Rudolf Christoph Eucken was a philosopher, and the winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was born in Aurich, Germany on January 5, 1846 and studied at Göttingen University and Berlin University, both in Germany.
In 1871, after five years working as a school teacher, he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He stayed there until 1874 when he took up a similar position at the University of Jena, Germany in 1874. He stayed there until he retired in 1920. He married in 1882 and had a daughter and two sons.
His philosophy was based around human experience, maintaining that humans have souls, and that they are therefore at the junction between nature and spirit. He believed that people should overcome their non-spiritual nature continuous efforts to achieve a spiritual life. He called this Ethical activism.
He was a prolific writer; his best-known works are:
Die Lebensanschauungen der grosser Denker (1890) (The Problem of Human Life as Viewed by the Great Thinkers)
Der Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt (1896) (The Struggle for a Spiritual Content of Life),
Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Religion (1901) (The Truth of Religion),
Grundlinien einer neuen Lebensanschauung (1907) (Life's Basis and Life's Ideal: The Fundamentals of a New Philosophy of Life),
Der Sinn und Wert des Lebens (1908) (The Meaning and Value of Life)
Geistige Stromungen der Gegenwart (1908) (Main Currents of Modern Thought)
Können wir noch Christen sein? (1911) (Can We Still Be Christians?).
Present Day Ethics in their Relation to the Spiritual Life (1913) (Deem Lectures given at New York University)
Der Sozialismus und seine Lebensgestaltung (1920) (Socialism: an Analysis)
He delivered lectures in England in 1911 and spent six months lecturing at Harvard University and elsewhere in the United States in 1912-1913. He died on September 15, 1926.