Friedrich Max Müller

From Metapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Friedrich Max Müller

Professor Dr. phil. Friedrich Max Müller
Soon after settling in England he used Max Müller (sometimes written Max-Müller) as his surname, Müller alone, as he always said, being as distinctive a name as Smith without any prefix in England.
Born Friedrich Max Müller
6 December 1823(1823-12-06)
Dessau, Duchy of Anhalt, German Confederation
Died 28 October 1900 (aged 76)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Nationality German
Citizenship German
Education University of Leipzig
Occupation Writer, scholar
Religion Lutheranism
Spouse Georgina Adelaide Grenfell
Children Ada, Mary, Beatrice and Wilhelm Grenfell

Friedrich Maximilian "Max" Müller[1] (6 December 1823 – 28 October 1900) was a German comparative philologist, Orientalist and Indo-Europeanists, who lived and studied in Britain for many years. He was one of the founders of the western academic disciplines of Indian studies and religious studies. Müller wrote both scholarly and popular works on the subject of Indology. In 1868, Müller became Oxford's first Professor of Comparative Philology, a position founded on his behalf. He held this chair until his death, although he retired from its active duties in 1875. In 1881, he published a translation of the first edition of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. He agreed with Schopenhauer that this edition was the most direct and honest expression of Kant's thought. His translation corrected several errors that were committed by previous translators.

Various associated views, or alleged views, were and are controversial, such as anti-Christian bias, pro-Christian bias, skepticism of evolution, and the Indo-European invasion of/migration to India. His works contributed to the interest in Indo-Europeans. Leftist Wikipedia depicts him a race denialist, selectively and misleadingly citing statements where he stated that he used the term "Aryan" only as referring to a speaker of an Aryan language.


Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Müller (1794–1827); Max Müller’s father came from modest circumstances, but had fought bravely in the Napoleonic Wars, studied history and philology in Berlin, and afterwards began publishing highly popular poetry capturing the German national and Romantic spirit of the time. His poetry collections Die schöne Müllerin (1823) and Die Winterreise (1827) were set to music by Franz Schubert to great acclaim. His Griechenlieder (1821–24), meanwhile, caught the popular nationalism of the early restoration years and sympathy with the Greek cause in part also fuelled by widespread interest in classics, without setting him outside what was acceptable politically at court. In 1819, Wilhelm Müller became a teacher at the Gymnasium in Dessau. The year after, he took on the role of court librarian. Max Müller’s mother Adelheid (1800–1883), meanwhile, was from the Basedow family, which had occupied high ministerial positions. Both her father Ludwig Basedow (1774–1835), since 1833 von Basedow, and brother Dr. jur. Friedrich (1797–1864) were Prime Ministers of the Duchy. Her brother Dr. med. Carl Adolph von Basedow (1799–1854) was a physician most famous for reporting the symptoms of what could later be dubbed Graves-Basedow disease. Her grandfather, the famous educational reformer Johann Bernhard Basedow (1724–1790) had been a friend of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. All in all, Friedrich Max Müller was born into propitious circumstances. His family and courtly contacts would contribute to his cultural interests, personal and professional connections and reputation.
Friedrich Max Müller, by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), circa 1856; Müller’s six-volume edition of the Vedas was only completed in 1874, by which time he had already been established in Oxford for over twenty years, having been elected as Professor in the Taylorian Institute for Modern European Languages in 1854. He established a reputation as a specialist in German literature in England. This reputation was reinforced when Müller published an influential edition of German Classics in 1858, and when he was appointed as the inaugural President of the English Goethe Society in 1886.
Friedrich Max Müller before 1878; He was one of the founders of the western academic disciplines of Indian studies and religious studies ('science of religion', German: Religionswissenschaft). The German Romantic interest in India was not clearly separated from literary culture and the broader context of Romanticism. Müller was literally born into this Romantic tradition, and his interest in Asian cultures may well have been aroused by his exposure to Friedrich Schlegel’s Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (On the Language and Wisdom of the Indians, 1808) and to Goethe’s West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan, 1819).

