Georg Picht

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Georg Picht (born July 9, 1913 in Strasbourg ; † August 7, 1982 in Hinterzarten ) was a German philosopher , theologian and educator . In 1964 he coined the term " educational catastrophe ", with which he characterized the situation of the education system in the Federal Republic of that time and triggered a broad debate.


His mother was Greda Picht, the sister of Ernst Robert Curtius , who was also Picht's godfather. His father Werner Picht was u. a. Head of department in the Prussian Ministry of Culture and publicist on adult education topics. The friends of the family included Albert Schweitzer , Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy and Charles Du Bos .

Because Picht had asthma, his mother had moved with him to Hinterzarten, where he received private lessons from the classical philologist Josef Liegle , but also from his mother. He only attended a grammar school in Freiburg in the last four years of school .

Picht studied classical philology and philosophy in Freiburg , Kiel and Berlin with Wilhelm Szilasi , Wolfgang Schadewaldt , Eduard Fraenkel and Johannes Stroux . In Freiburg he became an academic student of Martin Heidegger . After working for Hans Lietzmann in the Church Fathers Commission of the Berlin Academy of Sciences in 1938/39, where he edited texts by Ambrosius , he taught ancient languages at the Birklehof School in Hinterzarten until the National Socialists took over the boarding school in 1942. In 1942 Picht switched to the Institute for Classical Studies in Freiburg as a lecturer and in the same year received his doctorate with a thesis on the stoic "Ethics of Panaitios ".

Georg Picht was married to the pianist and harpsichordist Edith Picht-Axenfeld since 1936 . The marriage comes from, among other things, the longtime director of the Franco-German Institute Robert Picht . Georg Picht has been one of the closest friends of Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (2nd cousin on his mother's side) and Hellmut Becker since he was young . In 1963, Picht gave the laudation for Weizsäcker on the occasion of the award of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade . In 1965 he was the first to receive the Theodor Heuss Prize . Until his death he lived in Hinterzarten on the Birklehof .

Duty as an educator

Disillusioned by the reaction of the university as an institution to National Socialism , Picht sought after the war a "form of existence that would force me to prove the reality of words and thoughts day by day in shaping the life of a community." So he founded in 1946 a boarding high school in the building of the former Birklehof private school and was headmaster there for ten years. He saw upbringing as a cornerstone of being human. His ideas were very liberal and tolerant. “In the most important areas, education is an art of letting it happen, not an art of formation. And a pedagogy that misses being able to educate people towards a developmental goal according to the likeness of God gets caught up in a self-deception that can only have the most disastrous consequences. "Picht, who himself was very interested in music, raised her The importance of musical education for education. During this time he worked closely with the socialist Minna Specht , the head of the Odenwald School , although both ideologically differed. In his role as head of a free school , Picht was a member of the German Committee for Education from 1953 to 1963 , in whose first recommendation he was already involved. In order to make the free schools more heard, he was also co-founder of the Association of German Landerziehungsheime .

As early as the late 1940s, Picht began to set up a linguistic Plato archive at Birklehof, which was supported for a long time by the DFG and, among other things, was intended to provide linguistic and pedagogical training for young people in the field of ancient Greek. One result of this work is the documentation, written in 1951, of the first representation of the pre-Socratics by Hippias von Elis . To this end, various seminars were held and the school's teachers were given the opportunity to combine scientific and educational work. The plan for a comprehensive Plato lexicon, for which, according to Hellmut Flashar , an employee in the 1950s, 750 card boxes with extensive job records were created, was not implemented. In the mid-1950s, work on the Platon Archive practically came to a standstill, even if the funding from the DFG continued well into the 1960s. The material went to the Classical Philology Institute at the University of Tübingen in the 1970s and was evaluated by the German Literature Archive in Marbach .

In 1951, the "Tübingen Conversation" initiated by Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and Walther Gerlach took place at the University of Tübingen . A number of prominent scientists, educators and educational politicians, including Picht as the head of the Birklehof, took part in a resolution on the Education policy culminated. In 1961 Picht was one of the signatories of the Tübingen Memorandum .

In 1964 Picht coined the term “ educational catastrophe ”, with which he characterized the situation of the education system in the Federal Republic of Germany at the time and triggered a broad debate. In the articles published in Christ und Welt , he denounced the low level of spending on education in Germany by international standards. a. the low rate of high school graduates, the large differences between town and country and called for fundamental reforms of the tripartite school system and adult education, because otherwise significant disadvantages in international competition in the economy would be feared.

