Georg Henrik von Wright
Humanist of the day

Georg Henrik von Wright

In a letter to the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Georg Henrik von Wright tells his friend how he has found the tune which will take him into the realm of thought. His fear however is that he’ll never find a way through it. Nonetheless the search resulted in an outstanding career. He became one of the most notable representatives of the logical-analytical school of philosophy, but also one of the leading twentieth-century humanists and intellectuals in the Nordic region.

Georg Henrik von Wright

Born June 14, 1916, Helsinki. Died June 16, 2003, Helsinki.

Master of Arts (Philosophy) 1937, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1941, Doctor of Philosophy, 1953, University of Helsinki
Master of Arts, University of Cambridge, 1948

Chancellor, Åbo Akademi, 1969–1977
Member, Academy of Finland, 1961–1986, President, 1968–1970
Professor at Large, Cornell University, 1965–1977
Professor of Philosophy, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, 1948–1951
(Acting) Professor of Philosophy, Åbo Akademi, 1946–1948
(Swedish-speaking) Professor of Philosophy, University of Helsinki (appointed 1946), 1943–1961
Docent of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, 1943

Several spells as acting professor (Practical and Theoretical Philosophy)
Visiting professor at Cornell University, UCLA in Los Angeles, University of Pittsburgh, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Leipzig University

Research interests:
Philosophical logic, theory of value and ethics, cultural philosophy, philosophy of norms, philosophy of the humanities and philosophy of mind.

Posthumous publication of Wittgenstein’s works, and related research

Awards and honours
Critical European Prize, 2002
Tage Danielsson prize, 1998
Selma Lagerlöf literary prize, 1993
First Nordic philosopher to be included in The Library of Living Philosophers series, 1989
Karl Emil Tollander prize, 1987
Swedish Academy’s grand prize, 1986
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Research award, 1986
Swedish Cultural Foundation’s culture prize, 1982
Wihuri International Prize, 1976

Photo:Helsingin yliopistomuseo
Written by Bernt Österman (ed. Tomas Sjöblom)
Translated by John Calton

Georg Henrik von Wright had a significant impact on the development of philosophy in Finland and Scandinavia during the second half of the twentieth century. He held the Swedish-speaking chair in philosophy at the University of Helsinki in the 1940s alongside on occasion three other Finnish professorships. And during his…

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