Bernard Bolzano: His Life and Work

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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.