Who Was Albert Schweitzer?
Physician. Philosopher. Humanitarian.
Nobel Prize Winner Albert Schweitzer was born in 1875 in Kaysersberg, Alsace — then part of the German Empire. The son of a pastor, he developed progressive interpretations of the Christian tradition and, at the age of 30, determined that he should commit the rest of his life to serving others.
Schweitzer trained as a medical doctor and built a hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon, where he attended to the medical needs of the underserved population in the Central African country. During this time, he developed his famous philosophy of Reverence for Life — the idea that all life is worthy of our awe and respect and protection of life should inform and motivate our actions. For his humanitarian efforts and commitment to social, economic and political development, Schweitzer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.
Schweitzer also became a key figure in a growing environmental movement that exposed the harm caused to humans and the biosphere by atmospheric nuclear testing. His historic 1954 Nobel lecture, titled “The Problem of Peace,” emphasized the evils of modern warfare, the tensions of nationalism and rival claims to land, and the threat posed to lasting peace by the nuclear age.
Schweitzer continued to work tirelessly to promote a life-affirming society until his death in 1965, at the age of 90. His name and legacy continue to live on around the world. A prolific writer during his lifetime, Schweitzer’s most notable published works include: The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906), On the Edge of the Primeval Forest (1922), The Philosophy of Civilization, Parts I & II (1923), Memoirs of Childhood and Youth (1924) and Out of My Life and Thought (1931).