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From the Enlightenment to Business Models. Episode 5. Who moved the ways of the Enlightenment Part B. The German Historic Context.

Historiography of the German lands: From 14 CE to 1648.
This week, I have dedicated several days to comprehending again, the whole picture of the history of Germany, before landing into the German Aufklärung season. I discovered that the German Enlightenment occurred after the Dutch publications of Spinoza and Meyer. It wasn´t simultaneous to what occurred in The United Provinces of the Netherlands. According to our required bibliography trilogy from Jonathan Israel (1); the urgency for an intellectual period in which several thinkers could engage, and provoke a change of mentality, wasn´t only driven by religious motives; but by the necessity to explain the modifications that the societies were experiencing because of the discovery, trade, and the emergence of a merchant new class who was accessing education in the Universities, and was leaving poverty behind. Before displaying who was who in the German Enlightenment period, it was a precondition to comprehend who were the dwellers of the German Lands. I have tried to do a summary of the historiography of this nation because it is imperative to situate all our readers in the context of the Peace of Westphalia (1648), the exact moment in time in which the German Enlightenment began. To learn about Germany, we started with the first decade of the Christ Era, so there are a lot of slides for you to explore. We have prepared a slideshow (24 of them) that is worthy of your attention. Probably many of you are already familiar with the topic, nevertheless, if you have forgotten it, don´t hesitate to download it and explore it again. Eventually, if you have the time, please visit all the references provided in the slides.

The 1666 Dutch philosophical “Free-Thinkers”. Our Enlightenment Philosophers’ energies in the German Lands do not begin with Immanuel Kant. There are several authors or philosophy representatives who came out from the region of what is now Germany, who had something to write as a reaction to the books that were written by the Dutch that we have previously studied in our last episode. Since the United Provinces of the Netherlands were part of the Spanish-Austrian lineage of the Habsburg dynasty in the context of the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nations (from now and then I will refer to it as an acronym HREGN); our first goal is to show you that the legacy of the Dutch didn´t stop with the end of the tragic Dutch philosophers lifetime. The majority of the Dutch radical thinkers didn´t end well. But, their legacy traveled. Clandestinely, hidden. As I have previously told you, my personal position is not to validate the atheism of the Dutch texts or their translations, but to show you the accounts of the Dutch public controversies over philosophy, particularly around two books “Tractatus Theologico-Politicus” of Spinoza and “Philosophia” of Meyer. All these books, stories, and documents arrived in several cities in the HRGN, early since the 1670s. Our rationale to start with the Dutch last week had a reason to stand. Even though the books of the Spinoza clan were banned by decrees in Holland, the awareness of the radical Dutch ideas was flowing as a plague because of the existence of the trading spots, and the connections between the merchants and the studious who were buying those documents. The Dutch radical ideas were multiplying and flying by word of mouth in the perfect milieu for those who had the opportunity to study in Germany at universities of relative importance: Leipzig, Halle, and Jena; among others. The new emerging class of the german estates wasn´t local or domestic anymore. With the discovery of the new world, there were opportunities awaiting outside of the convulsion of the HREGN. It is during these 2 centuries, that the Germans also established a new generation of academics, students, physicians, theologians, philosophers, lawyers, and the newest people that were literate and highly educated in non-Latin reading.

The impact of a book in the German Lands: The Symbolum (the 1700s)
According to Israel (1) “the Symbolum is a major work, not only one of the first but in argument, one of the most sophisticated and detailed, clandestine texts of the European irreligious Enlightenment”. This manuscript circulated within the HREGN, and it was studied among all the erudite, professors, and secular Enlightenment figures that we have identified and named in slide 23 that we have prepared for you today. The Symbolum agglutinates the radical enlightenment thoughts coming from the Dutch (1) and then expanded into Germany:

  1. Total denial of the divine providence, divine judgment, and supernatural agency, reducing reality to a single integrated naturalistic system.
  2. The social function of religion is to make people obey secular and ecclesiastic authorities.
  3. Individual freedom is quashed by an oppressive apparatus of superstition dignified by any type of religion (Jewish, Christian, Muslim).
  4. Priesthood and theologians are a corrupt class of deceivers who work hand in hand with the secular authorities for their own interests.
  5. The holy bible is a purely human document, highly defective, a form of fantasy.
  6. Miracles don’t happen. Angels, specters, witchcraft, and demons are just chimeras of a deluded imagination.
  7. The clergy and the princes suppress freedom of thought and expression. They incite common people to persecute and destroy the few who dissent.

