Eucken, Rudolf (5 January 1846 - 15 September 1926)
Rudolf Eucken (5 January 1846 - 15 September 1926)
University of Kiev, Ukraine
BOOKS: De Aristotelis dicendi ratione: Pars prima, Observationes de particularum usu (Göttingen: Hofer, 1866);
Über den Sprachgebrauch des Aristoteles: Beobachtungen über die Praepositionen (Berlin: Weidemann, 1868);
Über die Methode und die Grundlagen der Aristotelischen Ethik, Separatabdruck aus dem Programm des Frankfurter Gymnasiums (Berlin: Weidemann, 1870);
Über die Bedeutung der Aristotelischen Philosophie für die Gegenwart: Akademische Antrittsrede (Berlin: Weidemann, 1872);
Die Methode der Aristotelischen Forschung in ihrem Zusammen hans mit den philosophischen Grundprincipien des Aristo teles dargestellt (Berlin: Weidemann, 1872);
Über den Werth der Geschichte der Philosophie: Akademische Antrittsrede (Jena: Mauke, 1874);
Geschichte und Kritik der Grundbegriffe der Gegenwart (Leipzig: Veit, 1878); translated by M. Stuart Phelps as The Fundamental Concepts of Modern Philosophic Thought, Critically and Historically Considered (New York: Appleton, 1880); original German revised as Die Grundbegriffe der Gegenwart: Historisch und kritisch entwiikelt (Leipzig: Veit, 1893); revised as Geistige Strömungen der Gegenwart (Leipzig: Veit, 1904; revised, 1909, 1916; revised edition, Berlin & Leipzig: Vereinigung wissenschaftlicher Verleger, 1920); translated by Meyrick Booth as Main Currents of Modern Thought: A Study of the Spiritual and Intellectual Movements of the Present Day (London: Unwin/New York: Scribners, 1912);
Geschichte der philosophischen Terminologie: Im Umriss dargestellt (Leipzig: Veit, 1879);
Über Bilder und Gleichnisse in der Philosophie (Leipzig: Veit, 1880);
Zur Erinnerung an K. Ch. F. Krause: Festrede gehalten zu Eisenberg am 100. Geburtstage des Philosophen (Leipzig: Veit, 1881);
Aristoteles’ Anschauung von Freundschaft und von Lebensgütern (Berlin: Habel, 1884);
Prolegomena zu Forschungen über die Einheit des Geisteslebens in Bewusstsein und Tat der Menschheit (Leipzig: Veit, 1885);
Beiträse zur Geschichte der neuern Philosophie vornehmlkh der deutschen: Gesammelte Abhandlungen (Heidelberg: Georg Weiss, 1886); revised and enlarged as Beitrage zur Einfuhrung in die Geschichte der Philosophie (Leipzig: Dürr, 1906);
Die Philosophie des Thomas von Aquino und die Kultur der Keuzeit (Halle: Pfeffer, 1886; revised edition, Sachsa: Haacke, 1910);
Die Einheit des Geisteslebens in Bewusstsein und Tat der Menschheit: Untersuchungen (Leipzig: Veit, 1888; revised edition, Berlin: De Gruyter, 1925);
Die Lebensanschauunsen der grossen Denker: Eine Entwicklungsgeschichte des Lebensproblems der Menschheit von Plato bis zur Gegenwart (Leipzig: Veit, 1890; revised, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1904, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1917, 1918; revised edition, Berlin & Leipzig: Vereinigung wissenschaftlicher Verleger, 1919; revised, 1921, 1922; revised edition, Berlin: De Gruyter, 1928); translated by Williston S. Hough and W. R. Boyce Gibson as The Problem of Human Life as Viewed By the Great Thinkers from Plato to the Present Time (New York: Scribners, 1909; London: Unwin, 1909; revised, 1914, 1916);
Der Kampf um das Gymnasium: Gesichtspunkte und Anregungen (Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta, 1891);
Der Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt: Neue Grundlegung einer Weltanschauung (Leipzig: Veit, 1896; revised, 1907, 1918; revised edition, Berlin & Leipzig: Vereinigung wissenschaftlicher Verleger, 1921; revised edition, Berlin: De Gruyter, 1924);
Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Religion (Leipzig: Veit, 1901; revised, 1905, 1912; revised edition, Berlin: De Gruyter, 1920); translated by W. Tudor Jones as The Truth of Religion (London: Williams & Norgate / New York: Putnam, 1911); excerpt of translation published as The Transient and the Permanent in Christianity (London: Lindsey Press, 1914);
Das Wesen der Religion, philosophisch betrachtet: Vortrag auf der Sächsischen kirchlichen Konferenz zu Chemnitz am 17. April 1901 (Leipzig: Georg Wigand, 1901); translated by Jones as “The Nature of Religion, Philosophically Considered: An Address Delivered Before the Curch Conference of Saxony, Held at Chemnitz,” in The Point of View in Theology and Religion: The Monthly Magazine of the Unitarian Church, Swansea, 1, no. 4;
Thomas von Aquino und Kant: Ein Kampfzweier Welten (Berlin: Reuther & Reichard, 1901);
Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Philosophic und Lebensanschauung (Leipzig: DÜrr, 1903); edited and translated by Booth as Collected Essays of Rudolf Eucken (London: Unwin, 1914; New York: Scribners, 1914);
Grundlinien einer neuen Lebensanschauung (Leipzig: Veit, 1907; revised, 1913); translated by Alban G. Wid-gery as Life’s Basis and Life’s Ldeal: The Fundamentals of a New Philosophy of Life (London: Black, 1911; revised, 1912);
Hauptprobleme der Religionsphilosophie der Gegenwart (Berlin: Reuther & Reichard, 1907; revised, 1907, 1909, 1912); translated by Lucy Judge Gibson and W. R. Boyce Gibson as Christianity and the New Ideal ism: A Study in the Religious Philosophy of To-day (London & New York: Harper, 1909);
Der Sinn und Wert des Lebens (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1908; revised, 1910, 1911, 1914, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1921, 1922); translated by Lucy Judge Gibson and W. R. Boyce Gibson as The Meaning and Value of Life (London: Black, 1909);
