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Walter Kaufmann (1962)

Walter Kaufmann

Walter Kaufmann

Walter Arnold Kaufmann (1921-1980) was a 20th-century Jewish German philosopher, scholar, and poet. He produced much original philosophy, most of which was on subjects related to what would now be called authenticity. He also wrote on, among other things, atheism, religion, tragedy, and Shakespeare. His translations of Nietzsche and his anthology of existentialist works, such as Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, are also celebrated works, and his translations, in particular, are highly respected by many. Kaufmann believed that critical analysis and the acquisition of knowledge were liberating and empowering forces.

Walter Kaufmann was brought up Lutheran. At age 11, when he found he could not believe in the Trinity and that Jesus was God, he decided to become a Jew. The rise of Nazism did not influence or deter his conversion. Kaufmann discovered later that his grandparents were Jewish. In a 1959 Harper’s Magazine article, he denounced Judaism, making it clear that he was atheistic—a “heretic” in his own terminology—by summarily rejecting all religious values and practices.

He immigrated to America in 1939, and attended Williams College, where he majored in philosophy and took many religion classes. He then spent 15 months in military service abroad during World War II. Returning to America, Kaufmann earned his PhD in the philosophy of religion from Harvard in April 1947, with a dissertation on “Nietzsche’s Theory of Values.” Before the end of the month, he was appointed a professor of philosophy at Princeton, where he remained until his death in 1980. In 1960, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

—Courtesy of Wikipedia

Recommended Reading:

Walter Kaufmann

Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist
by Walter A. Kaufmann

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