His father, a scholarly man, was a banker and a member of the Berlin Stock Exchange. He was the only son among seven surviving children. He remained a devout proponent of Christianity throughout the rest of his life. After graduating from a secondary school gymnasium with very high academic standards and an emphasis on classical languages and literature, Rosenstock-Huessy pursued law studies at the universities of Zurich , Heidelberg , and Berlin. In the University of Heidelberg granted him a doctorate in law.
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Related Entries 1. To this end, while his corpus cuts across numerous disciplines, his major systematic work, one rewritten throughout the course of his life, was his two part Sociology Im Kreuz der Wirchlichkeit In the Cross of Reality —the first volume of which is to appear with Transaction in volume one originally appeared to use the English title in as The Forces of Community, and then reworked as The Hegemony of Spaces; volume two being The Full Count of the Times.
His social philosophy is concerned with how, when a world implodes on or devours them—through what he terms the four social diseases of anarchy, decadence, revolution and war a, 11—16 —people can escape the tyranny of forces that have come to rule the space in which they dwell by founding a new time which will then open up other spatial possibilities.
For him, then, the key to human freedom is the capacity both to found the new and draw upon the powers encapsulated in bodies of time past which enable us to live in a present in which we feel blessed by the future. In other words, we are fundamentally responsive creatures—and our creations are shaped by our responses either to the weight and push of the past, the burdens or joys of the present or the pull and call of the future.
Like Vico, whom Rosenstock-Huessy greatly admired, he believes we are inescapably rooted in history, even though our great revolutions attempt to rip us out of it, in order to begin anew and build a much better world, thereby opening up new paths of self-hood. To a large extent this is because logic itself is timeless. Logic transports us out of time and offers the mind a stable, but unreal space.
For Rosenstock-Huessy, this search for a stable space is reflected in recurrent philosophical elements which privilege the implacability of space or a particular space over the ceaselessness of time. The same point is made somewhat more elaborately in the first volume of the In the Cross of Reality , 1, — where he argues that dialectical thought is triadic, but anything that really happens and makes itself manifest, i. He called this four-fold matrix the cross of reality and it is applied repeatedly throughout his works.
While Rosenstock-Huessy provided a range of arguments against philosophers wanting to make more of reason and less of language, time and history than their due, and while he preferred to classify himself as a sociologist, he can also be seen as a social philosopher who argued for the philosophical necessity of the fusion of history, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and religion.
All these critics have provided criticisms of philosophy that have ended up, in different ways, and at different times, transforming the direction and content of philosophy. Life and Work Eugen Rosenstock was born in His parents were assimilated i.
His mother and father, a banker, encouraged academic pursuits in their children. At school his classes were in Latin, and from a young age he devoted himself to history and linguistics. His passion for learning languages extended to teaching himself Egyptian hieroglyphics while a teenager. He is probably one of the very few social philosophers who apart from his fluency in several modern European languages not only read the biblical writers, ancient philosophers, poets, orators and Church fathers in their original languages, but was equally at home deciphering the walls of an Egyptian temple.
This schooling formed the basis of an approach to reality which always considered the different underlying imperatives—divine and human—that fused a group or led to its dissolution. It also provided him with what he insisted was a guiding methodological principle in his life: to make no historical argument that was not based upon his own consultation of the original source material.
He joined the Protestant church at By his own account, this was not due to any great existential anxiety, but to having reached the conclusion at a very young age that what was stated in the Nicene Creed was manifestly obvious b, Rosenstock-Huessy insisted that Christianity was not a religion of transcendence and was not to be confused with Platonism of any sort, but was about building the ages or times to come in this world. It was first and foremost a discovery about the process of incarnation and the way to overcome social death.
Nor for him was the Church, as it was, for example, for Karl Barth or Emil Brunner, for the great part a massive deviation from the gospel. Rather, not only in spite of but, to a significant extent, because of its flaws, it was the story of the incarnation of the spirit and the recreation of human nature into a different body, the body of Christ.
Similarly I believe in resurrection of the body because I see resurrections of bodies, all through history, on earth. Any genuine soul will be incarnated time and again , 11— Examples of incarnations he mentions, beside Christ himself in the Church, are St.
Rosenstock-Huessy studied jurisprudence and received his doctorate for Herzogsgewalt und Friedensschutz from the University of Heidelberg at the age of 21, from which time he went on to teach at the university. His teachers included Rudolf Sohm and Otto Gierke, both key figures in the historical school of law.