EinfÜhrung in eine Philosophic des Geisteslebens (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1908); translated by F. L. Pogson as The Life of the Spirit: An Introduction to Philosophy (London: Williams & Norgate / New York: Putnam, 1909); original German edition revised as Einfuhrung in die Hauptfragen der Philosophie (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1919; revised, 1921); revised as Einfuhrung in die Philosophie (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1925);
Naturalismus oder Idealismus: Nobelrede (Stockholm: Imprimerie Royale/Norstedt & Fils, 1909); republished by the Euckenbund (Jena: Neuenhahn, 1922); translated by Widgery as Naturalism or Idealism? The Nobel Lecture (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1912);
Können wir noch Christen sein? (Leipzig: Veit, 1911); translated by Lucy Judge Gibson as Can We Still Be Christians? (New York: Macmillan, 1914; London: Black, 1914);
Religion and Life: Lecture Delivered at Essex Hall London, translated by Gustav F. Beckh (London: British and Foreign Unitarian Association, 1911);
Back to Religion (Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1912);
Erkennen und Leben (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1912; revised edition, Berlin: De Gruyter, 1923); translated by Jones as Knowledge and Life (London: Williams & Norgate / New York: Putnam, 1913);
Zur Sammlung der Geister (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1913; revised, 1914);
Ethics and Modern Thought: A Theory of Their Relations: The Deems Lectures, Delivered in 1913 at New York University, translated by Margaret von Seydewitz (New York & London: Putnam, 1913); published as Present-Day Ethics in Their Relations to the Spiritual Life: Being the Deems Lectures Delivered in 1913 at New York University, edited by Jones (London: Williams & Norgate, 1913);
Die weltgeschichtliche Bedeutung des deutschen Geistes (Stuttgart & Berlin: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1914);
Die sittlichen Kräafte des Krieges (Leipzig: Gräfe, 1914);
Die Traäger des deutschen Idealismus (Berlin: Ullstein, 1915; revised, 1919, 1924);
Ethische und hygienische Aufgaben der Gegenwart: Zwei V°r~ traäge, by Eucken and Max von Gruber (Berlin: Mässigkeits-Verlag, 1916);
Die geistesgeschichtliche Bedeutung der Bibel: Rede zur Feier des 100 jährigen Bestehens der Hamburg-Altonaischen Bibelgesellschaft (Leipzig: Kröner, 1917);
Die geistigen Forderungen der Gegenwart (Berlin: Otto Reichl, 1917);
Bilder aus dem Welt- und Menschenleben: Feldpostausgabe aus “Gesammelte Aufsäatie” (Leipzig: Meiner, 1917);
Moral und Lebensanschauung: Feldpostausgabe aus “Gesammelte Aufsätie” (Leipzig: Meiner, 1917);
Was bleibt unser Halt? Ein Wort an ernste Seelen (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1918);
Mensch und Welt: Eine Philosophie des Lebens (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1918; revised, 1920, 1923);
Geistesprobleme und Lebensfragen: Ausgewählte Abschnitte aus den Werken, edited by Otto Braun (Leipzig: Reclam, 1918; revised, 1921);
Deutsche Freiheit: Ein Weckruf (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1919);
Unsere Forderung an das Leben: Mit einem Anhang: Aufruf zur Gründung eines Euckenbundes (Leipzig: Reclam, 1920);
Der Sozialismus und seine Lebensgestaltung (Leipzig: Reclam, 1920; revised, 1926); translated by Joseph McCabe as Socialism: An Analysis (London: Unwin, 1921; New York: Scribners, 1922);
Lebenserinnerungen: Ein Stück deutschen Lebens (Leipzig: Koehler, 1921; revised, 1922); translated by McCabe as Rudolf Eucken: His Life, Work, and Travels, by Himself (London: Unwin, 1921; New York: Scribners, 1922);
Prolegomena und Epilog zu einer Philosophie des Geisteslebens (Berlin & Leipzig: Vereinigung wissenschaftlicher Verleger/De Gruyter, 1922);
Das Lebensproblem in China und Europa, by Eucken and Carson Chang (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1922);
Der Kampf um die Religion in der Gegenwart (Langensalza: H. Beyer, 1922; revised, 1923);
The Spiritual Outlook of Europe To-Day, translated by W. R. V. Brade (London: Faith Press, 1922);
The Individual and Society, translated by Brade (London: Faith Press, 1923);
Ethik als Grundlage des staatsbürgerlichen Lebens (Langensalza: H. Beyer, 1924).
Editions and Collections: Einführung in die Hauptfragen der Philosophie und der Sinn und Wert des Lebens (Zürich: Coron, 1967);
Gesammelte Werke in elf Bänden, 11 volumes, edited by Rainer A. Bast (Hildesheim: Olms, 2005-)- comprises volume 1, Die Einheit des Geisteslebens in Bewusstsein und That der Menschheit; volume 2, Gesammelte Aufsätie zur Philosophie und Lebensanschauung and Beiträge zur Einführung in die Geschichte der Philosophie; volume 3, Grundlinien einer neuen Lebensanschauung; volume 4, Geistige Strömungen der Gegenwart; volume 5, Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Religion; volume 6, Der Sinn und Wert des Lebens and Erkennen und Leben; volume 7, Mensch und Welt: Eine Philosophie des Lebens; volume 8, Der Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt: Neue Grundlegung einer Weltanschauung; volume 9, Einführung in die Philosophie and Geschichte der philosophischen Terminologie; volume 10, Kleinere Arbeiten; volume 11, Prolegomena und Epilog zu einer Philosophie des Geisteslebens and Lebenserinnerungen.
