Adolf Grünbaum

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Adolf Grünbaum (born May 15, 1923, Cologne, Germany) is a philosopher of science and a critic of psychoanalysis. He is also well known as a critic of Karl Popper's philosophy of science.

He became the first permanent Andrew Mellon Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh in 1960. In that year, he also became the founding Director of that University's Center for Philosophy of Science, serving as Director until 1978. Currently, at the University of Pittsburgh, besides being the Andrew Mellon Professor of Philosophy of Science, he is Co-Chairman of its Center for Philosophy of Science (since 1978), Research Professor of Psychiatry (since 1979), and Primary Research Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science (since 2006).

Life and work

Grünbaum is Jewish.[1]

He received a B.A. with twofold High Distinction in Philosophy and in Mathematics from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut in 1943. He obtained both his M.S. in physics (1948) and his Ph.D in philosophy (1951) from Yale University.

He was a Selfridge Professor of Philosophy at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1956–1960), after rising through the ranks there, starting in 1950, becoming a full professor in 1955.

In the fall of 1960, Grünbaum left Lehigh University to join the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh. He and the colleagues he recruited then built world-class Philosophy and History and Philosophy of Science Departments at the university. Several of these colleagues had come from Yale University's Philosophy Department, starting in 1962. During this recruitment period the University of Pittsburgh appointed Nicholas Rescher, Wilfrid Sellars, Richard Gale, Nuel Belnap, Alan Ross Anderson, and Gerald Massey, among others.

Writer Jim Holt would characterize Grünbaum as, in the 1950s, "the foremost thinker about the subtleties of space and time," and as, by the 2000s, "arguably the greatest living philosopher of science." Holt portrays a rationalist Grünbaum who rejects any hint of mysteriousness in the cosmos (a "great rejector").[2]

In 2003, Grünbaum resigned from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, while retaining his lifetime tenured Mellon Chair and all of his other affiliations at that university.[3]

Offices and positions

His offices include presidencies of the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division) and the Philosophy of Science Association (two terms). He was the director of the Center for Philosophy of Science from 1960 to 1978.[4] He was the president of the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science (IUHPS) in 2004–2005 and then automatically became president of the IUHPS from 2006 to 2007. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


He has received the Senior U.S. Scientist Prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany, 1985), the Fregene Prize for science from the Italian Parliament (1998) and the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal for outstanding achievement from Yale University (1990). Also, in May 1995, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Konstanz in Germany and, in 2013, an honorary doctorate of philosophy from the University of Cologne in Germany. In 2013, he received the Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz from the Federal Republic of Germany.[5]


He is the author of nearly 400 articles and book chapters as well as books on space-time and the critique of psychoanalysis, which include:

  • Modern Science and Zeno's Paradoxes (first edition, 1967; second edition, 1968)[6]
  • Geometry and Chronometry in Philosophical Perspective (1968)[7]
  • Philosophical Problems of Space and Time (first edition, 1963; second edition, 1973)[8]
  • The Foundations of Psychoanalysis (1984)[9]
  • Validation in the Clinical Theory of Psychoanalysis: A Study in the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis (1993)[10]
  • Collected Works, Volume 1 (ed. by Thomas Kupka): Scientific Rationality, the Human Condition, and 20th Century Cosmologies, Oxford University Press 2013. Volume 2: The Philosophy of Space & Time (ed. by Thomas Kupka), is forthcoming 2016; Volume 3: Lectures on Psychoanalysis (ed. by Thomas Kupka & Leanne Longwill), is forthcoming 2016 as well (both also with OUP).


Three celebratory books ("Festschrift" volumes) dealing with his work have been published to date:

  • (1983) Physics, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis: Essays in Honor of Adolf Grünbaum. R.S. Cohen and L. Lauden (eds.). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: D. Reidel Publishing Co.
  • (1993) Philosophical Problems of the Internal and External Worlds: Essays on the Philosophy of Adolf Grünbaum. J. Earman, A.I. Janis, G.J. Massey, and N. Rescher (eds.). Pittsburgh, PA/Konstanz, Germany: University of Pittsburgh Press/University of Konstanz Press.
  • (2009) Philosophy of Religion, Physics, and Psychology: Essays in Honor of Adolf Grünbaum. Proceedings of the international conference, "The Adolf Grünbaum Symposium in Honor of the Works of Professor Adolf Grünbaum," Santa Barbara, CA, October 2002. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.


  2. Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story (New York: Norton, 2012)
  3. "Grünbaum resigns from philosophy department faculty". University of Pittsburgh. May 1, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Pitt Philosophy Professor Adolf Grünbaum Is Honored by German Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Pitt Chronicle. University of Pittsburgh. September 23, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. (1967) "Modern Science and Zeno's Paradoxes of Motion," in: R.M. Gale (ed.), The Philosophy of Time. A Collection of Essays. New York: Anchor Doubleday Books, pp. 422–494. (1968) Modern Science and Zeno's Paradoxes. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd.
  7. (1968) Geometry and Chronometry in Philosophical Perspective. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
  8. (1963) Philosophical Problems of Space and Time. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. A British edition was published by Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (1964). (1973) "Philosophical Problems of Space and Time," Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. XII. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: D. Reidel Publishing Co.
  9. (1984) The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. This book also appears in French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, and Polish translations.
  10. (1993) Validation in the Clinical Theory of Psychoanalysis, A Study in the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis. Madison, CT: International Universities Press.

External links