Regarded as the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud was a neurologist. Despite suffering criticism, psychoanalysis remains influential in the fields of psychology and psychiatry; such is the influence Freud has on humanities. Scholars believe that Freud is one of the most influential personalities of the 20th century and that his impact is comparable to that of Marxism and Darwinism.
A winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Friedrich von Hayek, was an advocate of classical liberalism. The Austrian-British economist, who was also a political philosopher, co-founded the Mont Pelerin Society. He worked at the London School of Economics, the University of Chicago and the University of Freiburg and authored the popular book, The Road to Serfdom.
Alfred Adler was an Austrian psychotherapist and medical doctor. He is credited with founding the school of individual psychology. He was also one of the founders of the psychoanalytic movement along with Sigmund Freud and Freud's colleagues. In 2002, a survey conducted by Review of General Psychology named Adler among the 20th century's most eminent psychologists.
Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is remembered for his works related to logic, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of mathematics, and the philosophy of language. He taught at the University of Cambridge for many years. He published only one book during his lifetime. Most of his manuscripts were collected later and published posthumously.
Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl founded logotherapy. He also authored several books, most notably his bestselling autobiographical depiction of his ordeal at various Nazi concentration camps, Man's Search for Meaning. He had lost his parents, brother, and wife in the Holocaust. He later won honors such as the Oskar Pfister Award.
Hailed as one of the greatest logicians since Aristotle, Kurt Gödel was Austrian-born American mathematician, logician, and philosopher, who earned international stardom for his incompleteness theorem. Also credited with developing a technique called Gödel numbering, he later started working on Mathematical Platonism, a philosophical theory that failed to attract wide acceptance.
Austrian philosopher and architect and Rudolf Steiner gained fame as a literary critic and published works such as The Philosophy of Freedom. His interests included esotericism and clairvoyance. He termed his work spiritual science. He designed the Goetheanum and also laid down concepts such as Waldorf education and biodynamic agriculture.
Edmund Husserl was a German philosopher of Moravian origin. He established the school of phenomenology. He studied mathematics, physics, and astronomy at the University of Leipzig and worked as an assistant to mathematician Karl Weierstrass. He later became a professor of philosophy and taught for several years. He is considered a major figure in 20th-century philosophy.
Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian psychoanalyst and doctor of medicine. He is credited with shaping innovations like body psychotherapy, primal therapy, and Gestalt therapy. Also a writer, Reich's books like The Sexual Revolution and The Mass Psychology of Fascism influenced generations of intellectuals. Also a controversial figure, some of Wilhelm Reich's practices caused a disturbance in the psychoanalytic community.
Carl Menger made significant contributions to the marginal utility theory and the subjective theory of value. Born to a lawyer father, he too studied law and also worked as a journalist for a while. He later taught at the University of Vienna and also established the Austrian School of economics.
Best known for her iconic book Born Free, which describes her experiences of raising a lion cub named Elsa, Joy Adamson was a noted Austro-Hungarian wildlife conservationist. She excelled in music and medicine in her younger days and later settled in Kenya with her third husband, conservationist George Adamson.
Ivan Illich was a Roman Catholic priest, philosopher, theologian, and social critic. He criticized modern society's institutional approach to education in his book Deshooling Society. He studied theology and philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained as a priest in 1951. Later on, he founded the Center of Intercultural Formation (CIF) to train missionaries.
Paul Feyerabend was an Austrian-born philosopher of science. He worked as a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, for three decades. He continued to publish papers after his retirement. He held a purportedly anarchistic view of science. He rejected the existence of universal methodological rules and was seen as radical in the philosophy of science.
Son of an Austro-Hungarian diplomat father and a Japanese mother, Richard Nikolaus Graf Coudenhove-Kalergi, also known as Aoyama Eijiro in Japan, grew up to be a skilled politician and established the Pan-European Union. He was the first to receive the Charlemagne Prize and also had citizenships of Czechoslovakia and France.
Otto Rank was an Austrian psychoanalyst and philosopher. A close colleague of Sigmund Freud, Rank was also the managing director of Freud's publishing house. Rank was a prolific writer and wrote extensively on psychoanalytic themes. He was the first person who viewed therapy as a learning and unlearning experience focusing on feelings. Psychologist Rollo May was deeply influenced by Rank.
Austrian thinker Otto Weininger, whose main areas of interests included philosophy of religion, logic, gender and psychology, lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His book Geschlecht und Charakter (Sex and Character), which gained popularity following his suicide by gunshot, became a sourcebook for anti-Semitic propagandists. Some of his writings were used by Nazi propaganda.
Hans Kelsen was an Austria-born jurist, legal philosopher and writer on international law, known especially for his Pure Theory of Law and his defense of democracy. Author of the 1920 Austrian Constitution, he left his homeland in 1930 due to rising totalitarianism. He went to the USA, where he taught at well-known universities, concurrently producing important works like Principles of International Law.
Born in Austria, Peter L. Berger initially moved to Palestine and eventually to the U.S. after World War II. While aspiring to be a Lutheran minister, he ended up being a sociologist. He taught at various institutes, such as Boston University, and penned the iconic book The Social Construction of Reality.
Psychoanalyst and physician Josef Breuer inspired what later came to be known as Sigmund Freud’s cathartic method to treat mental ailments. His experiments with his patient Anna O. proved the therapeutic effect of the talking cure. He had also conducted research on the respiratory cycle and discovered the Hering-Breuer reflex.
