Personality of Ernst von AsterJune 26, 2021
If we visualize him as he appears to us and lives in us, we might think that we are dealing with an ancient Hellenic scientist and sage, as well as a philosophos and a sophos. In both, we find the same clarity of spirit and thought and objectivity of judgment, tireless striving towards pure recognition and knowing, and heartfelt friendliness in both the ancient teacher and this teacher of our day. All of these come together to form a tidy interior shape. In this way, every word and deed springs from the same soul root. The sharp jokes were infrequent, the time of cheerful meetings was long past; old age had made him quiet, now he liked solitude or quiet conversations, he chose a life in accordance with the ancient saying of “secret life”.
But the goodness of his nature, the essence of his being, had not changed at all. He was dismissed from his post with his honor intact when he was stripped of his professorship at the university, as his worldview did not coincide with the newly emerging worldview during major policy changes in his homeland: “There was no enemy among my colleagues there,” he said. He also liked to say that he was a man of peace, a man of synthes trying to reconcile oppositions from a higher vantage point. For this reason, he also respected and loved Leinbiz, who took it upon himself to unite the realm of the senses and the realm of thinking, and to try to find an eternal harmony that includes all that is God himself. Moreover, as von Aster has described to us in one of his last short essays, Leibniz was equally trying to bring people together in the political and religious quarrels of his time. Von Aster loved the quiet humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam, not the heroic but formidable Martin Luther.
The source of his ability to describe philosophers who were quite separate and even opposed to one another, such as a Democritus and an Aristotle, a Hobbes and a Spinoza, a Freud and a Brentano, was the adaptability and inflexibility of his intelligence. What they said always combined to form a living picture. When faced with the greater and more difficult task of showing the character of an entire epoch, or giving an overview of the teachings of logic, morality, and the theory of knowledge, the luminosity of his mind gave him the necessary strength to choose the main lines and to describe them clearly.
While Istanbul University students describe Aster; they mentioned that he never seemed to be a teacher with limited knowledge. They told that they approached him with the confidence of knowing that whatever they asked him, they would definitely get an answer. In this respect, he was a teacher who gained the full confidence of his students. There are teachers who know a lot but give little to their students. On the other hand, the student values the teacher more, who gives his knowledge to him skillfully, even though he knows little. Professor von Aster was also a rare teacher in this respect. Almost always a teacher is loved and admired by more or less many, but only a few, students. Either his character or the subject of the lecture he teaches or for other reasons, he definitely drives some of his students away from him. However, Aster was a teacher whom every student felt close to and loved, even though he stayed away from his students more than almost any other teacher. Despite the terrible defeat of his homeland Germany in the war, if he taught his lessons a little more reluctantly, if he got a little irritable in his seminars, or if he didn’t come one day, of course, he would be right, but he remained the same Aster every time he entered his room.