Müller was born on 6 December 1828 in Dessau, in the Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau, one of the 38 German states formed after the Napoleonic Wars and organised into a loose German Confederation. Essentially a city-state, Dessau was in a region where the cultures of neighbouring Saxony and Prussia, the cities of Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin, and Thuringian courts such as Saxe-Weimar were in easy reach. It was also a place where aristocrats, officials and the town population were familiar to each other. As Max Müller would later describe it, ‘Everybody seemed to know everybody and everything about everybody’. Max Müller was born into the cultured, educated class that attended court and served as intermediaries between town and state. From an early age he was familiar with aristocrats, politicians and leading cultural figures of the times.

His father was the popular and acclaimed lyric poet Wilhelm Müller (author of the Lieder der Griechen, Rom, Römer und Römerinnen, Vermischte Schriften, Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust, Die Winterreise, and many more), o, Librarian to the Duke of Dessau, and master (Rektor) at the Gymnasium in that place; a man of great cultivation, of most genial disposition, a general favourite, keenly alive to the enjoyments of life, in every way of noble and forcible character. Max Müllers's mother was musical soloist (contralto) Adelheid (b. 12 October 1800 in Dessau; d. 4. April 1883),[2] elder daughter of President von Basedow, Prime Minister of the Duchy of Dessau. His older sister was Auguste (b. 20. April 1822; d. 1868), married Krug. Friedrich Max was named after his mother's elder brother, who later on succeeded his own father as President of the Duchy, and after Max in the Freischütz, an opera which had then just appeared; Carl Maria von Weber being an intimate friend of his parents and Max's godfather.

Max entered the Gymnasium or High School at Dessau at six years old, and remained there till he was past twelve. From the early age of nine he began to write verses, all of which were carefully kept by his devoted mother. They are verses written for Christmas, or family birthdays, but one on the beautiful God's Acre at Dessau attempts a higher flight. After his grandfather's death, Max was sent, at Easter in 1836, to the famous Nicolai School (Alte Nikolaischule) at Leipzig. He lived in the house of Dr. Carus, an old family friend, whose only son, Victor, was of the same age. "Max was taken in as a friend," writes Professor Victor Carus, "and was treated entirely as a son of the family." Victor Carus was a good violinist, and when the two young friends, Victor and Max, were about fifteen years old, they astonished Dr. Carus on his birthday by playing the whole Kreutzer Sonata by heart.

In March 1839, Dr. Carus lost his wife, who had watched over Max with the same motherly care she gave to her own boy. At Easter 1841, Dr. Nobbe, in his farewell address to the boys who were leaving the Nicolai School, thus parted with Max Müller:

I must also mention F. Max Müller from Dessau, a highly talented youth, who has just passed the final examination in his own Duchy, and who, with far from common endowments, joins the University, where he will study philology.

Müller joined the University of Leipzig in the Summer Term in 1841; his mother and sister left Dessau and moved to Leipzig to make a home for him and lessen expenses. He was a member of the Kochei, which would later become the Leipziger Burschenschaft Germania. He spent many hours practicing on the fencing floor (Fechtboden). There he attended no fewer than ten courses of lectures, on the average, during each term on the most varied subjects, including the classical lectures of Professors Haupt, Hermann, Becker, besides others on old German, Hebrew, Arabic, psychology, and anthropology. He was, however, soon persuaded by Professor Hermann Brockhaus, the first occupant of the chair of Sanskrit, founded in 1841, to devote himself chiefly to learning the classical language of ancient India.[3]

Müller's chief friends were Theodor Fontane, so well known later as a novel writer, and Leopold Friedrich Prowe, afterwards a master at the Thorn Gymnasium, with whom he formed an intimate friendship. On 1 September 1843, Müller passed his examination (Dissertation) for the degree of Phil. Doc. (Dr. phil.). The translation of the Hitopadesa was brought out in March 1844; the book is dedicated to Brockhaus. Towards the end of his University career at Leipzig, Prince Wilhelm of Dessau, who had in 1840 married Emilie, his mother's cousin, expressed a wish to adopt Max Müller, and put him into the Austrian Diplomatic Service. "I at once said no," he tells us in the My Autobiography; "it seemed to interfere with my freedom, with my studies, with my ideal of a career in life." Max had long felt an ardent wish to go for a year to Berlin to study Sanskrit under Bopp, but more especially Philosophy under Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling.

