Friedrich Max Müller: Een Victoriaans geleerde | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 47, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2542-6583
  • E-ISSN: 2590-3268



This article presents a short survey of the life and work of F. Max Müller. It deals especially with his theories on the relation between language and thought, which are vital to his views on religion and mythology. Müller combined linguistic theories of romantic scholars such as Herder and Humboldt with the comparative study of Indo-European languages. His contention that language was not only a means of communication but also essential for human thinking, brought him in conflict with the evolutionists of his day. In this context he introduced the epistemological ideas of Kant and argued against the idea of a humanity emerging from the depth of animal brutality with the words: ‘language is our Rubicon and no brute will dare to pass it’. The central place Müller assigned to languages brought him also in conflict with ethnologists. He challenged the validity of their simple comparisons by means of which the unknown was explained by the more unknown.


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