Aussergewöhnlich Kurt Gödel *


A long time ago I read Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter and since then became a fan of this sensitive and gifted mathematician. I highly recommend the book and since we are closing down, I figured I get a few of my favorites in before then.

Welcome to Princeton University.

Kurt Friedrich Gödel (in English the umlaut becomes oe) was born April 28, 1906 in Brno Czech Republic to a Rudolf August Godel a businessman and Roman Catholic and a Protestant mother Marianne a well-educated woman but both ethnic Germans. Raised Protestant he was himself was a theistic Christian — belief in a personal Jesus without the sectarian divisions. His childhood was marred by one great event when he was around 4 and contracted rheumatic fever leaving his heart muscle permanently damaged. Older pictures of Herr Doktor Goedel (pronounced Ger-duhl) show a shrunken man with large looming eyes probably because of his heavy lenses.

Dr Gomperz, an Austrian philosopher and student of S. Freud.

A excellent student throughout primary school and later the Gymnasium, Goedel excelling especially in mathematics, languages and religion. Upon his graduation from the Gymnasium in Brno he enrolled in the University of Vienna, attending lectures on physics, his initial field of interest, philosophy by Heinrich Gomperz, and mathematics. by Hans Hahn.

The move to Maths

It was the later teacher that encouraged the change from physics to mathematics. His dissertation was the completeness theorem for first order logic (Gödel 1929) and joined the Vienna First Circle headed by Moritz Schlick ( a student of the Swiss physicist Max Planck — Godel was incredibly well connected). The group was known as “logical positivists,” after Herbert Feigl (then at University of Chicago) and Albert Blumberg 1931 paper “Logical positivism: A new movement in European philosophy”. Though Gödel was not a logical positivist, he found their companionship and discussions formative (Mercury in the 4th house).

The Tans-Siberian Railway circles Lake Baikal, Russia in the summertime.

Things turned sour when Hitler came to town. First his adviser Hans Hahn was killed for being a Jew and then Moritz Schlick was assassinated by an ex-student, same reason. Gödel was shattered that mathematicians could be considered an enemy of the state and had a nervous breakdown. While he received the  “Dozentur neuer Ordnung,” (professor for the New Order) granted to candidates after they had been blood test for racial purity, and then tested in their field of study, he found the environment intolerable and was horrified that he had been classified as an “Aryan.”

Depressed that the Nazis were destroying what many considered a “second Athens” the intellectual capital of Europe — Vienna, —  he worried too that leaving his intellectual homeland he would spend his life in barren wasteland devoid of liked minded scholars. It was that  they were Germans, his own people, that plagued him and  beyond even his ken of how this could have happened.

His wife Adele, a Russian ballerina, who had gotten him out of prison proving he was neither a homosexual nor a Jew, got them out of Vienna into the relative safety of Russia. It was a long (6380 miles) and arduous route via the Trans Siberian Railroad. Nonetheless, from Vladivostok,they picked up the Shanghai train and then a boat to San Francisco, nearly 10,000 miles from their Viennese start.

Welcome to America

Einstein who knew they were coming from messages from Freud in Vienna who himself was also in flight having paid a ransom to the Nazis for safe passage to London, telegraphed the pair he had secured Godel a post at the University; Godel believed it a hoax. Nonetheless, Kurt and Adele took buses and trains across America before ending up at a forlorn train station at Princeton Junction. There much to Gödel ‘s surprise they were met by their benefactor; stunned at seeing Einstein he colllapsed in his arms and mumbled, Danke Gott — they were safe.

Godel and Einstein at Princeton. Gödel is shown opening his letter of American citizenship. Einstein helped maneuver that too, coaching him for the interview, interrupting when he thought he could be misinterpreted or talked too much for Gödel tended to portray his personal history in the worst personal light — he never got over his guilt of first being an “Aryan” and second surviving the ordeal.

(The intercepted Vertex in Cancer in the 7th house a person’s relationship with others). With his first house intercepted as well, he suffered from a lack of confidence and self-compassion. Luckily for him, his sixth house gives him plenty of support and loyal friends who knew otherwise.
Godel has a preponderance in Cancer in the 7th but alas it is intercepted so instead we turn towards the 6th House and Gemini the sign of logic. His Midheaven is at 29 Virgo 7 [HS] the sheer honesty and straightforwardness is like Cattle Grazing upon the Prairie. It keyword is Reliability and his goal in life is be dependable and consistent with people and ideas. Godel has one opposition from Uranus in the 1st house to the Moon (probably his Mother) in the 7th. The T-square at Mercury in Aries is highlights his lifelong correspondence to her and his fellow academicians.

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3 thoughts on “Aussergewöhnlich Kurt Gödel *”

  1. He was an extraordinary man who eventually starved himself to death. His incompleteness theorem changed the course of mathematics . Godel was able to prove that within a given mathematics everything cannot be proved.
    This worried Steven Hawking who wrote an article called ‘The End of Physics’ available on the net but difficult to follow.

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    1. Thank you for the comment from Dr. Hawking. The problem with physics is there is no place for the individual. Everything is a large collective of physics from all over the world and to make sure that no one country gets credit, even the lead physicists are buried in alphabetical order. This obviously does nothing for anyone’s career. Best Regards

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