Simion Bărnuţiu grew up in a Greek- Catholic family in Transylvania. His father, Ioan Bărnuţiu, was a teacher, his mother, Ana Oros, the daughter of a Greek Catholic priest was. Transylvania belonged at that time to the Empire of Austria.
Between 1826 and 1829 he studied theology in Blaj and was Greek- Catholic priest. But he aspired to no ecclesiastical career, but became a teacher of philosophy and history in Blaj. In 1845 he finally had to leave because of a dispute with the Greek Catholic bishop Ioan Lemeni Blaj. Bărnuţiu then studied until 1848 jurisprudence in Sibiu. Then he became involved in the revolution of 1848/ 49 for the rights of the Romanians.
Due to the suppression of the riots Bărnuţiu first had to Sibiu and Transylvania leave. Between 1850 and 1854 he studied law at the Universities of Vienna and Pavia. In 1854 he went to Iasi in the Principality of Moldavia. He became a professor at the Academia Mihăileană (1855-1860) and then at the University of Iaşi ( 1860-1864 ). Here, too, left behind his ideas of freedom and nation lasting impression on colleagues and students.
When he fell seriously ill towards the end of his life, he decided to return to his hometown Bocşa to Transylvania. He died on the ride in a railroad car, so his place of death is also controversial.
Under the strong influence of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, Bărnuţiu saw in philosophy an instrument with which one - could change society - when used correctly. The task of philosophy, he saw it, on the one hand to develop the mind and secondly to analyze the human nature with the aim to show people how they should be. Every individual should in his opinion have the right to live freely and to work as well as intellectually and morally evolve to increase in this way personal happiness and prosperity.
Simion Bărnuţiu was one of the organizers and leaders of the revolutionary movement of 1848 in Transylvania. He was a participant in the National Assembly of Blaj in April and May 1848. In a manifesto dated 24 March 1848, he warned against a rapid union with Hungary because he ie the assimilation of the Romanians, in particular the suppression of the Romanian language was afraid.
Influenced by the philosophy of Kant and Johann Gottfried Herder, he developed the axiom of the natural rights of self-realization of the individual and transferred it to nation, culture and language. On this basis he demanded self-determination for the Romanians in Transylvania. He sat down with it for a multi -national state as an alternative to single Hungarian nation state.