Hermann von Keyserling

Non-fiction Hermann von Keyserling


Hermann von Keyserling (Count Hermann Alexander von Keyserling; 20. / 8. VII 1880 – 26. IV 1946) was a Baltic German philosopher and commentator.

Keyserling was born at Kõnnu manor in Harjumaa county, studied at the Gymnasium in Pärnu, from 1897 to 1898 at the University of Geneva, from 1898 to 1900 at the University of Tartu, from 1900 to 1901 in Heidelberg, and studied geology and chemistry at the University of Vienna from 1901 to 1902, graduating as a Doctor of Philosophy. He lived in various parts of Europe, in Estonia staying at Kõnnu and Raikküla manors, which belonged to his family, at the latter for a longer period, from 1914 to 1918. He left Estonia for Germany in 1918. In 1920 he set up the School of Wisdom (Schule der Weisheit) as a philosophical institution in Darmstadt. He died at Innsbruck, and was buried in Innsbruck cemetery.

Of his published philosophical works, the best known is Das Reisetagebuch eines Philosophen I-II (‘Travel Journal of a Philosopher’,1919), based on his experiences on his worldwide travels, in which the insights into other cultures are based on the inner meditations of a traveller. Indeed, several of the trains of thought in the travel journal can be treated as an introduction to Keyserling’s subsequent works. A specially important place is given to his contacts with Oriental cultures, which have earned him attention as a thinker. In his philosophy a significant role is given to metaphysics, intuition, and a boundless, free-flowing, polyphonic way of thinking that differs from traditional philosophic thought. Among his most important works are Schöpferische Erkenntnis (1922), Das Spektrum Europas (1927), Wiedergeburt (1927), Südamerikanische Meditationen (1932) and Das Buch von Ursprung (1947). His collected works appeared in six volumes in the fifties.

A. K. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Loov tunnetus. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 1998, 367 lk. [Sari ‘Eesti mõttelugu’.]

Travel writing
Hermann von Keyserling, Alexander Stäel von Holsteiniga, India-reisid. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu ), 1991, 62 lk.