Church engagement

The connection between theory and practice that Picht tried to achieve as a pedagogue also determined the Protestant Picht's relationship with church institutions. From 1958 to 1982 he was the head of the research facility of the Evangelical Study Community (FEST) in Heidelberg. At the inauguration of an extension in 1977 he put it:

“From its origin, Christian faith stands at a critical distance from any form of human knowledge, including modern science, including theology. He cannot dispense with science, but he cannot identify with it either. "

As in relation to science, he was also critical of the relationship between the church as an institution and individual faith:

“The fact that there must be the secular organization that we call the 'Church' and that the pneumatic communities that are constantly forming are unable to cope with the wafting of the Spirit in history can be seen from the participation of individual Christians in the community the (given to faith) ›Zoe‹ [= divine life force, liveliness] cannot be derived. Rather, it arises from the fact that the ›Zoe‹ is lived in the ›Bios‹ (in creature-earthly life) and has to prove itself here. So it arises from the responsibility of God's people in this world. The constituted church legitimizes itself through this responsibility. Its mission is to give space to the wafting spirit in history. But it can only do that as long as it knows that it cannot dispose of the spirit. It is not in the possession of the mind; it relates to the spirit as the 'Bios' relates to the 'Zoe'. And the history of the Christian churches proves that the Spirit can leave them too. "

Picht repeatedly pointed out that rationality is meaningful, necessary and required for Christians, but that true faith can only be experienced intuitively and directly. "His effect in the church arose from an almost hidden piety that kept him at a critical, suffering distance from all well-intentioned public churchism," said his friend Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker. At the same time, Picht saw it as the task of the church to bring the faith to bear in society.

“If theology to nature as natural science presents it to us, and if it surrenders to the political and economic constraints of societies in the industrial age, it can no longer achieve the reality of the people to whom its message is addressed. "

Picht also belonged to the group of speakers for the ARD program Das Wort zum Sonntag .

Philosophy and theology

Because of his work for FEST, Picht was offered the opportunity in 1964 to take over the newly founded chair for philosophy of religion at the theological faculty of Heidelberg University, which he held until his retirement in 1978. " The theology is already referred back to philosophy through the term ' logos' contained in its name," says Picht about the relationship between the topics of belief and knowledge that he deals with.

Georg Picht was able to draw from a comprehensive and thorough education in ancient philology and philosophy. His subject horizon ranged from the beginnings of Greek philosophy through Kant and Nietzsche to the political and ecological world problems of the 20th century . This gave rise to his key concepts of “truth” (as a paradigm of ancient philosophy), “reason” (Kant and the thought of the Enlightenment) and “responsibility”, a contemporary theme that Picht saw particularly questioned by Nietzsche. The focus for him was the question of the “conditions of the possibility of human reason in history” and thus of responsibility.

“Reason can only recognize the truth, which is constitutive for it, by anticipating the future. The anticipation of the future in human thinking is made possible and enforced by the historical tasks that are placed on this thinking. Therefore, in the realm of a truth that is no longer metaphysical, but rather from the essence of time, the inner possibility of reason can only be based on the responsibility of man for his future history. "

Picht regarded it as a lack of enlightenment to think that one could detach oneself from mythical thinking through reason. This is expressed in art, in forms of music or lyric poetry, even in the 20th century, and in dealing with the rationality of modern industrial society leads to conflicts and contradictions, which are also intended by modern art. You can only understand art and what it wants to express if you get involved with it. Art is a form of representation of the perceived phenomena of reality just like language. The most original form of representation is myth, which passes over into modern forms of philosophy and theology without getting lost in them. It's just different forms of representation. The background to his thinking was his affinity for the work of Stefan George , who was adored by his father, but whom Liegle and Friedrich Gundolf had also brought him close at a young age. Picht and Becker both report that they dealt intensively with George during their studies, whereby the previous knowledge came from Picht.

One of the topics that Picht repeatedly deals with is the impact of the philosophical conception of God developed in ancient Greece on the Christian image of God, which continues to the present day through Platonism and Neoplatonism . Any effort to make God visible through reasonable arguments fails. The “God of philosophers” is a rational conception of the transcendent that is alien to the biblical image of God.

