Who is Gustav Bergmann?

Who is Gustav Bergmann?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

Gustav Bergmann (May 4, 1906 to April 21, 1987) was an Austrian philosopher and mathematician. He was born in Vienna, Austria, to a merchant father named Fritz Bergmann and Therese Pollack.

Bergmann studied philosophy at the University of Vienna in 1928, while he studied mathematics as a minor. In this process, he was invited to join the famous Vienna Circle philosophers. These philosophers consisted of scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians and adopted what they generally called logical positivism.

Gustav Bergmann was particularly influenced by the mathematical logician Kurt Gödel, one of the youngest members of the Vienna Circle philosophers, as well as Moritz Schlick, Friedrich Waismann, and Rudolf Carnap.

Related topic: Philosophers of the Vienna Circle

Related topic: Logical positivism

Bergmann taught mathematics at the Neubau-Realschule in Vienna from 1929 to 1930, and the following year joined his thesis director, Walther Mayer, to assist the German physicist Albert Einstein in his studies in Berlin.

Desperate for the Jews in academia, Bergmann earned a doctorate in law at the University of Vienna in 1935 and began working as an intern at a law firm. With the financial support of Otto Neurath, a member of the Vienna Circle, he moved to the United States in the fall of 1938 with his first wife, Anna Golwig, whom he married in 1927 and gave birth to their only child.

Gustav Bergmann

After a few months as an actuary in New York, Gustav Bergmann went to work at the University of Iowa for the rest of his career, with a letter of recommendation from Einstein and the help of Herbert Feigl, a member of the Vienna Circle, who left Vienna in the early 1930s. Bergmann got a job as an assistant to psychologist Kurt Lewin at the Iowa Child Welfare Research Institute in 1939. Bergmann became an assistant professor in Iowa’s Department of Philosophy in 1940 and began working in the Department of Psychology in 1943. That same year, he broke up with his first wife and married Leola Nelson. Gustav Bergmann became an American citizen in 1944.

Nearly all of Bergmann’s work before he immigrated to the United States was in mathematics and was mainly on topology. His reputation in philosophy was achieved in the 1940s and early 1950s with numerous articles on the philosophy of psychology and philosophy of physics, and logic and probability. Bergmann’s ideas were and remained largely logical positivism.

During his early years in Iowa, Bergmann also collaborated with psychologist Kenneth Spence, who was a student of Clark Hull. Bergmann spent two months at Yale with Hull in the summer of 1939. This collaboration, which resulted in several important articles in the “Philosophy of Science” and “Psychological Review” journals, was recognized as the most productive among many nationwide collaborations; for this alliance between logical positivism in philosophy and behaviorism in psychology was an important part of the intellectual culture of its time. Bergmann became a professor of philosophy and psychology in 1950.

In the late 1940s Gustav Bergmann began the study of metaphysics, philosophy of logic, and philosophy of mind, which would become his most important works. A series of articles published in 1954 as “The Metaphysics of Logical Positivism” resulted in his personal intellectual dissociation from other members of the Vienna Circle. Bergmann spoke of not only that, in contrast to positivist orthodoxy, traditional metaphysics makes sense if reformed correctly, but that logical positivism itself contains an implicit metaphysics.

Bergmann adopted the “ideal language” method of philosophizing, rejecting what many of his colleagues in the logical positivist movement saw as limited scientism. This method, of which Bergmann remains the best-known practitioner, in principle envisioned the reformulation of all meaningful sentences of natural language into a particular kind of artificial language that allows for precision and independence from context not found in natural languages. With this ideal language (a language that will never actually be spoken and only written in fragments) the philosopher will be able to formulate traditional philosophical problems clearly and in principle solve them definitively.

Although the concept of an artificial language for the solution of philosophical problems originates from the German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Bergmann’s form derives from the work of the most important philosophers of the century, Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Although in his early years Gustav Bergmann was “the most sophisticated and plausible person of the positivists” as characterized by Robert Turnbull, in the 1950s Bergmann’s work eventually led him, in the words of another distinguished philosopher, Hector-Neri, to “the greatest of recent years”. proceeded in the directions that would make the “ontology”.

For Bergmann, ontology means the categories of simple components of reality, the direct experience of reality and the related dialectical flux.