The exchange of letters between the philosopher, poet, writer and economic reformer Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743-1819) has a unique significance for the understanding of the era of Classical German Philosophy - both because of its philosophical orientation, which reflects the discourse of the era in its entire breadth and diversity, and also because of the circle of pen pals. Jacobi’s correspondence reflects these personal contacts. He does not write as a “philosopher of profession” in the sense of a bourgeois profession, but as a “philosopher of profession” in the sense of a committed ‘homme de lettres’ who loves, seeks and promotes conversation - and last but not least the intensifying argument.
In his letters, he picks up on all the impulses of his time both sensitively and critically and illuminates them with a clear-sighted gaze, which remains completely unbiased by the fixation on school positions. It is precisely this sovereign and also materially favoured distance of Jacobi from the professional integration into specific political, philosophical, and literary contexts that makes his correspondence a focus of intellectual and cultural interest in the era. In the interests of the world bourgeoisie, it corresponds with those who represent the world of bourgeoisie around 1800. The high rank of this letter corpus may be illustrated by a few outstanding names in deliberately colorful order: Wieland, Goethe, Klopstock, Gleim, Heinse, Lessing, Mendelssohn, Lavater, Dohm, Garve, Princess Amalia von Gallitzin, Hemsterhuis, Hamann, Herder, Forster, Sömmerring, Johannes Müller, Matthias Claudius, the Reimarus family, Pestalozzi, Friedrich Leopold Graf zu Stolberg-Stolberg, Johann Heinrich Voß, Kant, Fichte, Reinhold, Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt, Schiller, Georges-Louis Le Sage, Jean François de La Harpe, Jacques Necker, Karl Friedrich Reinhard (temporary French Foreign Minister), Madame de Staël, Jean Paul, Bouterwek, Schelling, Friedrich Schlegel, and Schleiermacher.
The correspondence of the Düsseldorf years of Jacobi (1762 - September 1794) has been edited and commented on in recent years. In the project phase which is now beginning, the correspondence from two further phases of his life has to be processed. On the basis of this exchange of letters, a “Jacobi dictionary online” will be developed at a later stage. The textual basis of the dictionary, which is provided electronically, consists of the complex of Jacobi’s philosophical and literary writings as well as of his entire correspondence. Based on a list of about 500 selected Lemmata, both the internal networking of his work and its embedding in the central philosophical and political confrontations of the epoch over the entire period of his work are opened up.
The edition “Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi: Briefwechsel” is published by the publishing house frommann-holzboog in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt.