Hedwig Conrad-Martius
  • introduction

    Sometimes referred to as the “first lady of German philosophy,” Hedwig Conrad-Martius is a figure who is today almost entirely forgotten. As a member of both the Munich and Göttingen Circles of phenomenology, Conrad-Martius advanced what is known as realist phenomenology in opposition to Husserl’s transcendental-phenomenological idealism. Her work in ontology and on the concepts of space and time carve out an original position in phenomenology distinct from both Husserl and Heidegger.

    Women were key members of the early phenomenological movement, and played important roles in each of the Göttingen, Munich, and Freiburg Phenomenological Circles. Our aim at the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists is to highlight the important contributions to phenomenology and ontology made by these women, and to bring their work into dialogue with their contemporaries and with current philosophical debates.

    There has been a renewed interest in Hedwig Conrad-Martius, mainly having to do with her historical role in the phenomenological movement, specifically her role in establishing the Bergzabern Circle of phenomenologists during the interwar period as well as her teaching activities in Munich. However, there is much more work to be done in terms of critically assessing her philosophical writings.


  • Philosopher's Profile

    Hedwig Margarete Elisabeth Martius was born in Berlin on 27 February 1888. She was the daughter of Friedrich Wilhelm August Martius – a physician and director of the medical clinic at the University of Rostock – and Martha Martius (née Leonhard). In the WS 1907/08, she enrolled in the faculty of philosophy at the University of Rostock There she studied philosophy with Franz Bruno Erhardt and German literature with Wolfgang Golther. After three semesters in Rostock, and one in Freiburg, Martius transferred to the University of Munich. During her first semester in Munich, she took courses with Aloys Fischer and Max Scheler, and met her future husband, Theodor Conrad. In the summer of 1910, Martius enrolled in a course taught by Moritz Geiger, and became involved in the Akademischer Verein für Psychologie. At the end of the semester, Geiger sent Martius to study with Edmund Husserl in Göttingen.

    Martius spent four semesters in Göttingen studying with Husserl and Adolf Reinach. She became a prominent member of the Göttinger Philosophischen Gesellschaft – the Göttingen Circle. In 1912, she was awarded a prize from the University of Göttingen for her essay Die Erkenntnistheoretischen Grundlagen des Positivismus, beating out approximately 200 other submissions. While Husserl was delighted that one of his students had won the competition, many of his colleagues were not, as they did not think it appropriate for women to study philosophy. To block her from obtaining her degree, the faculty declared that her Realgymnasialabitur was not acceptable for earning a doctorate in Göttingen. She returned to Munich and submitted her Preisschrift as her dissertation with Alexander Pfänder serving as her promotor. Within four weeks, she was awarded her doctorate summa cum laude.

    On 20 August, 1912, Martius married Theodor Conrad, and the two settled in Bergzabern where they purchased an orchard. During the First World War, they formed the Bergzabern Circle of phenomenology, which included their former Göttingen classmates Jean Hering, Alexander Koyré, Hans Lipps, Edith Stein and Alfred von Sybel. The group gathered sporadically at the orchard until the end of the 1920s, devoting themselves to phenomenology as well as discussing religious and political issues. Their aim was twofold: on the one hand, they wanted to create an informal institute in honor of their teacher Adolf Reinach, on the other, they wanted to create a counter movement to Martin Heidegger.

    In 1916 and 1921 respectively, Martius published her articles “Zur Ontologie und Erscheinungslehre der realen Außenwelt” and “Realontologie” in the Jahrbruch für Phänomenologie und phänomenologische Forschung. In the ‘20s and ‘30s, she devoted the majority of her research efforts to developing a universal ontology. Around 1931, Martius writes to Theodor Haering in Tübingen about the possibility of undertaking her Habilitation. However, this plan in never brought to fruition. At the end of 1937, the Conrads moved back to Munich, but were forced to leave the city once again in 1944. In the years between 1937 and 1944, Martius authored an important manuscript titled “Metaphysik des Irdischen.”