OTHER: “Zur Würdigung Comtes und des Positivismus,” in Philosophische Aufsätie: Eduard Zeller zu seinem furfzigjäahrigen Doctor-Jubiläum gewidmet (Leipzig: Fues, 1887), pp. 53-82;
“Wissenschaft und Religion,” in Beitäage zur Weiterentwicklung der christlichen Religion (Munich: J. F. Lehmann, 1905), pp. 241-281;
“Philosophie und Geschichte,” in Systematische Philosophie: Die Kultur der Gegenwart: Teil I, Abteilung VI, edited by Paul Hinneberg (Berlin & Leipzig: Teubner, 1907), pp. 247-281;
“What Does a Free Christianity Require in Order to Become Victorious?” in Freedom and Fellowship in Religion: Proceedings and Papers of the Fourth International Congress of Religious Liberals, edited by Charles W. Wendte (Boston: International Council, 1907), pp. 379-389;
“Zur Einfuhrung,” in Johann Gottlieb Fichtes, Reden an die deutsche Nation (Leipzig: Insel, 1909), pp. i-xvi;
“Die Bedeutung der Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart,” in Die XIV. Christliche Studenten-Konferenz Aarau 1910 (Bern: Francke, 1910), pp. 63-81;
“Die deutsche Philosophie und die religiöse Reformbe-wegung der Gegenwart,” in Fürfter Weltkongrep für Freies Christentum und Religiösen Fortschritt: Berlin 5. bis 10. August 1910: Protokoll der Verhandlungen, edited by Max Fischer and Friedrich Michael Schiele (Berlin: Protestantischer Schriftenvertrieb, Schöneberg, 1910), pp. 748-754; translated as German Philosophy and the Religious Reform-Movement of To-day (London: Williams & Norgate, 1910);
“The Work of Borden Parker Bowne,” translated by M. L. Perrin, in Ralph Tyler Flewelling, Personalism and the Problem of Philosophy: An Appreciation of the Work of Borden Parker Bowne (New York & Cincinnati: Methodist Book Concern, 1915), pp. 17-31;
“Der Geist im Lande,” in Deutsche Volkskraft nach zwei Kriegsjahren: Vier Vorträge (Berlin & Leipzig: Teubner, 1916), pp. 35-41;
“Krieg und Kultur,” in Meyers Groβes Konservations-Lexikon: Kriegsnachtrag: Enter Teil (Leipzig & Wien: Bibliographisches Institut, 1916), pp. 317-322;
“Die Einheit der deutschen Weltanschauung,” in Vom inneren Frieden des deutschen Vblkes: Ein Buck gegensei-tigen Verstehens und Vertrauens, edited by Friedrich Thimme (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1916), pp. 11-23;
“Meine persönlichen Erinnerungen an Nietzsche,” in Den Manen Friedrich Nietzsches, edited by Max Oehler (Munich: Musarion, 1921), pp. 51-55;
“The Ethical Basis of Immortality,” in Immortality, edited by James Marchand (London & New York: Putnam, 1924), pp. 124-144.
SELECTED PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS UNCOLLECTED: “Beiträge zum Verständnis des Aristoteles,” Neue Jahrbücherfür Philologie und Pädagogik, 99 (1869): 243-252, 817-820;
“Fortlage als Religionsphilosoph,” Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, 82 (1883): 180-196;
“Leibniz und Geulinx: Eine Studie zur Geschichte der Philosophie,” Philosophische Monatschefte, 19 (1883): 525-542;
“Parteien und Parteinamen in der Philosophie,” Philosophische Monatshefle, 20 (1884): 1-32;
“Moritz Seebeck: Ein Lebensbild aus dem neunzehnten Jahrhundert,” Deutsche Rundschau, 50 (1887): 224-237;
“Der Neuthomismus und die neue Wissenschaft,” Philosophische Monatshefle, 24 (1888): 575-581;
“Zur philosophischen Terminologie: Ein Vorschlag und eine Aufforderung,” Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophies 1 (1888): 309-313;
“Aristoteles’ Urteil uüber die Menschen,” Archivfur Geschichte der Philosophie, 3 (1890): 541-558;
“Philosophical Terminology and Its History: Expository and Appelatory,” Monist, 6 (1895-1896): 497-515;
“Hegel To-Day,” translated by Thomas J. McCormack, Monist, 7 (April 1897): 321-339;
“Liberty in Teaching in the German Universities,” Forum, 27 (1897): 476-486;
“Die Stellung der Philosophie zur religiösen Bewegung der Gegenwart,” zeitschrfl für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, 112 (1898): 161-178;
“Die weltgeschichtliche Krise der Religion,” Deutsche Rundschau, 107 (1901): 197-209;
“The Status of Religion in Germany,” Forum, 31 (1901): 387-397;
“Der moderne Mensch und die Religion,” Neue Deutsche Rundschau, 13 (1902): 673-682;
“Zur Erinnerung an Kant,” Der Tuürmer: Monatsschrft für Gemuüt und Geist, 6 (1903-1904), volume 1, pp. 513-520;
“Was können wir heute aus Schiller gewinnen?,” KantStudien, 10 (1905): 253-260;
“Religion und Kultur,” Religion und Geisteskultur, 1 (1907): 7-12;
“Alter und neuer Idealismus,” Zeitschrift für Philosophieund philosophische Kritik, 132 (1908): 1-4;
“Die päpstliche Enzyklika wider die Modernisten,”Internationale Wochenschrft für Wissenschaft, Kunst und Technik, 2 (1908): 97-110;
“The Problem of Immortality,” Hibbert Journal, 6 (1908): 836-851;
“Gedanken über das Ideal der Volksbildung,” Volksbildungsarchiv, 1 (1910): 217-226;
“What Is Driving Men Today Back to Religion?” Harvard Theological Review, 5 (1912): 273-282;
“Knowledge and Life,” Philosophical Review, 22, no. 1 (1913): 1-16;
“Aufruf zur Gründung einer Luthergesellschaft,” Deutscher Wille: Des Kunstwarts 31. Jahr,31 (1917): 182-184;
“Luther und die geistige Erneuerung des deutschen Volkes,” Luther-Jahrbuch, 1 (1919): 27-34;
“Luther und wir,” Luther, 1 (1919): 3-12.
