Rudolf Otto

Rudolf Otto (* 25. September 1869 in Peine, † 7. March 1937 in Marburg), was an Evangelist theologian and religion scientist.

In May 1888 it took up the study of theology at the University of attaining and changed later to the University of Goettingen. it attained a doctorate to 1898 over the holy spirit with Luther. 1906 it began a place after eight-year old activity as a private lecturer as an extraordinary professor in Goettingen. 1915 he became a professor for systematic theology in Breslau and 1917 in Marburg.

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by journeys to India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan the Near East and Africa was waked of Otto interest in the world religions, particularly for the Hinduismus.

In its Hauptwerk (the holy, 1917) it argues with the experience of the holy one . This includes after its view in as much irrational moments as associated feelings the rational conceptual version extracts itself and only by ideograms referring to and/or. Interpreting terms to be pointed out can. It calls the irreducible moments of this experience mysterium tremendum and mysterium fascinans.

In the first mentioned feeling God reveals itself as an overwhelming power, before which the creature erschauert and that transzendiert as that completely different the human reason. The holy is not felt however as the absolutely uncanny, because inseparably of this aspect the fascinating, beglückende experience of the Göttlichen exists. The Irreduzibilität of the moments of the Schauderns and the confidence marks Otto, by he the holy as Numinoses (he translates lat. “numen certainly” with “supernatural nature without more exact conception”).

Otto tries the problem of the holy one as inkommensurabel and completely differently in its relationship with terms to solve moral principles and positive religion by referring to Kant's idea of schematizing. After Otto the numinose experience reminds of terms and principles such as love, supremacy and quality, so that did not describe the Numinose, however is connected with thinking and acting. As consequence of this schematizing the holy develops for value category as complex A priori.

Criticism at this representation of the holy one as A priori category objects that with Kant experiences are possible only thereby that A are present priori categories, while Otto from experiences A lets categories develop priori, in order to thus retain the religious experience as sui generis and valid.

In its religion-scientific Hauptwerken, “and “westeastern Mystik” Otto under the aspects of the gläubigen Frömmigkeit and the Mystik, the Hinduismus compares the grace religion of India and the Christianity” with the Christianity. It examines Bhakti and Advaita Vedanta and represents the famous philosophers of the Vishnuismus, Ramanuja, and the shivaitischen founder of the Advaita Vedanta, Shankaracharya. Otto explains similarities between Hinduismus and Christianity, arrived however to the conclusion, which are Mystik of the Christianity that of the Vedanta superior.

Of Otto opinions in the religion science and religion theory any more are not than generally accepted recognized, yet its work has also nowadays still effect.

writings (selection)

  • the holy. Over the irrational in the idea of the Göttlichen and its relationship to the rational one, 1917.
  • The feeling of the over-lay [essays] (1932).


  • Axel Michaels (Hrg.):Classical author of the religion science.C.H. Beck, Munich 1997 ISBN 3-406-42813-4

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| | * Literature of and over Rudolf Otto in the catalog of the DDB



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