The reaction from the thinkers in Germany.
In the context of the HREGN of the 1700s, several preachers, professors, and other defenders of the Empire were extremely concerned. When they were facing the literature from the Dutch Spinozistic or Meyer sources, or the Symbolum, they considered this atheist “material” as endangering the fundamental principles of faith that kept the German Unity humming. Additionally, the intellectual germans realized and demanded a new group of philosophers who can react against the radical free-thinkers, in such a way that can at least persuade or stop its expansion with strength. All these foreign ideas newly arriving from the Dutch had to be rejected in some way or another. How? With a better framework of ideas. The German thinkers who weren´t radical, took the time to study and be prepared to assume the new scientific reality, the conditions of expansion in America, and the capacity to put in reality the agreements of Westphalia. Probably the rebellion of the German Peasants was also a premonition for the nobles and the same Holy Roman Emperor, that the German lands were required to accept not only Lutheran princes but also Calvinists and Zwinglians authorities. The northeastern part of the Holy Roman Empire wasn´t catholic after 1648 and in consequence, new institutions such as the University of Halle (the first modern Protestant German University), and the rise of new journals and publications, triggered a phase of intensive and extensive reading. The emergence of German estates with the concept of reading societies originated in the Enlightenment.

Anyway, some radical German freethinkers (as they defined themselves) weren´t able to escape the radical thoughts of Spinoza and his allies from Holland.  Be aware that the philosophers from the German Lands were far from accepting this radicality. The Early German Enlightenment may appear in the radical line, but there are several moderate philosophers that also made the waves or at least tried to filter the scientific part of the radicals, without losing God in the intent (2). After studying several documents, including one by James Schmidt (3) from Boston University, we have decided to divide the German Enlightenment into two broad segments using the variable time:

  1. Early Radical German Enlightenment: From the Peace of Westphalia (1648) to the death of Christian Wolff (1754). The main philosopher profiles of this period are: Christian Thomasius, Matthias Knutzen, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Friedrich Wilhelm Stosch, Johann Franz Budde or Buddeus, Johann Georg Wachter, Johann Peter Spaeth (alias Moses Germanus), Theodor Ludwig Lau, Ehrenfried Walther Von Tschirnhaus, August Hermann Francke, Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, Christian August Crusius, and Christian Wolff.
  2. Late or High German Enlightenment: From the mid-1700s to the end of the HREGN in 1806, which coincides with the decade of the French Revolution and the implications of Kant´s philosophical impact in German Society.   The prominent philosopher profiles of this period are Moses Mendelssohn, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Johann Christian Edelmann, Friedrich Schiller, Johann Gottfried Herder, and Immanuel Kant.
Illustrative and non-commercial image. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.

I have not mentioned, on purpose, how the growth of Brandenburg, Pomerania, and the Province of Prussia (1600-1795) prompted an impressive set of Philosopher profiles (including a king) that also worked all together to avoid a new French Revolution in Germany. By coincidence, the economic interests of the Habsburg Dynasty were not positioned in the German lands anymore but in the Americas. The promise to find unexplored land, out of the legacy of more than 1000 years of religious conflicts, was favorable. Charles V opened the door and taught the following Habsburgs that their expansion of wealth wouldn´t have to be preeminent under the HREGN anymore, but in the lands that Spain was conquering. Moving out from the HREGN to focus in America, was in the Habsburgs pristine interests. By moving the vision to America, the Prussians territories expanded in the North. Meanwhile in America, greenfield projects and manufacturing were no less a temptation, but a duty. How did the Habsburg and other allied princes of Germany install themselves in Latin America? That is a question with 100 answers to resolve. I don´t have all the bits and pieces in place, about the procedures taken by these Noble Germans to change their last names when they landed in our region. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to be convinced that the link between Spaniard Habsburgs, México, Guatemala, and Perú has many of those explanations.

