Löwith was born in Munich. Though he was himself Protestant, his family was of Jewish descent and he, therefore, had to emigrate Germany in 1934 because of the National Socialist regime. He went to Italy and in 1936 he went to Japan (Tohoku University). But because of the alliance between the Third Reich and Japan he had to leave Japan in 1941 and went to the USA. From 1941 to 1952, he taught at the Hartford Theological Seminary and the New School for Social Research. In 1952 he returned to Germany to teach as Professor of Philosophy at Heidelberg, where he died.
He is probably most known for his two books From Hegel to Nietzsche, which describes the decline of German classical philosophy, and Meaning in History, which discusses the problematic relationship between theology and history. Löwith's argument in Meaning in History is that the western view of history is confused by the relationship between Christian faith and the modern view, which is neither Christian nor pagan. Löwith describes this relationship through famous western philosophers and historians, including Burckhardt, Marx, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Voltaire, Vico, Bossuet, Augustine and Orosius. The modern historical consciousness is, according to Löwith, derived from Christianity. But, Christians are not a historical people, as their view of the world is based on faith. This explains the tendency in history (and philosophy) to an eschatological view of human progress.
He was an important witness in 1936 to Heidegger's continuing allegiance to National Socialism.