Ernst Troeltsch

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Troeltsch, Ernst


Born Feb. 17, 1865, in Haunstetten, near Augsburg; died Feb. 1, 1923, in Berlin. German Protestant theologian, philosopher, sociologist, and historian of religion.

Troeltsch taught at the universities of Bonn, Heidelberg, and Berlin. His religious and philosophical views grew out of liberal Protestantism. Following A. Ritschl, he attempted to elaborate a historical method of theology for analyzing the development of Christianity, especially Protestantism, as part of the total development of European culture. He asserted, as did I. Kant and F. Schleiermacher, the a priori nature of religious feelings and experiences. Influenced by M. Weber, Troeltsch stressed the importance of economics and institutions in the history of the Christian church. The Social Teachings of the Christian Churches (vols. 1–2,1912), which established Troeltsch as a founder of the sociology of religion, presented a typology of religious groups, such as the church, the sect, and the mystical community.

Toward the end of his life, Troeltsch published several works on the philosophy of history that were influenced by W. Dilthey’s “philosophy of life, ” the Baden school’s neo-Kantianism, and, to a lesser extent, the views of O. Spengler. In these works Troeltsch asserted the unique and nonrecurring nature of the historical process and the conception of culture as a continuous coming-into-being and individual totality. In ethics, Troeltsch considered the development of the individual human being as the supreme ethical principle of European culture, echoing the ideas of German classical humanism of the turn of the 19th century. This ethical position caused Troeltsch to move, in his final years, from neo-Kantianism to a personalist monadology (seePERSONALISM and MONAD).


Gesammelle Schriften, vols. 1–4. Tübingen, 1912–25.


Asmus, V. F. Marks i burzhuaznyi istorizm. Moscow-Leningrad, 1933.
Bodenstein, W. Neige des Historismus: E. Troeltschs Entwicklungsgang. [Gütersloh, 1959.] (Bibliography.)
Kasch, W. F. Die Sozialphilosophie von E. Troeltsch. Tübingen, 1963.
Lessing, E. Die Geschichtsphilosophie von E. Troeltschs. Hamburg, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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