Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer (äl´bĕrt shvī´tsər), 1875–1965, Alsatian theologian, musician, and medical missionary. Determined to become a medical missionary, he obtained a doctorate in medicine at the Univ. of Strasbourg and in 1913 established a hospital at Lambaréné, Gabon (then in French Equatorial Africa). Except for frequent trips to Europe to raise money and a visit to the United States in 1949 to address the Goethe Festival in Colorado, he remained in Gabon, establishing extensive medical facilities that received financial support throughout the world. Schweitzer was honored in many countries for his work as a scientist and humanitarian, his artistry as an organist, and his contributions as a theologian; he was awarded the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize. His biography of Bach (1905), considered one of the best studies of the master, along with his edition (with C. M. Widor, 1912–14) of Bach's organ music, made him an outstanding authority on Bach. On the Edge of the Primeval Forest (1920, tr. 1922) is an account of his early years at Lambaréné, supplemented later by More from the Primeval Forest (1925, tr.1931) and From My African Notebook (1936, tr. 1938). Schweitzer's philosophy is developed in Philosophy of Civilization (The Decay and the Restoration of Civilization, 1923, tr. 1923; Civilization and Ethics, 1923, tr. 1923; and Reverence for Life, tr. 1969). "Reverence for life" is the term Schweitzer used for a universal concept of ethics. He believed that such an ethics would reconcile the drives of altruism and egoism by requiring a respect for the lives of all other beings and by demanding the highest development of the individual's resources. A profound Christian, Schweitzer was unorthodox in that he rejected the historical infallibility of Jesus while following him spiritually. His theological works include The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906, tr. 1910) and The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle (1930, tr. 1930).

See his autobiography, Out of My Life and Thoughts (1932, tr. 1933) and Albert Schweitzer: An Anthology (ed. by C. R. Joy, 1947); biographies by J. Berrill (1965), I. L. Ice (1971), G. N. Marshall and D. Poling (1971), and N. Cousins (1960, repr. 1973); study by H. Clark (1962).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Reverence for Life: Albert Schweitzer's Great Contribution to Ethical Thought
Ara Paul Barsam.
Oxford University Press, 2008
Dr. Schweitzer of Lambarene
Norman Cousins; Clara Urquhart.
Harper & Brothers, 1960
Albert Schweitzer of Lambarene: The Ethics of Reverence for Life
Sorkhabi, Rasoul.
The World and I, Vol. 20, No. 11, November 2005
Pilgrimage to Humanity
Albert Schweitzer; Walter E. Stuermann.
Philosophical Library, 1961
The Psychiatric Study of Jesus: Exposition and Criticism
Albert Schweitzer; Charles R. Joy.
Beacon Press, 1948
The Mystery of the Kingdom of God: The Secret of Jesus' Messiahship and Passion
Albert Schweitzer; Walter Lowrie.
Macmillan, 1950
Peace or Atomic War?
Albert Schweitzer.
Henry Holt, 1958
Civilization and Ethics
Albert Schweitzer.
Adam and Charles Black, 1946 (3rd edition)
The Humanism of Albert Schweitzer
Negri, Maxine.
The Humanist, Vol. 53, No. 2, March-April 1993
The Africa of Albert Schweitzer
Charles R. Joy; Melvin Arnold; Charles R. Joy.
Harper, 1948
An Anthology
Charles R. Joy; Albert Schweitzer.
Harper, 1947
Albert Schweitzer's Nobel Prize October 30th 1953
Cavendish, Richard.
History Today, Vol. 53, No. 10, October 2003
The Albert Schweitzer Jubilee Book
A. A. Roback.
Sci-Art Publishers, 1945
The Animal World of Albert Schweitzer: Jungle Insights into Reverence for Life
Charles R. Joy; Charles R. Joy; Albert Schweitzer.
Beacon Press, 1950
Personalities in Social Reform
G. Bromley Oxnam.
Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1950
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