Das Wesen der Heimat nach Kurt Stavenhagen

  • Andrzej Gniazdowski Polish Academy of Sciences


The aim of the paper is to reconstruct the main premises of the notion of “homeland” as analyzed by Kurt Stavenhagen, the significant Latvian-German philosopher of the first half of the twentieth century. The paper points out the differences in Stavenhagen’s approach to the notion of homeland between the first and second edition of his study, Heimat als Grundlage menschlicher Existenz (Homeland as the Basis of Human Existence) from 1939 and Heimat als Lebenssinn (Homeland as the Meaning of Life) from 1948. The paper informs about the biographical and political background of Stavenhagen’s analysis and argues that his philosophical thought belongs to the so-called phenomenological movement. The thesis of the paper is that Stavenhagen’s definition of the homeland as a kind of community presupposes Ferdinand Tönnies’ distinction between community and society, which was fundamental for German sociology of that time. The author argues that Stavenhagen follows Max Scheler’s ideological misinterpretation of Tönnies’ distinction in his “war writings” in that he contrasts two types of sociality: authentic and unauthentic. These types are characteristic for German and Anglo-American social relations, respectively. In this light, Stavenhagen’s analysis turns out to be not so much a phenomenology but rather a mythology of the homeland. In reference to Leszek Kołakowski’s book The Presence of Myth (1984), the paper presents the need for answering to the “phenomenon of the indifference of the world” as a proper meaning of Stavenhagen’s mythology.