Germancultural critic and philosopher. Born in Karlsruhe, he studied philosophy at the University of Munich, and completed a PhD at the University of Hamburg in 1975. He came into prominence with the publication of Kritik der zynischen Vernunft (1983), translated as The Critique of Cynical Reason (1987), which was a surprise bestseller, retailing over 40,000 copies in just a few months (for an academic book, this is virtually unheard of). His thesis, buried beneath five hundred odd pages about Weimar Germany, is that we have reached the end of the period in which understanding or Enlightenment can prompt social action. This rather provocative idea struck a chord with academics, social critics, and activists alike, who similarly were discouraged by the failure of various social change projects. Since then he has published prolifically on a wide range of subjects. His main work, though, has been his trilogy Sphären (Spheres) (1998–2004), which tries to present a kind of unified field theory of the co-existence of humans with all other things on the planet. In 2002 he became co-host of the German cultural affairs TV programme Das Philosophische Quartett.
Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.