Arnold Gehlen (born 29 January 1904 in Leipzig, Imperial Germany; died 30 January 1976 in Hamburg, West Germany) was an influential conservative German philosopher, sociologist, and anthropologist.
His major influences while studying philosophy were Hans Driesch, Nicolai Hartmann and especially Max Scheler.
He joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and had a shining career as a member of the 'Leipzig School' under Hans Freyer. He replaced Paul Tillich, who emigrated to the U.S., at the University of Frankfurt. In 1938 he accepted a teaching position at the University of Königsberg (today's Kaliningrad) and then taught at the University of Vienna in 1940 until he was drafted into the Wehrmacht in 1943. After his 'denazification' he taught at the administrative college in Speyer. He went on to teach at the Aachen University of Technology between 1962 and 1969. Gehlen became a sharp critic of the protest movements that developed in the late 1960s. Gehlen's philosophy has been influential for many contemporary neoconservative German thinkers. Many terms from his work, like Reizüberflutung ("Sensory overload"), deinstitutionalization or post-history, have gained popular currency in Germany.
- Der Mensch. Seine Natur und seine Stellung in der Welt. (1940) (Translated as "Man, his nature and place in the world")
- Urmensch und Spätkultur. Philosophische Ergebnisse und Aussagen. (1956)
- Die Seele im technischen Zeitalter. (1957) (Translated as "Man in the age of technology")
- Moral und Hypermoral. Eine pluralistische Ethik. (1969)