In 1908 Rudolf Eucken became the first philosopher to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The decision of the Swedish Academy surprised not only the German and international public but also the winner himself. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Eucken had a broad German and international readership; his views on the truth of religion, in particular, were absorbed by many readers, including clergymen and educated people interested in religious problems. In addition to his books, Eucken wrote more than 400 papers and articles in journals, magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, as well as about 150 reviews, 30 forewords, and many contributions for philosophical and theological dictionaries. According to the citation from the Swedish Academy, Eucken was awarded the Nobel Prize “in recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength of presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life.”
In contrast to this emphatic recognition for Eucken’s idealism, the philosopher is virtually forgotten by both the public and academics at the end of the twentieth century. Only Eucken’s early academic writings continue to attract the attention of some philosophers. His later work, the articles, papers, pamphlets, and books in which Eucken developed a neo-idealistic philosophy of life, is philosophically uninteresting, because in his late writings he did not argue to open a dialogue about philosophical questions but rather to appeal to his growing following. But as Eucken’s philosophical Weltanschauung was an important part of the German and international criticism of modern Western civilization, historians and scholars in cultural studies are still interested in it.
Rudolf Christoph Eucken was born on 5 January 1846 in Aurich (East Frisia, Germany) to Protestant, middle-class parents. His father, Ammo Becker Eucken, worked for the postal service and died when Rudolf was five. His mother, Ida Maria Gittermann, was a deeply religious woman. His only brother died in 1850. Eucken attended school until 1863 and then studied philosophy, philology, and history at the University of Göttingen until 1866. Eucken’s most important philosophical teachers were Rudolf Hermann Lotze and Gustav Teichmüller. He attended Teich-miillerüs lectures and seminars on Aristotle and the history of concepts and wrote a dissertation on the language of Aristotle. Teichmüller put Eucken in contact with the philosopher Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg, who taught at Berlin University. In 1866 Eucken went to Berlin to meet Trendelenburg. He attended lectures and became a member of Trendelenburg’s private circle, where he met other influential scholars.
In the 1860s Trendelenburg held a special place among academic philosophers in Germany. He criticized Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant, and almost all contemporary philosophical movements, especially the neo-Kantians, and tried to revive philosophical thinking by a neo-Aristotelian system. Until 1871 Eucken shared Trendelenburg’s neo-Aristotelian views and wrote at that time some valuable philological-philosophical papers on the language of Aristotle.
From 1866 to 1871 Eucken worked as a teacher of Greek, Latin, and philosophy at several high schools in Berlin, Husum, and Frankfurt am Main. When he became professor of philosophy and pedagogic at Basel in 1871, he was considered among almost all contemporary philosophers to be Trendelenburg’s most faithful disciple and a talented historian of philosophy. At Basel, Eucken met Friedrich Nietzsche and Jacob Burckhardt, studied Plato and the early Fathers of the Church, and began to distance himself from Trendelenburg’s neo-Aristotelian ideas. Eucken’s book Die Methode der Aristotelischen Forschung in ihrem Zusammenhang mit den philosophischen Grundprincipien des Aristoteles dargestellt (1872, Aristotle’s Philosophical Method in Its Connection with His Main Principles) uncovers the methodological faults of Aristotle’s system and shows that any modern revival of Aristotle is not capable of solving the philosophical problems of the present.
In 1874 Eucken moved to Jena, where he held a professorship in philosophy until 1920. Prior to his appointment at Jena, Eucken stopped researching Aristotle and began to analyze the cultural and spiritual problems of his time. From that period there is an informative document on Eucken’s general philosophical point of view. In a letter dated 31 December 1873, Eucken explained to the chancellor of Jena University his own philosophical program:
It is my fervent hope, that I am able to teach philosophy in such a way that the students do not get only a simple increase of knowledge, but above all a general engrossment in the spiritual life. Just in the fragmentation of interests and opinions, predominant and inevitable in our time, it should be the task of philosophy to point to the homogeneity of human being and to defend the unity of all higher culture [Bildung]. The marvellous progress of all sciences and the tremendous perfection of modern technology will not be enough for the last desires of the whole man without such a philosophical center.
Eucken noticed differences in thinking and in contemporary life that seriously threatened the homogeneous human sense of being. Throughout his life Eucken tried by philosophical means to get over the permanent crisis of the life and culture of the modern world.
When Eucken arrived at Jena, he had a clear philosophical concern, but he did not have any conceptual means to implement his programmatic vision. He only knew that the demands of the present could not be fulfilled by falling back on ancient philosophical systems. Eucken wrote in his autobiography Lebenserinnerungen: Ein Stück deutschen Lebens (1921; translated as Rudolf Eucken: His Life, Work, and Travels, by Himself, 1921) that during the late 1870s he primarily looked for answers, but at the same time he also wanted to publish productive philosophical ideas. At the end of the 1870s Eucken therefore published books closely related to the essential philosophical problems but without any fixed systematic opinion. These books are Eucken’s great contributions to the history of philosophical concepts and technical terms, as well as to the theory of metaphors.
In his studies Geschichte und Kritik der Grundbegriffe der Gegenwart (1878; translated as The Fundamental Concepts of Modern Philosophic Thought, Critically and Historically Considered, 1880) and Geschichte der philosophischen Terminologie (1879, History of Philosophical Terminology), Eucken developed original views on the interdependence of language and thinking and on the meaning of concepts and technical terms. He was one of the most astute critics of philosophical language for his time and advanced important ideas for the reform of philosophical terminology. Eucken’s small book Über Bilder und Gleichnisse in der Philosophie (1880, On Images and Similes in Philosophy) is the most interesting publication from the nineteenth century on metaphors. According to Eucken, figurative expressions and metaphors provide more than mere aesthetic ornamentation or expository illustration in philosophical arguments; they serve an essential heuristic function. Metaphors, Eucken argued, should not usurp the place of concepts but should instead pave the way for thoughts and help wherever concepts are missing.
