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Franz Jacob Clemens (4 October 1815 ‚Äď 24 February 1862) was a German Catholic philosopher, a layman who defended the Catholic Church even on theological questions.



Clemens was born in Koblenz. After spending some time in an educational institutional at Metz, he entered, at the age of sixteen, the Jesuit College of Fribourg, Switzerland, attended the Gymnasium at Koblenz, and thence passed to the University of Bonn. In 1835 he matriculated at the University of Berlin, where he devoted special attention to the study of philosophy and received the doctorate in philosophy (1839).

At the end of a literary journey through German and Italy, he became, in 1843, instructor in philosophy at the University of Bonn, and taught there until 1856. In 1848 he was elected a member of the Frankfurt Parliament, and attended, at Mainz, the first Congress of the German Catholics‚Äé, at which he suggested the foundation of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Germany. In 1856 he was appointed professor of philosophy in the Academy of Munster.

So great was his popularity as a teacher at Bonn that, when he removed to the University of M√ľnster, he was followed by some seventy students. The attendance at his lectures in the Westphalian capital was an extraordinarily large one; but his health failed after a few years. In 1861, upon the advice of his physicians, he sought relief in a southern climate; he died at Rome in the beginning of the following year and was buried at the Ges√Ļ.


He published his first major work, "Giordano Bruno und Nikolaus von Cusa", in 1847, at Bonn. He also wrote in defence of the Holy Coat of Trier, "Der heilige Rock zu Trier und die protestantische Kritik" (1845), against Johann Gildemeister and Heinrich von Sybel.

His other principal writings were connected with two controversies in which he became involved. His book, "Die speculative Theologie A. G√ľnthers" (Cologne, 1853), a clear demonstration of the contradiction between Catholic doctrine and the views of Anton G√ľnther, elicited answers from Johann Baptista Baltzer and Franz Peter Knoodt, to which Clemens replied.

His "De Scholasticorum sententi√Ę, philosophiam esse theologiae ancillam, commentatio" (M√ľnster, 1856) treated of the subordinate position which philosophy should occupy in regard to theology. It brought him into conflict with Professor Johannes von Kuhn of T√ľbingen, against whom he published, in defence of his position: "Die Wahrheit etc." (M√ľnster, 1860) and "√úber das Verh√§ltniss, etc." (Mainz, 1860).


  • Der Katholic (1862), I, 257-80;
  • Lit. Handweiser (1862), 88-89;
  • Stockl in Allg. deut. Biog. (Leipzig, 1876), IV, 315-17;
  • Dublin Review (1862-63), LII, 417-18.

This article incorporates text from the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.

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