    In early 1949, the Conrads returned once more to Munich. In April of that year, Martius began teaching natural philosophy in Munich, and in 1955 became honorary professor at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich. In 1954, she publishes Die Zeit, and then Das Sein in 1957 and Der Raum in 1958. From 1963-1965, her student Eberhard Avé-Lallemant edited and published her collected philosophical papers in the three volume Schriften zur Philosophie. On 15 February 1966, Hedwig Conrad-Martius passed away in Munich.

  • Project: The First Lady of German Philosophy

    by Dr. Rodney K.P. Parker

    While many of Hedwig Conrad-Martius’ manuscripts appear in her Schriften zur Philosophie, a few important texts from her Nachlass remain unpublished, such as “Über Ontologie” (1916), “Vom Wesen der Masse und dem sogenannte Trägheitswiderstand” (1919) and “Zur Metaphysik des Irdischen” (1939-40). This project seeks to publish and translate some of these texts into English, and to discuss the historical and philosophical context in which they were authored. These early writings are an important window into Conrad-Martius’ thought prior to WWII, and for understanding the divisions between the realist and the transcendental phenomenologists. Did Conrad-Martius lived up to her title as the “first lady” of German philosophy, or was her prize essay an anomaly among her early writings?

  • Select Bibliography

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1916. Zur Ontologie und Erscheinungslehre der realen Aussenwelt. Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung 3, 345-542.

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1923. Realontologie. Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung 6, 139-333.

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1927/28. Die Zeit. Ontologisch-metaphysische Untersuchung. Philosophischer Anzeiger 2(2), 143-182; 2(4), 345-390.

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1933. L’existence, la substantialité et l’âme. Recherches philosophiques 2, 148-181.

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1957. Die transzendentale und die ontologische Phänomenologie, in Jacques Taminiaux; Herman Van Breda (ed), Edmund Husserl, 1859-1959: recueil commémoratif publié a l’occasion du centenaire de la naissance du philosophe. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. 175-184.

  • Nachlass

    The Nachlass of Hedwig Conrad-Martius is held by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB) in Munich, and catalogued under the signature Conrad-Martiusiana. It is comprised of 47 large and 8 smaller boxes of manuscripts, lecture notes, photographs, correspondence, etc., as well as her personal philosophical library.

     

  • Links

     

  • introduction

    Sometimes referred to as the “first lady of German philosophy,” Hedwig Conrad-Martius is a figure who is today almost entirely forgotten. As a member of both the Munich and Göttingen Circles of phenomenology, Conrad-Martius advanced what is known as realist phenomenology in opposition to Husserl’s transcendental-phenomenological idealism. Her work in ontology and on the concepts of space and time carve out an original position in phenomenology distinct from both Husserl and Heidegger.

    Women were key members of the early phenomenological movement, and played important roles in each of the Göttingen, Munich, and Freiburg Phenomenological Circles. Our aim at the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists is to highlight the important contributions to phenomenology and ontology made by these women, and to bring their work into dialogue with their contemporaries and with current philosophical debates.

    There has been a renewed interest in Hedwig Conrad-Martius, mainly having to do with her historical role in the phenomenological movement, specifically her role in establishing the Bergzabern Circle of phenomenologists during the interwar period as well as her teaching activities in Munich. However, there is much more work to be done in terms of critically assessing her philosophical writings.


  • Philosopher's Profile

    Hedwig Margarete Elisabeth Martius was born in Berlin on 27 February 1888. She was the daughter of Friedrich Wilhelm August Martius – a physician and director of the medical clinic at the University of Rostock – and Martha Martius (née Leonhard). In the WS 1907/08, she enrolled in the faculty of philosophy at the University of Rostock There she studied philosophy with Franz Bruno Erhardt and German literature with Wolfgang Golther. After three semesters in Rostock, and one in Freiburg, Martius transferred to the University of Munich. During her first semester in Munich, she took courses with Aloys Fischer and Max Scheler, and met her future husband, Theodor Conrad. In the summer of 1910, Martius enrolled in a course taught by Moritz Geiger, and became involved in the Akademischer Verein für Psychologie. At the end of the semester, Geiger sent Martius to study with Edmund Husserl in Göttingen.

