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Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography…

Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography (1931)

by Albert Schweitzer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This book is a bit hard to categorize. It's definitely biography but Schweitzer spends a great deal of time on his researches into religious thought and the early history of Christianity, his thoughts on philosophy, and his work as a concert organist. Before he became a physician he was known as a theologian and philosopher and was often asked to give concerts and lectures outside of his duties as a professor and vicar. Even after entering medical school at the age of thirty he continued these other studies as much as time would permit. The reason for becoming a medical doctor was his conviction that that was his best way of helping the people of Africa and his decision to go to Africa as a missionary led then to his decision to practice medicine.

In addition to his earned PhD and his M.D., Schweitzer received many honorary degrees in all the fields he worked in as well as the Nobel Peace Prize. He also published a number of books, pamphlets, and articles. This book was first published in 1931 and this particular translation into English was published in 1990 from a German copy in which Schweitzer made his own corrections between 1930 and 1960. Out of My Life and Thought was a somewhat slow read for me as so much of the book was about his thinking on subjects I know little about but it was interesting enough that I did eventually finish.
1 vote hailelib | Jul 8, 2012 |
A great philosopher and mystic argues for rational thought and what he called reverence for life. "I am in complete disagreement with the spirit of our age, because it is filled with contempt for thought." The primary issue of philosophy was to achieve an active ethic, a realistic confrontation with reality. His active ethic was to serve the poor and the sick in West Africa.

"Rational thought boils over into mystical thought. Mysticism is knowledge of the infinite. Mysticism is not the flower on the plant of thought. It is but the stalk; ethics is the flower." A very provocative and quotable book. ( )
1 vote pjsullivan | Oct 22, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Albert Schweitzerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Campion, C. T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lemke, Antje BultmannTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, Rhena SchweitzerPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0801860970, Paperback)

Out of My Life and Thought is the autobiography of Albert Schweitzer, the theologian, musician, scientist, and medical missionary who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 (and donated his prize to build a leper colony). Schweitzer's autobiography is a masterful and motley blend of confession, narrative, adventure, and philosophy. The chapters about how he came to write The Quest for the Historical Jesus and The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle are indispensable summaries of and apologies for those books; the chapter called "I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor" is a model of Rilke-style life-changing decision; and the chapters on Bach and on organs are full of fascinating historical and mechanical detail. For contemporary readers, Out of My Life and Thought may be most compelling for its epilogue, which describes the ethical mysticism that Schweitzer called "Reverence for Life," which he achieved in his later years. The epilogue is full of stirringly Germanic passages such as the following: "Once man begins to think about the mystery of his life and the links connecting him with the life that fills the world, he cannot but accept, for his own life and all other life that surrounds him, the principle of Reverence for Life. He will act according to this principle of the ethical affirmation of life in everything he does. His life will become in every respect more difficult than if he lived for himself, but at the same time it will be richer, more beautiful, and happier. It will become, instead of mere living, a genuine experience of life." Because Schweitzer believed Christianity implied such world-encompassing reverence, he had the confidence and faith to "demand from Christianity that it reform itself in the spirit of sincerity and with thoughtfulness, so it may become conscious of its true nature." --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Published to commemorate Albert Schweitzer's only visit to the United States 60 years ago, this anniversary edition of his autobiography gives 21st-century readers a unique and authoritative account of the man John F. Kennedy called "one of the transcendent moral influences of our century."Schweitzer is celebrated around the world as a European pioneer of medical service in Africa, a groundbreaking philosopher and musical scholar, and a catalyst of environmental and peace activism. Yet people most revere Schweitzer for his dedication to serving others and his profound and influential ethic of reverence for life. For Schweitzer, reverence for life was not a theory or a philosophy but a discovery -- a recognition that the capacity to experience and act on a reverence for all life is a fundamental part of human nature, a characteristic that sets human beings apart from the rest of the natural world.This anniversary edition coincides with several high profile celebrations of his 1949 visit, as well as the release of a new feature film starring Jeroen Krabbe and Barbara Hershey. In addition to a foreword by Nobel Laureate and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, this edition features a new foreword by Lachlan Forrow, president of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.… (more)

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