Review of Karl Lowith: From Hegel to Nietzsche

Review of Von Hegel bis Nietzsche, by Karl Lowith, Social Research, Vol. 8, No. 4 (November 1941).  Reprinted in What is Political Philosophy?


This book should be of interest to all who wish to understand the emergence of European, and in particular of German, nihilism.  Its subject may be said to be the transformation of European humanism, as exemplified by Goethe and Hegel, into German nihilism, as exemplified by Ernst Junger.  Its thesis is that the philosophic development proceeding from Hegel, which was of “deadly logical ruthlessness,” offers the clue to what is happening in present-day Germany.  It would not be easy to find another book touching so many controversial topics of a political character which is equally remote from partisanship.  It is written sine ira et studio, without sentimentality or vagueness, and with competence and a natural grace.  The treatment is narrative and meditative rather than disputative or analytical.  At times, for instance when describing Goethe’s “Christian paganism” and Hegel’s “philosophic Christianism,” the author, adapting himself to the character of his subject, seems to draw rather than to speak.