    Martius spent four semesters in Göttingen studying with Husserl and Adolf Reinach. She became a prominent member of the Göttinger Philosophischen Gesellschaft – the Göttingen Circle. In 1912, she was awarded a prize from the University of Göttingen for her essay Die Erkenntnistheoretischen Grundlagen des Positivismus, beating out approximately 200 other submissions. While Husserl was delighted that one of his students had won the competition, many of his colleagues were not, as they did not think it appropriate for women to study philosophy. To block her from obtaining her degree, the faculty declared that her Realgymnasialabitur was not acceptable for earning a doctorate in Göttingen. She returned to Munich and submitted her Preisschrift as her dissertation with Alexander Pfänder serving as her promotor. Within four weeks, she was awarded her doctorate summa cum laude.

    On 20 August, 1912, Martius married Theodor Conrad, and the two settled in Bergzabern where they purchased an orchard. During the First World War, they formed the Bergzabern Circle of phenomenology, which included their former Göttingen classmates Jean Hering, Alexander Koyré, Hans Lipps, Edith Stein and Alfred von Sybel. The group gathered sporadically at the orchard until the end of the 1920s, devoting themselves to phenomenology as well as discussing religious and political issues. Their aim was twofold: on the one hand, they wanted to create an informal institute in honor of their teacher Adolf Reinach, on the other, they wanted to create a counter movement to Martin Heidegger.

    In 1916 and 1921 respectively, Martius published her articles “Zur Ontologie und Erscheinungslehre der realen Außenwelt” and “Realontologie” in the Jahrbruch für Phänomenologie und phänomenologische Forschung. In the ‘20s and ‘30s, she devoted the majority of her research efforts to developing a universal ontology. Around 1931, Martius writes to Theodor Haering in Tübingen about the possibility of undertaking her Habilitation. However, this plan in never brought to fruition. At the end of 1937, the Conrads moved back to Munich, but were forced to leave the city once again in 1944. In the years between 1937 and 1944, Martius authored an important manuscript titled “Metaphysik des Irdischen.”

    In early 1949, the Conrads returned once more to Munich. In April of that year, Martius began teaching natural philosophy in Munich, and in 1955 became honorary professor at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich. In 1954, she publishes Die Zeit, and then Das Sein in 1957 and Der Raum in 1958. From 1963-1965, her student Eberhard Avé-Lallemant edited and published her collected philosophical papers in the three volume Schriften zur Philosophie. On 15 February 1966, Hedwig Conrad-Martius passed away in Munich.

  • Project: The First Lady of German Philosophy

    by Dr. Rodney K.P. Parker

    While many of Hedwig Conrad-Martius’ manuscripts appear in her Schriften zur Philosophie, a few important texts from her Nachlass remain unpublished, such as “Über Ontologie” (1916), “Vom Wesen der Masse und dem sogenannte Trägheitswiderstand” (1919) and “Zur Metaphysik des Irdischen” (1939-40). This project seeks to publish and translate some of these texts into English, and to discuss the historical and philosophical context in which they were authored. These early writings are an important window into Conrad-Martius’ thought prior to WWII, and for understanding the divisions between the realist and the transcendental phenomenologists. Did Conrad-Martius lived up to her title as the “first lady” of German philosophy, or was her prize essay an anomaly among her early writings?

  • Select Bibliography

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1916. Zur Ontologie und Erscheinungslehre der realen Aussenwelt. Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung 3, 345-542.

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1923. Realontologie. Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung 6, 139-333.

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1927/28. Die Zeit. Ontologisch-metaphysische Untersuchung. Philosophischer Anzeiger 2(2), 143-182; 2(4), 345-390.

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1933. L’existence, la substantialité et l’âme. Recherches philosophiques 2, 148-181.

    Conrad-Martius, Hedwig 1957. Die transzendentale und die ontologische Phänomenologie, in Jacques Taminiaux; Herman Van Breda (ed), Edmund Husserl, 1859-1959: recueil commémoratif publié a l’occasion du centenaire de la naissance du philosophe. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. 175-184.

  • Nachlass

    The Nachlass of Hedwig Conrad-Martius is held by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB) in Munich, and catalogued under the signature Conrad-Martiusiana. It is comprised of 47 large and 8 smaller boxes of manuscripts, lecture notes, photographs, correspondence, etc., as well as her personal philosophical library.

     

  • Links