Bernard Bolzano (1781-1850) is increasingly recognized as one of the greatest nineteenth-century philosophers. A philosopher and mathematician of rare talent, he made ground-breaking contributions to logic, the foundations and philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion. Many of the larger features of later analytic philosophy (but also many of the details) first appear in his work: for example, the separation of logic from psychology, his sophisticated understanding of mathematical proof, his definition of logical consequence, his work on the semantics of natural kind terms, or his anticipations of Cantor's set theory, to name but a few. To his contemporaries, however, he was best known as an intelligent and determined advocate for reform of Church and State.
Based in large part on a carefully argued utilitarian practical philosophy, he developed a program for the non-violent reform of the authoritarian institutions of the Hapsburg Empire, a program which he himself helped to set in motion through his teaching and other activities. Rarely has a philosopher had such a great impact on the political culture of his homeland. Persecuted in his lifetime by secular and ecclesiastical authorities, long ignored or misunderstood by philosophers, Bolzano's reputation has nevertheless steadily increased over the past century and a half. Much discussed and respected in Central Europe for over a century, he is finally beginning to receive the recognition he deserves in the English-speaking world. This book provides a comprehensive and detailed critical introduction to Bolzano, covering both his life and works.
About the authors
Paul Rusnock is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa. The author of Bolzano's Philosophy and the Emergence of Modern Mathematics (2000), he has published extensively on Bolzano and, with Rolf George, has translated a number of Bolzano's writings into English.
Jan Sebestik is Emeritus Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. The author of Logique et mathematique chez Bernard Bolzano (1992), he has published a number of articles on Bolzano and other philosophers and, with Carole Maigne, Antonia Soulez, and others, has translated several of Bolzano's works into French.