie"; a third volume of "Das Reich Gottes" (Ratisbon, 1867); and an additional part to the "Bilder des Geistes" (Munich, 1866).


KASTNER, Deutingers Leben und Schriften, (Munich, 1875); STOCKL, Geschichte der neueren Philosophie (Mainz, 1883); NEUDECKER, Das Grundproblem der Erkenntnisstheorie (Nordlingen, 1881), favourable to Deutinger; on the opposite side, BECKER, Die Philosophie Deutingers in ihrem Verhältniss zur Scholastik und Philosophie der Neuzeit in the Katholik (1866) I, 693; II, 156; SCHMID in Kirchenlexikon, s.v.; SATTEL, Deutingers Gotteslehre (Ratisbon, 1905).

About this page

APA citation. Siegfried, F. (1908). Martin Deutinger. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Siegfried, Francis. "Martin Deutinger." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Kenneth Caldwell.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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