Erica Sehl: A brief Biography from 1902-1934

By Raivis Bičevskis (University of Latvia)

Erica Sehl was born on 8 January, 1902, into the family of the manufacturer Woldemar Sehl. In April 1918 she finished gymnasium (grammar school) in Saint Petersburg as an external student, and in June 1921 she completed classical gymnasium in Riga. In the fall of 1921, Sehl commenced her studies at the Herder Institute in Riga (Herder Institut in Riga). After finishing the spring semester of 1922 in Riga, she moved to Freiburg im Breisgau on the advice of Kurt Stavenhagen, and began studying at the University of Freiburg in October of that year, where she took courses with Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. Erica Sehl LebenslaufSehl remained in Freiburg for WS 1922/1923 and SS 1923, transferred to Munich for WS 1923/1924 and SS 1924 (at which time she studied with Alexander Pfänder), and returned to Freiburg for WS 1924/1925. She continued taking courses off and on in Freiburg until WS 1927/28. In the summer of 1930, Sehl transferred to the University of Königsberg, where she obtained her doctoral degree (Dr.phil.) under the supervision of Heinz Heimsoeth with her dissertation Kritische Studien zu Locke’s Erkenntnistheorie. Her dissertation was dedicated to Husserl.

From SS 1931 until the winter of 1933, Sehl continued her studies at the University of Vienna and the Herder Institute in Riga. In preparation to become a high school teacher, Sehl finished courses in physics, mathematics and religion in German Institute for Pedagogy in the winter of 1932. Earlier that year she had already become a lecturer in Riga, where she taught Latin and the history of Ancient Greek literature. In 1933 she obtained a candidate degree in theology. In the spring of 1934, she began work as Stavenhagen’s assistant at the Herder Institute, and in August 1934 she submitted her habilitation thesis Historisch-kritische Studien zur Entstehung des Empfindungsproblems. At the end of October that same year, Sehl applied for a position as Privatdozentin at the Herder Institute in Riga.

Evading the ordinary protocol of the Herder Institute whereby a committee of three experts from the Institute is needed for the habilitation, Stavenhagen instead sends Sehl’s work to two examiners in Germany: Heidegger and Pfänder. In a letter addressed to the Dean of the Institute’s Faculty of Philosophy, W. Wulfius, dated 12 December, 1934, Stavenhagen indicates that it is impossible to find adequate experts at the Institute to evaluate Sehl’s work. He therefore proposes to invite two “external” examiners (Pfänder and Heidegger), with himself serving as the third examiner.

Alexandre Kojève’s report on Koyré’s Dissertation Defence

Previously, the NASEP blog posted a translation of Alexandre Kojève’s report on Alexandre Koyré’s dissertation defence. That translation has since been edited and refined by the members of our working group.

A Kojeve
Alexandre Kojève

Kojève began his university career in Germany in 1920, studying first in Heidelberg and then in Berlin. It was in Berlin that he first met Alexandre Koyré, though not through philosophy. At the time, Kojève was dating Cecile Shoutak – who had recently divorced Koyré’s brother.  To the surprise of both, the two became fast friends. Kojève returned to Heidelberg in 1924 to finish his dissertation, Die religiöse Philosophie Wladimir Solowjews, under the supervision of Karl Jaspers.

Original publication of Kojève’s report in Eurasia 16 (1929), c.8

In 1926, Kojève moved to Paris and from 1927 to 1938 attended Koyré’s lectures at the École pratique des hautes études. His early years in Paris were formative, and through Koyré he met Emmanuel Levinas and was introduced to Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time. He also wrote a number of articles for Koyré’s Recherches philosophiques and Boris Jakovenko’s Der russische Gedanke.

Koyré had arrived in Paris in 1912, and after the First World War, resumed his studies at the Sorbonne while teaching as a temporary lecturer at the EPHE.

Koyre Russie XIX Avant-Propos
‘Foreword’ from La philosophie et le problème national en Russie au début du XIXe siècle.

In completing his doctoral degree, Koyré produced two dissertations: La philosophie de Jacob Boehme, and La philosophie et le problème national en Russie au début du XIXe siècle.

The defence coincided with Husserl’s famous Paris Lectures. Koyré’s former Göttingen teacher attended the defence as a special guest.

Here you will find the revised English translation of Kojève’s report.

S.L. Frank’s Preface to Husserl’s Prolegomena

We are happy to share with you the first collaborative effort of Рустик.

SL FrankIn late 1909, the first volume of Husserl’s Logical Investigations, the “Prolegomena to Pure Logic,” was published in Russian translation. Appended to the translation of E.A. Berstein was a short preface by the editor, Semyon L. Frank.

Attached are copies of the first English translation of Frank’s “Preface” along with a copy of the original for reference.