Karl Löwith

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Löwith, Karl


Born Jan. 9, 1897, in Munich. German idealist philosopher. Professor at the universities of Marburg (1928–36) and Tokyo (1936–41). From 1941 to 1952 he worked in the USA and from 1952 at the University of Heidelberg.

Löwith’s philosophical views were formed under the influence of Nietzsche’s “philosophy of life,” the phenomenology of the later Husserl, and, particularly, Heidegger’s existential philosophy. Lowith subsequently broke with Heidegger because of Heidegger’s accommodation with fascism in the first half of the 1930’s.

In his chief work From Hegel to Nietzsche (1941), Lówith attempted to show the philosophical sources of Marxism, Nietzscheanism, and existentialism. According to Löwith’s idealist conception, Hegel’s system brought the “epoch of spirit” in bourgeois spiritual development to its ultimate conclusion and exerted a decisive influence upon the subsequent development that brought the “bourgeois-Christian” world to an end and that took the form of Marxism, on the one hand, and existentialism, on the other. Since the 1950’s, Lowith has become increasingly concerned with the philosophy of history.


Kierkegaard und Nietzsche. Frankfurt am Main, 1933.
Heidegger: Denker in dürftiger Zeit. Stuttgart, 1953.
Weltgeschichte und Heilsgeschehen, 3rd ed. Zürich [1957].
Wissen, Glaube und Skepsis [2nd ed.]. Göttingen, 1958.
Gesammelte Abhandlungen: Zur Kritik der geschichtlichen Existenz. [Stuttgart, 1960.]
Die Hegelsche Linke. Stuttgart, 1962.
Gott, Mensch und Welt in der Metaphysik von Descartes bis zu Nietzsche. Göttingen, 1967.
References in periodicals archive ?
Heidegger had many disciples who were Jewish, notably Hannah Arendt and Karl Lowith, and Wittgenstein himself was a Jew.
Now, there are all manner of questions that one could raise--and that have been raised (by Bernard Williams, Karl Lowith, Robert Pippin, Richard Rorty and many others)--about the virtues and shortcomings of Blumenberg's 'legitimation' story, or Arendt's "revolutionary" politics.
Along the way, he might refer to Marsilius of Padua, Johan Huizinga, Thomas Muenzer, Karl Lowith, and Manuel Garcia Pelayo.
In his influential Meaning in History: The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History (21), Karl Lowith sought to present the way in which the pattern of the Judeo-Christian fulfilment of history was secularised and implemented in the modern doctrine of progress.
Despite nihilism's presence at the birth of German idealism (and prominence after its death), it was not to be made a subject of study in its own right until the 1930s and '40s, by Karl Lowith and the unlikely figure of Nishitani Keiji.
In "Nietzsche y el debate contemporaneo," Senes touches on nihilistic appraisals of the Second World War and reviews positions held by Nietzsche (all too briefly, given his impact on how nihilism would be viewed ever after, although Nietzsche does reappear intermittently elsewhere and in much fuller force in a later chapter entitled "Genealogia del nihilismo y contramovimiento: Nietzsche"), Karl Lowith, Leo Strauss, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Hans Jonas, Ernst Junger, and Martin Heidegger.