Odo Marquard

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Odo Marquard (born February 26, 1928 in Stolp , Western Pomerania ; † May 9, 2015 in Celle ) was a German philosopher . He was a full professor of philosophy at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen and president of the General Society for Philosophy in Germany .


Marquard was born as the son of Otto Marquard, who holds a doctorate in fisheries biology, and attended schools in Kolberg (Pomerania), Sonthofen (Allgäu) and Falkenburg (Pomerania) from 1934 to 1945 . As a member of the Volkssturm , he became a prisoner of war in 1945 . He graduated from high school in Treysa, Hesse , in 1946 . From 1947 to 1954 he studied philosophy , German and Protestant and Catholic theology in Münster and Freiburg , among others with Joachim Ritter and Max Müller . In 1954 he was at Müller in Freiburg with the work of the note following On the problem of logic Kant doctorate .

Between 1955 and 1963 Marquard was Joachim Ritter's research assistant in Munster, where he wrote about the depotentation of transcendental philosophy in 1963 . Habilitated some philosophical motives of a more recent psychologism in philosophy . In secondary literature, Marquard is often assigned to the " Knight School ", even though, unlike almost all other Ritter students, he was also influenced by thoughts of critical theory and later represented significantly different theses on some of the positions of this school. In the following two years he taught philosophy in Münster as a private lecturer until he was appointed full professor of philosophy in Giessen in 1965. From 1982 to 1983 he was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin . In 1993 he was in casting emeritus .

Marquard was President of the General Society for Philosophy in Germany from 1985 to 1987. In 1984 he received the Sigmund Freud Prize for scientific prose , and in 1990 the Hessian Order of Merit. In 1992 he received the Erwin Stein Prize. A year after his retirement that gave him University of Jena , the honorary doctorate . In 1995 the German Academy for Language and Poetry in Darmstadt appointed him a full member. In the same year he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st class. In 1996 he was awarded the Ernst Robert Curtius Prize for essay writing for his life's work . In 1997 he received the Hessian Culture Prize for Science. In 1998 he was awarded the Cicero Speaker Prize for his eloquence . In 2008, Marquard was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit.

He was married to the Romanist Traute Marquard and had a son († 2014).


Marquard's writings are characterized by a style that is as pointed and humorous as it is at times polemical , for which he himself coined the expression "transcendental belletristic": following Kant's transcendental philosophy , Marquard wants to explore the condition of the possibility of knowledge in writing ; the essay is his preferred form of this. Early works are particularly dedicated to the history and natural philosophy of German idealism and the return of idealistic motifs in the context of psychoanalysis .

In the course of an increasingly critical examination of the modern philosophy of history, Marquard's turn to anthropology came to a skeptical philosophy of human finitude. A central figure of thought is that of "Vita brevis" - the finitude of life, which forces people to give up the idea of ​​the absolute and perfect. Instead, he pleads for “the right of the next things over the last” (Farewell to Principles, p. 14). Anthropologically, he defines human beings based on Arnold Gehlen as “deficient beings ”, endowed with the ability to compensate for their own inadequacies through culture .

On the basis of these anthropological assumptions, Marquard formulates his skeptically motivated demand for a “farewell to the principle ” in philosophy, his pluralistic “praise of polytheism ” and the separation of powers as well as his philosophical “ apology of the accidental”. With them he explicitly opposes the social criticism of the older Frankfurt School around Max Horkheimer , Theodor W. Adorno and Jürgen Habermas and the ethics of discourse . He criticizes a discourse ideal that aims at consensus and allows the diversity of opinions only as a starting point.

Marquard also explains the spirit of the student movement through his compensation thesis: According to this, the sixties rebelled against a democratic government to compensate for the fact that their parents' generation did not rebel against the Nazi dictatorship. In this context he also speaks of “subsequent disobedience”.

For the situation of philosophy in the present, he coined the famous word monster “ incompetence compensation competence” in 1973 in a celebratory lecture dealing with the successive loss of competence in his discipline since ancient times . He describes the conscious processing or compensation of the resulting “incompetence” with the aphorism: “Philosophy is when you think anyway”. A heated debate about the role of the humanities in modern culture was sparked by the opening lecture that Marquard gave on May 5, 1985 at the annual meeting of the West German Rectors' Conference in Bamberg (“On the inevitability of the humanities”), which was based on the considerations of Joachim Ritter . In it he explains that orientations in the humanities due to the experimental sciences have not become superfluous, but have become indispensable in order to be able to compensate for the accelerated change in modern civilization by resorting to cultural resources. The human sciences would have the function of compensating for the inevitable damage to the human environment in the course of the fundamentally positive process of social modernization.

According to Marquard, compensation mechanisms also play a role in the relationship of the individual to the modern world. In the “Philosophy of Instead” (2000) he defines the “homo compensator” as a person who does not cope with shortcomings and deficits through direct actions, but through detour reactions. Like his teacher Ritter, he argues that the dichotomy between rational progress and different traditions of origin must not be overcome, but endured.