Personal life, from Friedrich Max Müller and the Sacred Books of the East by Arie L. Molendijk

Rediscovering Max Müller

For most of the twentieth century, Friedrich Max Müller was largely unknown to or ignored by historians and academics, whether in his adopted homeland Britain, in Germany where he was born and educated, or in India, the subject of much of his research. To some extent, research had moved on. Max Müller’s achievements were viewed with increasing criticism and even disdain.1 He simply no longer fitted in with prevailing interests. The intellectual complexities of the nineteenth century generally attracted less interest among younger generations. The central themes of Max Müller’s work—ancient Sanskrit texts and their significance to the development of myth, religion and language—lost their relevance in Europe. The First and Second World Wars put paid to sustained interest in non-military aspects of the Anglo-German relationship. The history of Empire moved from diplomatic to peripheral explanations, and left the cultural aspects of the subject to one side. But in the last decades of the century, interest in Max Müller began to return. A residual appreciation of the value of his work remained in the various areas in which he had published. [...] This childhood world was given a severe jolt when Wilhelm Müller died in 1827 and Max Müller recalled these early years as melancholy. His education, mainly focusing on classics and religion, was conducted at first at the town public school in Dessau until Max Müller was sent, aged 12, to the Nicolai Grammar School in Leipzig. Here he lodged with Professor Carl Gustav Carus (1789–1869), whose son, Victor (1823–1903) went to school with Max Müller and who would later himself also take up a position at Oxford University. The Nicolai school was one of the most prominent and revered institutions of the day. Its list of alumni famously included Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) and its focus was almost entirely on Greek and Latin. Max Müller’s passion at the time was for music. In Leipzig he renewed contact with the composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847), whom he had come to know during the latter’s previous appointment at the Dessau court and who was now conductor at the Gewandhaus. But he excelled at school in classics and it was his classical education that to some extent determined Max Müller’s future course. In 1841 Max Müller entered Leipzig University with a scholarship from Anhalt-Dessau to study for the doctorate in philology, mainly in Greek and Latin, taught respectively by Johann Gottfried Hermann (1772–1848) and Moritz Haupt (1808–1874). However, despite learning much from them, Max Müller later described these studies as ‘chewing of the cud’ (My Autobiography, p. 129), and academic freedom at the university enabled him to extend his studies to other areas including philosophy and Oriental languages. Max Müller’s time at Leipzig coincided with the intellectual furore caused by G.W.F. Hegel’s (1770–1831) theories of intellectual evolution which, in turn, drew him towards philosophy as an area of inquiry. At the same time, however, he encountered the ideas of Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776–1841) in the lectures of Moritz Wilhelm Drobisch (1802–1896), which he described as ‘a most useful antidote’ to the complexities Hegel’s thought had unearthed (My Autobiography, p. 142). Herbart’s ideas, combined with Max Müller’s preoccupation with classical languages and philosophy, resulted in a growing fascination with what he would later identify as the ‘Science of Language’. [...] While at Leipzig, Max Müller published a new edition of his father’s Griechenlieder (1844), reflecting his personal interest in his father’s work and also establishing his cultural and literary lineage in the public’s mind. He also, however, published a translation of the Hitopadesha—a collection of Sanskrit fables concerning statecraft—the same year. [...] By focusing on Sanskrit and ancient Indian culture, Max Müller was moving himself into an intellectual space that was seen by many, particularly in the German states, as at the cutting edge of philosophy, philology and religious thought. Ancient Sanskrit texts, some believed, offered insight into a system of thought and belief predating the classical period, and would therefore increase knowledge of the present day by unearthing detail further in the past and by enabling greater understanding of the true, original meaning of philosophy and its concepts. Similarly, those who believed the Bible could be better understood by historical investigation than by literal interpretation believed Sanskrit texts may help cast light on the original meanings of Scripture. [...]
