Rudolf Eucken

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Rudolf Eucken
Memorial stone for Rudolf Eucken on the cemetery in Aurich
Eucken's house in Jena, Botzstr. 5
Memorial plaques on Eucken's house in Jena. The panel at the top left reminds of the painter Ferdinand Hodler , who lived in this house in 1908.
Aurich, East Friesland, Osterstraße 27, birthplace of Rudolf Eucken

Rudolf Christoph Eucken (born January 5, 1846 in Aurich , East Frisia , † September 15, 1926 in Jena ) was a German philosopher . In 1908 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature .


Eucken’s father, the postmaster Ammo Becker Eucken, and his only brother died early; the closer the bond with his mother Ida Maria (née grid man, 1814–1872). After attending the Ulricianum grammar school in Aurich, from 1863 he studied philosophy, classical philology and ancient history with Gustav Teichmüller and Rudolf Hermann Lotze at the University of Göttingen , where he joined a progress movement at the same time as Wilhelm Pfeffer , the later fraternity and today's Corps Frisia . He also sang in the student choir in Göttingen . He then studied in Berlin . He cultivated a closer friendship with the philosopher Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg . After his doctorate in 1866 on the subject of De Aristotelis dicendi ratione ("About the style of Aristotle "), he worked from 1867 as a high school teacher in Husum and Berlin. From 1869 to 1871 he taught ancient languages ​​and Protestant religion at the municipal grammar school in Frankfurt am Main . At the same time, Eucken continued to deal with questions of the history of philosophy, in particular about Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas .

In 1871 he was appointed full professor of philosophy and education at the University of Basel ; around Easter 1874 a professorship for philosophy at the University of Jena followed . He held this office until 1920; some offers from other universities he turned down.

In 1882 he married Irene (1863–1941), sister of Carl Adolf Passow . This marriage resulted in three children, the chemist Arnold Eucken (1884–1950), the economist Walter Eucken (1891–1950), and the daughter Ida Marie (born January 10, 1888, † October 16, 1943, studied singing (soprano ) and performed with Max Reger , among others ). The children grow up in a cosmopolitan and culturally interested home. The composer Max Reger and writers such as Stefan George and Hugo von Hofmannsthal come and go in the Eucken'schen Villa on Botzstrasse in Jena .

In 1908 Eucken received the Nobel Prize for Literature - "because of the serious search for truth, the penetrating power of thought and the foresight, the warmth and power of representation, with which he represented and developed an ideal worldview in numerous works," as the reason given . This was followed by exchange professorships in England (1911), the USA (1913–1914) and Holland (1914). During the First World War , he supported the national idea. So he signed the Manifesto of 93 , which denied the allegations of the Allies against Germany.

On January 5, 1916 - Eucken's seventieth birthday - he was made an honorary citizen of the city of Jena . The reason given was that, as a professor at the University of Jena, he had contributed “as an ornament to the university to the city's glory” for 41 years. In his books, The Meaning and Value of Life and Spiritual Currents of the Present , Eucken dealt critically with the monism of his Jena colleague Ernst Haeckel , with whom he was personally friends.

At Eucken's suggestion, the Luther Society was founded in Wittenberg on September 26, 1918 .


Eucken's work was widely recognized, especially in Sweden. King Oscar II studied religious-philosophical writings, and Eucken became a member of the Swedish Academy of Sciences . German scholars such as Ernst Haeckel, however, received his award of the Nobel Prize for Literature with rather skepticism. Eucken had more of an outsider position in German science, and the value of his writings was underestimated in terms of linguistic and systematic quality. Rudolf Eucken was a teacher of Max Scheler , who received his doctorate from him. Nowadays, Rudolf Eucken has tended to be forgotten. Ferdinand Fellmann , however, emphasized the similarities with Edmund Husserl's later phenomenology . He described Eucken's “theory of reduction” as a bridge “between German idealism and phenomenology”.


Göttingen-Weende, Rudolf-Eucken-Weg

Works (selection)

  • Collected works , edited by Rainer A. Bast. 19 vols. In 14 vols. Hildesheim u. a .: Olms-Weidmann 2005-11 .
  • The method of Aristotelian research , 1872
  • History and Critique of the Basic Concepts of the Present , 1878, 2nd amend. Ed. 1893; also translated into English, 1880
  • History of Philosophical Terminology , 1879
  • Prolegomena for Research on the Unity of Spiritual Life in Consciousness and Deeds of Humanity , 1885
  • The unity of the spiritual life in the consciousness and deed of humanity. Investigations , 1888
  • The views of life of the great thinkers , 1890
  • The struggle for a spiritual purpose in life , 1896
  • The Truthfulness of Religion , 1901
  • Basic lines of a new outlook on life , 1907
  • Philosophy of History , 1907
  • Introduction to the Philosophy of Spiritual Life , 1908
  • Spiritual currents of the present , 1909 [= 4th revised. Ed by. History and criticism , 1878]; 4th edition (1913) online: .
  • The Meaning and Value of Life , 1908
  • Knowing and Living , 1912
  • Present-day Ethics in their Relation to the Spiritual Life , lectures, 1913
  • The significance of the German spirit in world history , 1914
  • The bearers of German idealism , 1915
  • The Spiritual and Historical Significance of the Bible , 1917
  • Man and world. A Philosophy of Life , 1918
  • German freedom. A wake-up call , 1919
  • Socialism and its way of life , 1920
  • The struggle for religion in the present , 1922
  • Ethics as the basis of civic life , 1924


