German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation-state and spanned the entire German-speaking world. From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular. Historically Germany has been called Das Land der Dichter und Denker, the land of poets & thinkers.
German literature can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the works of writers such as Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Various German authors and poets have won great renown, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller.
Germany's influence on philosophy is historically significant and many notable German philosophers have helped shape western philosophy since the Middle Ages. Gottfried Leibniz's contributions to rationalism, Immanuel Kant's, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling's and Johann Gottlieb Fichte's establishment of the classical German idealism, Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels' formulation of Communist theory, Arthur Schopenhauer's composition of metaphysical pessimism, Friedrich Nietzsche's development of Perspectivism, Martin Heidegger's works on Being, and the social theories of Jürgen Habermas were especially influential.
[Luft, a German author] ... add[s] that Nietzsche was [his] mentor, thus reminding us how closely the German and Austrian intellectual traditions were intertwined.
Against the backdrop of German Idealism grew such diverse intellectual movements as phenomenology, existentialism and post-structuralism. These movements in turn influenced the entire program of the humanities, from Biblical theology to literary theory, and from historiography to the philosophy of biology.
German Idealism has been arguably the most influential force in philosophy over the past two hundred years. Particularly in its most influential form, the mature philosophy of Hegel, it provided the backdrop against which most of the major figures in the modern German intellectual tradition developed their own ideas, from Marx and Nietzsche to Heidegger, Adorno and Habermas. Reactions against that tradition, such as Neo-Kantianism, phenomenology, and existentialism, have all found it an essential point of reference.
Since the language of biology was part of the Nazi ideology, in the name of which the most horrible crimes have been committed, and since the moral imperative derived from German history is “never again,” the answer is clear: Hands off from genetic engineering and biotechnology. This is indeed the widespread consensus among German intellectuals and many in the German population.
The German intellectual tradition--which begins, arguably, with Martin Luther and includes brilliant and controversial figures such as Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Carl Schmitt, Heidegger, and Hannah Arendt--is integral to fostering a critical understanding of culture, society, and the arts.
In its reception, German philosophers took the [Bhagavad] Gita as the quintessential statement of Indian philosophy. In fact, these philosophers often refer to 'the Gita' and 'Indian philosophy' interchangeably. The story begins with Johann Gottfried Herder, whom Herling credits as 'the first major figure in the German intellectual tradition to take a serious interest in interpreting Indian culture'.
We believe that our traditional cultural heritage and language play an important role in our lives and that of our children. But we also strive to connect to a modern Germany that acknowledges a dark past and has emerged as a vibrant, open, liberal society, leaving that past behind.
Someone who is a professional philosopher, who works on the history of the relationship between science and religion, can hardly be entirely ignorant of or indifferent to German culture.