Ludwig Klages
Ludwig Klages was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 philosopher, psychologist
Psychologist is a professional or academic title used by individuals who are either:* Clinical professionals who work with patients in a variety of therapeutic contexts .* Scientists conducting psychological research or teaching psychology in a college...

 and a theoretician in the field of handwriting analysis
Graphology is the pseudoscientific study and analysis of handwriting, especially in relation to human psychology. In the medical field, it can be used to refer to the study of handwriting as an aid in diagnosis and tracking of diseases of the brain and nervous system...



Klages was born in Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. In Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 he studied physics, philosophy and chemistry - however, after completing his doctorate in chemistry he resolved never to work as a chemist. He met the sculptor Hans Busse and with him and Georg Meyer he founded the Deutsche Graphologische Gesellschaft (German Graphology Association) in 1894.

In Munich Klages also encountered the writer Karl Wolfskehl
Karl Wolfskehl
Karl Wolfskehl was a German Jewish author who wrote poetry, prose and drama in German. He also translated from French, English, Italian, Hebrew, Latin and Middle High German into German....

 and the mystic Alfred Schuler
Alfred Schuler
Alfred Schuler was a religious founder, a gnostic, a mystic and a visionary. Franz Wegener has called Schuler the last of the German Cathars. Schuler saw himself as a reborn Roman of the late imperial era...

. He was a lover of Fanny zu Reventlow
Fanny zu Reventlow
Franziska Reventlow was a German writer, artist and translator, who became famous as the "Bohemian Countess" of Schwabing in the years leading up to World War I.- Life :Fanny...

, the "Bohemian Countess" of Schwabing, and with Wolfskehl, Schuler and the writer Ludwig Derleth
Ludwig Derleth
Ludwig Derleth was a German writer.He was born in Gerolzhofen in Bavaria. After studying philosophy and literature Derleth worked as a college level teacher of ancient languages...

 they formed a group known as the Munich Cosmic Circle, with which the poet Stefan George
Stefan George
Stefan Anton George was a German poet, editor, and translator.-Biography:George was born in Bingen in Germany in 1868. He spent time in Paris, where he was among the writers and artists who attended the Tuesday soireés held by the poet Stéphane Mallarmé. He began to publish poetry in the 1890s,...

 is sometimes associated. He wrote a book praising George's poetry in 1902. As a member of this group his philosophy contrasted the "degenerate" modern world with an ancient, and mystical
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

, Germanic past, with a heroic role for the artist in forging a new future. George distanced himself from Klages' mystical philosophy (which was shared by Schuler), but continued for a time to publish Klages' poems in his journal Blätter für die Kunst. Wolfskehl acquainted Klages with the work of Johann Jakob Bachofen
Johann Jakob Bachofen
Johann Jakob Bachofen was a Swiss antiquarian, jurist and anthropologist, professor for Roman law at the University of Basel from 1841 to 1845....

 (1815-1887), a Swiss anthropologist and sociologist, and his research into matriarchal clans.

In 1914 at the outbreak of war Klages moved to Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and supported himself with his writing and income from lectures. He returned to Germany in the 1920s and in 1932 was awarded the Goethe medal for Art and Science. However by 1936 he was under attack from Nazi authorities for lack of support and on his 70th birthday in 1942 was denounced by many newspapers in Germany. After the war he was honoured by the new government, particularly on his 80th birthday in 1952.


He created a complete theory of graphology and will be long associated with the concepts of form level, rhythm and bi-polar interpretation. He is important because together with Nietzsche and Bergson he anticipated existential phenomenology
Existential phenomenology
Existential phenomenology is a philosophical current inspired by Martin Heidegger's 1927 work Sein und Zeit and influenced by the existential work of Søren Kierkegaard and the phenomenological work of Edmund Husserl....

. He also coined the term logocentrism
Logocentrism is a term coined by German philosopher Ludwig Klages in the 1920s. It refers to the tradition of "Western" science and philosophy that situates the logos, ‘the word’ or the ‘act of speech’, as epistemologically superior in a system, or structure, in which we may only know, or be...

 in the 1920s.

He was the author of 14 books and 60 articles (1910-1948). He was co-editor of the journals Berichte (1897-8) and its successor Graphologische Monatshefte until 1908.
His most important works are:
  • Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele (1929)
  • Die Grundlagen der Charakterkunde

When Klages died, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

urged that Klages' "realizations concerning anthropology and philosophy of language" should not be left "hidden behind the veil" of Klages' "anti-intellectualist metaphysics and apocalyptic philosophy of history". Habermas characterized these realizations as "not outdated" but ahead of the time.

Critical literature

  • Reinhard Falter: Ludwig Klages. Lebensphilosophie als Zivilisationskritik, Munich: Telesma, 2003, ISBN 3-833-0678-1
  • Nitzan Lebovic: The Terror and Beauty of Lebensphilosophie: Ludwig Klages, Walter Benjamin, and Alfred Bauemler, South Central Review 23:1 (Spring 2006), pp. 23- 39.
  • James Lewin: Geist und Seele: Ludwig Klages’ Philosophie, Berlin: Reuther & Reichard, 1931
  • Tobias Schneider, Ideological Trench Warfare. Ludwig Klages and National Socialism from 1933-1938. Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 2/2001 (

External links

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