Frithjof Bergmann (1930-2021)

Frithjof Bergmann, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, has died.

Professor Bergmann wrote on Nietzsche, Hegel, freedom, and work, and is the author of the 1977 book, On Being Free. He was known for his “New Work” movement, which called for work that upheld the values of autonomy, creativity, meaning, and participation in the community. You can browse some of his writings here.

Bergmann spent most of his career at the University of Michigan, but previously had taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. He earned his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1959.

UPDATE: The University of Michigan Department of Philosophy has posted a memorial notice for Bergmann.

(via Tad Schmaltz)

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Andrew Mills
3 months ago

I took two or three classes with Frithjof as an undergraduate at Michigan and he was inspirational. Despite their different titles, all of his classes were basically classes in Frithjof, (lots of Nietzsche, with Hegel and Sartre thrown in there, too) but this philosophy-hungry undergraduate ate it up. He was also quite funny. I remember one moment when a student read out a passage from Hegel, asking Frithjof what it meant. Frithjof replied, “Well, *here* Hegel is being obscure.”

He was a student of Walter Kaufman’s at Princeton and regaled us with stories of his time hanging out with Tom Hayden and the other SDSers at Michigan in the 60s. It was even said that he joined in the takeover of the ROTC building, but I never got confirmation of that.

His classes were regularly oversubscribed and when students on the waitlist asked to get in, he would require them to write him a short essay explaining why they wanted to take the course. This dissuaded all but the truly interested and he let most of them in, as I recall.

Condolences to his family and close friends. I treasure my happy memories of time in his classes over thirty years ago.Report