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Adam Weishaupt

Johann Adam Weishaupt
Adam Weishaupt
Born (1748-02-06)6 February 1748
Ingolstadt, Bavaria
Died 18 November 1830(1830-11-18) (aged 82)
Gotha, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Era Enlightenment era
Region Western Philosophy
School Empiricism
Main interests
Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ethics

Johann Adam Weishaupt (6 February 1748 – 18 November 1830[1][2][3][4]) was a German philosopher and founder of the Order of the Illuminati, a secret society.


  • Early life 1
  • Founder of the Illuminati 2
  • Activities in exile 3
  • Assessment of character and intentions 4
  • Adam Weishaupt in pop culture 5
  • Works 6
    • Philosophical works 6.1
    • Works relating to the Illuminati 6.2
    • Works by Adam Weishaupt in English translation 6.3
  • Notes 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Adam Weishaupt was born on 6 February 1748 in United States. Washington's portrait on the U.S. one-dollar bill is said to actually be Weishaupt's.

Another version of Adam Weishaupt appears in the extensive comic book novel Church & State I volumes. His motives are republican confederalizing of city-states in Estarcion (a pseudo-Europe) and the accumulation of capital unencumbered by government or church.

Weishaupt's name is one of many references made to the Illuminati and other conspiracies in the video game Deus Ex (2000). The protagonist uncovers a virus engineered by the VersaLife Corporation with its molecular structure in multiples of 17 and 23. An ally of the protagonist notes "1723. The birth of Adam Weishaupt" even though this reference is actually incorrect as Weishaupt was born in 1748.

Adam Weishaupt is also mentioned ("Bush got a ouija to talk to Adam Weishaupt") by the New York rapper Cage in El-P's "Accidents Don't Happen", the ninth track on his album Fantastic Damage (2002).

Adam Weishaupt is briefly mentioned in Umberto Eco's novel The Prague Cemetery.[25]


Philosophical works

  • (1775) De Lapsu Academiarum Commentatio Politica.
  • (1786) Über die Schrecken des Todes – eine philosophische Rede.
    • (French) Discours Philosophique sur les Frayeurs de la Mort (1788). Gallica
  • (1786) Über Materialismus und Idealismus. Torino
  • (1788) Geschichte der Vervollkommnung des menschlichen Geschlechts.
  • (1788) Über die Gründe und Gewißheit der Menschlichen Erkenntniß.
  • (1788) Über die Kantischen Anschauungen und Erscheinungen.
  • (1788) Zweifel über die Kantischen Begriffe von Zeit und Raum.
  • (1793) Über Wahrheit und sittliche Vollkommenheit.
  • (1794) Über die Lehre von den Gründen und Ursachen aller Dinge.
  • (1794) Über die Selbsterkenntnis, ihre Hindernisse und Vorteile.
  • (1797) Über die Zwecke oder Finalursachen.
  • (1802) Über die Hindernisse der baierischen Industrie und Bevölkerung.
  • (1804) Die Leuchte des Diogenes.
  • (1817) Über die Staats-Ausgaben und Auflagen. Google Books
  • (1818) Über das Besteuerungs-System.

Works relating to the Illuminati

  • (1786) Apologie der Illuminaten.
  • (1786) Vollständige Geschichte der Verfolgung der Illuminaten in Bayern.
  • (1786) Schilderung der Illuminaten.
  • (1787) Einleitung zu meiner Apologie.
  • (1787) [Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens...]
  • (1787) [Nachtrage von weitern Originalschriften...] Google Books
  • (1787) Kurze Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten.
  • (1787) Nachtrag zur Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten.
  • (1787) Apologie des Mißvergnügens und des Übels.
  • (1787) Das Verbesserte System der Illuminaten.
  • (1788) Der ächte Illuminat, oder die wahren, unverbesserten Rituale der Illuminaten.
  • (1795) Pythagoras, oder Betrachtungen über die geheime Welt- und Regierungs-Kunst.

