Kurt Gödel Papers on microfilm
Kurt Gödel (1906-1978), a mathematical logician, is considered to be one of the greatest contributors to the field of Logic in the last century. Gödel’s major contribution to the fields of Mathematics and Logic is his Incompleteness Theorem (1931). It demonstrates that within certain formal systems, some mathematical propositions may be neither provable nor disprovable using the axioms of that system. Kurt Gödel worked almost full time on Philosophy from 1943 onwards, approaching it from the perspective of logic and mathematics. His interests were very broad, he studied the problem of time and change linking Einstein’s relativity theory to Kant.
He was loosely affiliated with the "Vienna Circle" in the 1920s, which included founder Moritz Schlick, Rudolf Carnap, Hans Reichenbach, Herbert Feigl and others. The Vienna Circle were well known for their philosophy of logical positivism (the logical analysis of scientific knowledge.) Kurt Gödel received his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1929/1930 from the University of Vienna.
Gödel’s major contributions to the fields of Mathematics and Logic include his Completeness Theorem (his doctoral thesis), his first Incompleteness Theorem and his second Incompleteness Theorem (1931). Published in the paper "Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der Principia Mathematica und verwandter Systeme," his Incompleteness Theorem demonstrates that within certain formal systems, some mathematical propositions may be neither provable nor disprovable using the axioms of that system. Years later Gödel worked on the relative consistency of the axiom of choice and the generalized continuum hypothesis, 1935-1937, published in 1938-1940.
With World War II threatening Kurt Gödel left Austria for the United States. He had been concerned over the prospect of being inducted into the army, and worried about his future at the University of Vienna. He began work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey in 1940 where he eventually became a faculty member. He worked in the fields of Mathematics and Logic at the Institute until his death in 1978. He is considered to be one of the greatest contributors to the field of Logic in the last century. Kurt Gödel worked almost full time on Philosophy from 1943 onwards, approaching it from the perspective of logic and mathematics. His interests were very broad, he studied the problem of time and change linking Einstein’s relativity theory to Kant. His interests also ranged from Plato, Kant and Leibniz, to Hegel and Schelling, to Brouwer, Husserl, and Heidegger. He discussed realism and expressed an early form of his rational optimism in two well-known papers, "On Cantor's Continuum Problem" and "On Russell's Mathemtical Logic." His work contributed to the literature on constructivism, although he himself was not a constructivist.
The microfilm collection
This microfilm collection of Gödel’s papers (
c. 40 microfilm reels) includes documents spanning his life, from 1906-1978. It includes notebooks, drafts, unpublished manuscripts, notes, and legal records. Absent from this collection is his correspondence.
Gödel’s topical notebooks in this collection include: sixteen mathematical notebooks, fourteen general notebooks, nine history notebooks, six logic and foundation notebooks, four on "results on foundations," and fifteen philosophical notebooks. The philosophical notebooks date from before May 1941 to the end of Gödel’s life. Unpublished drafts include: 1951 Gibb’s lecture, a fuller version of his essay on relativity theory and idealistic philosophy, and an English revised version dated 1972 of his Dialectica paper (1958). Gödel’s drafts and offprints also include typescript manuscripts, lectures and reviews in English, German and in Gabelsberger shorthand. The remainder of the collection includes notes, photographs, financial and medical records, legal and political records, and ephemera.