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Rudolf Christoph Eucken

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1908

Writer, Philosopher.

Idealism raises our life to greatness above the hubbub of everyday life by representation of eternal truths; in midst of our dark situation it can strengthen our belief in reason of life. Only faith can enable us to cope with enormous obstacles, fill us with confidence of success.


1. Idealism demands that human life should be governed by its peculiar values and goals, the true, the good, and the beautiful.

2. The transformation of environment has become the purpose of human life; life seems real only insofar as it deals with things. Man no longer needs the escape to an invisible world in order to find and realize exalted goals.

3. Facts and opinions are confused by man, who is helpless against error and passion. At such a time, it becomes an urgent task to separate the facts from the interpretations given to them.

4. The poet appears as a magician who gives to things a language in which they proclaim their own being, but they come alive only in the soul of the poet, only in an inner world. Something similar to this artistic process occurs in practical life, in the relationship of men as it finds its expression in law and morality. The other man who at first seems a complete outsider is taken into the circle of our own life when we become capable of identifying ourselves with him. Nowhere is the process of making the seemingly strange your own as marked as in love, the highest relationship of two individuals. For here the gap between oneself and the other is completely bridged; what was strange becomes an integral part of one's own life. Nor can we love our people, our country, or the whole of mankind unless we find in them our own life and being. In another direction the search for truth leads to a broadening of our inner life.

Photo: Library of Congress

Name:Rudolf Christoph Eucken
Birth: 5 January 1846, Aurich, East Friesland (now Germany)
Death: 14 September 1926, Jena, Germany
Residence at the time of the award: Germany
Prize Motivation: "In recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength in presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life"
Field: Philosophy/Essay writing
Language: German