Harald Ofstad

Harald Frithjof Seiersted Ofstad (13 October 1920 5 October 1994) was a Norwegian moral philosopher. He was Professor in Applied Philosophy at Stockholm University for more than 30 years.

Born in Bergen, the youngest son of a high-ranking police officer, Ofstad passed the examen artium in 1939 and completed a degree in law in 1945 before changing to philosophy, which he studied under Arne Næss; he was part of the "Bergen group"[1] and one of the most prominent exponents of Næss' "empirical semantics" approach.[2] He became a cand. mag. in philosophy in 1946, studied in the United States at Yale University and other institutions as a Rockefeller Fellow in 194749, and was a University Fellow at the University of Oslo in 194954.[1] He was appointed to a professorship in philosophy at the University of Bergen in 1954, but after only one year took a position as professor of applied philosophy at Stockholm University, where he remained until his retirement in 1987. He then returned to Bergen. He died in Oslo in 1994.

He married Erna Magnussen, a historian of literature, in 1945, and published a collection of essays with her in 1961.[1]

Ofstad's interest in philosophy arose out of his encounter with Nazism during World War II, when Norway was occupied by Nazi Germany. He interpreted Nazism as a manifestation of the human tendency to feel contempt for weakness, a viewpoint which he developed in his 1971 book Vår forakt for svakhet (Our Contempt for Weakness).[1][3][4] Like many of his generation, influenced by American social scientists and such thinkers as Theodor W. Adorno, he sought the origins of authoritarianism and nationalism.[1] He was one of the most cited Norwegian moral philosophers and participated actively in the public debate in both Norway and Sweden; in 1978 he forcefully disagreed with Thorkild Hansen over the latter's book Processen mod Hamsun in a debate televised on NRK.[1]


Selected publications


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Christopher Hals Gylseth. "Harald Ofstad: utdypning". Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  2. Jon Elster (1968), "L'état actuel des études philosophiques en Norvège", Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Étranger (in French), 158, pp. 48789, JSTOR 41090500.
  3. Torbjörn Tännsjö (2000), Torbjörn Tännsjö; Claudio Tamburrini, eds., "Is it Fascistoid to Admire Sports Heroes?", Values in Sport: Elitism, Nationalism, Gender Equality, and the Scientific Manufacture of Winners, London/New York: Spon, p. 12, ISBN 9780203184691.
  4. Described as "thought-provoking" and applied to ageism in Lars Tornstam (2005). Gerotranscendence: A Developmental Theory of Positive Aging. New York: Springer. p. 12. ISBN 9780826131348.
  5. Described before its publication as "an exhaustive critical study" in Christian Bay (1958). The Structure of Freedom. Stanford, California: Stanford University. p. 22 (note 50). OCLC 498394.
  6. D. J. O'Connor (October 1964), "Review: An Inquiry into the Freedom of Decision by Harald Ofstad", The Philosophical Quarterly, 14 (57), pp. 37980, JSTOR 2217784.

External links

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