“Because the people: these are their stories. But stories have to be told. This is what the humanities do: they compensate modernization damage by narrating; and the more it is objectified, the more - compensatory - must be told: otherwise people will die of narrative atrophy. [...] The more modern the modern world becomes, the more inevitable become the humanities, namely as narrative sciences. "

- Odo Marquard

Works (selection)

  • On the problem of the logic of appearances following Kant. On the possibilities and limits of a compromising genealogy of metaphysics . Diss. Phil. Freiburg im Breisgau 1954
  • Skeptical method with regard to Kant . (Symposion Vol. 4) Alber, Freiburg / Munich 1958, 3rd unchanged. Edition 1982, ISBN 3-495-44033-X .
  • Difficulties with the philosophy of history . Suhrkamp (stw 394), Frankfurt am Main 1973, ISBN 3-518-27994-7 .
  • Exiles of joy . In: Wolfgang Preisendanz, Rainer Warning (Ed.): The comic. Munich 1976, pp. 133-151.
  • Farewell to the principle . Reclam ( UB 7724), Stuttgart 1981, ISBN 3-15-007724-9 .
  • Apology of the accidental . Reclam (UB 8351), Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-15-008351-6 .
  • Transcendental idealism, romantic natural philosophy, psychoanalysis (= Habil. 1962). Dinter, Cologne 1987
  • Aesthetica and Anesthetica . Schöningh, Paderborn 1989, ISBN 3-7705-3750-5 .
  • Skepticism and approval . Reclam (UB 9334), Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-15-009334-1 .
  • Happiness in misery . Fink, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-7705-3065-9 .
  • Philosophy of instead . Reclam (UB 18049), Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-15-018049-X .
  • Skepticism as a philosophy of finitude . Bonn Philosophical Lectures and Studies, Vol. 18, edited by W. Hogrebe, Bonn: Bouvier 2002, ISBN 3-416-03007-9 .
  • The future needs a past . Reclam (Reclam series), Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-050040-0 .
  • Individual and separation of powers . Reclam (UB 18306), Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-15-018306-5 .
  • Skepticism in the modern age . Reclam (UB 18524), Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 3-15-018524-6 .
  • Philosophy of finitude. About aging . Edited by Franz Josef Wetz , (UB 20278). Philipp-Reclam-Verlag, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-15-020278-4 .
  • The only one. Lectures on existential philosophy . Edited by Franz Josef Wetz , (UB 19086) Philipp-Reclam-Verlag, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-15-019086-9 .



  • Arne Jaitner: Between metaphysics and empiricism. On the relationship between transcendental philosophy and psychoanalysis in Max Scheler , Theodor W. Adorno and Odo Marquard . Königshausen and Neumann (Epistemata 262), Würzburg 1999, ISBN 3-8260-1722-6
  • Alois Halbmayr: Praise for diversity. On Odo Marquard's criticism of monotheism . Tyrolia (Salzburg theological studies 13), Salzburg 2000, ISBN 3-7022-2255-3
  • Rochus Leonhardt: Skepticism and Protestantism. Odo Marquard's philosophical approach as a challenge to evangelical theology . Mohr (Hermeneutic Studies on Theology 44), Tübingen 2003, ISBN 3-16-147864-9
  • Hermann Lübbe: Cheerful bad news: Obituary for Odo Marquard , in: Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte , Vol. 10 (Spring 2016), pp. 117–127, ISSN 1863-8937 ( table of contents of the magazine volume ).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Justus Liebig University Gießen: University of Gießen mourns Prof. Odo Marquard . Press release, May 11, 2015, accessed May 11, 2015; Giessen philosopher Odo Marquard died Giessener Allgemeine, May 12, 2015
  2. ^ Philosophy of finitude. About aging. P. 83.
  3. ^ Philosophy of finitude. About aging. P. 96. On the following, ibid.
  4. ^ Odo Marquard: Endlichkeitsphilosophisches , Reclam, Stuttgart 2013, page 96
  5. http://www.erwin-stein-stiftung.de/erwin-stein-preis.html
  6. ^ Justus Liebig University Giessen : Great Cross of Merit for Odo Marquard , March 17, 2008; Accessed March 19, 2008
  7. Gießen philosopher Odo Marquard died . In: Gießener Allgemeine from May 12, 2015
  8. ^ Philosophy of finitude. About aging. P. 84f., 90. Odo and Traute Marquard celebrate their golden wedding Gießener Anzeiger, February 20, 2010 Celler mourn the loss of conservatives with esprit. (No longer available online.) In: Cellesche Zeitung. May 15, 2015, archived from the original on June 6, 2016 ; accessed on June 6, 2016 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.cellesche-zeitung.de
  9. Odo Marquard: On the inevitability of the humanities . Lecture at the West German Rectors' Conference. In: Ders., Apology of the Random , 1986, pp. 105, 114

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