Helmuth Plessner (4 September 1892 - 12 June 1985)

Born in Wiesbaden, Plessner initially studied zoology and philosophy under Hans Driesch in Heidelberg and from 1914 under Husserl in Göttingen. After extensive Kant studies, he gained his doctorate in 1916 with a thesis titled “Crisis of Transcendental Truth in its Origin”. In 1920 he was promoted to professor of philosophy in Cologne and taught there as an associate professor until 1933. During this time his classic works were published: “The Entity of Senses” (1923), “The Limits to Community” (1924), “Levels of Organic Being” (1928) and “Power and Human Nature” (1931). In 1933 he immigrated via Turkey to the Netherlands in 1934. There he taught at the University of Groningen until 1951. In Groningen he developed his analysis of the political happenings in Germany in 1935: “The Fate of the German Spirit at the End of its Civil Epoch”. This became famous when it was reissued as “The Belated Nation” in 1959. In 1941 the study of extreme situations of human behaviour “Laughing and Weeping” was published. In 1952 he returned to Germany and assumed a chair for philosophy at the University of Göttingen. After retiring he lived near Zürich but moved back to Göttingen in later years where he then died in 1985. The Archive has copies of selected materials which were collected in relation to a research project on the intellectual biography of Helmuth Plessner by Walter Sprondel (Tuebingen). An index is available.

Helmuth Plessner Papers