  • Jens Aden: Rudolf Christoph Eucken - Basic lines of a new worldview. In: Walter Killy (ed.): Kindlers Neues Literaturlexikon , Munich 1988 ff, Vol. 5
  • Wolfgang Beutin: Rudolf Eucken. In: Ders .: Award-winning. Twelve authors from Paul Heyse to Herta Müller. Selected works, examined critically. Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 3-631-63297-5 , pp. 55-76.
  • Uwe Dathe: Conceptual history and philosophy. On Rudolf Eucken's philosophy. In: Volker Caysa , Klaus-Dieter Eichler (ed.): History of philosophy and hermeneutics (= Leipzig writings on philosophy. Vol. 5). Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 1996, ISBN 3-931922-13-8 , pp. 85-96.
  • Uwe Dathe: Rudolf Eucken - Philosophy as a strict science and ideological edification literature. In: Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, Marek Zybura (Ed.): The highest honor that can be bestowed on a writer. German-speaking Nobel Prize Winner for Literature. Neisse, Dresden 2007, ISBN 3-940310-01-8 , pp. 38-60.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Graf : The positivity of the spiritual. Rudolf Eucken's program of neo-realistic universal integration. In: Gangolf Huebinger , Rüdiger vom Bruch , Ders. (Ed.): Culture and cultural studies around 1900. Vol. 2: Idealism and positivism. Steiner, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-515-06544-X , pp. 53-85.
  • Peter Hoeres: The war of the philosophers. German and British philosophy in the First World War. Schöningh, Paderborn 2004, ISBN 3-506-71731-6 .
  • Thomas Raeber:  Eucken, Rudolf Christoph. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 4, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1959, ISBN 3-428-00185-0 , pp. 670-672 ( digitized version ).
  • Hendrik Müller-Reineke: The Jena philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Rudolf Eucken (1846-1926) as a Göttingen student . In: then and now. 2008 yearbook of the Association for Corporate Student History Research, pp. 373–386.
  • Wolfgang Röd: The renewal of idealism . In: Helmut Holzhey , Ders .: The philosophy of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Teilbd. 2: Neo-Kantianism, idealism, realism, phenomenology (= history of philosophy , vol. 12). CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-31349-3 , pp. 234-254, here pp. 235 f.
  • Michael Schäfer: Capitalism and the cultural crisis. Walter Eucken and the philosophy of Rudolf Eucken. In: Swen Steinberg, Winfried Müller (eds.): Economy and community. Confessional and new religious models of common sense in the 19th and 20th centuries (= Histoire. Vol. 43). Transcript, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 3-83-7624064 , 303-318.
  • Michael Schäfer: The Collection of Ghosts. Euckenkreis and Euckenbund 1900–1943. In: Frank-Michael Kuhlemann , Ders. (Ed.): Circles - Bünde - Intellectual networks. Forms of civil socialization and political communication 1890–1960 (= Histoire. Vol. 96). Transcript, Bielefeld 2017, ISBN 3-8376-3557-0 , pp. 109–135.

Web links

Commons : Rudolf Eucken  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Rudolf Eucken  - Sources and full texts


  1. ^ Oskar Pfalzgraf: Wilhelm Pfeffer (Frisia Göttingen, Arminia-Marburg EM). In: Burschenschaftliche Blätter 72nd year 1957, p. 83.
  2. Rudolf Eucken: The forgotten Nobel laureate ". NDR, accessed on 22 March 2014 . ; See also. Jens Aden ... Capra turn of the century by the" meaning and value "of the Nobel Prize to reception history Rudolf Eucken In: 21 January 1989, accessed December 7, 2018 .
  3. Ferdinand Fellmann: Phenomenology as Aesthetic Theory. Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg Munich 1989, pp. 140ff.
  4. Ferdinand Fellmann: Phenomenology as Aesthetic Theory. Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg, Munich 1989, p. 158.
  5. This title was also used in 1937 for a camouflage typeface for the KPD in the Third Reich. The book actually contained a Communist International document . Online at the German National Library