“To the extent that theology, as a form of human knowledge, is unable to detach itself from the logos, it also takes on its hidden and inevitable implications . So it pushes the projected image of the God of the Greek philosophers in front of the revelation of the God who speaks in the Gospel. ”In this sense, Picht agreed with Karl Barth (Theology of Revelation) that the God of biblical revelation was not tied into a philosophical frame of reference may be. In this respect, he opposed Rudolf Bultmann or Gerhard Ebeling , who, based on Heidegger, saw theology as the clarification of concepts and “God's coming to language”. Picht opposed this:
"If theology wants to bring the truth of Jesus Christ to language with the help of Heidegger's philosophy, it would first have to examine how the truth, which is not of this world, can be translated into the truth of being, as it is 'discussed' in Heidegger. , behaves. If it fails to do so, it is inevitable that theology, in the apparently contemporary form of hermeneutics, will fall back into that amalgamation of eschatology and ontology that gave it its stamp in the age of metaphysics. "

This does not mean that Picht refused to deal with metaphysics. On the contrary - the question of the truth of being contains the question of the horizon of the knowable. And Picht saw this horizon in the time through which the presence of all truth of being is impossible and is constantly being repealed.

“Because time is never fixed: it is always open to the future. In thinking, this structure corresponds to the pure form of the open question. Asking is that form of thinking in which the horizon opens up to us for everything that can emerge in time. Such thinking is not guided by the expectation that its openness will be restored by a so-called answer. It reaches beyond all possible answers, and precisely because it cannot be silenced by any answer, it is open to the truth. "

The exit from time is only given to man through death. “There is nothing left here that can be thought. But the passage up to this experience opens up the horizon of the world, as it were, in retrospect, which we should recognize because it is the area of ​​our responsibility. "

The book “Theologie - what is that?” Is a special kind of religious-philosophical document. Picht had invited 15 lecturers to give a two-hour lecture to which he replied after only two days with a statement, so that his lecture did not go by certain topics were addressed to him and he faced an interdisciplinary dialogue. The experiences of the Nazi era and the threat of a nuclear war, which he had already discussed with Weizsäcker in 1939, made the question of responsibility his core topic, which is present in all of his works and in the one on Adorno , on which he especially in the philosophy of art had a positive relationship, the allusive book title "Philosophize after Auschwitz and Hiroshima " is explicitly expressed. Picht was one of the first to speak of the global threat as early as the 1960s and to call for global responsibility.