Max Müller’s demonstrable ability to translate and interpret Sanskrit texts meant he gained a network of supporters of his work. At Leipzig, Müller was encouraged in his Sanskrit researches by J.G. Hermann, despite the latter’s emphasis on Greek. He also sought out the expertise of Hermann Brockhaus (1806–1877), an eminent Sanskrit expert. Brockhaus had been a student of August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767–1845), one of the founders of romanticism and an eminent linguist who had spent time in both France and Britain, and was connected with most of the leading contemporary Indologists. As Müller’s research progressed, however, he felt the need to spend six months in Berlin: the main purposes of this were to attend classes given by the foremost Sanskrit scholar of the day, Franz Bopp (1791–1867), to seek guidance from Friedrich Schelling (1775–1854) whose Naturphilosophie and idealism coincided with an interest in Orientalism and mythology, and to inspect the new Sanskrit texts acquired by the Prussian King and deposited in the University Library from the collection of Robert Chambers (1737–1803) recently auctioned in London. Whilst Max Müller was in Berlin he also made contact with Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) after an introduction by the Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau and took classes with Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866), the poet and Orientalist who combined Romantic verse with Indian culture and was a contemporary and fellow-traveller of Müller’s father. Through Rückert, Max Müller expanded his knowledge of Persian and Arabic. Via a combination of social networking and enthusiasm for Sanskrit, therefore, Max Müller rubbed shoulders with some of the leading intellectuals of the early nineteenth century. By 1844, however, Max Müller’s studies at Leipzig were complete, and his scholarship from Anhalt-Dessau therefore came to an end. The financial and professional questions facing him resulted first in a move to Paris. Here, he attempted to support himself by translating Sanskrit texts for the Indologist circle that had based itself there. During his time in Paris he expanded his connections among scholars, many of whom he met through one of his main employers Baron Ferdinand d’Eckstein (1790–1861), himself an enthusiast for Sanskrit study and an acquaintance of Friedrich Schlegel. His main concern, however, was to study with Eugène Burnouf (1801–1852), a leading linguist and, latterly, Sanskrit scholar at the Collège de France. Burnouf had begun to focus his, and his seminar’s, attention on the Rg Veda, and was working on a translation of the first book. It was at this point that Max Müller came to recognise the Rg Veda’s potential in philosophical and philological terms. Yet to capture this—to understand it as well as translate it—would involve removal to London: the texts necessary to his task lay in the library of the British East India Company. Max Müller travelled to Britain for the first time in June 1846, almost a year after arriving in Paris. Once again, there was an element of inevitability about his relocation: as the acquisition of the Chambers papers in Berlin had demonstrated, the British East India Company’s presence on the Subcontinent had made Britain a primary route via which materials and knowledge relating to India entered Europe. [...] Bunsen [Christian Karl Josias von Bunsen] was clear that German scholarship, particularly as it related to history, philology and religion, could bring benefits to Britain. He was also convinced—in typically Hegelian fashion—that world history would be well served by ever-closer cooperation between Britain and Prussia. Bunsen had met Max Müller’s father during his time with Niebuhr in Rome. 16 Interestingly, Bunsen had also already taken an interest in Max Müller’s fate in 1844, when he had attempted to secure a tutor’s post for the young scholar after being contacted by Alexander von Humboldt. After Max Müller’s later arrival in London, Bunsen took an active and enthusiastic role in supporting his progress. Müller’s area of scholarship was one he had long been interested in, and he was particularly keen to unravel the meaning of the Rg Veda and weave it into his own theories regarding the evolution of religion. Here was a scholar whose findings might serve to demonstrate the value of German research in a variety of areas and, in particular, contribute directly to historical approaches to theology. Bunsen used his considerable prestige in the British establishment in the 1840s to sway the East India Company towards supporting publication of the Rg