Reinhard Siegmund-Schultze, Kristiansand, Norwegen
Examining the biography of the Austrian-German-Jewish-American engineer,
applied mathematician, positivist philosopher and Rilke-specialist, Richard von
Mises (1883-1953), promises a deepened understanding of fundamental processes of
interaction of science and society in the first part of the 20th century. The
talk will try to shed some light on the controversial and multi-layered
personality of von Mises against the backdrop of incisive biographical and
Being personally ``aristocratic'', ambitious and competitive, always critical of the lowering of intellectual standards and given to sharp worded polemics, uprooted early from his native Austria, a repeated emigré to Germany, Turkey and the United States, forced to teach in four different languages during the course of his career, principally opposed to organized political or philosophical activity, von Mises bore all traits of marked individualism in an age of ideology, war and scientific revolution.
But at the same time, von Mises strove for a new synthesis of mathematics and engineering, sought identity by temporarily resorting to German-Austrian nationalism, and searched for the connectibility (``Verbindbarkeit'') of scientific and artistic performances, thereby being even more ``universal'' than the ``Unity of Science Movement'' of similar-minded neopositivist philosophers, who did not equal him in specific scientific competence.