Winter 2010

Thinking Love at the Heart of Things The Metaphysics of Being as Love in the Work of Ferdinand Ulrich

Stefan Oster

Ulrich’s thought is available to the interested reader in a projected edition of his principal works currently being published (in the original German) by Johannes Verlag. Though still unfinished, this edition currently numbers five substantial volumes.4 Johannes Verlag has also published a few smaller books.5 Finally, Ulrich has written around sixty articles, some of which are the size of small books. A considerable portion of the articles, however, has appeared only in collective volumes or journals in Italy.6

At first sight, Ulrich’s philosophy appears difficult to approach. It is speculative, in the classical sense of the word, and it has a certain contemplative quality. Ulrich does not just think; he also “beholds,” exploring the deepest recesses of reality with seeming effortlessness, though in constant inner dialogue with the thinkers of the great philosophical tradition. His seemingly “abstract” reflection includes an innate concern for concrete embodiment, and it never forgets the domain of praxis. Ulrich beholds the world in light of the gift of being, but, since the gift can be found and “touched” as such only in the concreteness of finite entities, Ulrich’s contemplative gaze has a built-in attentiveness to the real world. Ulrich never forgets man, as he actually goes about achieving his life in action, in the context of the actual world and the actual history in which he finds himself.


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4. (1) Homo Abyssus. Das Wagnis der Seinsfrage, 2nd ed. (1998); (2) Leben in der Einheit von Leben und Tod (1999); (3) Erzählter Sinn. Ontologie der Selbstwerdung in der Bilderwelt des Märchens, 2nd ed. (2002); (4) Logo-tokos. Der Mensch und das Wort (2003); (5) Gabe und Vergebung. Ein Beitrag zur biblischen Ontologie (2006).

5. See, among others, Der Mensch als Anfang. Zur philosophischen Anthropologie (1970), or Atheismus und Menschwerdung, 2nd ed. (1970).

6. For a bibliography of Ulrich’s works, see my Mit-Mensch-Sein. Phänomenologie und Ontologie der Gabe bei Ferdinand Ulrich (Freiburg/Munich, 2004), 533–37.