Works by Adam Weishaupt in English translation

  • (2008) Diogenes’ Lamp, or an Examination of Our Present Day Morality and Enlightenment, translated by Amelia Gill, The Masonic Book Club.
  • (2014) A Brief Justification of My Intentions: Casting Light on the Latest Original Writings, translated by Dr. Tony Page, Justice Publications, Amazon Kindle.
  • (2014) Supplement to the Justification of My Intentions, translated by Dr. Tony Page, Justice Publications, Amazon Kindle.
  • (2015) The Secret School of Wisdom: The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati, translated by Jeva Singh-Anand, edited by Josef Wäges and Reinhard Markner, London: Lewis Masonic, 447 pp.


  1. ^ a b c Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie Vol. 41, p. 539.
  2. ^ a b c Engel, Leopold. Geschichte des Illuminaten-ordens. Berlin: H. Bermühler Verlag, 1906.
  3. ^ a b van Dülmen, Richard. Der Geheimbund der Illuminaten. Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog, 1975.
  4. ^ a b Stauffer, Vernon. New England and the Bavarian Illuminati. Columbia University, 1918.
  5. ^ a b Engel 22.
  6. ^ Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie Vol. 13, pp. 740–741.
  7. ^ Freninger, Franz Xaver, ed. Das Matrikelbuch der Universitaet Ingolstadt-Landshut-München. München: A. Eichleiter, 1872. 31.
  8. ^ Hartmann, Peter Claus. Bayerns Weg in die Gegenwart. Regensburg: Pustet, 1989. 262. Also, Bauerreiss, Romuald. Kirchengeschichte Bayerns. Vol. 7. St. Ottilien: EOS Verlag, 1970. 405.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Freninger 47.
  11. ^ Engel 25–28.
  12. ^ Freninger 32.
  13. ^ Engel 31.
  14. ^ Engel 33. Also, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie Vol. 41, p. 540.
  15. ^ Engel 61–62.
  16. ^ Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie Vol. 6, pp. 595–597.
  17. ^ Beiser, Frederick C. The Fate of Reason. Harvard University Press, 1987. 186–88.
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b c d e Catholic Encyclopedia: Illuminati,
  20. ^
  21. ^ Dr. Wolfgang Riedel, 'Aufklaerung und Macht', in Die Weimarer Klassik und ihre Geheimbuende, ed. by W. Mueller-Seidel and W. Riedel, Koenigshausen und Neumann, 2002, p. 112
  22. ^ Dr. Wolfgang Riedel, Die Weimarer Klassik und ihre Geheimbuende,2002, p. 112
  23. ^ Dr. Eberhard Weis in Die Weimarer Klassik und ihre Geheimbünde, edited by Professor Walter Müller-Seidel and Professor Wolfgang Riedel, Königshausen und Neumann, 2003, pp. 100-101
  24. ^ Dr. Tony Page (translator and editor), Supplement to the Justification of My Intentions by Adam Weishaupt, Justice Publications, Bangkok, Amazon Kindle, 2014, p. 1
  25. ^ Umberto Eco, The Prague Cemetery (Boston and New York 2011), 49.

External links

  • (German) Biography in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie Vol. 41, pp. 539–550 by Daniel Jacoby.
  • A Bavarian Illuminati primer by Trevor W. McKeown.
  • Illuminati entry in The Catholic Encyclopedia, hosted by New Advent.
Adam Weishaupt is referred to repeatedly in

Adam Weishaupt in pop culture

"Weishaupt’s plan was to educate Illuminati followers in the highest levels of humanity and morality (basing his teachings on the supremacy of Reason, allied with the spirit of the Golden Rule of not doing to others what one would not wish done to oneself), so that if Illuminati alumni subsequently attained positions of significance and power (such as in the fields of education and politics), they could exert a benevolent and uplifting influence upon society at large. His project was utopian and naively optimistic, and he himself was certainly not without flaws of character – but neither he nor his plan was evil or violent in and of themselves. It is one of the deplorable and tragic ironies of history that a man who tried to inculcate virtue, philanthropy, social justice and morality has become one of the great hate-figures of 21st-century ‘conspiracy’ thinking."[24]

