Karl Löwith

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Karl Löwith
Born9 January 1897 Edit this on Wikidata
Munich Edit this on Wikidata
Died26 May 1973 Edit this on Wikidata (aged 76)
Heidelberg Edit this on Wikidata

Karl Löwith (9 January 1897 – 26 May 1973) was a German philosopher, a student of Husserl and Heidegger. Löwith was one of the most prolific German philosophers of the twentieth century; the bibliography of his works comprising more than 300 titles. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.[1]


Löwith was born in Munich. Though he was himself Protestant, his family was of Jewish descent and he, therefore, had to emigrate from Germany in 1934 because of the Fascist regime. He went to Italy and in 1936 he went to Japan where he lectured at Tohoku University[2]. But because of the alliance between the Third Reich and Japan he had to leave Japan in 1941 and went to the United States.[3] From 1941 to 1952, he taught at the Hartford Theological Seminary and the New School for Social Research. In 1952 he returned to Germany to teach as Professor of Philosophy at Heidelberg, where he died.

He is known for his two books From Hegel to Nietzsche, which describes the decline of German classical philosophy, and Meaning in History, which discusses the problematic relationship between theology and history. Löwith's argument in Meaning in History is that the western view of history is confused by the relationship between Christian faith and the modern view, which is neither Christian nor pagan.[3] Löwith describes this relationship through famous western philosophers and historians, including Burckhardt, Marx, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Voltaire, Vico, Bossuet, Augustine and Orosius.[4] The modern historical consciousness is, according to Löwith, derived from Christianity. But, Christians are not a historical people, as their view of the world is based on faith. This explains the tendency in history (and philosophy) to an eschatological view of human progress.[4]

He was an important witness in 1936 to Heidegger's continuing allegiance to Nazism.[5]


  • Löwith, Karl (1949). Meaning in History: The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226495558.
  • Löwith, Karl (1964). From Hegel to Nietzsche. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-07499-9.
  • Löwith, Karl (1993). Max Weber and Karl Marx. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-09381-3.


  1. ^ "Nomination Database". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
  2. ^ Eiichiro Ishida, Japanese Culture: A Study of Origins and Characteristics (Hawaii University Press, 1974), pp. 3-4
  3. ^ a b Richard Wolin (2001). "Karl Löwith: The Stoic Response to Modern Nihilism". Heidegger's Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Lowith, Hans Jonas, and Herbert Marcuse. Princeton University Press. pp. 70–100. ISBN 0-691-11479-X. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  4. ^ a b Karl Löwith (1949). Meaning in history: The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History. University of Chicago Press. p. 257. ISBN 0-226-49555-8. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  5. ^ Karl Löwith, "My last meeting with Heidegger in Rome", in Richard Wolin, The Heidegger Controversy (MIT Press, 1993).

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