Rettung der Ehre der Vernunft wider die Freygeister
This book appeared at a time when many contemporaries considered “free-thinking” to have reached an alarming level. This term was used to refer to all kinds of attacks on the revealed Christian religion. There were many and vehement reactions even from forward-thinking contemporaries, and these defensive positions articulated widely-felt concerns and fears. At the same time they illustrate the difficulties inherent in the development of civil society, since most Enlightenment thinkers could not conceive of any value system other than that of Christianity that could provide the basis for such a society.
Meier’s strategy, like that of Christian Wolff, was to show that philosophy did not contradict theology and religion but rather supports them by teaching the correct methodological and conceptual use of reason in questions of faith. The “freethinkers” were therefore guilty of using reason falsely.
Meier’s text takes pains to refute an anonymous anti-religious tract of 1745, probably the work of C. Chesneau de Marsais. Before Meier comes to his actual refutation he discusses the problem of freedom of thought and speech as a condition for the possibility of any critique of religion. This study, which can stand on its own, may be considered alongside the statements of Christian Wolff and A.G. Baumgarten, as the most significant mid-18th-century German opinions on the theme of freedom of thought.