Eric Voegelin and Karl Löwith on Nietzsche: Symptom or Solution to the Modern Crisis?
20 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2014 Last revised: 18 Nov 2015
Date Written: June 1, 2014
This paper does not primarily deal with Nietzsche but, first of all – through Nietzsche –, with Eric Voegelin's and Karl Löwith's philosophy. According to a widespread view, both of them develop a similar perspective, as they want to revive the classical and Christian sources of philosophy against the contemporary disorders, against the modern crisis. But a different picture emerges if we focus on their correspondence, which lasted from 1944 until 1969, as both of them were emigrants in the US – Voegelin came in 1938 from Germany, Löwith in 1941 from Japan. The main topic of this exchange is Nietzsche. Based on this correspondence and on an extensive analysis of their writings on Nietzsche, the first aim of this study is to radically call the common view on Voegelin and Löwith into question. But, considering Nietzsche as a starting point for the inquiry, a further aim is to discuss broader problems Nietzsche leads to, which reveal major differences between Voegelin’s and Löwith’s philosophical positions: these problems are the question of a meaning in history and the notion of transcendence.
Keywords: Voegelin, Löwith, Nietzsche, Crisis, Nihilism, Philosophy of History, Transcendence, Jaspers, Christianity
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