Eucken’s philosophical and semiotic reflections influenced Georg Runze, Gottlob Frege, Ferdinand Tönnies, and Karl Jaspers and have been appreciated by Theodor W. Adorno. Nevertheless, Eucken’s proposal to found an academy or at least an editorial group to collect historical material and to edit a comprehensive historical dictionary of philosophical concepts and terms remained unsuccessful. Disappointed by this failure, Eucken changed his field of research and published in the 1880s many important papers (not only in philosophical journals but also in widespread German newspapers) on several problems of the history of philosophy. But Eucken was primarily interested in a systematic treatment of the problem of human life. Both his weighty books of the 1880s— Prolegomena zu Forschungen über die Einheit des Geisteslebens in Bewusstsein und Tat der Menschheit (1885, Prolegomena to Research on the Unity of the Spiritual Life in Consciousness and Action of Mankind) and Die Einheit des Geisteslebens in Bewusstsein und Tat der Menschheit (1888, Research on the Unity of the Spiritual Life in Consciousness and Action of Mankind)—had one main idea, as Eucken later summarized in his book Prolegomena und Epilog zu einer Philosophie des Geisteslebens (1922, Prolegomena and Epilogue to a Philosophy of Spiritual Life). Both studies struggled against the tremendous spiritual fragmentation that jeopardized the internal connection of modern human life and hindered all creative urge. To argue for this idea Eucken criticized the spiritual movements (“syntagmas” in Eucken’s word) dominating at that time—naturalism and intellectualism. Neither of them helped to resolve the problem of human life because they separated the spiritual life from the individual, whereas Eucken tried to mediate both. Thus, he inferred from the detailed criticism of both syntagmas his own system of a personal world.
Eucken developed the characteristics of his system along complicated lines of thought and used an extremely individual, unusual, and sophisticated terminology. Most of Eucken’s academic colleagues at German universities did not know what to do with both books. But those who followed Eucken’s strict arguments carefully were convinced of their importance. The neo-Kantian philosopher Paul Natorp wrote comprehensive reviews, and Frege, Eucken’s colleague at Jena University and the founder of modern mathematical logic, took over some methodological and gnoseological stimulations. Later, both works were held in high esteem by such important thinkers as Max Scheler, Edmund Husserl, José Ortega y Gasset, Ernst Troeltsch, and Heinrich Rickert. The people whom Eucken did not reach with these scholarly books, however, were the main addressees of his philosophical program. Like a professor of philosophy, Eucken wanted to stimulate the academic discussion, but above all he hoped to convince the multipliers of philosophical-ideological thoughts (weltanschauliche)— teachers, journalists, editors, priests, and writers—of the importance of his philosophical Weltanschauung. Eucken had little popular success with these books because both were too academic for a general audience.
In Jena, Eucken visited private circles of scholars, delivered public lectures, and took part in the academic and local cultural life. At Moritz Seebeck’s house he met Irene Passow, who belonged to the famous German families Passow, Ulrichs, Gildemeister, and Smidt. The couple became engaged in 1881 and were married in 1882. Irene Eucken was a talented fashion designer and painter who occasionally worked with such artists as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, and Henry van der Velde. Both husband and wife played an important role in the cultural life of Jena. They supported local artists and art societies; organized concerts, poetry readings, and discussions; and ran an international salon of philosophy. Irene and Rudolf Eucken had three children. Their daughter, Ida Maria Eucken, studied voice, and both sons were successful scholars: Arnold Eucken taught chemistry at the universities of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) and Gottingen, while Walter Eucken held professorships in economics at Tübingen and Freiburg and belonged to the founders of the Freiburg school of ordoliberalism.
Because of the disappointing receptions of his books in the late 1880s, Eucken changed both his strategies of argumentation and publication. After 1890 he published increasingly in general magazines, pedagogical and theological journals, church papers, and influential newspapers. In order to react to new spiritual, social, and political challenges and changes, Eucken revised his books and brought them up to date over a period of several decades, so that some of his works went through more than eight editions. In these revised and enlarged editions Eucken modified some of his arguments, but he did not change any major idea of his philosophical system. This new strategy to attract a wider readership for his philosophical opinions was connected with a fundamental change in Eucken’s style. His conceptual and linguistic precision degenerated as he turned much of his philosophical terminology into more common expressions. From that time his thinking stressed personal ethical effort more than intellectual idealism. Eucken spoke now with the temper and tone of a prophet burdened with a divine message of awakening and inspiration and help for the present perplexity. Even in his most soaring speculations, he had an eye for the problems of the man in the street. He was prophetic and practical. Eucken’s readers did not expect austere arguments. They studied his writings because they hoped to get the feeling of being invited by their philosophical leader to share a common experience of hidden spiritual connections.
The first step toward the new philosophical strategy was the book Die Lebensanschauungen der grossen Denker: Eine Entwicklungsgeschichte des Lebensproblems der Menschheit von Plato bis zur Gegenwart (1890, translated as The Problem of Human Life as Viewed by the Great Thinkers from Plato to the Present Time, 1909), his most successful book. Among its readers were scholars and educated people looking for the meaning of life. It went through some twenty editions. As the title indicates, in this work Eucken showed in a semischolarly way that the problem of human life was one of the central issues of all great thinkers since Plato.
With the books Der Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt: Neue Grundlegung einer Weltanschauung (1896, The Struggle for a Spiritual Content of Life), Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Religion (1901; translated as The Truth of Religion, 1911), Grundlinien einer neuen Lebensanschauung (1907; translated as Life’s Basis and Life’s Ideal: The Fundamentals of a New Philosophy of Life, 1911), and Der Sinn und Wert des Lebens (1908; translated as The Meaning and Value of Life, 1909), and also with his pamphlets, articles, and public lectures, Eucken aimed at creating a Lebensanschauung or Weltanschauung for the modern man. He promised all loyal adherents (Gesinnungsgenossen) in the struggle for the recovery of an eternal spiritual world amid the darkness of the present world a Weltanschauung that would give them moral stability and reliable orientation. In the first edition of Die Lebensanschauungen der grossen Denker he wrote that the enormous changes of the last decades and centuries had shaken the spiritual condition of mankind despite the progress in social life, politics, and technology. These changes had provoked gigantic problems and glaring contradictions, which on no account could be accepted. The tremendous expansion and division of external human work had replaced attention to the inner unity of human being; the impetuous pursuit of external success had suppressed the concern about spiritual equilibrium. On the basis of this general stocktaking Eucken appealed for a radical turning back. He did not request a withdrawal from politics and economy, nor did his philosophical program intend any kind of escapism. Eucken argued that politics and economy would rule the external life, but since they cannot solve the problems of inner man, everyone should fight for a spiritual purpose in life besides external work.
