Karsten Harries was born in 1937 in Jena, Germany and trained at Yale University, where he received his Ph. D. in 1962 and taught since 1961, interrupted by two years as an assistant professor at the University of Texas in Austin (1963-65) and several years in Germany, twice as a visiting professor at the University of Bonn. In 2017 he retired as the Howard H. Newman Professor of Philosophy. In 2007 Yale University’s School of Architecture, in recognition of his work in this area, awarded him the degree of Master of Environmental Design. In 2015 University College Dublin awarded him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature. On the occasion of his 70th birthday he was honored with a Festschrift, Himmel und Erde Heaven and Earth, on the occasion of his 80th with the Festschrift Ethics in Architecture.
He has published and lectured widely on Heidegger, early modern philosophy, and the philosophy of art and architecture. He is the author of more than 200 articles and reviews and of ten books: The Meaning of Modern Art (1968, translated into Japanese, Korean, and Czech), The Bavarian Rococo Church: Between Faith and Aestheticism (1983), The Broken Frame: Three Lectures (1990), The Ethical Function of Architecture (1997, translated into Chinese and Czech), winner of the American Institute of Architects 8th Annual International Architecture Book Award for Criticism, Infinity and Perspective (2001, translated into Chinese), Art Matters: A Critical Commentary on Heidegger’s The Origin of the Work of Art (2009), Die bayerische Rokokirche: Das Irrationale und das Sakrale (2009), a reworking of The Bavarian Rococo Church, Between Nihilism and Faith: A Commentary on Either/Or (2010)., and Wahrheit: Die Architektur der Welt (2012). With Christoph Jamme he has edited Martin Heidegger: Kunst, Politik, Technik (1992), which appeared in an English version as Martin Heidegger: Politics, Art, and Technology (1994).
In recent years much of his teaching and writing has been directed to architects. As an intersection of art and technology, architecture has given him the possibility of exploring very concretely what today most interests him: the question of the legitimacy and limits of that objectifying reason that presides over our science and technology.