Veda and, in so doing, provided Max Müller with financial security for the intermediate future. He also showcased Müller by inviting him regularly to the Prussian Embassy to meet leading figures of the day and by ensuring his participation in a presentation to the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Oxford in 1847. Bunsen informed Müller that ‘We must show them what we have done in Germany for the history and philosophy of language, and I reckon on your help’. Max Müller’s move to Oxford the next year seems a natural step, given that the printing of the Rg Veda was taking place there and he had to consult manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. In fact, with revolutions affecting the German states in 1848, his correspondence suggests serious consideration of a return to his homeland. [...]
From his arrival, there was sustained suspicion of Max Müller at Oxford due to a notion that he sympathised with the Broad Church movement. Such suspicions would have been exacerbated by the fact that many of those he developed friendships with at Oxford—some of whom he had got to know via Bunsen—belonged to the Broad Church position. [...] The reforms proposed, which included allowing the appointment of non-Anglican Fellows, a modernisation of the curriculum, and the introduction of Professorial and research-based teaching, met stiff resistance, particularly from High Church interests. They viewed such changes as opening the way to speculative, German-style education that, in turn, might threaten religious orthodoxy. Max Müller’s research area, social contacts and German origins meant he was quickly identified by conservatives as part of the reformist camp. The post at the Taylor Institution provided a foothold in Oxford. From here, Max Müller was able to continue translating and publishing the Rg Veda—the first volume of which appeared in 1849—and thus also to raise his profile. For classical scholars—and their number included most of the establishment both in education as well as in politics and the Church—his research represented a significant addition to knowledge, whether or not they wished to hear it. His sociability, famous lineage, important connections, and musical abilities all helped gain him support among academics and facilitated what today might be termed networking. [...] No matter how eminent or well-known he became, therefore, Oxford continued to resist giving Max Müller unfettered access to its hallowed cloisters. His frustrations regarding this contributed to him considering a move elsewhere or a return to German academe. Ties to his homeland were a factor, and German unification in 1871 led to a renewed engagement with German politics that extended to attempting to influence views in Britain. [...] Ultimately, however, the balance always remained in favour of his remaining in Oxford. To some degree, therefore, one can interpret Max Müller’s rise and trajectory as an academic in a deterministic fashion, noting the circumstances of his birth and his lineage, the nature and priorities of German scholarship in the early nineteenth century, the Anglo-German cultural relationship, and the era of reform in mid-Victorian Britain. Yet other aspects should also be considered that have more to do with factors of personality. Just as Bunsen had clearly identified the value in bringing the achievements of German researchers to Britain, Max Müller appeared to take on the mantle of intermediary between the two cultural realms. Using his growing status as an Oxford-based academic, he actively promoted the immigration and employment of German philologers and academics in Britain. He began translating and producing edited collections of German literature which he felt needed to be brought to the attention of British readers, either for the contribution they might make to better British understanding of German thought (for example, Kant) or because he felt the riches of German culture had not been adequately displayed (for example, Goethe). Max Müller and his wife also took on the task of translating and editing the memoirs of Baron Stockmar (1787–1863). In so doing, they clearly demonstrated a desire to bring their translation skills, expertise and position to bear on a figure who was central to Baron Bunsen’s Hegelian aspirations for the Anglo-German alliance. Stockmar had been the closest confidant of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. [...] Müller’s Kantian theory of the origin of language is elaborated at greater length in his three ‘Lectures on Mr Darwin’s Philosophy of Language’, delivered in May-July 1873. The debate between Müller and Darwin[4] has been explored at length in the secondary literature [...][5]