While he was not a disciple of either, throughout his life he would never cease writing on the growth and decay of socio-political formations and what forced people to hate one form of life and seek to found another.
Amongst his students was Franz Rosenzweig. By this he was not referring to any mystical powers, but the full gamut of creative and redemptive powers that are created and revealed throughout the human story. In this respect he played an important role in convincing Rosenzweig that truth was not so much a property of things or states of affairs captured by the reflecting mind, but a state of fecundity produced by the act appropriate for the time in which it was performed. In , he met and married Margrit Huessy whom he loved dearly.
They had a son, Hans, and they remained married until her death in He was then joined by Freya von Moltke, who was to be his companion until his death in Freya von Moltke was the widow of his former student, Helmuth von Moltke, a key member of the Kreisau circle who was executed by Hitler near the conclusion of World War 2.
In he began an intense correspondence with Rosenzweig now published in English as Judaism Despite Christianity who by that time had decided not to follow Rosenstock-Huessy and his cousins, the Ehrenbergs, into Christianity, but to fully embrace the Jewish faith into which he had been born. He came to the opinion that Rosenzweig had convincingly demonstrated the eternal role of Judaism in the human story.
For the most part, and particularly socially, truth was something imprinted on us by pain and trauma rather than something merely learnt by candlelight. No philosopher ever sat down as if in a classroom to answer the questions of his predecessor. To consider the history of philosophy in this way is insanity.
Descartes grew out of the Thirty Years War. He has remained its eternal Privat-dozent. Kant became a philosopher after the Seven Years War, Schopenhauer came to meditation on the battlefields of Napoleon. The importance of the fusion of education with work, for Rosenstock-Huessy, was based on his fundamental belief that humanity would only free itself from the perils of its past through creative collective acts, including reinvigorating the institutions which had themselves emerged as responses to, and ways out of, catastrophes, as well as the establishment of new institutions appropriate for the times.
Rosenstock-Huessy then started teaching social philosophy at Dartmouth where he remained for the rest of his academic career. While the stars of former friends and associates, such as Buber and Tillich, waxed in the United States, he was largely unknown and unlistened to, except for some devoted undergraduates who taped his undergraduate lectures for posterity.
He had not been completely forgotten in Germany, where his post-war lectures were well attended and his books reviewed in newspapers. The proliferation of work in linguistics, which might have seemed to have provided him with natural allies, did not help his case because he was deeply opposed to what he thought was the prevailing atomistic and unduly scientistic approach to the study of language. Mauthner and Saussure, for example, he thought were so wrong they barely warranted engaging with.
And someone like C. He saw himself more in the organicist tradition of Humboldt and was glad to find in R. Every one of their venerable scholars mistook me for their intellectual type which he most despised.
The atheist wanted me to disappear into Divinity, the theologians into sociology, the sociologists into history, the historians into journalism, the journalists into metaphysics, the philosophers into law, and—need I say it?
For nobody leaves hell all by himself without going mad , By the time Rosenstock-Huessy died in he had left behind a huge collection of written work including his two volume Soziologie the second volume of which is an attempt at universal history , the works on revolution, a collection of essays and small books gathered in a two volume work on language, Die Sprache des Menschengeschlechts, and a three volume work on church history with Joseph Wittig , Das Alter der Kirche,[ 9 ] to various writings on grammar, biblical interpretation, Egyptology, Medieval history, industrial law and the organization of the work place.
A few years before he died, a former student, Clinton Gardner, had formed Argo Press, to keep his work alive. A DVD edition of his collected works has been created, thanks to the labours of Lise van der Molen and the efforts and donations of the Rosenstock-Huessy Fund. Auden first heard of Rosenstock-Huessy in from a friend and wrote a preface to a collection of his writings published by Argo in under the salient title I am an Impure Thinker.
Nor is it, as Saussure held, simply a means of A expressing his or her intention to B. This is not the kind of speech which has its parallels in the animal kingdom.
Authentic speech is the foundation and perpetuation of constitutions and institutions—social acts that reach across generations and establish patterns of social complexity which show us the difference in our self- and world-making and that of animals.
We exist in a social reality which has been made by others and which we make for others. And thus speech gives us a plasticity which separates us from other animals and which enables us to work with time and space like no other species familiar to us. Speech is the way that we reorganize the universe a, No language is communication with others only, it is communication with the universe.
We try by speaking to communicate our experience of the universe to our fellow men; by listening, reading, learning, we try to get hold of their experience of the universe.
