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Wilhelm Schmidt

Wilhelm Schmidt

Schmidt, Wilhelm, 1868-1954, German linguist and anthropologist, a Roman Catholic priest. Educated at the universities of Berlin and Vienna, he entered the Society of the Divine Word in 1890. Residing mainly in Austria, he taught at the Univ. of Vienna, founded and directed an anthropological institute at Mödling, and, after 1938, was a professor at the Univ. of Freiburg. Schmidt devoted particular attention to the languages of S Asia, Australia, and Oceania. His books available in English translation are The Origin and Growth of Religion (1931), High Gods in North America (1933), The Culture Historical Method of Ethnology (1939), and Primitive Revelation (1939).
"Wilhelm Schmidt" may also refer to a German politician.

Wilhelm Schmidt (1868–1954) was an Austrian linguist, anthropologist, and ethnologist.

Wilhelm Schmidt was born in Hörde, Germany in 1868. He entered the Society of the Divine Word in 1890 and was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1892. He studied linguistics at the universities of Berlin and Vienna.

His early work in linguistics was on the Mon-Khmer languages of Southeast Asia, which led him to hypothesize the existence of a broader Austric group of languages, connected to the Austronesian language group.

From 1912 on, Schmidt began to publish his 12-volume Der Ursprung der Gottesidee, 'The Origin of the Idea of God', and developed his theory of primitive monotheism, the belief that primitive religion among almost all tribal peoples began with an essentially monotheistic concept of a high god — usually a sky god — who was a benevolent creator. Schmidt theorized that human beings created a God who was the First Cause of all things and Ruler of Heaven and Earth before men and women began to worship a number of gods.

In 1906, Schmidt founded the journal Anthropos, and in 1931, the Anthropos Institute, both of which still exist today. In 1938, Schmidt and the Institute fled from Nazi-occupied Austria to Fribourg, Switzerland.

His works available in English translation are: The Origin and Growth of Religion (1931), High Gods in North America (1933), The Culture Historical Method of Ethnology (1939), and Primitive Revelation (1939).

See also

Austric languages

Notes

References

  • Schmidt, Wilhelm. 1906. "Die Mon-Khmer-Völker, ein Bindeglied zwischen Völkern Zentralasiens und Austronesiens", 'The Mon-Khmer peoples, a link between the peoples of Central Asia and Austronesia'. Archiv für Anthropologie, Braunschweig, new series, 5:59-109.
  • Schmidt, Wilhelm. 1930. "Die Beziehungen der austrischen Sprachen zum Japanischen", 'The Connections of the Austric Languages to Japanese'. Wien Beitrag zur Kulturgeschichte und Linguistik 1:239-51.
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