The Greatest Man In the World. The life and ethics of Albert Schweitzer in the eyes of students pursuing medical and legal degrees


Albert Schweitzer
medical education
legal education

How to Cite

Cybulski M, Strzelecki W, Chmielowski P, Stelcer B, Bilski B, Grzymisławska-Cybulska M. The Greatest Man In the World. The life and ethics of Albert Schweitzer in the eyes of students pursuing medical and legal degrees. JMS [Internet]. 2018Jul.20 [cited 2020Jul.7];87(1):18-23. Available from:


Introduction. Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) was an Alsatian doctor, philosopher-ethicist, theologist, lutheran pastor and musician-organ player and musicologist. In 1913 he started his medical practice in Lambaréné (Gabon) in which he built from scratch his greatest legacy – The Albert Schweitzer Hospital. Due to an involvement of doctors and nursing staff from all over the world this hospital has been functioning and developing to this day. In 1952 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his engagement into the promotion of peace, disarmament and the prevention of imperial arms race. Currently, his spiritual and scientific legacy constitutes an element of biophilic angle in academic curricula at all levels of education also in medical sciences mainly in the United States and Western Europe.
Material and Methods. The research is based on a questionnaire evaluating the level of awareness of Albert Schweitzer’s person, his legacy and concepts. The survey was completed by 53 law students of the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poznan and 435 medical studies students of the University of Medical Sciences in Poznań. The respondents did the following various studies: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, obstetrics, paramedicine, dietetics, optometry, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Results. Only 5.5% (n27) of the students from both Universities know about Albert Schweitzer and his works. Albert Schweitzer is not perceived as a medical doctor, entrepreneur-philanthropist, lutheran pastor, political activist, musician, musicologist and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Not many people have heard about the Reverence for Life (19%, n93), however, they recognise Albert Schweitzer’s connection to philosophy and ethics.
Conclusions. Despite the Albert Schweitzer’s presence in the Polish bioethical debate and his popularity in the 60s to the 80s, today he becomes obsolete. Even at the university level education in the areas of science in which morality and ethics provide basic professional principles – an unaided recall of his name and works among young people is rare.


Götting G. Spotkanie z Albertem Schweitzerem. Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy PAX; 1961.

Schweitzer A. Jan Sebastian Bach. Biografia. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo W.A.B.; 2009.

Schweitzer A. Z mojego życia... Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy PAX; 1981.

Lazari-Pawłowska I. Myśli i ludzie. Schweitzer. Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna; 1976.

Gaertner H, Stelcer B, Wissel E. Albert Schweitzer. Stulecie szpitala w Lambaréné (Gabon), Archiwum Historii i Filozofii Medycyny. 2013;76(1):46–50.

Schweitzer A. Out of my Life and Thought, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1998.

Cavendish R. Albert Schweitzer’s Nobel Prize. October 30th, 1953. History Today. 2003;53(10):57.

Abrel R. The Educational Legacy of Albert Schweitzer. Leadership in our time. Vital Speeches of the Day. 1980;46(13):391–395.

Gaertner H. Albert Schweitzer. Nauka dla wszystkich. 1978;283:3–33.

Gaertner H. Albert Schweitzer. Życie, myśl i dzieło, Kraków: Wydawnictwo WAM; 2007.

Gotting G. Przedmowa. In: Schweitzer A. Życie, Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy PAX; 1974: 5–6.

Bähr HW. Albert Schweitzer, Sein Denken und sein Weg. Tübingen: J.C.B Mohr (Paul Siebeck); 1962.

Götting G. Albert Schweitzer, Beiträge zu Leben und Werk. Berlin: Berlin Union-Verlag; 1966.

Google search, phrases: „Albert Schweitzer School", „Albert Schweitzer Ecole”, „Albert Schweitzer Schule”, date: 20.02.2017.

Skowronek A. Albert Schweitzer jako teolog. In: Albert Schweitzer. Życie i dzieło. Materiały z międzynarodowej sesji w Krakowie w dn. 21–26.10.1985, Warszawa: Ośrodek Chrześcijańskiej Myśli Społecznej AUGUSTINUM; 1986: 39–49.

Strzelecki W. Kryzys kultury według Alberta Schweitzera. In: Pawlak P, Strzelecki W, da Costa GJM, editors. Kultura-media-etyka. Media w perspektywie etycznej i kulturowej w kontekście rewolucji teleinformatycznej, Poznań: Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk; 2013: 117–26.

Piątek Z. Etyka szacunku dla życia Alberta Schweitzera a ekofilozofia. Problemy ekorozwoju. 2008;3(2):51–61.

Schweitzer A. Życie, Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy PAX; 1974.

Łobocki M. Altruizm i wychowanie, Lublin: Wydawnictwo Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej; 2004.

Strzelecki W, Pawlak P. Albert Schweitzer – konteksty społeczno-kulturowe. In Stelcer B, Strzelecki W, editors. Humanizm w medycynie, Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UMP; 2017: 106–18.

Fuller JM. Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965): Organist, Theologian, Nobel Laureate. In: Cooper DKC, editor. Doctors of Another Calling. Physicians Who Are Known Bestin Fields Other than Medicine, Newark: University of Delaware Press; 2014: 275–84.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...