Famous Austrian Intellectuals & Academics

A very famous Chinese proverb goes, “A nation's treasure is in its scholars." And rightly so! No matter how absurd or farfetched it might sound, there is little denying the power that erudite exert on a country's fate and fortune. The more scholars a country has, the more advanced it is likely to be. A country's intellectuals and academics are not only responsible for its path-breaking advances, but also inspiring generations, becoming the voice of its vox populi, and steering the country towards growth and expansion. Over the years, history has chronicled a gamut of famous intellectuals and academics who have inspired the world for better and for worse. They are a bunch of visionaries and innovators who defined the contours of humanity’s future and shaped the world with their intellect and wisdom. Let us explore the timelines, life stories and interesting trivia & facts related in the biographies of some of the greatest intellectuals & academics that Austria has ever produced.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud
23
Famous As: Neurologist
Birthdate: May 6, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Příbor, Czechia
Died: September 23, 1939

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.

 2 Friedrich von Hayek

Friedrich von Hayek
6
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: May 8, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: March 23, 1992

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.

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 3 Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler
4
Birthdate: February 7, 1870
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus
Died: May 28, 1937

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.

 4 Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 26, 1889
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: April 29, 1951

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.

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 5 Joseph Schumpeter

Joseph Schumpeter
4
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: February 8, 1883
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Třešť, Czechia
Died: January 8, 1950
Business students remember Austrian economist and sociologist Joseph Schumpeter for his contribution to the concepts of entrepreneurship, creative destruction, and business cycles. An academic, who had also taught at Harvard, Schumpeter believed capitalism would someday automatically give way to socialism, a thought he expressed in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

 6 Kurt Gödel

Kurt Gödel
5
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: April 28, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brno, Czech Republic
Died: January 14, 1978

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.

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 7 Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl
4
Famous As: Psychiatrist
Birthdate: March 26, 1905
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leopoldstadt, Vienna, Austria
Died: September 2, 1997

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.

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 8 Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises
6
Famous As: Economist, Philosopher
Birthdate: September 29, 1881
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lviv, Ukraine
Died: October 10, 1973
A polyglot at age 12, Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises grew up to acquire a doctorate in law and taught at the universities of New York and Vienna. Known for his works such as The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, he supported free-market liberalism and opposed socialism. 

 9 Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 27, 1861
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Donji Kraljevec, Croatia
Died: March 30, 1925

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.

 10 Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi

Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 16, 1894
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: July 27, 1972

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.

 11 Paul Feyerabend

Paul Feyerabend
3
Famous As: Philosopher, Professor
Birthdate: January 13, 1924
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vienna, First Austrian Republic Austria
Died: February 11, 1994

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. 

 12 Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein
3
Famous As: Psychanalyst
Birthdate: March 30, 1882
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: September 22, 1960

Melanie Klein was an Austrian-British author and psychoanalyst. A key figure in the development of object relations theory, she is best known for her work in child analysis. She began her studies by observing her own children’s behavior while they were growing up. As a woman in a field dominated by men, she was also a feminist icon. 

 13 Martin Buber

Martin Buber
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 8, 1878
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: June 13, 1965

Martin Buber was an Austrian and Israeli philosopher who received ten nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature and seven nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. Renowned for his philosophy of dialogue, Buber is best known for his famous essay, I and Thou. In 1951, he was honored by the University of Hamburg with the prestigious Goethe Award.

 14 Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker
20
Famous As: Management Consultant
Birthdate: November 19, 1909
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: November 11, 2005

 15 Ivan Illich

Ivan Illich
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: September 4, 1926
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: December 2, 2002

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. 

 16 Edmund Husserl

Edmund Husserl
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 8, 1859
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Prostějov, Czechia
Died: April 27, 1938

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.  

 17 Carl Menger

Carl Menger
3
Famous As: Economist, University teacher
Birthdate: February 23, 1840
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nowy Sącz
Died: February 26, 1921

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.

 18 Joy Adamson

Joy Adamson
3
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: January 20, 1910
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Troppau, Austrian Silesia, Austria-Hungary, now Opava, Czech Republic
Died: January 3, 1980

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.

 19 Muhammad Asad

Muhammad Asad
3
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: July 2, 1900
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lviv, Ukraine
Died: February 20, 1992

Austro-Hungarian journalist Leopold Weiss was a descendant of rabbis and ran away from home in his teens, taking up odd jobs, before finally becoming a journalist in Germany. His work took him to the Middle East, where he converted to Islam and adopted the name Muhammad Asad.

 20 Herbert von Karajan

Herbert von Karajan
4
Famous As: Conductor, Music director
Birthdate: April 5, 1908
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Salzburg
Died: July 16, 1989

The principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for over 3 decades, Herbert von Karajan was a piano prodigy in childhood. Though a Nazi Party member, he later claimed he had not been too keen on joining the party. The three-time Grammy winner was also an avid sports lover.

 21 Otto Rank

Otto Rank
3
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: April 22, 1884
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: October 31, 1939

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. 

