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Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, KARL WILHELM (1747–1772), German philosopher. Jerusalem was the son of a well-known court preacher in Brunswick, Germany, who was probably of Dutch Jewish origin. Jerusalem studied law at Leipzig and Goettingen, and became a functionary of the legation at Wetzlar. He knew *Goethe and was a friend of G.E. *Lessing. Unhappy about his life and about a love affair, Jerusalem shot himself. Goethe was shocked by Jerusalem's suicide and immortalized him in Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774) and for a while Jerusalem's grave became a place of pilgrimage. Lessing, concerned about Goethe's picture of Jerusalem, published Jerusalem's writings under the title Philosophische Aufsaetze (1776; ed. by P. Beer, 1900) to show Jerusalem's intellectual side. Jerusalem was a minor Enlightenment thinker. His brief writings deal with the origins of language, the nature and origin of general and abstract concepts, freedom, Mendelssohn's views, and the nature of experience. Jerusalem was a determinist, and Lessing's preface to the Aufsaetze is one of the important statements of his own determinism. Jerusalem's Aufsaetze und Briefe were published in 1925 by H. Schneider.


R. Kaulitz-Niedeck, Goethe und Jerusalem (1908).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.