Arnold Gehlen

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Arnold Gehlen (January 29, 1904 - January 30, 1976) was a German philosopher and sociologist. His major influences while studying philosophy were Hans Driesch, Nicolai Hartmann and especially Max Scheler.

He joined the NSDAP in 1933 and had a shining career as a member of the 'Leipzig School' under Hans Freyer. He replaced Paul Tillich, who emigrated to the United States, at the University of Frankfurt. In 1938 he accepted a teaching position at the University of Königsberg (today's Kaliningrad) and then taught at the University of Vienna in 1940 until he was drafted into the Wehrmacht in 1943. After his 'denazification' he taught at the administrative college in Speyer. He went on to teach at the Aachen University of Technology between 1962 and 1969. Gehlen became a sharp critic of the protest movements that developed in the late 1960s.

Gehlen's philosophy has been influential for many contemporary neoconservative German thinkers. Many terms from his work, like Reizüberflutung ("Sensory overload"), deinstitutionalization or post-history, have gained popular currency in Germany.

Selected Bibliography

  • Theorie der Willensfreiheit (1933)
  • Der Mensch: Seine Natur und seine Stellung in der Welt (1940)
    • Man: His nature and place in the world
  • Urmensch und Spätkultur (1956)
  • Die Seele im technischen Zeitalter (1957)
    • Man in the age of technology
  • Moral und Hypermoral: Eine pluralistische Ethik (1969)

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