Manfred Osten (born January 19, 1938) is a German poet and cultural historian. He was born in Ludwigslust in the region of Mecklenburg, which became part of the German Democratic Republic after World War II.
He escaped to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1952. He received his higher education in Hamburg and Munich, where he studied law, philosophy, musicology, and literature. He earned a doctorate upon the completion of a thesis concerning the concept of natural law in the early writings of Schelling. At the conclusion of his studies, he joined the diplomatic service of the Federal Republic of Germany. His career as a diplomat included postings in France, Cameroon, Chad, Australia, Japan, and Hungary. From 1995 to 2004, he was the Secretary-General of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
He is an honorary Doctor of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the University of Pécs, the University of Bucharest, and the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi. In 1993 he received the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese government. He is in addition a member of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. In 2008 he was admitted to the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Among his many works are Die Erotik Pfirsichs "The Eroticism of the Peach" (about Japanese writers); Das Geraubte Gedächtnis "Stolen Memory" (about the relation between digital systems and the decline of cultural memory); Goethes Entdeckung der Langsamkeit "Goethe's Discovery of Slowness"; Die Kunst, Fehler zu Machen "The Art of Making Mistakes"; and his collection of poems Im Kerngehäuse.