Gunther, Anton

Gunther, Anton, a prominent Roman Catholic philosopher of modern times, was born Nov. 17, 1785, at Lindenu, Bohemia. He studied philosophy and law at the University of Prague, was for several years tutor in the family of prince Bretzenheim, and took priestly orders in 1820. He was then for several years vice-director of philosophical studies at the University of Vienna. The professorship of philosophy, for which he was a candidate at the earnest solicitation of his friends, he did not obtain, in consequence of the efforts made by the opponents of his philosophical views. The life-work of Gunther was to attempt, in opposition to the prevailing philosophical systems, which he regarded as more or less unchristian, the establishment of a thoroughly Christian philosophy. He desired to show that the teachings of divine revelation, being the absolute truth, need not only not to shun the light of reason, but that, on the contrary, reason itself will lead the sound thinker to an acceptance of the Christian philosophy, which he thought had found its most complete expression in the Roman Catholic doctrine. The first work of Gunther was the Vorschule zur speculativen Theologic (Vienna, 1828; 2d enlarged edition 1846), which contained the theory of creation; and it was followed in 1829 by the theory of the incarnation. These works at once established for him the reputation of being one of the foremost philosophers of the Roman Catholic Church. The University of Munich conferred upon him the title of Doctor Philosophiae, which, however, the illiberal government of Austria did not allow him to use. Gunther, who lived in great retirement, continued to publish a series of philosophical works, namely, Peregrin's Gastmahl (Vienna, 1830): — Sudund Nordlichter (1832): — Januskopfe fur Philosophie und Theologie (published by him conjointly with his friend Dr. Papst, Vienna, 1833): — Der letzte Sym-boliker (with special reference to the works of Mohler and Baur, 1834): — Thomas a Scrupulis: zur Transfiguration der Personlichkeitspantheismen neuester Zeit de (1835): — Die Juste-Milieus in der deutschen Philosophie der gegenwartigen Zeit (1837): — Euristheus und Heracles (1842). He also published from 1848 to 1854, conjointly with his friend Dr. Veith, a philosophical annual entitled Lydia. In none of his works did he undertake to develop a philosophical system as a whole, but he contributed ample material for a new system. He was, in particular, acknowledged as one of the keenest and most powerful opponents of the pantheistic schools, and he found many adherents among the Roman Catholic theologians and scholars of Germany. The "Guntherian philosophy" (Gunthersche Philosophie) came to establish itself at many of the Roman Catholic universities, and for a time shared with the school of Hermes (q.v.) the control of philosophical studies and learning in Catholic Germany. To the Jesuits and the ultramontane school, the school of Gunther was as obnoxious as that of Hermes. His philosophical treatment of the Christian doctrines was regarded by many as derogatory to the belief in them. He also gave great offence by daring to criticise high authorities, as Thomas of Aquinas. Still greater dissatisfaction was created by his dualistic theory concerning mind and body. His works were denounced in Rome. On Jan. 8, 1857, all his works were put on the Index of prohibited works, and on June 15 a brief of the pope appeared charging him with errors in the doctrine of the Trinity, of Christology and Anthropology, and an over-estimation of the powers of reason. Gunther, and with him most of his adherents, submitted to the papal censure Feb. 20, 1857. Gunther himself was deeply affected by this humiliation, and expressed the hope that his philosophy might be supplanted by something better. He died Feb. 24, 1863. See Clemens [an ultramontane opponent of Gunther], Die speculative Theologie Gunthers (Coln, 1853). (A.S.)

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