Ludwig Klages

Ludwig Klages
Karl Wolfskehl, Alfred Schuler, Ludwig Klages, Stefan George and Albert Verwey (1902 photograph by Karl Bauer)
Born 10 December 1872

Died 29 July 1956

Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Lebensphilosophie (philosophy of life)[1]
Main interests
Notable ideas
Theory of graphology


Ludwig Klages (10 December 1872 – 29 July 1956) was a German philosopher, psychologist and a theoretician in the field of handwriting analysis. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.[2]

Life [ edit ]

Klages was born in Hanover, Germany. In Munich, he studied physics, philosophy and chemistry but, after completing his doctorate in chemistry, he resolved never to work as a chemist. He met the sculptor Hans Busse and with him and Georg Meyer he founded the Deutsche Graphologische Gesellschaft (German Graphology Association) in 1894.

In Munich, Klages also encountered the writer Karl Wolfskehl and the mystic Alfred Schuler. He was a lover of Fanny zu Reventlow, the "Bohemian Countess" of Schwabing, and with Wolfskehl, Schuler and the writer Ludwig Derleth they formed a group known as the Munich Cosmic Circle, with which the poet Stefan George is sometimes associated. He wrote a book praising George's poetry in 1902. As a member of this group his philosophy contrasted the "degenerate" modern world with an ancient, and mystical, Germanic past, with a heroic role for the artist in forging a new future.[3][4] George distanced himself from Klages' mystical philosophy (which was shared by Schuler), but continued for a time to publish Klages' poems in his journal Blätter für die Kunst.[5] Wolfskehl acquainted Klages with the work of Johann Jakob Bachofen (1815–1887), a Swiss anthropologist and sociologist, and his research into matriarchal clans.[6]

In 1914 at the outbreak of war Klages moved to Switzerland and supported himself with his writing and income from lectures. He returned to Germany in the 1920s and in 1932 was awarded the Goethe medal for Art and Science. However, by 1936 he was under attack from Nazi authorities for lack of support and on his 70th birthday in 1942 was denounced by many newspapers in Germany. After the war he was honoured by the new government, particularly on his 80th birthday in 1952.

Work [ edit ]

He created a complete theory of graphology and will be long associated with the concepts of form level, rhythm and bi-polar interpretation. Together with Friedrich Nietzsche and Henri Bergson he anticipated existential phenomenology. He also coined the term logocentrism in the 1920s.[7]

Ludwig Klages was a major figure in the European revival of paganism and has been called "the most significant restorer of polytheism since Julian, the Roman Emperor known as 'the Apostate'(...)".[8]

He wrote 14 books and 60 articles (1910–1948), and co-edited the journals Berichte (1897–1898) and its successor Graphologische Monatshefte until 1908. His most important works are:

  • Vom kosmogonischen Eros
  • Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele (1929)
  • Die Grundlagen der Charakterkunde

As a philosopher, Klages took the Nietzschean premises of Lebensphilosophie "to their most extreme conclusions." He drew a distinction between life-affirming Seele (spirit) and life-destroying Geist (mind). Geist represented the forces of "modern, industrial, and intellectual rationalization", while Seele represented the possibility of overcoming "alienated intellectuality in favor of a new-found earthly rootedness."[9]

When Klages died, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas urged that Klages' "realizations concerning anthropology and philosophy of language" should not be left "hidden behind the veil" of Klages' "anti-intellectualist metaphysics and apocalyptic philosophy of history". Habermas characterized these realizations as "not outdated" but ahead of the time.[10]

Klages voiced a fierce cultural critique of Judeo-Christianity and, on rare occasions, like in his introduction to the Nachlass of his former colleague Alfred Schuler in 1940, slipped into bouts of anti-semitism.[11]

Klages influence was widespread and amongst his great admirers were contemporaries like Jewish thinker Walter Benjamin, philosopher Ernst Cassirer, philologist Walter F. Otto and novelist Hermann Hesse.[12]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Lebovic, Nitzan (2013). The Philosophy of Life and Death: Ludwig Klages and the Rise of a Nazi Biopolitics. Palgrave Studies in Cultural and Intellectual History. AIAA. p. 9. ISBN 978-1137342058.
  2. ^ "Nomination Database". Retrieved 2017-04-19.
  3. ^ Noll, Richard (1997-06-05). The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement. Touchstone. pp. 166–172. ISBN 0684834235.
  4. ^ Marchand, Suzanne L.; Lindenfeld, David F. (2004). Germany at the fin de siècle: culture, politics, and ideas. Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0807129798.
  5. ^ Furness, Raymond (1978). The twentieth century, 1890–1945. Barnes & Noble. p. 98. ISBN 006492310X.
  6. ^ Eller, Cynthia (2000). The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why An Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6792-5.
  7. ^ Josephson-Storm, Jason (2017). The Myth of Disenchantment : Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 214, 221–222. ISBN 9780226403533. OCLC 958780609.
  8. ^ Bishop, Paul. (2017). Ludwig Klages and the Philosophy of Life: A Vitalist Toolkit. Routledge. p. 102. ISBN 9781138697157.
  9. ^ Aschheim, Steven E. (1992). The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany, 1890–1990. Uni. of California Press. pp. 80–81. ISBN 0520085558.
  10. ^ "Klages – Gewalten des Untergangs". Der Spiegel (in German) (37/1966). 5 September 1966. An article looking back ten years after his death.
  11. ^ Bishop, Paul. (2017). Ludwig Klages and the Philosophy of Life: A Vitalist Toolkit. Routledge. pp. 33–35. ISBN 9781138697157.
  12. ^ Bishop, Paul. (2017). Ludwig Klages and the Philosophy of Life: A Vitalist Toolkit. Routledge. p. 93. ISBN 9781138697157.

Further reading [ edit ]

  • Ludwig Klages, Of Cosmogonic Eros, Theion Publishing, 2018.
  • Paul Bishop, Ludwig Klages and the Philosophy of Life: A Vitalist Toolkit, Routledge, 2017.
  • Gunnar Alksnis, Ludwig Klages and His Attack on Rationalism. Kansas State University, 1970. Also published under the title Chthonic Gnosis. Ludwig Klages and his Quest for the Pandaemonic All, Theion Publishing, 2015.
  • Reinhard Falter, Ludwig Klages. Lebensphilosophie als Zivilisationskritik, Munich: Telesma, 2003, ISBN 978-3-8330-0678-4.
  • Raymond Furness, Ludwig Klages, in: Zarathustra's Children: A Study of a Lost Generation of German Writers, Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2000, ISBN 1-57113-057-8, pp. 99–124.
  • Michael Grossheim, Ludwig Klages und die Phaenomenologie, Weinheim: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH, 1993.
  • Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm, The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity and the Birth of the Human Sciences, University of Chicago Press, 2017.
  • Nitzan Lebovic, The Terror and Beauty of Lebensphilosophie: Ludwig Klages, Walter Benjamin, and Alfred Bauemler, South Central Review 23:1 (Spring 2006), pp. 23–39.
  • James Lewin, Geist und Seele: Ludwig Klages’ Philosophie, Berlin: Reuther & Reichard, 1931.
  • Tobias Schneider, Ideological Trench Warfare. Ludwig Klages and National Socialism from 1933–1938. Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 2/2001.
  • Tommaso Tuppini, Ludwig Klages. L'immagine e la questione della distanza, Milano: Franco Angeli, 2003.
  • Chiara Gianni Ardic, La Fuga degli Dèi. Mito, matriarcato e immagine in Ludwig Klages, Milano: Jouvence, 2016.

External links [ edit ]

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