To speak means to reenact cosmic processes so that these processes may reach others. In every sentence, man acts within the cosmos and establishes a social relation for the sake of saving the cosmos from wasting acts in vain. Man economizes the cosmic processes by making them available to all other men. Man, by speech, establishes the solidarity of all men for the acceptance of our universe a, — That solidarity is ultimately historical, for it is only by being able to draw upon the powers of the past and future that the human being can survive the crises of their present.
Thus speech and history form an indissoluble connection. Speech, then, is a responsive and creative act in which we discover things about ourselves, each other, and the world itself which we would never have chanced upon had we not the power to reframe the universe through speech—speech accounts for our unpredictable nature.
The social character of speech also means that it is not only a matter of what is being said when we speak to one another, but also who is talking to whom—what a parent says to a child, a president to his or her people, what friends say to one another.
We speak, so that each understands the other through the manner that we address him and we ourselves through the way he address us. Each man proceeds thus: A false address can irritate someone for the entire day. Because speech comes into the world in order to ensure that your representation of me, and mine of you, is situated in the right places in the cosmos , This one example shows how Rosenstock-Huessy differs from Saussurian linguistics which break up the world into the units of language irrespective of how language circulates socially.
It also shows how far removed Rosenstock-Huessy is from the naturalistic based philosophical models which see the world as an object to be understood. Speech takes and makes time. In an important sense, for Rosenstock-Huessy, speech is revelation which is, in turn, orientation which is also a process of mutual development : The double character of revelation consists in the way in which it allocates to the speaker as much as to the people whom the speaker sees before him, a new and at the same time a determined place In a correspondence two speakers respond in such a manner that the longer it continues the more each correspondent becomes polarized in his own character , In speech then we really make each other and hence we are literally, for Rosenstock-Huessy, the word made flesh.
In keeping with this, he proposed a re-working of the social sciences on the basis of a grammatical revolution. Indeed, he believes that as things are now, the social sciences rest on a grammar that is akin to Ptolemaic astronomy.
Very briefly, he argues that the intellectual life of nations, and the professions which give us social orientation, are responses to the universe seeking its own enhancement through the distribution of tasks and activities which have a grammatical underpinning.
The equations of our calculating logic are spread out in all the sciences and techniques. The trajective, linking us with the living past, lives in us through all the traditions. The prejective is represented by prophecy, ethics, programmatic movements a, Accordingly, the professions lawyers, preachers, artists and scientists are grammatical necessities, each profession accentuating an aspect of reality whose grammatical mode is the trajective, prejective, subjective and objective respectively.
We need to work with all these potencies and the great danger of philosophy is that it elevates its own importance—and the procedures and grammatical elements which constitute it—at the expense of other potencies which are only disclosed and developed through other grammatical elements and procedures.
In this respect, Rosenstock-Huessy sees that when philosophy tries to dominate society it does so at the expense of other powers of society and hence ultimately is pernicious. Its main deficiency lies in its under-appreciation of the fecundity and importance of the polyform nature of speech. Rosenstock-Huessy complains that linguistics has followed philosophy in elevating the mind above speech, as if the mind itself is the real thinker and speech simply a rather poor means to get from a to b.
Rosenstock-Huessy has concretized this teaching in a living way that no other thinker before him has done. Martin Buber Rosenstock-Huessy continually astonished one by his dazzling and unique insights. Auden He was a thinker of startling power and originality; in my view an authentic genius of whom no age produces more than a handful. What is most important in his work is the understanding of the relevance of traditional values to a civilization still undergoing revolutionary transformations; and this contribution will gain rather than lose significance in the future. Harold J. For years he has been concerned with many of the same things theologians are grappling with today, that is, the meaning of speech, the question of hermeneutics, the problem of secularization, and the disappearance of a sense of the transcendent in modern life.
Notes to Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy 1. Sprache in German refers to both speech and language. In general, Rosenstock-Huessy, when writing in English, talked of speech when describing his central preoccupation—but not always and he also referred to what he was doing as grammatical thinking. He was to engage critically with Barth throughout his life but see especially the letter to Barth b, 9—16 and his autobiographical reflections , 81— Die Soziologie Vol. Generally, Rosenstock-Huessy insists upon distinguishing between theology and religion, the former being a medieval creation to deal with a medieval problem, which involved recasting religious speech into a form more in tune with the philosophical or, as he frequently called it, the Greek mind. See a, 37—43, and a, 22—