Eucken attacked academic philosophers for forgetting the problem of human life. While most people sought the meaning of life, most professors of philosophy discussed only methodological and gnoseological questions. Because of his preaching the virtues of his Weltanschauung to those who looked seriously for spiritual profundity, Eucken had hardly any effect within academic philosophical circles in Germany or in other countries. A typical academic reaction to Eucken’s prophetic activism is Bernard Bosanquet’s remark: “There is in Eucken’s immense literary output no really precise and serious contribution to philosophical science. Free cognition has been submerged by moralistic rhetoric.”
Eucken was a productive author but a boring writer. His books were written in a ponderous style full of clichés, repetitions, and vague philosophical terms, making him a philosopher of questionable literary merit, which is why the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature came as such a surprise. Among the nominees in 1908, the top candidates initially were the Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf (who did receive the prize the following year) and the English poet A. C. Swinburne, but the Nobel committee could not make a decision between these two. Eucken was suggested as a compromise solution by Vitalis Norström, professor of philosophy at Gothenburg University, who admired Eucken’s philosophical writings. Eucken’s output was seen as consistent with the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will directing that the literature prize should go to a work or works written with an idealistic tendency.
Swedish documents and letters of some members of the Nobel committee show that Eucken’s nomination had a Swedish background. These supporters felt the philosopher was needed as a counterweight to the demonstration in support of his Jena colleague and leading materialist Ernst Haeckel, whose lecture during Uppsala’s 1907 bicentennial celebration for Carolus Linnaeus had been enthusiastically received. With Eucken’s Nobel Prize, Scandinavia’s reading public rediscovered the idealistic, religious tradition in philosophy. After Eucken’s Nobel lecture, Swedish, Danish, and Finnish idealistic thinkers renewed their campaign against materialistic, antireligious movements.
In Germany, Eucken’s Nobel award received only a muted response. Of course, all German newspapers published short articles about the decision of the Swedish Academy, but most of these articles paid tribute to both German Nobel Prize winners of 1908, Eucken and the chemist Paul Ehrlich. Eucken’s prize did not start an academic debate about his philosophy in his own country. Eucken’s academic colleagues remained unresponsive to his greatest international public success, because for them, the Nobel Prize was only further evidence that Eucken was more a popular philosophical author than a serious scholar. Eucken did receive many congratulations from German teachers and clergymen. About this group of followers, Eucken wrote in an unpublished letter to the Polish philosopher Marian Zdziechowski from 16 January 1909: “They are my most loyal friends.”
Contrary to the muted academic response in Germany, leading French thinkers sent heartfelt greetings to Eucken. After 1908 a wave of interest in Eucken began among French-speaking intellectuals. Henri Bergson, Emile Boutroux, and Desire Mercier wrote commentaries on Eucken’s philosophy.
Immediately prior to the decision of the Nobel committee, two of Eucken’s most influential, most popular, but also most unscholarly books appeared: Hauptprobleme der Religionsphilosophie der Gegenwart (1907; translated as Christianity and the New Idealism: A Study in the Religious Philosophy of To-day, 1909) and Der Sinn und Wert des Lebens. When the Nobel Prize was announced, there was a run on Eucken’s latest books among German readers. Above all, Der Sinn und Wert des Lebens, a simple summary of Eucken’s main ideas, became a best-seller. It could not be printed fast enough to meet the swelling demand. Many unpublished letters to Eucken, collected in his literary estate, show the incredible influence of Der Sinn und Wert des Lebens. From 1908 until the end of World War I it was a highly popular gift for Christmas and other religious occasions. Thus, as Eucken’s academic influence decreased, his success outside of philosophy departments increased accordingly, as the German educated classes absorbed his philosophy of life.
Eucken found his disciples not only in Germany but also in Japan, China, India, England, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, the Baltic Nations, and in the United States, where the first Eucken Clubs were founded at theological schools. He won many prizes and received honorary doctorates. He delivered academic and public lectures in more than one hundred German cities, as well as in Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Great Britain, and Latvia. During the fall semester of 1912-1913 Eucken taught as a German exchange professor at Harvard and visited several American universities to deliver lectures and to collect honors. After the turn of the century he started to assemble his disciples in informal groups and more formal associations in order to institutionalize his Weltanschauung. Prior to World War I he took the first concrete steps toward a society based on his own philosophy of life.
During World War I Eucken was convinced of his moral obligation both to encourage the Germans and to defend German policy. Therefore, he traveled throughout the country to give talks in universities, schools, adult evening classes, city halls, theaters, and clubs. He wrote pamphlets and articles, signed open letters, communiqués, and appeals, and joined several patriotic committees, clubs, and organizations. Like many other German scholars, writers, and clergymen, Eucken believed that the common wartime experience could reunify the fragmented German population. Although Eucken supported the German war propaganda, he never shared anti-Semitic or chauvinistic opinions. Toward the end of the war, when the general situation both in Europe and Germany became worse, Eucken strengthened his efforts to prevent the threatening collapse of morality and religion in Germany. His most far-reaching action was the foundation of the Luther Society in 1918. With the help of Martin Luther’s religious idealism, the members of the society hoped both to reunify the divided German people and to create a new moral basis for the postwar era.