Müller's health began deteriorating in 1898 and he died at his home in Oxford on 28 October 1900. He was interred at Holywell Cemetery on 1 November 1900. On 26 November 1900, at the gathering always held in memory of the old members of the Nicolai School who have passed away in the year, the Director thus ended his mention of Max Müller:

He was without any doubt, next to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, one of the greatest of our pupils.

Academic legacy

His wife Georgina Max Müller had his papers and correspondence bound; they are at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Personal life

Müller became a naturalized British citizen in 1855, at the age of 32. He married Georgina Adelaide Grenfell (b. 1835; d. 17 July 1916), daughter of Riversdale William Grenfell (1807–1871) of Ray Lodge, Maidenhead, on 3 August 1859. The couple had four children:

  • Ada (1860–1876), buried in Dresden, Kingdom of Saxony, German Empire
  • Mary (1862–1886), married to Fred Conybeare
  • Beatrice Stanley, born 1865 (other sources claim 1864) in in Oxford, Berkshire
    • Beatrice Stanley Müller, named after Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (14 April 1857 – 26 October 1944), married Sir Thomas Colyer Colyer-Fergusson (1865–1951), 3rd Bt., on 30 January 1890 and had 6 children. She passed away on 17 June 1902 in Ivy Hatch nr Sevenoaks, Kent, England, after giving birth to Beatrice Helen Valentine Colyer-Fergusson (1902-1963; married Monckton).
  • Wilhelm Grenfell (1867–1945),[6] later changed his name to William
    • Friedrich Max Müller in a letter to his cousin, Hauptmann von Basedow, on 30 June 1867:
My dear Adolf,—You will already have heard that at last a little son has appeared here, and I wish to ask you to be one of his godfathers. Both Georgina and I wish the boy not to be exclusively English, and, like his name Wilhelm Grenfell, so his godfathers should be of both countries. He can then later on choose his own home, and like the old proverb ubi bene ibi patria [Where you feel good, there is your home].

The German American Orientalist Prof. Dr. phil. Wilhelm Max Müller (1862–1919) is by no means his son, although this is often claimed in internet articles, for example Wikipedia (as of 2022).[7]


  • The one great barrier between the brute and man is Language [...] Language is something more than a fold of the brain, or an angle of the skull. It admits of no cavilling, and no process of natural selection will ever distil significant words out of the notes of birds or the cries of beasts [...] language is our Rubicon and no brute will dare to pass it. – Max Müller, in: Lectures on the Science of Language, 1861
  • If we compare the germ-plasm to the molecules constituting the stem or branches of a vine, its grapes and leaves in their similarity and their variety would be comparable to the individuals belonging to the same family, and springing from the same family tree. [...] If one grape is blue, the next will be blue too, but no one would say that it was blue because the last grape was blue. [...] The child of a negro must always be a negro; his peculiarities are constant, though it may be quite true that the negro and other races are not different species, but only varieties rendered constant by immense periods of time. – a racially aware Max Müller, in: My Autobiography, pp. 28–29
  • I was fortunate, however, in counting among my most intimate friends some of the most active and influential reformers in University, Church, and State, and it is quite possible that I may often have influenced them in the hours of sweet converse; nay, that standing in the second rank, I may have helped to load the guns which they fired off with much effect afterwards. I felt that my open partnership might even injure them more than it could help them; for was it not always open to my opponents to say that I was a German, and therefore could not possibly understand purely English questions? Besides, there is another peculiarity which I have often observed in England. People like to do what has to be done by themselves. It seemed to me sometimes as if I had offended my friends if I did anything by myself, and without consulting them. Besides, my position, even after I had been in England for so many years, was always peculiar ; for though I had spent nearly a whole life in the service of my adopted country, though my political allegiance was due and was gladly given to England, still I was, and have always remained, a German. And next to Germany, which was young and full of ideals when I was young, there came India, and Indian thought which exercised their quieting influence on me. – Max Müller, in: My Autobiography, p. 315

Hostile criticism

  • While he was alive, Max Müller was celebrated by most educated Indians, although conservatives condemned his magisterial edition of the of the Rig Veda (in the original rather than as as a translation) along with Sayanacharya’s commentary, considering it sacrilegious for women, lower castes and outcastes to have access to that sacred knowledge. More liberal thinkers such as Swami Vivekananda applauded the German scholar’s “long and arduous task of exciting interest, overriding opposition and contempt, and at last creating a respect for the thoughts of the sages of ancient India”. In the years following Independence, a counter-narrative emerged, which demonised the German Indologist as a zealot determined to interpret Indian history in the light of his literal reading of Biblical chronology. Max Müller committed two unpardonable sins from the perspective of the Hindu nationalists who have grown prominent in the past few decades. First, he dated the composition of the early Vedic hymns to a period of around 1500 BC to 1200 BC, far too late for Hindutvavadis.[8]


  • Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen
  • Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften
  • Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres

Awards, decorations and honours (excerpt)

  • Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1843 for his dissertation On the Third Book of Spinoza's Ethics, De Affectibus[9]
  • Honorary Fellow at All Souls College in 1857
  • Elected to the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres as a foreign correspondent (associé étranger) in 1869
  • Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts in June 1874
    • Soon after, when he was commanded to dine at Windsor, he wrote to Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, to ask, if he might wear his Order, and the wire came back, "Not may, but must."
  • Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art in 1875
  • Appointed a member of the Privy Council in 1896
  • After his death a memorial fund, the Max Müller Memorial Fund, was opened at Oxford for "the promotion of learning and research in all matters relating to the history and archaeology, the languages, literatures, and religions of ancient India".
  • The Goethe Institutes in India are named Max Müller Bhavan in his honour, as is a street (Max Mueller Marg) in New Delhi.


Müller's scholarly works, published separately as well as an 18-volume Collected Works, include:

Further reading

More biographical works about Müller

  • Ludwig Noiré: Max Müller & the Philosophy of Language, 1879
  • "Müller, Friedrich Max," in The American Cyclopædia (1879)
  • “On Professor Max Müller” in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, v. 4, ch. “Writings: Prose” (written for the Brahmâvadin, from London, June 6, 1896)
  • “Max Müller, Friedrich” by A. A. Macdonell in Dictionary of National Biography, 1901
  • "Müller, Friedrich Max," in The New International Encyclopædia, New York: Dodd, Mead and Co. (1905)
  • "Muller, Friedrich Max," in Dictionary of Indian Biography, by C. E. Buckland, London: Swan Sonnenschein (1906)
  • "Max Müller, Friedrich," in The Nuttall Encyclopædia, (ed.) by James Wood, London: Frederick Warne and Co., Ltd. (1907)
  • "Max-Muller, Friedrich," in A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, by John William Cousin, London: J. M. Dent & Sons (1910)
  • "Max Müller, Friedrich," by Richard Garnett in Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed., 1911)
  • "Müller, Friedrich Maximilian," in The New Student's Reference Work, Chicago: F.E. Compton and Co. (1914)
  • "Müller, Friedrich Max," in The Encyclopedia Americana, New York: The Encyclopedia Americana Corporation (1920)
  • "Müller, Friedrich Max," in Collier's New Encyclopedia, New York: P. F. Collier & Son Co. (1921)
  • "Max Müller, Friedrich," in Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement, London: Smith, Elder, & Co. (1901) in 3 vols.

External links



  1. Birthname Friedrich Maximilian in "Wilhelm Müllers Leben und die wichtigsten Veröffentlichungen", Internationale Wilhelm-Müller-Gesellschaft e. V.; His name was also recorded as "Maximilian" on several official documents (e.g. university register, marriage certificate), on some of his honours and in some other publications.
  2. Adelheid Müller
  3. Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Max Müller, Friedrich
  4. Müller held that language is always conceptual and that language roots emerge from a priori concepts similar to Kant’s categories. By making this claim, he argued that only human beings have the capacity for conceptual thought and language, which was in turn held to constitute a decisive point of demarcation between human beings and the animal kingdom. The most primordial act of conceptual thinking was, according to Müller, to be found in ancient human attempts to conceptualize the rising sun as a symbol of the infinite. During the early 1870s, these arguments were deployed as part of a highly public campaign waged by Müller against Darwin’s Descent of Man, a debate which has attracted a high degree of scholarly attention.
  5. Friedrich Max Müller: The Career and Intellectual Trajectory of a German Philologist in Victorian Britain, Publications of the English Goethe Society, 2016 (Archive)
  6. Sir William Grenfell Max Muller GBE KCMG CB MVO (9 June 1867 – 10 May 1945) was a German-British diplomat. He was British Minister to Poland from 1920 to 1928. He was educated at Eton College and University College, Oxford.
  7. Wilhelm Max Müller, German Wikipedia, 5 September 2022
  8. Epic battle: The Hindutvavadi attack on a 19th-century scholar that presaged the war on Pollock, 2016
  9. Friedrich Max Müller,
  10. Müller, F. Max (Friedrich Max) (16 October 2009). My Autobiography: A Fragment.