Philosophical Genealogy

Line of descent according to primary thesis advisor or supervisor:

Fine > Mehlberg > Ajdukiewicz > Twardowski > Brentano > Trendelenburg >Reinhold > Kant > Knutzen > Wolff > Leibniz.

My closest philosophical "parents" belonged to an important Polish school that flourished prior to WW II, as outlined below.
Continuing down the genealogical tree
are twenty eight doctoral students, and then their descendants.

     Kazimierz Twardowski (1866-1938), the founder of the so-called Lvov-Warsaw school, studied in Vienna with F. Brentano. He developed an approach to philosophical problems that focused on language. He treated metaphysical concepts as pre-scientific in the sense that they could be explored by being incorporated in particular scientific disciplines.

     Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz (1890-1963) studied in Göttingen (philosophy with Husserl and mathematics with Hilbert). He followed Twardowski to emphasize the dependence of knowledge on language. He invented the field of categorical grammar, of current interest in formal linguistics. He also proposed "radical conventionalism", a doctrine elaborated in the 1930s. It holds that there exist conceptual systems which are not intertranslatable, and that scientific knowledge grows through the replacement of one such conceptual system by another. (Shades of Kuhn and Feyerabend.)

     My teacher, Henry Mehlberg (1904-1979), was a student of Ajdukiewicz. He also studied with Twardowski, and with M. Schlick in Vienna. Mehlberg wrote an important essay on the causal theory of time, essentially deriving the spacetime of special relativity from a single symmetric primitive, "is causally related to". In The Reach of Science (Toronto:1958) he defends a neo-positivist conception of the cognitive hegemony of science. In addition to works on philosophy of mathematics and physics, Mehlberg introduced a form of functionalism in philosophy of mind and also pioneered a treatment of truth and vagueness along lines that David Lewis later developed. (Here is a photograph from 1936-37 of Twardowski and students with – top and bottom left – both Henry Mehlberg and his wife, the mathematician Josephine Mehlberg, who worked for the Polish underground during WW II under the alias "Countess Janina Suchodolska".)