Ludwig Klages (1872–1956) is one of the twentieth century’s most unjustly neglected thinkers. Born in Hanover, Germany, in his youth he was one of the founders of the Cosmic Circle in Munich, which was centered on the ideas and poetry of Stefan George. He went on to become an important critic of the trends in philosophy, psychology and society of his day, and was often praised even by his adversaries. Klages rejected the modern world that he saw in development, calling instead for a renewal of civilisation based upon the ideas of ancient Greece and German Romanticism. Klages was also responsible for making the unconscious the focus of modern psychology, and for introducing such terms as the “Id” and the introvert-extrovert scale to the discipline, although others were destined to take credit for these discoveries. He was honored by the German government with a Festschrift in conjunction with his eightieth birthday.
Cosmogonic ReflectionsLudwig Klages
Selected Aphorisms from Ludwig Klages
This book is a selection of aphorisms and reflections excerpted from the voluminous works of the German philosopher and psychologist, Ludwig Klages. He was a fierce critic of what he saw as the lack of quality in the modern world, which he held to be a product of modern ideas and organised Christianity in our era. For Klages, the world is divided between life-affirming beliefs that venerate nature and those anti-natural forces that promote materialism and rationalism. To overcome these anti-life forces, Klages wished to return European consciousness back to its pagan roots and renew the link between man and sacred nature. He opposed technocratic rationalism, illusions of progress, and democracy, which he believed to be antithetical to true culture. His aphorisms defend paganism and a healthy Eros for a renewed future.
“A pagan metaphysical system would not be philosophy as one understands that word today, i.e., the hair-splitting rehashing of such life-alien concepts as would be appropriate to the lecture hall; nor would it be characterized by that sort of factitious profundity that seeks to conceal its utter inability to solve the riddles of thought behind a veil of second-rate poetic fables. Neither should a genuine pagan metaphysics resemble that which passes for science in the modern world… Before we can discover truths that go to the very roots, we must possess a greater fund of inwardness than can be discerned in those thinkers who, for at least the last five hundred years, have expended their energies exclusively within the realm of reason.”—p. 143
Author: Ludwig Klages