BOUTERWEK, FRIEDRICH (1766-1828), German philosopher and critic, was born at Oker, near Goslar in Lower Saxony, and studied law at Göttingen. From 1790, however, he became a disciple of Kant, published Aphorismen nach Kants Lehre vorgelegt (1793), and became professor of philosophy at Göttingen (1802), where he died on the 9th of August 1828. As a philosopher, he is interesting for his criticism of the theory of the "thing-in-itself" (Ding-an-sich). For the pure reason, as described in the Kritik, the "thing-in-itself" can be only an inconceivable "something-in-general"; any statement about it involves the predication of Reality, Unity and Plurality, which belong not to the absolute thing but to phenomena. On the other hand, the subject is known by the fact of will, and the object by that of resistance; the cognizance of willing is the assertion of absolute reality in the domain of relative knowledge. This doctrine has since been described as absolute Virtualism. Following this train of thought, Bouterwek left the Kantian position through his opposition to its formalism. In later life he inclined to the views of F.H. Jacobi, whose letters to him (published at Göttingen, 1868) shed much light on the development of his thought. His chief philosophical works are Ideen zu einer allgemeinen Apodiktik (Göttingen and Halle, 1799); Aesthetik (Leipzig, 1806; Göttingen, 1815 and 1824); Lehrbuch der philos. Vorkenntnisse (Göttingen, 1810 and 1820); Lehrbuch der philos. Wissenschaften (Göttingen, 1813 and 1820). In these works he dissociated himself from the Kantian school. His chief critical work was the Geschichte der neuern Poesie und Beredsamkeit (Göttingen, 12 vols., 1801-1819), of which the history of Spanish literature has been published separately in French, Spanish and English. The Geschichte is a work of wide learning and generally sound criticism, but it is not of equal merit throughout. He also wrote three novels, Paulus Septimus (Halle, 1795), Graf Donamar (Göttingen, 1791) and Ramiro (Leipzig, 1804), and published a collection of poems (Göttingen, 1802).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)