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Reflections of a working writer and reader

 

 

Rudolf Christoph Eucken

The German philosopher, Rudolf Christoph Eucken was awarded the Nobel prize in Literature in 1908 “in recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength in presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life.”
Eucken was an interpreter of Aristotle, and an author of works in ethics and religion. Some of his best known writings are:

Die Lebensanschauungen der großen Denker (1890) (The Problem of Human Life as Viewed by the Great Thinkers)
Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Religion (1901) (The Truth of Religion)
Der Sinn und Wert des Lebens (1908) (The Meaning and Value of Life)
Können wir noch Christen sein? (1911) (Can We Still Be Christians?)
Der Sozialismus und seine Lebensgestaltung (1920) (Socialism: an Analysis)

After receiving the Nobel prize Eucken enjoyed much international popularity, and received invitations to lecture at several universities, including England and the USA. His fame was short-lived, however, and today his writings are more or less forgotten.
At the prize giving he said, during his lecture:

“Naturalism cannot give to literature an inner independence or allow it an initiative of its own; for if literature is only a hand of life on the dial of time, it can only imitate and register events as they happen. By means of impressive descriptions it may help the time to understand its own desires better; but since creative power is denied to it, it cannot contribute to the inner liberation and elevation of man.”

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