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Rudolf Boehm Archives

Archief Rudolf Boehm

Introduction Archive

The Rudolf Boehm Archive wants to make the work of the philosopher Rudolf Boehm digitally accessible to the public. His legacy consists of books, articles, audio recordings, interviews and his personal archive, which includes unpublished manuscripts and correspondence. The magazine Kritiek has also been digitized. It arose from the discussion group of the same name of which Boehm was the pivotal figure for decades.

This digital archive is a work in progress . Most of Boehm's books are already available here. We have not obtained copyright permission for the books published by Springer for the time being. The unpublished manuscripts are being prepared for publication by Guy Quintelier, as some parts are handwritten and sometimes difficult to read. The work of friends and colleagues, which implicitly or explicitly relates to the thinking of Rudolf Boehm, will also be made accessible here.


Short bio Rudolf Boehm (1927-2019)

Dec 1927

January 1946


August 2019

Rudolf Boehm was born on December 24, 1927 in Berlin-Schöneberg (Germany). His father Theodor Boehm is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences. His mother Grete Brunow has a broad cultural interest and a passion for language.

In 1942 the family moves to Leipzig. Father Boehm is given a chair at the university. Because of the move, Boehm escapes membership of the Hitler Youth. In 1943 he was drafted into the Luftwaffe as an auxiliary soldier. He experiences the horror, the devastation of the Second World War up close. These experiences signify his lifelong philosophical interest: 'What are we doing? We know a lot, but do we know what is relevant?' After endless discussions with his father, Boehm decides to study philosophy. If people violently murder each other, does it make sense to make pills, as he blames his father? Ultimately, this question of life leads to what he calls his critique of 'the ideal of objectivity'. Science claims objective knowledge, but often it seems irrelevant. Boehm's philosophy is characterized by the question of what is relevant for a human life. What makes sense?

After the war, in January 1946, Boehm started his studies in philosophy, mathematics and physics at the University of Leipzig. He studies there with the neo-Hegelian Theodor Litt (1880-1962) and the phenomenologist Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002). He also gets to know Karl-Heinz Volkmann-Schluck (1914-1981), also a phenomenologist and student of Heidegger. He introduces Boehm to Husserl's philosophy. A fruitful collaboration develops between the two. In the summer of 1948, when Volkmann-Schluck goes to work at the University of Rostock, Boehm travels along as an assistant. In 1949 Volkmann-Schluck moves to Cologne. Boehm follows again as assistant.

In Cologne Boehm meets Father Herman Van Breda (1911–1974), the Belgian Franciscan friar who smuggled Husserl's manuscripts from Germany and kept them in Leuven during the war. Van Breda founded the Husserl Archive in Leuven, where Boehm became his main collaborator from 1952. These are productive years that form the basis for his philosophical career. Boehm works there on various volumes of Husserl's collected work, including his Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften . He also builds up an international network and gets to know Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Derrida, Heidegger, Ricoeur,… In 1965 he completed his doctorate Das Grundlegende und das Wesentliche , the real start of his own philosophical career.

In 1967 Boehm moves to Ghent at the invitation of Leo Apostel (1925-1995) and Jaap Kruithof (1929-2009). He becomes a professor of modern philosophy. Boehm will remain there until 1992, the year of his retirement. Together with Etienne Vermeersch (1934-2019), Kruithof and Apostel, he forms the 'Big Four' of Ghent philosophy. In 1974 he published his main work Critique of the Foundations of Our Time . Since the 1980s, he has been committed to the peace movement and points out the ecological crisis in countless newspapers and magazines. He is also the driving force behind the Society for Phenomenology and Criticism.

After his retirement he publishes most of his books, almost all of which have been translated into Dutch. We mention Politics (2002), Economics and Metaphysics (2004), Sketch of a Poetry (2006), Tragic. From Oedipoes to Faust (2009), Topica (2012), Apparent Reality, the Idea of ​​a Phenomenological Philosophy (2014). In October 2018, for his ninetieth birthday, the friends' book 'What must? And what is needed?', with contributions from, among others, Giorgio Agamben and Bernard Stiegler. In November 2018 he will be a guest at the Book Fair. There, Jan Leyers (a former student) interviews Boehm on the occasion of the book De pater en de philosopher, written by Toon Horsten, which tells the story of the Husserl Archive. He will give his last lecture at the celebration of eighty years of the Husserl Archive. He will be hospitalized in June 2019.

Boehm passed away on August 29, 2019.

Rudolf Boehm
eerste kennismaking

First acquaintance

critical philosophy




(AND Nietzsche)









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