Philosophy Bernard Bolzano
by
Sandra Lapointe
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 May 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0262

Introduction

Bernard Bolzano’s (b. 1781–d. 1848) originality and numerous anticipatory insights have deserved him a unique position in the history of philosophy. While scholarship trudged for more than a hundred years after his death, in the second half of the 20th century, Bolzano emerged at once as the most significant logician between Leibniz and Frege, one of Kant’s most scrupulous and formidable critics, and what may have been one of the greatest single influences on Brentano’s students, in particular Twardowski and Husserl, beside Brentano himself. For a variety of reasons—e.g. methodological and thematic proximity—analytic philosophers have found in Bolzano a congenial interlocutor. As a result, most commentaries and discussions tend to focus on aspects of Bolzano’s views on logic and its philosophy, in particular his treatment of questions relating to analyticity, deducibility, and grounding in his opus magnum, the Theory of Science (1837). But the wealth of ideas we find throughout his work is far from exhausted. Because Bolzano research is young, there still subsist substantial gaps in the literature. More importantly, perhaps, there is ample space for reassessments of standard interpretations. The present bibliography is designed so as to both provide interested researchers and prospective scholars with a sense of those issues that constitute the poles of current discussions and leave room for ulterior updates.

Collected Works

We owe the rediscovery of Bolzano’s work in great part to the creation of a critical edition of Bolzano’s collected works at the end of the 1960s, more than a century after Bolzano’s death. Bolzano’s philosophical interests were broad and varied, ranging from logic, mathematics, and their philosophy to the philosophy of religion and political philosophy. While he published only a fraction of what he wrote, and mostly anonymously, his literary accomplishment was monumental. The project of a complete edition of Bolzano’s writings in Winter, et al. 1969 is ongoing. It includes, in addition to new critical editions of the published work, Bolzano’s unfinished foundation of mathematics, a number of texts taken from the “Exhortations” he pronounced throughout his career, the posthumous manuscripts (including ethical, mathematical, theological, aesthetic, and social-philosophical writings), the mathematical and philosophical journals, as well as the correspondence. When it is complete, it will include seventy-five volumes, most of which come in two, three, or four tomes, totalizing some 130 books.

  • Winter, Eduard, Jan Berg, Friedrich Kambartel, Jaromír Louzil, Edgar Morscher, and Bob van Rootselaar, eds. Bernard Bolzano: Gesamtausgabe. Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog, 1969.

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    The complete edition of Bolzano’s work is divided in four parts: an introductory section containing, among other things, updated bibliographies, followed by three series: 1) the published work; 2) the posthumous work; and 3) the correspondence. A full description of the content of the edition is available online.

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