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Hans Reichenbach

REICHENBACH, HANS (1891–1953), philosopher. Reichenbach, who was born in Hamburg, is considered one of the most distinguished philosophers of science of the 20th century. He taught at the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart (1920–26), and at the University of Berlin (1926–33). When Hitler came to power, he left Germany and obtained a teaching position at the University of Istanbul. From 1938 he was professor of philosophy at the University of California at Los Angeles. Reichenbach belonged to that group of scientifically minded philosophers whose conceptual ideals were embodied in the philosophy of logical positivism, a doctrine that was a blend of the new logic developed by Frege and Russell and of traditional British empiricism, modified by the phenomenalism of Ernst Mach. Though never a member of the Vienna circle in a formal sense, Reichenbach worked closely with its main representatives, especially Rudolf Carnap and Herbert *Feigl, and the spirit of their joint endeavors is well expressed in his The Rise of Scientific Philosophy (1951). Reichenbach's main contributions to philosophy fall into four main categories: (1) his analysis of the relativity theory; (2) his attempt to solve Hume's classical problem of induction; (3) his development and defense of a frequency theory of probability; (4) his highly original work on nomological statements in the field of inductive logic.

A prolific writer, Reichenbach was the author of 19 books, some of which were published posthumously. His masterpiece is generally considered to be his Axiomatik der relativistischen Raum-Zeit-Lehre, originally published in Germany in 1924, but translated into English as The Philosophy of Space and Time (1958).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.