Person: Reichenbach, Hans
Hans Reichenbach was a German philosopher of science and proponent of logical empiricism.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Both Bruno and Selma Reichenbach were members of the Reformed Church but Bruno's parents were Jewish.
- Hans attended primary and secondary schools in Hamburg.
- Reichenbach was also active in the universities outside his immediate academic studies.
- The thesis had a mathematical part and a philosophy part, and Reichenbach went to several universities trying to find someone to accept the thesis.
- The topic intrigued Reichenbach and he launched himself into undertaking research on its philosophical aspects.
- Research, however, was only a part-time job for Reichenbach at this time for he was employed full-time in the radio industry.
- Appointed to the chair in the philosophy of physics at the University of Berlin in 1926 Reichenbach took a very different approach to teaching than that used throughout the German system at that time.
- Carl Gustav Hempel, Richard von Mises, David Hilbert and Kurt Grelling all became members of the Berlin Circle and Reichenbach took on another major role in 1930 when, together with Carnap, he took on the editorship of the journal Erkenntnis (Knowledge).
- During these years in Berlin, Reichenbach published further important works on the problems of space and time associated with the new physics.
- Reichenbach became well-known to a wide range of German people at this time for he broadcast the lectures which made up Atom und kosmos Ⓣ(Atom and cosmos; the world of modern physics) on German state radio.
- When Hitler came to power in 1933 Reichenbach realised immediately that he would be in trouble.
- In many ways Reichenbach was isolated in his new position, certainly the contrast with Berlin where he had been the centre of a flourishing school must have been striking.
- Reichenbach attempted to define probability as the limit of a frequency but many criticised this approach.
- We have seen that Reichenbach wrote on induction, probability and the philosophy of science.
- Reichenbach was working on two books at the time of his death: Nomological statements and admissible operations (1954), and The direction of time (1956).
- These were published posthumously thanks to the efforts of his wife, Dr Maria Reichenbach.
- In this fascinating study of time, Reichenbach distinguishes between the order of time and the direction of time.
- There is a large collection of letters, lecture notes, and manuscript material in "The Hans Reichenbach Collection" at the University of Pittsburgh.
Born 26 September 1891, Hamburg, Germany. Died 9 April 1953, Los Angeles, California, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive