Anton Gunther

1783-1863. German religious philosopher. Born at Lindenau in Bohemia, he studied law and philosophy at Prague, where his faith was shaken by his study of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling; but his appointment as tutor in the household of Prince Bretzenheim brought him under the influence in particular of C.M. Hofbauer* and his Christian convictions were restored. He then began the study of theology and in 1822 entered the Jesuit novitiate at Starawicz, Galicia, but left in 1824. He lived at Vienna for the rest of his life, propagating his system of philosophy and speculative theology. He refused chairs at Munich, Bonn, Breslau, and Tübingen in the vain hope of a professorship at Vienna.

In the interests of apologetics he tried to combat the contemporary pantheistic idealism of Schelling and Hegel. His approach was rationalistic. He argued that the fundamentals of the Christian faith could be established by reason alone, that revelation was not an absolute necessity, and hence that faith should be changed into knowledge. Although his work was supported by a number of influential scholars and clerics, his writings were condemned by the Index in 1857 for their basic rationalism and its application to Christian doctrine. Gunther's system is implicit rather than explicit in his main writings: eight works in a collected edition, Gesammelte Schriften (9 vols., 1882); with J.E. Veith, Lydia, Philosophisches Jahrbuch (5 vols., 1849-54); Anti-Savarese, published posthumously (1883). After the definition of papal infallibility at the Vatican Council in 1870, many of his followers joined the Old Catholics.*