Eucken believed that only a new, modern spiritual leader could solve the deep social and mental crisis of Weimar Germany. To organize all idealistic-minded people, some of Eucken’s adherents wrote an Aufruf zur Gründung eines Euckenbundes (Appeal to Found an Eucken League) and explained that, above all, Eucken had recognized not only the confused state of life and the threatening collapse of all moral values but also the only possible way to rescue people from the spiritual crisis of that time. In autumn 1919, friends, students, and disciples of the philosopher founded the Euckenbund (Eucken League), which was one of many German associations based on a particular Weltanschauung. The educated classes in Germany responded with such associations to their decreasing influence in almost all spheres of the postwar society. To lead the Euckenbund, Eucken retired as professor and resigned from the chair of the Luther Society in 1920. As long as Eucken lived, the Euckenbund did not tend to take part in political decisions, to reform institutions, or to develop a democratic attitude toward the Weimar Republic; it was just interested in awakening a new consciousness for the crisis of the modern world and in the redemption of all endangered souls.
Eucken was a popular university lecturer who attracted thousands of students from all over the world. One of his most famous students, Gerhart Hauptmann, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1912, described him as a fascinating, prophetic teacher, who had conducted almost all Jena students to the absolute spiritual life. Eucken’s Nobel lecture, Naturalismus oder Idealismus (translated as Naturalism or Idealism? 1912) had been published in 1909; Irene Eucken and the Euckenbund republished this work in 1922, when Germany was in physical and spiritual shambles. Because of the rising inflation, however, only a relatively small number of enthusiasts could buy the reprinted lecture.
Toward the end of his life Eucken was only one of many spiritual leaders in Weimar Germany—prophets who wanted to deliver their simple moral philosophy within a society looking for eternal spiritual values behind everyday life. When Rudolf Eucken died on 15 September 1926, he went down in history as one of the last academic scholars who believed in the possibility of influencing and even changing both society and the common spiritual life by idealistic philosophical systems and appeals.
“Die deutsche Sprache in Ungarn. Briefwechsel zwischen Maurus Révai und Rudolf Eucken,” Nord und Süd: Deutsche Monatsschrift, 40 (1916);
“Abdruck eines unveröffentlichten Briefes von Rudolf Eucken an Herrn Privatdozenten Ernst Bratuschek,” Mitteilungen des Euckenbundes, no. 1/3 (1931): 1-4;
Wladimir Szylkarski, “Aus Euckens Briefwechsel mit Teichmüller,” Archiv für spiritualistische Philosophie und ihre Geschichte, 1 (1940): 412-438;
Hans Meyer, “Unbekannte Briefe Rudolf Euckens an Jakob Froschhammer,” Philosophisches Jahrbuch, 55 (1942): 245-250;
“Correspondence between Prof. Rudolf Eucken and Rabindranath Tagore,” in Rabindranath Tagore in Germany: A Cross-Section of Contemporary Reports, edited and translated by Dietmar Rothermund (New Delhi: Max Mueller Bhavan, 1962), pp. 54-56;
Hans-Ulrich Lessing, “Briefe an Dilthey anlässlich der Veroffentlichung seiner Ideen über eine beschreibende und zergliedernde Psychologie,” Dilthey-Jahrbuch, 3 (1985): 204-205, 223-225;
Edmund Husserl, Briefwechsel: Husserliana Dokumente III, volume 6: Philosophenbriefe, edited by Karl Schumann (Dordrecht, Boston & London: Kluver, 1993), pp. 85-94.
Gunnar Ahlström, “Kleine Geschichte der Zuerkennung des Nobelpreises an Rudolf Eucken,” Nobel preisfur literatur 1908: Rudolf Eucken, Philosophische Schriften (Zürich: Coron, 1967), pp. 9-17;
Barbara Befilich, “Epigone des Idealismus oder moderner Philosoph? Rudolf Eucken zwischen wissenschaftlicher Nostalgie und literarischem Prophetentum,“in her Wege in den “Kulturkrieg”: Zivilisationskritik in Deutschland 1890-1914 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2000), pp. 45-118;
Bernard Bosanquet, “W. R. B. Gibson—The Philosophy of Eucken,” Quarterly Review (London), no. 22 (1914): 365-389;
Uwe Dathe, “Begriffsgeschichte und Philosophic: Zur Philosophic Rudolf Euckens,” in Philosophiegeschichte und Hermeneutik, edited by Volker Caysa and Klaus-Dieter Eichler (Leipzig: Universitätsverlag, 1996), pp. 85-96;
Dathe, “Der Eucken-Nachlaä und die Geschichte seiner Bearbeitung,” Mitteilungen: Thüringer Universitaäts-und landesbibliothek Jena, 8, no. 1 (1998): 17-27;
Dathe, “Jena, 12. Januar 1900: Rudolf Euckens Rede zur Jahrhundertfeier,” in Angst vor der Moderne: Philosophische Antworten auf Krisenerfahrungen: Der Mikrokosmos Jena 1900-1940, edited by Klaus M. Kodalle (Würzburg: Konigshausen & Neumann, 2000), pp. 45-61;
Dathe, “Der Nachlaβ Rudolf Euckens: Eine Bestandsübersicht,” Zeitschrift für neuere Theologiegeschichte, 9 (2002): 268-301;
Dathe, “Der Philosoph bestreitet den Krieg: Rudolf Euckens politische Publizistik während des Ersten Weltkrieges,” in Zswchen Wissenschaft und Politik: Studien zur Jenaer Universität im 20. Jahrhundert, edited by Herbert Gottwald and Matthias Steinbach (Jena & Quedlinburg: Bussert & Stadeler, 2000), pp. 47-64;
Dathe, “Rudolf Eucken—ein Gegner des Monismus und Freund des Monisten,” in Monismus um 1900— Wissenschaftskultur und Weltanschauung, edited by Paul Ziche (Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung, 2000), pp. 41-59;
