Reverence for Life – Albert Schweitzer’s Biocentrism

  • László Erdős


Albert Schweitzer was a multi-talent: a musician, scholar, churchman, doctor, and peace activist at the same time. His humanitarian work earned him the Nobel Peace Prize and worldwide admiration. But according to Schweitzer himself, his most important achievement was his ethic ‘reverence for life,’ according to which it is morally bad to harm living beings. Schweitzer’s biocentric outlook makes no distinction between higher and lower forms of life. Schweitzer lived out his ethic. He cared for injured or orphaned animals, turning his hospital into a sanctuary. He kept his windows closed while working by lamplight to prevent insects from being killed by the kerosene lamp. Schweitzer’s deep Christian faith was in harmony with his biocentric views. Albert Schweitzer showed that it is possible to live according to the principle of reverence for life.


Reverence for life Humanitarianism Non-anthropocentrism Nobel Peace Prize 

Worth Reading

  1. Free, A. C. (Ed.). (1988). Animals, nature and Albert Schweitzer. Washington, DC: The Flying Fox Press.Google Scholar
  2. Schweitzer, A. (1965a). The teaching of reverence for life. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  3. Schweitzer, A. (1965b). The story of my pelican. New York: Hawthorn Books.Google Scholar
  4. Schweitzer, A. (1987). The philosophy of civilization. New York: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  5. Schweitzer, A. (1989). A place for revelation: Sermons on reverence for life. New York: Macmillan Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Schweitzer, A. (2009). Out of my life and thought: An autobiography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar

Worth Watching

  1. Albert Schweitzer: My life is my argument (2005)Google Scholar
  2. Albert Schweitzer (1956)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • László Erdős
    • 1
  1. 1.MTA-DE Lendület Functional and Restoration Ecology Research Group, DebrecenInstitute of Ecology and Botany MTA Centre for Ecological ResearchVácrátótHungary

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