The present-day University of Munich traces its roots to a fifteenth-century institution founded in the town of Ingolstadt by Duke Ludwig IX of Bavaria-Landshut. The school was moved to the town of Landshut in 1800 by King Maximilian I of Bavaria, when Ingolstadt was threatened by invading French armies during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1802, it was given its present official name of “Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU)” in recognition of its first and second founding fathers.
Finally, in 1826 another Ludwig—King Ludwig I of Bavaria—relocated the university yet again to its present location in the Bavarian capital city of Munich. Since King Ludwig I shared the same name with the original founder, Duke Ludwig IX, this third founding required no further change to the school’s name.
Bavaria is, of course, the only predominantly Catholic part of Germany today. Following the Protestant Reformation in the German-speaking lands during the sixteenth century, LMU came under the influence of the Jesuit order, and became an intellectual center of the Counter-Reformation in Central Europe. This helps explain, in part, the primary focus of LMU on the humanities, in general, and on theology and philosophy, in particular.
Nevertheless, LMU—like similar universities throughout Europe dating back to the late Middle Ages—was heavily influenced by the rationalist intellectual currents of the Enlightenment, resulting in a gradual opening toward the natural sciences. Today, the school is well balanced between its arts and its sciences faculties.
Altogether, an impressive 36 Nobel Prize laureates have been connected with LMU, including:
During the early years of the twentieth century, Munich was home to an especially fertile group of philosophers known as the “Munich Circle,” which is becoming increasingly influential among Anglosphere philosophers at the present time.
The Munich Circle originally consisted of the LMU philosopher-psychologist, Theodor Lipps, his younger colleagues, Alexander Pfänder and Max Scheler, and Lipps’s students, Adolf Reinach, Moritz Geiger, Theodor Conrad, Hedwig Conrad-Martius, Alexandre Koyré, and Dietrich von Hildebrand, among others.
As soon as Edmund Husserl published his epoch-making Logische Untersuchungen (Logical Investigations) in 1901, the younger generation of the Munich Circle fell under its spell. Informally led by Reinach, they eventually established close relations with the founder of phenomenology in Göttingen, where they also encountered his pupils, Edith Stein and Roman Ingarden. (For this reason, the group is sometimes referred to as the “Munich-Göttingen Circle.“) Reinach would eventually transfer to Göttingen to work directly under Husserl.
Reinach and the others retained a more realist view of phenomenology than Husserl, and refused to follow him in his later flight (as they saw it) into subjective idealism. The group was adversely affected by Reinach’s early death—he fell somewhere in Flanders in late 1917. Today, however, interest in Munich Circle phenomenological realism is rapidly growing.
Other notable LMU-connected people include the:
It is also noteworthy that LMU was a center of resistance to the Nazis during World War II. Several young LMU students, under the leadership of the brother and sister, Hans and Sophie Scholl, formed a clandestine group known as the White Rose with the aim of printing and distributing leaflets calling on the German people to resist Adolf Hitler’s criminal regime. The students all paid for their heroic actions with their lives.
Who are Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich's Most influential alumni?
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, and Sociology. Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich’s most academically influential people include Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, and Thomas Mann.
German theoretical physicistview profile
German theoretical physicistview profile
German novelist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureateview profile
Swiss naturalistview profile
German chemistview profile
German sociologist, philosopher, and political economistview profile
Physicist, Nobel prize winnerview profile
German physicistview profile
English author, journalist and naval intelligence officerview profile
German-American nuclear physicistview profile
German literary critic, philosopher and social criticview profile
American mythologist, writer and lecturerview profile