Dathe, “Rudolf Eucken als Sprachkritiker und Zeichenphilosoph,” Zeitschrifi für Semiotik, 23 (2001): 27-38;
Dathe and Nils Goldschmidt, “Wie der Vater, so der Sohn? Neuere Erkenntnisse zu Walter Euckens Leben und Werk anhand des Nachlasses von Rudolf Eucken in Jena,” ORDO. Jahrbuch für dieOrdnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, 54 (2003): 49-74;
Hans Düfel, “Voraussetzungen, Gründung und Anfang der Luther-Gesellschaft. Lutherrezeption zwischen Aufklärung und Idealismus,” Lutherjahrbuch, 60 (1993): 72-117;
Walter Eucken, “Vorwort,” in Rudolf Eucken, Die Lebensanschauungen der groβen Denker: Eine Entwicklungsgeschichte des Lebensproblems der Menschheit von Plato bis zur Gegenwart (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1950);
Ferdinand Fellmann, Phänomenologie als ästhetische Theorie (Freiburg & Munich: Alber, 1989), pp. 140-158, 160-162, 167-171;
Othmar Feyl, “Briefe aus dem Nachlaβ des Jenaer Philosophen Rudolf Eucken (1900-1926): Zeitüberlegenheit und historisch-politische Wirklichkeit eines idealistischen Philosophen,” Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Friedrich-Schiller-Universät Jena, 10, no. 2 (1960-1961): 249-294;
Kurt Flasch, “Rudolf Eucken spricht vor ausrückenden Kriegern,” in his Die geistige Mobilmachnung: Die deutchen Intellektuellen und der Erste Weltkrieg: Ein Versuch (Berlin: Alexander Fest, 2000), pp. 15-35;
W. R. Boyce Gibson, Rudolf Eucken’s Philosophy of Life (London: Black, 1912);
Nils Goldschmidt, Entstehung und Vermächtnis ordoliberalen Denkens: Walter Eucken und die Notwendigkeit einer kulturellen Ökonomik (Miinster: LIT, 2002);
Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, “George Tyrrell über seinen Ausschluß aus dem Jesuitenorden: Vier unveröffentlichte Briefe George Tyrrells an Rudolf Eucken,” Zeitschrift für neuere Theologiegeschichte,5 (1998): 228-247;
Graf, “Die gescheiterte Berufung Husserls nach Jena. Drei unbekannte Briefe,” Dilthey-Jahrbuch, 10 (1996): 135-142;
Graf, “Die Positivität des Geistigen: Rudolf Euckens Programm neoidealistischer Universalintegration,” in Kultur und Kulturwissenschaften um, 1900. Volume II: Idealismus und Positivismus, edited by Rüdiger vom Bruch, Graf, and Gangolf Hübinger (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1997), pp. 53-85;
ReinholdJ. Haskamp, Spekulativer und phänomenologischer Personalismus. Einflüsse J. G. Fichtes und Rudolf Euckens auf Max Schelers Philosophie der Person (Freiburg & Munich: Alber, 1966);
Max Horkheimer, “Rudolf Eucken: Ein Epigone des Idealismus,” Frankfurter Zeitung, 4 November 1926;
Uwe Hossfeld, Rosemarie Nöthlich, and Lennart Olsson, “Wissenschaftspolitik international: Ernst Haeckel und der Nobelpreis für Literatur 1908,” in Klassische Universität und akademische Provinz—Studien zur Universität Jena von der Mitte des 19. bis in die dreißiger Jahre des 20. Jahrhunderts, edited by Matthias Steinbach and Stefan Gerber (Jena & Quedlinburg: Bussert & Stadeler, 2005), pp. 97-102;
Friedrich von Hügel, “The Religious Philosophy of Rudolf Eucken,” Hibbert Journal, 10 (1912): 660-677;
Edmund Husserl, “Die Phaenomenologie und Rudolf Eucken,” Die Tatwelt, 3 (1927): 10-11;
William Tudor Jones, An Interpretation of Rudolf Eucken’s Philosophy (New York: Putnam, 1912);
Hermann Lübbe, Politische Philosophie in Deutschland. Studien zu Hirer Geschichte (Basel & Stuttgart: Schwabe, 1962), pp. 178-188;
Lübbe, “Rudolf Eucken,” in Biographisches Lexikon für Ostfriesland, edited by Martin Tielke (Aurich: Ostfriesische Landschaft, 1993), pp. 134-137;
Fritz Medicus, “Rudolf Eucken zum Gedächtnis,” Kant-Studien, 31 (1926): 445-454;
Brunhild Neuland, “Irene Eucken: Vom Salon zum Eucken-Haus,” in Entwurf und Wirklichkeit: Frauen in Jena 1900 bis 1933, edited by Gisela Horn (Rudolstadt &Jena: Hain, 2001), pp. 219-233;
Peter Neuner, Religiöse Erfahrung und geschichtliche Offenbarung: Friedrich von Hügels Grundlegung der Theohgie (Munich, Paderborn, & Wien: Schöningh, 1977);
Max Scheler, “Die deutsche Philosophie der Gegenwart,” in his Gesammelte Werke 7 (Bern & Munich: Francke, 1973), pp. 273-275;
Edwin E. Slosson, “Rudolf Eucken (Twelve Major Prophets of Today VII),” Independent: A Weekly Magazine, 74 (27 February 1913): 445-456;
Ferdinand Tönnies, “Rudolf Euckens Grundbegriffe der Gegenwart in neuer Fassung,” Deutsche Literaturzeitung, 32 (1911): col. 69-75;
Ernst Troeltsch, Der Historismus und seine Probleme: Erstes (einziges) Buch: Das logische Problem der Geschichtsphilosophie (Tübingen: Mohr, 1922), pp. 134-136, 485-493;
Max Vollert, “Die Berufung Rudolf Euckens nach Jena, 1873,” in Beiträge zur thüringischen und sächsischen Geschichte. Festschrft für Otto Dobenecker (Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1929), pp. 505-522;
Max Wundt, Die Philosophie an der Universität Jena in ihrem geschichtlichen Verlaufe dargestellt (Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1932), pp. 429-484;
Wundt, Rudof Eucken: Rede, gehalten bei der EuckenGedächtnifeier der Universität Jena am 9. Januar 1927 (Langensalza: Beyer & Söhne, 1927).
Rudolf Eucken’s extensive literary estate (correspondence, working manuscripts, personal and professional papers, collections of material, the literary estate of Irene and Ida Eucken, and material on the Euckenbund) is at the Thüringer Universitäts-und Landesbibliothek Jena, Abteilung Handschriften und Sondersammlungen, 07740 Jena, Postfach, Germany.