Erich Rothacker

Erich Rothacker

German philosopher, psychologist, one of the founders of philosophical anthropology
Date of Birth: 12.03.1888
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Erich Rothacker
  2. Erich Rothacker passed away on August 10, 1965, in Bonn.

Biography of Erich Rothacker

Erich Rothacker (1888-1965) was a German philosopher, psychologist, and one of the founders of philosophical anthropology. He was born on March 12, 1888, in Pforzheim. Rothacker served as a professor at the University of Heidelberg (starting in 1924) and the University of Bonn (starting in 1928).

In his early works on the "logic of the sciences of the mind" and philosophy of history, influenced by Wilhelm Dilthey and the "historical school," Rothacker developed ideas that would form the foundation of his "cultural anthropology." He argued that cultures, like individuals, are unique historical communities with their own "surrounding world" (Umwelt) and "lifestyle" (Lebensstil).

Rothacker criticized the dualistic concepts of the late Max Scheler and the biologically oriented anthropology of Arnold Gehlen. Both Scheler and Gehlen believed that the distinguishing feature of humans is the presence of a "world" (Welt), rather than an environment (Umwelt). Rothacker argued that the world as such is an abstract idea, and reality is always given to us through language and consciousness, from a specific perspective.

According to Rothacker, humans can be defined positively as creators and bearers of culture. However, this culture is not a general notion but an historically emerged individual totality characterized by the "landscapes" that are accessible only from the specific perspective of a particular culture. Culture is carried by various communities, such as groups, nations, and races.

During the 1930s, Rothacker, being one of the few philosophy professors to join the Nazi Party (NSDAP) even before Hitler's rise to power, wrote about the characteristics of the "Aryan worldview." He discussed the uniqueness of each culture, emphasizing that there are no universal laws applicable to all cultures since each of them represents a distinct organism with its own morphology.

In his works during the 1950s and 1960s, Rothacker further developed the concept of "cognitive interests," which was later adopted by Jürgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel, both of whom studied under Rothacker in the early 1950s.

Erich Rothacker passed away on August 10, 1965, in Bonn.