In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Friedrich Schleiermacher

  • Introduction
  • Primary Sources
  • Translations
  • Journals and Series
  • Bibliographies
  • Biographies
  • General and Introductory
  • Essay Collections
  • Schleiermacher as Philosopher
  • Schleiermacher’s Ethics
  • Schleiermacher’s Epistemology
  • Schleiermacher’s Dialectic
  • Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutics
  • Schleiermacher and Romanticism
  • Schleiermacher and Plato
  • Schleiermacher’s Theology (General)
  • Schleiermacher on Sin
  • Schleiermacher on Christology
  • Schleiermacher on the Trinity
  • Schleiermacher on Election and Grace
  • Schleiermacher and Spirituality
  • Schleiermacher and Barth
  • Schleiermacher: Feminism and Political Thought

Literary and Critical Theory Friedrich Schleiermacher
Jacqueline Mariña
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 June 2024
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0136


Friedrich Schleiermacher (b. 1768–d. 1834) was a German philosopher and Protestant theologian. His magnum opus in systematic theology, The Christian Faith (1822, 1830–1831), ranks alongside the work of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin in its caliber and importance. He is particularly significant for having re-envisioned the method of systematic theology given the groundbreaking work of Immanuel Kant, who had argued that theoretical knowledge of the supersensible is impossible, and thereby challenged all speculative metaphysics. For Schleiermacher, the self’s relation to the God is given at the ground of self-consciousness, in the feeling of absolute dependence, and all dogmatic assertions must be referred to the experience of the believer—that is, the Christian religious affections. Influenced by Romanticism and its reception of Kant, his book On Religion (1799) is one of the most significant in philosophy of religion in the German philosophical tradition. The importance of his thought on Continental philosophy has been significantly underestimated in the English-speaking world, as he had a profound impact on existentialist thinkers such as Heidegger and Kierkegaard. Also a clergyman well-known for his powerful sermons, he advocated the union of the Lutheran and Reformed denominations of the Old Prussian Union. A polymath, he also made groundbreaking contributions to hermeneutics, dialectic, ethical theory, and the translation of Plato. He contributed greatly to the founding of the University of Berlin, where he was professor and four-time dean of the theological faculty between 1810 and 1834, and was a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.

Primary Sources

The two principle editions of Schleiermacher’s works are the Gesamtausgabe der Werke Schleiermachers (SW) and Kritische Gesamtausgabe (KGA). The KGA is by far to be preferred as it is the newest, critical edition, but it is far from complete. For a more complete list of select editions of individual works, see the Cambridge Companion (cited under Essay Collections), pp. 319–322.

  • Schleiermacher, Friedrich. Gesamtausgabe der Werke Schleiermachers in drei Abteilungen = Friedrich Schleiermacher’s sämmtliche Werke (SW). Berlin: G. Reimer, 1834–1864.

    The older edition of Schleiermacher’s work. This edition comprised thirty-one volumes divided into three sections: (1) theology, (2) sermons, and (3) philosophy.

  • Schleiermacher, Friedrich. Kritische Gesamtausgabe (KGA). Edited by Hans-Joachim Birkner, et al. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 1980–.

    This is the new edition, but not yet complete. It is divided into five sections: I. Writings and drafts; II. Lectures; III. Sermons; IV. Translations; V. Correspondence and Biographical Documents.

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