1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Crusius, Christian August

CRUSIUS, CHRISTIAN AUGUST (1715–1775), German philosopher and theologian, was born on the 10th of January 1715 at Lenau near Merseburg in Saxony. He was educated at Leipzig, and became professor of theology there in 1750, and principal of the university in 1773. He died on the 18th of October 1775. Crusius first came into notice as an opponent of the philosophy of Leibnitz and Wolff from the standpoint of religious orthodoxy. He attacked it mainly on the score of the moral evils that must flow from any system of determinism, and exerted himself in particular to vindicate the freedom of the will. The most important works of this period of his life are Entwurf der nothwendigen Vernunftwahrheiten (1745), and Weg zur Gewissheit und Zuverlässigkeit der menschlichen Erkenntniss (1747). Though diffusely written, and neither brilliant nor profound, Crusius’ philosophical books had a great but short-lived popularity. His criticism of Wolff, which is generally based on sound sense, had much influence upon Kant at the time when his system was forming; and his ethical doctrines are mentioned with respect in the Kritik of Practical Reason. Crusius’s later life was devoted to theology. In this capacity his sincere piety and amiable character gained him great influence, and he led the party in the university which became known as the “Crusianer” as opposed to the “Ernestianer,” the followers of J. A. Ernesti. The two professors adopted opposite methods of exegesis. Ernesti wished to subject the Scripture to the same laws of exposition as are applied to other ancient books; Crusius held firmly to orthodox ecclesiastical tradition. Crusius’s chief theological works are Hypomnemata ad theologiam propheticam (1764–1778), and Kurzer Entwurf der Moraltheologie (1772–1773). He sets his face against innovation in such matters as the accepted authorship of canonical writings, verbal inspiration, and the treatment of persons and events in the Old Testament as types of the New. His views, unscholarly and uncritical as they seem to us now, have had influence on later evangelical students of the Old Testament, such as E. W. Hengstenberg and F. Delitzsch.

There is a full notice of Crusius in Ersch and Gruber’s Allgemeine Encyclopädie. Consult also J. E. Erdmann’s History of Philosophy; A. Marquardt, Kant und Crusius; and art. in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie (1898). (H. St.)