Weishaupt's character and intentions have been variously assessed: from those such as the Abbé Barruel and John Robison who regarded him as a 'human devil' and saw his mission as one of malevolent destructiveness, to those who view him as a humane and benign, albeit wilful, social reformer. Writing on this topic, Dr. Tony Page comments:

Death mask of Adam Weishaupt

Assessment of character and intentions

After Weishaupt's Order of Illuminati was banned and its members dispersed, it left behind no enduring traces of an influence, not even on its own erstwhile members, who went on in the future to develop in quite different directions.[23]

He received the assistance of Duke Ernest II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1745–1804), and lived in Gotha writing a series of works on illuminism, including A Complete History of the Persecutions of the Illuminati in Bavaria (1785), A Picture of Illuminism (1786), An Apology for the Illuminati (1786), and An Improved System of Illuminism (1787). Adam Weishaupt died in Gotha on 18 November 1830.[1][2][3][4] He was survived by his second wife, Anna Maria (née Sausenhofer), and his children Nanette, Charlotte, Ernst, Karl, Eduard, and Alfred.[2] Weishaupt was buried next to his son Wilhelm who preceded him in death in 1802.

Activities in exile

Weishaupt's radical rationalism and vocabulary was not likely to succeed. Writings that were intercepted in 1784 were interpreted as seditious, and the Society was banned by the government of Karl Theodor, Elector of Bavaria, in 1784. Weishaupt lost his position at the University of Ingolstadt and fled Bavaria.[19]

Contrary to Immanuel Kant's famous dictum that Enlightenment (and Weishaupt's Order was in some respects an expression of the Enlightenment Movement) was the passage by man out of his 'self-imposed immaturity' through daring to 'make use of his own reason, without the guidance of another,' Weishaupt's Order of Illuminati prescribed in great detail everything which the members had obediently to read and think, so that Dr. Wolfgang Riedel has commented that this approach to illumination or enlightenment constituted a degradation and twisting of the Kantian principle of Enlightenment.[21] Riedel writes: 'The independence of thought and judgement required by Kant ... was specifically prevented by the Order of the Illuminati's rules and regulations. Enlightenment takes place here, if it takes place at all, precisely under the direction of another, namely under that of the "Superiors" [of the Order].[22]

[19] Weishaupt was initiated into the

The actual character of the society was an elaborate network of spies and counter-spies. Each isolated cell of initiates reported to a superior, whom they did not know: a party structure that was effectively adopted by some later groups.[19]

On May day 1776 Johann Adam Weishaupt founded the "Illuminati" in the Electorate of Bavaria. He adopted the name of "Brother Spartacus" within the order. Even Encyclopedia references vary on the goal of the order, such as New Advent saying the Order was not egalitarian or democratic internally, and sought to promote the doctrines of equality and freedom throughout society;[19] while others like Collier's have said the aim was to combat religion and foster rationalism in its place.[20]

At a time, however, when there was no end of making game of and abusing secret societies, I planned to make use of this human foible for a real and worthy goal, for the benefit of people. I wished to do what the heads of the ecclesiastical and secular authorities ought to have done by virtue of their offices ...[18]

Founder of the Illuminati

After University of Göttingen. Both Feder and Weishaupt would later become opponents of Kantian idealism.[17]

. Eichstätt of [13] he became a professor of law. The following year he married Afra Sausenhofer[12] In 1772[11].doctorate of law at age 20 with a [10] school. He later enrolled at the University of Ingolstadt and graduated in 1768Jesuit at a [9]. Weishaupt began his formal education at age sevenrationalism and he influenced the young Weishaupt with his [8],Enlightenment and of the Christian Wolff Ickstatt was a proponent of the philosophy of [7].University of Ingolstadt who, like his father, was a professor of law at the [6]Johann Adam Freiherr von Ickstatt godfather when Adam was five years old. After his father's death he came under the tutelage of his [5]

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