was a well known musician, philosopher,
physician, and theologian of the late
19th and early 20th century. His philosophical
work won him the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1952 and he greatly
impacted the future of African health
care and research by opening the Albert
Schweitzer Hospital in Lambarene, Gabon.
Schweitzer was born on January 14, 1875
in Kaysersberg, Alsace-Lorraine, a territory
created by the German Empire in 1871 which
later became part of France. He spent
his childhood under the watchful eye of
his father in the village of Gunsbach
where his father served as pastor. During
his early years, Schweitzer's father taught
him music, a trait he carried with him
for the rest of his life.
spent his high school years as a student
in Munhlhausen until 1893 when he passed
his final exams. Shortly thereafter, Schweitzer
travelled to Paris to study music and
philosophy. When he finished his studies
in Paris, Schweitzer returned to Alsace
to study theology at the Kaiser Wilhelm
University. In 1899 he changed schools
again to study at the University of Tubingen
where he earned his Ph.D. Six years later,
after spending time as a pastor in Strasbourg,
Schweitzer left again for Gabon, this
time to study medicine.
of his studies focused on the life of
Jesus and contemporary interpretations
of the bible. In 1906 he published The
Quest of the Historical Jesus and followed
it with The Psychiatric Study of Jesus
in 1911 as part of his medical dissertation.
His studies of the new and old testament
helped influence other biblical scholars.
also continued to play music throughout
his life. He was especially interested
in the music by Bach and believed that
it was meant to be more simplistic and
melodic than previously interpreted. Albert
Schweitzer was not much of a performer,
however, but did manage to put on a few
concerts to help raise money for his hospital
that he would later open in Africa. His
speciality was organ music and the Paris
Bach Society presented him with a special
piano in 1913 in appreciation of his work.
This piano also travelled with him to
Africa where he continued to play.
he had many great writings and works,
Albert Schweitzer believed that his greatest
accomplishment was his idea of the "reverence
for life" which he focused on in
his book The Philosophy of Civilization.
This idea incorporated the love and respect
all humans should have for all kinds of
life and their spiritual connection to
the universe. He believed that humankind
should continue to work towards this balance
and live for the benefit of all. Schweitzer
lived his beliefs by maintaining himself
as a strict vegetarian and avid cat-lover.
began his work in Africa shortly after
finishing his medical studies in 1913.
He and his wife travelled to Lambarene,
Gabon to establish a hospital near an
existing missionary post. The purpose
of his work stemmed partially out of a
need to live Jesus's claim that we should
all be "fishers of men" but
also out of guilt. Schweitzer did not
believe in colonization and he wanted
to atone for some of the wrong that had
been inflicted on Gabon from past European
and his wife returned to Europe for a
brief period during World War I due to
their German heritage. The French colonists
in Gabon sent them back for questioning
and, although Albert Schweitzer wanted
nothing more than to return to his post
in Gabon, he used the time to work on
his book Culture and Ethics that he published
in 1923. When Schweitzer was finally allowed
to return to Africa in 1924, he and his
wife were faced with a decaying hospital
that had been left in disrepair since
their departure almost ten years prior.
travelled back and forth to Europe giving
lectures on his philosophies and raising
money for his hospital. He stopped travelling
in 1939 due to conflicts and he worked
in the hospital until 1948 when World
War II ended. Schweitzer once again began
travelling, this time to both Europe and
the U.S. to help spread his philosophies
in culture, ethics, and the reverence
for life. In 1952 he won the Nobel Peace
Prize for his work.
Schweitzer continued to discuss religion
and philosophy around the world and worked
Einstein and Bertrand Russell in opposition
of nuclear weapons. He died on September
4, 1965 in his hospital in Lambarene,
Gabon. Schweitzer is buried nearby on
the banks of the Ogowe River.
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