Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
#27 Overall Influence

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

German university in Munich, Bavaria

Influence Rankings by Discipline

How’s this school influential?

#11 World Rank
Chemistry
#12 World Rank
Physics
#19 World Rank
Sociology
#20 World Rank
Philosophy
#21 World Rank
Literature
#24 World Rank
Mathematics
#25 World Rank
Biology
#27 World Rank
Psychology
#27 World Rank
History
#29 World Rank
Religious Studies
#30 World Rank
Economics
#33 World Rank
Earth Sciences
#33 World Rank
Law
#38 World Rank
Anthropology
#49 World Rank
Medical
#67 World Rank
Political Science
#97 World Rank
Engineering
#107 World Rank
Computer Science
#153 World Rank
Criminal Justice
#165 World Rank
Social Work
#662 World Rank
Nursing
#1401 World Rank
Communications

Influential People

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 Chemistry, Physics, and Sociology. Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich’s most academically influential people include Werner Heisenberg, Thomas Mann, and Max Planck.

Werner Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg

German theoretical physicist

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Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann

German novelist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate

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Max Planck
Max Planck

German theoretical physicist

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Otto Hahn
Otto Hahn

German chemist

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Hans Bethe
Hans Bethe

German-American nuclear physicist

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Max Weber
Max Weber

German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist

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Louis Agassiz
Louis Agassiz

Swiss naturalist

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Wolfgang Pauli
Wolfgang Pauli

Physicist, Nobel prize winner

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Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming

English author, journalist and naval intelligence officer

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Heinrich Rudolf Hertz
Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

German physicist

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Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell

American mythologist, writer and lecturer

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Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin

German literary critic, philosopher and social critic

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About This School

How does this school stack up?

By James Barham, PhD

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:

  • Wilhelm Röntgen (X-rays)—physics
  • Max Planck (the Planck constant)—physics
  • Werner Heisenberg (the matrix algebra formalism for quantum mechanics)—physics
  • Wolfgang Pauli (Uncertainty Principle)—physics
  • Emil Fischer (lock-and-key model of protein-substrate binding)—chemistry
  • Hans Spemann (developmental biology)—physiology or medicine
  • Fritz Lipmann (bioenergetics)—physiology or medicine
  • Thomas Mann (Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain, Doctor Faustus, “Death in Venice”)—literature

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:

  • Sociologist, Max Weber
  • Urdu poet and philosopher, Muhammad Iqbal
  • German poet and playwright, Bertolt Brecht
  • German memoirist and novelist, Hans Carossa
  • Hungarian playwright and novelist, Ödön von Horváth
  • German film director Werner Herzog
  • Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger)
  • Post-war German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer

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.