Loewith, Karl

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LOEWITH, KARL (1897–1973), German philosopher of Jewish origin. His teachers were E. *Husserl, M. *Geiger, and M. Heidegger in philosophy, and H. Spemann in biology. From 1928 he was privatdocent at Marburg University; from 1934 to 1936 a Rockefeller fellow at Rome; then professor at Sendai, Japan; from 1941 at the Hartford Theological Seminary; from 1949 at the New School for Social Research, New York; from 1952 at Heidelberg, Germany. Loewith's philosophy has its main non-contemporary sources in Hegel and in the development of thought after Hegel, which was one of the main subjects of his studies. His thinking shows the influence of Nietzsche and of Heidegger, whose existentialist-historicist ontology was later heavily criticized by Loewith. He tries to move back from modern thought with its anthropocentricism – through its Christian (biblical-Augustinian) origins – toward a predominantly Aristotelian horizon of thought: the horizon of a pure theory being knowledge for knowledge's sake – theory of nature (including human nature) and of the "cosmos" in its eternal being and becoming. Thus searching for the lost way of a really cosmological – and in Kantian language, "dogmatical" – philosophy, Loewith confronts the Greek logos of the cosmos with modern thinking in two papers presented in 1960 and 1964 to the Heidelberg Academy; and he further elaborates this search in his book on metaphysics from Descartes to Nietzsche, the last chapter of which deals with Spinoza's "Deus sive natura." Loewith's books include Das Individuum in der Rolle des Mitmenschen (1928); Kierkegaard und Nietzsche (1936); Nietzsches Philosophie der ewigen Wiederkehr des Gleichen (1935); Jacob Burckhardt (1956); Von Hegelzu Nietzsche (1941; From Hegel to Nietzsche, 1964); Meaning in History (1949), later published in German as Weltgeschichteund Heilsgeschehen (1953); Heidegger, Denker in duerftiger Zeit (1953); Wissen, Glaube und Skepsis (1956); Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur Kritik der geschichtlichen Existenz (1960); Vortraege und Abhandlungen zur Kritik der christlichen Ueberlieferung (1966); Nature, History and Existentialism (1966), a collection of Loewith's essays; Gott, Mensch und Welt in der Metaphysik von Descartes bis zu Nietzsche (1967); "Philosophie der Vernunft und Religion der Offenbarung in H. Cohens Religionsphilosophie" (Sitzungsberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1968).


Natur und Geschichte: Karl Loewith zum 70 Geburtstag (1967).

[Otto Immanuel Spear]