Known for her persistent researches on some of history’s most reviled characters, Gitta Sereny was an investigative journalist and author of five biographical works that attempted to make sense of their crimes. Notable among her works are Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth and The Case of Mary Bell: A Portrait of a Child Who Murdered.
Paul Felix Lazarsfeld was a sociologist who founded the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University. A founding figure of empirical sociology in the 20th-century, Lazarsfeld made significant advances in statistical survey analysis, latent structure analysis, panel methods, and contextual analysis. He is also credited with co-founding mathematical sociology. Lazarsfeld also trained several younger sociologists like Barney Glaser.
After fleeing to Chile with his family during the Nazi regime, Otto F. Kernberg studied medicine and then psychiatry. He eventually moved to the U.S. on a Rockefeller fellowship and grew up to be one of the finest psychoanalysts of the country. He now teaches at the Weill Cornell Medicine.
A major advocate of the Austrian school of economics, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk made major reforms as part of the Austrian ministry of finance, such as imposition of the gold standard. He was also one of the first to oppose Karl Marx’s theory of exploitation of workers.
Ingeborg Bachmann completed her PhD and worked as an editor and scriptwriter before plunging into full-time writing. The Gruppe 47 member was known for depicting the trauma of women characters who had failed in relationships. She is best remembered for her poems and her lyrical novel Malina.
Alfred Schutz was an Austrian philosopher and social phenomenologist. He is recognized as one of the leading philosophers of social science in the 20th century. A lawyer by qualification, he had a prominent career in international banking and did academic work in his spare time. Philosopher Edmund Husserl described him as “a banker by day and a philosopher by night.”
Austrian-born art historian Sir Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich OM CBE FBA, who later became a naturalised British citizen, wrote several books on cultural history and art history. Two of the most notable ones include The Story of Art and Art and Illusion, of which the latter influenced thinkers like Carlo Ginzburg, Umberto Eco, Nelson Goodman, and Thomas Kuhn.
Paul Watzlawick was an Austrian-American psychologist and philosopher, specializing in family therapy and communication theory. The most influential figure in the Palo Alto Mental Research Institute, he worked extensively on how communication is effected within families and proposed Interactional View Theory. Paul Watzlawick authored 22 books and more than 150 articles and book chapters. His books have been translated into 80 languages
Erik Maria Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn was an Austrian socio-political theorist and journalist, who described himself as a “liberal of the extreme right”. Credited with four novels and six socio-political works, apart from numerous articles and collaborations, he started writing for The Spectator magazine at the age of sixteen. Also a polyglot having encyclopedic knowledge, he could read twenty-five languages and speak in eight.
Jean Améry went from being a prisoner at the Auschwitz labor camp to being one of the finest essayists of the post-war era. His best-known work, At the Mind's Limits, depicts his experiences during World War II. He eventually committed suicide by consuming sleeping pills in a Salzburg hotel.
Romanian-American psychiatrist Jacob L. Moreno is best remembered for introducing the concept of psychodrama, consisting of role-play exercises and dramatizations by patients, as a therapeutic method to cure mental ailments. He also pioneered group psychotherapy, introduced the study of social networks, and coined the terms sociometry and sociatry.
Otto Neurath was an Austrian-born philosopher of science, political economist, and sociologist. He is known for inventing the ISOTYPE method of pictorial statistics. A native of Vienna, he was one of the leading figures of the Vienna Circle. As an economist, he advocated for ideas like "in-kind" economic accounting in place of monetary accounting.
Austrian philosopher Alexius Meinong is best remembered for his work on the theory of values and the theory of objects. He introduced four classes of objects and penned the iconic work Über Annahmen, discussing the assumptions people make when they decide if they know or don’t know about something.
Initially aspiring to be an architect and then a lawyer, Fritz Heider gradually deviated toward psychology. The Austrian psychologist was a prominent figure of the Gestalt school. Considered one of the pioneers of interpersonal social psychology, he made significant contributions to the theories of attribution, balance, and motivation.
One of the principal members of the Austrian school of economics, Friedrich von Wieser is known for coining the term marginal utility and developing number of theories including the alternative cost theory, proclaiming that cost of a commodity depends mainly on its subjective, or psychological, value. Among his many publications more significant are Natural Value and Foundations of Social Economy.
Born in Austria, to a merchant father who loved collecting paintings, Wolfgang Paalen had been exposed to arts since childhood. He later trained in painting and archaeology and joined the Surrealist movement. His signature fumage technique involved creating art with the smoke and soot from candles. He later settled in Mexico.
Austrian-born Marxist politician, socialist-theorist, and economist Rudolf Hilferding was the main theoretician for the German social democratic political party called Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) during the Weimar Republic. A prominent representative of the Viennese development of Marxism, Hilferding assumed office as Minister of Finance in two SPD led governments and is noted for his work Das Finanzkapital.
Austrian philosopher and sociologist Othmar Spann initially taught in Brünn and then fought during World War I. He later taught at the University of Vienna for almost 2 decades. His ideas were radically anti-liberal. A Nazi Party member, he believed in the superiority of a corporate state.
Gustav Ratzenhofer was an Austrian philosopher, officer, and sociologist. Ratzenhofer left his military career to devote his time to study sociology and philosophy. He then went on to become a respected sociologist and was counted among the founding fathers of policy sociology in the United States of America.