Goerres (or GörRes), jOhann jOseph vOn
Goerres (Or Görres), Johann Joseph Von, an eminent German Roman Catholic writer, was born January 25, 1776, at Coblentz, and educated at the gymnasium in that place. In early life he was involved in politics, and in 1798 he set up a Republican newspaper, the "Rothe Blatt." Being sent on a deputation to Paris in 1799, he saw French "freedom" under Bonaparte, and became disgusted with it. In that year he gave up his journal, and devoted himself to the study of medicine, and afterwards to philosophy and natural science. In 1802 appeared his Aphorismen über Kunst (Aphorisms on Art); in 1805, Exposition der Physiologie (Physiology) and Glaube und Wissen (Faith and Knowledge). In 1806 he went to Heidelberg, and lectured on Physics there till 1808, when he returned to Coblentz. 1810 he published Mythengeschichte der Asiatischen Welt (Mythology of the Asiatic World, Heidelberg, 8vo). In 1814 he again entered the political field against the French as editor of the Rheinischer Merkur (The Rhenish Mercury), a journal which stirred the whole public mind of Germany. It was prohibited by the Prussian government in 1816 — a strange reward for the services it had rendered. In 1819 he had to take refuge in Strasburg, in consequence of publishing Deutschland und die Revolution, in which he pleaded for the liberal party of Germany. He afterwards published a number of political works of the same vein, and tinged with mysticism. In Strasburg he was surrounded with Roman Catholic influences, and began to despair of reforming society by politics. In 1825 he accepted the professorship of history in the new University of Munich, and there he spent the remainder of his days. In 1836:42 appeared his Christliche Mystik (Christian Mysticism, Ratisbon, 4 volumes, 8vo). During the conflict of the Prussian government and the archbishop of Cologne he wrote, in the interest of the ultramontane party, Athanasius (Ratisbon, 1837, 4 editions), and Triarier (Ratisbon, 1838). He wrote several other works in the interest of Roman Catholicism, and died January 27, 1848. Goerres was a prominent adherent of the first philosophic system of Schelling, but he found in the abstruse speculations of German philosophy no elements adequate to content his restless spirit of investigation. He was then swept away by that current of conservative Roman-Catholic restorationism, which, in the early part of the present century, carried a number of German politicians, historians, and poets into the bosom of the Church of Rome. Like most of them, Goerres never regarded Romanism as it appears in the light of history, but invested it with all the brilliant features and colors of the ideal religio-political society which he had previously conceived in his own mind. Still, under the influence of his former studies, he went down to the deep grounds of mysticism to discover there a light in the darkness, which he had found besetting the sources of all sciences. He persuaded himself that he had made there a great discovery in finding new and wonderful relations between the fables and myths of paganism as a shadow, and Roman- Catholic Christianity as the full truth; between the myriads of mysteries in all sciences, and the Roman-Catholic doctrine as a key to disclose them. At the beginning and end of every science he posted a Roman Catholic dogma as a watchman; by it he measured all the manifold inventions of our age, boldly pretending that everything true in them came from and pointed to a "Catholic" truth; and then he called upon the youths of his Church to rewrite from this stand-point the history of every science, since it had been too long monopolized and disfigured by Protestant erudition. All this, set forth in mystic, self-confident, and passionate language, could not fail to attract general attention on the part of his coreligionists. The influence of Goerres was so much the greater, as he made himself, at a critical moment, also the political champion of the, Roman Catholic interests, principally through the "Historische-politische Blätter" of Munich, a periodical edited, although not under his name, yet under his guidance and controlling superintendence. In one thing, however, Goerres was greatly disappointed. He found many readers, hearers, and admirers, but only a very few disciples. They could not master the sense of their teacher's words; a bad omen, indeed, for his anticipated dominion over the literature of the world. The first volume of his collected works (Gesammelte Werke, herausg. von Marie Goerres) appeared at Ratisbon in 1854. See Meth. Quart. Rev. January 1855, page 146; Sepp, Joseph von Goerres, eine Skizze, etc. (Ratisbon, 1848); Haneberg, Zur Erinnerung tan J. v. G. (Munich, 1848); Heinrich, J. v. G., ein Lebensbild (Frankf. 1867); Hist. Polit. Blitter, t. 27;
Brühl, Geschichte d. kathol. Literatur Deutschlands (Leips. 1854); Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 20:957; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 5:224 sq.