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Adam Weishaupt

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Don't rest in peace, you evil bastard who fought against freedom and truth!
Thinking hardly
or hardly thinking?

Icon philosophy.svg
Major trains of thought
The good, the bad,
and the brain fart
Come to think of it
It has been claimed that Dr. Weishaupt was an atheist, a Cabalistic magician, a rationalist, a mystic; a democrat, a socialist, an anarchist, a fascist; a Machiavellian amoralist, an alchemist, a totalitarian and an "enthusiastic philanthropist". (The last was the verdict of Thomas Jefferson, by the way.) … If you were to believe all this sensational literature, the damned Bavarian conspirators were responsible for everything wrong with the world, including the energy crises and the fact that you can’t even get a plumber on weekends.
—Robert Anton Wilson

Adam Weishaupt (1748–1830) was a philosopher and the founder of the infamous secret society, the Order of the illuminati (originally called the Covenant of Perfectibility, which sounded too strange). They used aliases,[1] he was a radical rationalist, and wanted to promote democracy around the world, they were opposed to state abuses, superstition, and obscurantism. The order promoted liberty, equality, and fraternity.[2] Thomas Jefferson also seemed to like Weishaupt, and called him an enthusiastic philanthropist. The conspiracy theories about him make it really hard to know about the actual historical character and his philosophy.


Though Adam Weishaupt is mostly remembered for his society that controls the world completely failed, Weishaupt was mostly a philosopher. His rationalism was influenced by his father-in-law Johann Adam Freiherr von Ickstatt, a preacher of the Enlightment. On the scientific side, he was an empirist. He was often in disagreement with Kant in his works, for example, he hated the idea that space and time would only be human perceptions, and considered them as real things. He was in general opposed to kantian idealism. For Weishaupt, Kant's ideas end in complete subjectivism, which Weishaupt considers to be self-refuting, because if knowledge is true only for appearances, the same is true of subjectivism.[3][4]

His philosophy included the submission of man to his noblest parts, which are reason and spirit.


Since the number of men is large but the earthly realm is not inexhaustible, one man can no longer profit from the labour of twenty. Moderation, contentment, and frugality must become the general morals of mankind. … The whole earth becomes a garden, and nature has at last completed her day’s work here below, bringing permanent enlightenment, peace, and felicity together with the greatest possible number of men : she has anointed every man as his own judge, priest, and king ; has turned the often-ridiculed tale of the golden age, mankind’s favourite idea of old, into a reality by discreetly removing the eternal inequality of wealth, which has been ineffectively combated by all lawgivers and has always has crept back in, and which is the source of the decay of all nations, and the root of servitude, tyranny, and disunity among men, of venality and moral corruption, making it forever impossible through the excessive growth of the human population.
This first stage of the life of the whole race is savagery, raw nature:… a condition in which man enjoys the most exquisite goods, equality and freedom, in full abundance, and would also enjoy them forever, if he would follow the hint of nature and understand the art of not abusing his powers and preventing the outbreak of his excessive passions.


Of course, dying in exile with his order disbanded and his philosophic works forgotten was too kind for his fate. Two old-age nutjobs, named Augustin Barruel and John Robison, decided to spit at the memory of the poor dude by writing books about how his order survived and started the French Revolution, which then lead to the modern conspiracy theories depicting Weishaupt as the most evil person, and his order being depicted as an anti-christian satanist atheist socialist conspiracy. And so, Weishaupt couldn't rest in peace, ever.

See also[edit]

  • RationalWiki, a similar order of rationalists with pseudonyms, and similarly opposed to authoritarianism and obscurantism.
  • Empiricism


  1. René le Forestier, Les Illuminés de Bavière et la franc-maçonnerie allemande, Paris, 1914, Book 1, Chapter 2, pp30-45
  2. A. Weishaupt, Rede an die neu aufzunehmenden Illuminatos dirigentes (1782) : « Wer also allgemeine Freiheit einführen will, der verbreite allgemeine Aufklärung : aber Aufklärung heißt nicht Wort- sondern Sachkenntniß, ist nicht Kenntniß von abstracten, speculativen, theoretischen Kenntnissen, die den Geist aufblasen, aber das Herz um nichts bessern. »
  3. Daniel Jacoby: Art. "Weishaupt, Adam", in: Allgemeine deutsche Biographie 41 (1896), 539–550
  4. Beiser, Frederick C. The Fate of Reason. Harvard University Press, 1987. 186–88. Also in Google books :