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Karl Löwith

German philosopher

Karl Löwith (January 9, 1897May 26, 1973) was a German philosopher, a student of Heidegger.


  • History, too, is meaningful only by indicating some transcendent purpose beyond the actual facts. ... To venture a statement about the meaning of historical events is possible only when their telos becomes apparent.
    • Meaning in History (1949), p. 5
  • Peter is the apostle of the Father, Paul of the Son, while John is the apostle of the Spirit who is leading to the full truth of the future.
    • Meaning in History (1949), p. 210
  • The mere fact that Christianity interprets itself as a new Testament, superseding an old one and fulfilling the promises of the latter, necessarily invites further progress and innovations, either religious or irreligious and antireligious—hence the derivation of the secular irreligions of progress from the eschatology of the church, together with their theological pattern.
    • Meaning in History (1949), p. 212
  • When one of Feuerbach’s friends attempts to get him an academic position, Feuerbach writes to him: “The more people make of me, the less I am, and vice versa. I am … something only so long as I am nothing.” Hegel felt himself free in the midst of bourgeois restriction. For him, it was by no means impossible as an ordinary official … to be something and at the same time be himself. … In the third epoch of the spirit, that is, since the beginning of the “modern” world, he says … philosophers no longer comprise a separate class; they are what they are, in perfectly ordinary relationship to the state: officially appointed teachers of philosophy. Hegel interprets this transformation as the “reconciliation of the worldly principle with itself.” It is open to each and every one to construct his own “inner world” independent of the force of circumstances which has materialized. The philosopher can now entrust the “external” side of his existence to the “order,” just as the modern man allows fashion to dictate the way he will dress. … The important thing, Hegel concludes, is “to remain true to one’s purpose” within the context of the normal life of a citizen. To be free for truth and at the same time dependent on the state—to him, these two things seemed quite consistent with each other.
    • From Hegel to Nietzsche, D. Green, trans. (1964), pp. 68-69.

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