1738 – 1766
Who was Thomas Abbt?
Born in Ulm, Abbt visited a secondary school in Ulm, then moved in 1756 to study theology, philosophy and mathematics at the University of Halle, receiving a Magister degree in 1758. In 1760 he was appointed as an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Frankfurt, where he wrote his most well-known work Vom Tode für's Vaterland.
This highly patriotic tract thematises Frederick II's defeat at Kunersdorf. It also drew the attention of the editors of the famous Literaturbriefe, started by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. He contributed a large number of historical, political, esthetical and philosophical essays. Abbt was a fervent admirer of Lessing and seconded his educational, prosaic style of writing.
In autumn 1761 he was appointed as the full professor of mathematics in Rinteln. In 1763, he entered a competition that was sponsored by the Berlin Academy for an essay on the application of mathematical proofs to metaphysics. Among the competitors were Moses Mendelssohn, who won, and Immanuel Kant. While in Rinteln, Abbt wrote his other famous work, Vom Verdienste.