1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Eucken, Rudolf Christoph

EUCKEN, RUDOLF CHRISTOPH (1846–  ), German philosopher, was born on the 5th of January 1846 at Aurich in East Friesland. His father died when he was a child, and he was brought up by his mother, a woman of considerable activity. He was educated at Aurich, where one of his teachers was the philosopher Wilhelm Reuter, whose influence was the dominating factor in the development of his thought. Passing to the university of Göttingen he took his degree in classical philology and ancient history, but the bent of his mind was definitely towards the philosophical side of theology. Subsequently he studied in Berlin, especially under Trendelenburg, whose ethical tendencies and historical treatment of philosophy greatly attracted him. From 1871 to 1874 Eucken taught philosophy at Basel, and in 1874 became professor of philosophy at the university of Jena. In 1908 he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Eucken’s philosophical work is partly historical and partly constructive, the former side being predominant in his earlier, the latter in his later works. Their most striking feature is the close organic relationship between the two parts. The aim of the historical works is to show the necessary connexion between philosophical concepts and the age to which they belong; the same idea is at the root of his constructive speculation. All philosophy is philosophy of life, the development of a new culture, not mere intellectualism, but the application of a vital religious inspiration to the practical problems of society. This practical idealism Eucken described by the term “Activism.” In accordance with this principle, Eucken has given considerable attention to social and educational problems.

His chief works are:—Die Methode der aristotelischen Forschung (1872); the important historical study on the history of conceptions, Die Grundbegriffe der Gegenwart (1878; Eng. trans. by M. Stuart Phelps, New York, 1880; 3rd ed. under the title Geistige Strömungen der Gegenwart, 1904; 4th ed., 1909); Geschichte der philos. Terminologie (1879); Prolegomena zu Forschungen über die Einheit des Geisteslebens (1885); Beiträge zur Geschichte der neueren Philosophie (1886, 1905); Die Einheit des Geisteslebens (1888); Die Lebensanschauungen der grossen Denker (1890; 7th ed., 1907; Eng. trans., W. Hough and Boyce Gibson, The Problem of Human Life, 1909); Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Religion (1901; 2nd ed., 1905); Thomas von Aquino und Kant (1901); Gesammelte Aufsätze zu Philos. und Lebensanschauung (1903); Philosophie der Geschichte (1907); Der Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt (1896, 1907); Grundlinien einer neuen Lebensanschauung (1907); Einführung in die Philosophie der Geisteslebens (1908; Eng. trans., The Life of the Spirit, F. L. Pogson, 1909, Crown Theological Library); Der Sinn und Wert des Lebens (1908; Eng. trans., 1909); Hauptprobleme der Religionsphilosophie der Gegenwart (1907). The following of Eucken’s works also have been translated into English:—Liberty in Teaching in the German Universities (1897); Are the Germans still a Nation of Thinkers? (1898); Progress of Philos. in the 19th Century (1899); The Finnish Question (1899); The Present Status of Religion in Germany (1901). See W. R. Boyce Gibson, Rudolf Eucken’s Philosophy of Life (2nd ed., 1907), and God with Us (1909); for the historical work, Falckenberg’s Hist. of Philos. (Eng. trans., 1895, index); also H. Pöhlmann, R. Euckens Theologie mit ihren philosophischen Grundlagen dargestellt (1903); O. Siebert, R. Euckens Welt- und Lebensanschauung (1904).