  • The German educational catastrophe. Analysis and documentation , Freiburg i. Br. 1964, 2nd edition, Munich 1965.
  • The responsibility of the mind. Educational and Political Writings , Stuttgart 1965.
  • The God of Philosophers and Modern Science , Stuttgart 1966.
  • Courage for utopia. The great future tasks. Twelve lectures. Piper-Verlag, Munich 1969, DNB 457809833 .
    • Courage for utopia is contained in: Here and Now. Volume II, 1981.
  • Truth. Reason. Responsibility. Philosophical Studies , Stuttgart 1969.
  • The responsibility of the mind: educational and political writings , Stuttgart 1969.
  • Forecasting, utopia, planning: the human situation in the future of the technical world , 3rd edition, Stuttgart 1971.
  • Here and Now, Philosophizing after Auschwitz and Hiroshima , Vol. I, Stuttgart 1980.
Contents: I. Anthropological foundations of law and ethics, II. The historical nature of man, III. Philosophizing against public opinion, IV. On the philosophical understanding of language, V. On the subject: time and being (including about Aristotle and Kant; about responsibility).
  • Here and now. Philosophizing after Auschwitz and Hiroshima , Vol. II, Stuttgart 1981.
Contents: I. The global crisis of scientific and technical civilization, II. Problems of peace research, III. Now and Here (Is a philosophical knowledge of the political present possible?), IV. Ecology and environmental protection, V. Upbringing-education-science; About evil.
  • (Ed.): Theology - what is it? , Stuttgart 1977.
  • Human Ecology and Peace , ed. v. Constanze Eisenbart , Stuttgart 1979 (three essays by Picht).
  • Lectures and writings in 11 volumes , ed. v. Constanze Eisenbart with the help of Enno Rudolph at Klett-Cotta , Stuttgart:
  1. Kant's Philosophy of Religion , Introduction Enno Rudolph, [1985], 3rd edition 1998, ISBN 978-3-608-91395-8 .
  2. Art and Myth , Introduction by Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker , [1986], 5th edition 1996, ISBN 978-3-608-91414-6 .
  3. Aristotle “De Anima” , introduction Enno Rudolph, [1987], 2nd edition 1992, ISBN 978-3-608-91415-3 .
  4. Nietzsche , Introduction Enno Rudolph, [1988], 2nd edition 1993, ISBN 978-3-608-91419-1 .
  5. The concept of nature and its history , introduction by Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, [1989], 4th edition 1998, ISBN 978-3-608-91420-7 .
  6. Plato's dialogues “Nomoi” and “Symposion” , Introduction Wolfgang Wieland , [1990], 2. Aulf. 1992, ISBN 978-3-608-91417-7 .
  7. Faith and Knowledge , Introduction Christian Link , [1991], 2nd edition 1994, ISBN 978-3-608-91418-4 .
  8. Future and Utopia , introduction by Enno Rudolph, 1992, ISBN 978-3-608-91621-8 .
  9. Past and present , introduction by Ernst Schulin , 1993, ISBN 978-3-608-91421-4 .
  10. The foundations of the Greek ontology , introduction Hellmut Flashar , 1996, ISBN 978-3-608-91416-0 .
  11. Von der Zeit , introduction by Kuno Lorenz , 1999, ISBN 978-3-608-91422-1 .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Georg Picht: The German educational catastrophe. Analysis and documentation. Freiburg im Breisgau 1964 Excerpts p. 16–35 (PDF).
  2. Georg Picht: From the diary of a school principal. In: ders .: Responsibility of the Spirit , Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1969, pp. 40–57, here p. 42.
  3. ^ Georg Picht: The idea of ​​the country education home . In: ders .: The responsibility of the spirit. Pedagogical and political writings , Stuttgart 1969, pp. 21–39, here p. 28.
  4. Georg Picht: A writing by Hippias von Elis. The oldest representation of the pre-Socratic philosophy. 1951 . In: ders .: The foundations of the Greek ontology . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1996, p. 235 ff. (Fundamental work on the history of the effects of Hippias, among others with Aristotle and the Stoa; with numerous references to the places where it was found).
  5. ^ Idw Informationsdienst Wissenschaft, September 29, 2010 / 3:35 pm ( [1] , accessed on April 13, 2012).
  6. Cf. Teresa Löwe: Georg Picht and the Birklehof School in the Post-War Period (1946–1955) . Preparatory text for the meeting of the Altbirklehofer of the post-war generation from 19 to 22 May 2004, Berlin, February 2004, p. 25.
  7. Martin Wagenschein : The Tübingen Conversation ( Memento from November 30, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (accessed on April 12, 2012; PDF; 95 kB).
  8. ^ Georg Picht: Adult education - the great educational task of the future . In: Merkur , 3/1968, pp. 193-208.
  9. Information sheet No. 23a of the Research Center of the Evangelical Study Community, Heidelberg, March 1977, quoted from Konrad Gottschick: The importance of Georg Picht's work for the church . In: Constanze Eisenbart (Ed.): Georg Picht - Philosophy of Responsibility . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1985, pp. 32-45, here p. 33.
  10. Georg Picht, Enno Rudolph (ed.): Theology - what is that? Stuttgart, Klett-Cotta 1977, p. 442.
  11. ^ Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker: Georg Picht as a philosopher . In: Constanze Eisenbart (Ed.): Georg Picht - Philosophy of Responsibility . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1985, pp. 46-57, here p. 46.
  12. Georg Picht, Enno Rudolph (ed.): Theology - what is that? Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1977, p. 31.
  13. See speakers since 1954 .
  14. Georg Picht, Enno Rudolph (ed.): Theology - what is that? Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1977, p. 43.
  15. ^ Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker: Georg Picht as a philosopher . In: Constanze Eisenbart (Ed.): Georg Picht - Philosophy of Responsibility . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1985, pp. 46-57, here p. 48.
  16. Georg Picht: Truth, Reason and Responsibility. Philosophical Studies . Klett, Stuttgart 1969, p. 7.
  17. Georg Picht: Truth, Reason and Responsibility. Philosophical Studies . Klett, Stuttgart 1969, p. 7.
  18. Ulrich Raulff : Circle without a master , 2nd edition, Beck, Munich 2009, with a number of scattered references.
  19. Georg Picht, Enno Rudolph (ed.): Theology - what is that? Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1977, p. 14.
  20. ^ Heinz Eduard Tödt: Georg Picht - philosopher at a theological faculty . In: Constanze Eisenbart (Ed.): Georg Picht - Philosophy of Responsibility . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1985, pp. 58-74, here p. 67.
  21. Georg Picht, Enno Rudolph (ed.): Theology - what is that? Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1977, p. 44.
  22. Georg Picht, Enno Rudolph (ed.): Theology - what is that? Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1977, p. 30.
  23. Georg Picht, Enno Rudolph (ed.): Theology - what is that? Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1977, p. 440.
  24. Heinz Eduard Tödt: Georg Picht: Philosopher at a theological faculty . In: Constanze Eisenbart (Ed.): Georg Picht - Philosophy of Responsibility . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1985, pp. 58-74, here p. 58.
  25. Georg Picht: Atonal Philosophy . In: Hermann Schweppenhäuser (Ed.): Theodor W. Adorno to the memory . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1971, printed in Hier und Jetzt , Volume 1, pp. 245–248.