When analyzing the German Enlightenment, it is crucial for all of us, to prevent a new mentality, before acquiring new knowledge about business modeling. It is important to connect how the business model theories (including the corporate strategy frameworks) of today were originated in this transition from feudalism to capitalism. Every single theory about strategic management has been established in wars. In competition. In conquests. In our history. Particularly this phase of the Enlightenment should be taught at least in two core courses in the MBA or Masters of Economics/Finance. Only then we will be able to evolve from the tremendous theoretical mistakes that abound in each and all of our corporate and business strategy frameworks. Again, I am not supporting any premise coming from the left or the Marxist inheritance in socialist economies. The spirit of this saga goes to the roots of how can we transform the premises of capitalism into developments for a much better strategies´ design at the Business School level for all us in the future.}

By reading the German historical context of this country enlightenment, I am more and more convinced that the German Peasants war was enough reason for the german elites of the HREGN, to at least try to remove the religious conflicts out of their territories. The Peace of Westphalia was already solving those conflicts in 1648. So the motive for the German Aufklarung between 1648 to 1800, wasn´t religiously driven. It was again, economically driven. The social organization of serfdom wasn´t successful anymore, and a new model was required.

Who was who in the German Enlightenment?
We are at the moment in the process to summarize the main points of each of the German philosophers who had something to react, debate, say or to publish (either against the radical enlightenment, in favor of Spinozism, or trying judiciously to find a middling balance with their theories). As in a pendulum, in the history of the German Lands, there were conscious studies and discussions searching for a probing moderation in favor to reject the atheism of the Dutch radical enlightenment. We have decided to show you all these philosophers in the next additional episode, to be published on Sunday, the day that the Ocean Race Fleet is expected to arrive in Cape Town. Look at the new outline, please.

Next week, we will continue exploring the profiles of the Enlightenment figures of the German territories. The next topic is “Who moved the ways of the Enlightenment, part B. The German Philosophers Medley”.

Ocean Musical Section

Let´s review the last week of the Ocean Race 2022-2023 competitors. The main relevant situations that all the teams have lived are practically 3:

  1. We have observed different sailing strategies taken by the teams, to avoid the regions of no wind. These regions are called ‘speed bump’ regions to navigate (with a ridge of high pressure – with very light winds). These are like the Doldrums (or called mini-Doldrums) (3). There is a zone like that between the teams and the finish line. All the teams have avoided these slow light wind waters. Guyot is the last-place boat in the fleet, but the better high-speed winds are pushing them to close the gap.  
  2. A couple of teams have had difficulties with their boats or equipment, but they have performed as MacGyvers and sorted problem-solving successfully.  
  3. From the hot Equator to the cold Antarctic waters: The 5 teams decided to reach high-speed winds near the Ice Exclusion Zone (EZ); all the boats went down to the south of the Equator, and I imagine they tested the IMOCA boats with high velocities, beyond what they have experienced since Alicante.  If you see the tracker with detail, in the bottom line there is a red area called the EZ. The Exclusion Zone (EZ),  “is the red area which can be seen at the bottom of the race tracker, prevents sailors from dipping into dangerous waters and icebergs where they might put their boats – and themselves – at risk”.

There is a risk to go at high speed. The next video is illustrative, and it describes it fully. The objective is to stay in the best of the breeze to move safe-quickly. And the video is self-explanatory. After 16 days of sailing, each of the boats wishes to arrive first in Cape Town. Let´s see what strategy will be the best one, and which of the teams will arrive first. During the next hours, we will be again under slow wind conditions. Anything can happen when we are forced to slow down. Over the next 48 hours, all of us will be compelled to fill our hearts with patience and understanding. The ocean has its own ways, we are just trying to sort it. We are trying to learn from the ocean (and the water cycle) something that we have missed when trying to find solutions to climate change.

This is the music that awaits us for the next 48 hours. Good luck to the winner of Leg 2 to Cape Town, I will try to post before the teams arrival time to South Africa on Sunday.

See you next Sunday 12th of February. Thank you and blessings for reading to me.

We are heading to Cape Town with the Ocean Race 2023. Photo Source:

Sources of reference are utilized today. All are listed on the slides.
(1) and



Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  All are used as Illustrative and non-commercial images. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Nevertheless, most of this blog’s pictures, images, or videos are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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