 22 Hans Kelsen

Hans Kelsen
3
Famous As: Lawyer, Judge, Philosopher, Educationist, University teacher
Birthdate: October 11, 1881
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Prague
Died: April 19, 1973

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.

 23 Otto Weininger

Otto Weininger
3
Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, Psychologist
Birthdate: April 3, 1880
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: October 4, 1903

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.  

 24 Gitta Sereny

Gitta Sereny
3
Famous As: Biographer
Birthdate: March 13, 1921
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: June 14, 2012

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.  

 25 Paul Felix Lazarsfeld

Paul Felix Lazarsfeld
3
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: February 13, 1901
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: August 30, 1976

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.

 26 Ernst Gombrich

Ernst Gombrich
3
Famous As: Art Historian
Birthdate: March 30, 1909
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: November 3, 2001

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.   

 27 Josef Breuer

Josef Breuer
3
Famous As: Physician, Psychologist, University teacher, Psychiatrist
Birthdate: January 15, 1842
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: June 20, 1925

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.

 28 Georg Luger

Georg Luger
3
Famous As: Inventor, Entrepreneur
Birthdate: March 6, 1849
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Steinach am Brenner
Died: December 22, 1923

 29 Valentin Inzko

Valentin Inzko
3
Famous As: Linguist, Diplomat
Birthdate: May 22, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Klagenfurt

 30 Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk

Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk
2
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: February 12, 1851
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Austrian Empire
Died: August 27, 1914

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.

 31 Alfred Schutz

Alfred Schutz
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 13, 1899
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: May 20, 1959

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.” 

 32 Karl Böhm

Karl Böhm
3
Famous As: Conductor, Music director
Birthdate: August 28, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Graz
Died: August 14, 1981

 33 Paul Watzlawick

Paul Watzlawick
3
Famous As: Philosopher, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Sociologist, University teacher, Non-fiction writer, Communication scholar
Birthdate: July 25, 1921
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Villach
Died: March 31, 2007

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

 34 Richard von Mises

Richard von Mises
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Philosopher, Engineer, University teacher
Birthdate: April 19, 1883
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lviv
Died: July 14, 1953

Richard von Mises was an Austrian Jewish scientist and mathematician. He is known for his work on solid mechanics, aerodynamics, aeronautics, fluid mechanics, and probability theory. He was the Gordon McKay Professor of Aerodynamics and Applied Mathematics at Harvard University. He is the one who proposed the now-famous "birthday problem" in probability theory. He was married to mathematician Hilda Geiringer.  

 35 Otto Neurath

Otto Neurath
3
Famous As: Economist, Philosopher, Sociologist, Graphic designer, Statistical graphics
Birthdate: December 10, 1882
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: December 22, 1945

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. 

 36 Jean Améry

Jean Améry
3
Famous As: Writer, Philosopher
Birthdate: October 31, 1912
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: October 17, 1978

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.

 37 Oskar Morgenstern

Oskar Morgenstern
3
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: January 24, 1902
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Görlitz, Germany
Died: July 26, 1977

Born in Germany, Oskar Morgenstern was believed to be a descendant of Emperor Frederick III. He began his academic career as a professor at the University of Vienna and later joined Princeton. A game theory and mathematical economics specialist, he co-wrote Theory of Games and Economic Behavior with John von Neumann.

 38 Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
2
Famous As: Philosopher, University teacher, Journalist, Literary critic
Birthdate: July 31, 1909
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Styria
Died: May 26, 1999

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. 

 39 Eric Wolf

Eric Wolf
2
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: February 1, 1923
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: March 6, 1999

Anthropologist Eric Robert Wolf is noted for his studies of Latin America and peasants, and for advocating Marxist outlook within anthropology. Notable books of Wolf include The Hidden Frontier, his classic study of ethnography with his student John W. Cole; and Europe and the People Without History, where he focussed on the expansion of European societies in the modern era.  

 40 Christoph Schönborn

Christoph Schönborn
3
Famous As: Chaplain
Birthdate: January 22, 1945
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Litomerice, Czechia

 41 Alexius Meinong

Alexius Meinong
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 17, 1853
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria
Died: November 27, 1920

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.

 42 Friedrich von Wieser

Friedrich von Wieser
2
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: July 10, 1851
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: July 22, 1926

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.

 43 Wolfgang Paalen

Wolfgang Paalen
2
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: July 22, 1905
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: September 24, 1959

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.

 44 Rudolf Dreikurs

Rudolf Dreikurs
2
Famous As: Psychiatrist
Birthdate: February 8, 1897
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: May 25, 1972

Austrian psychiatrist Rudolf Dreikurs was influenced by Alfred Adler’s individual psychology and used it to understand children’s behavior. He suggested that children misbehave if they feel they don’t belong to their social group, such as a classroom. He later established the Alfred Adler Institutes in the U.S. and Israel.

 45 Julia Ebner

Julia Ebner
2
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: July 24, 1991
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria

 46 Othmar Spann

Othmar Spann
2
Famous As: Economist, Philosopher, University teacher, Sociologist
Birthdate: October 1, 1878
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: July 8, 1950

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.

 47 Eugen Ehrlich

Eugen Ehrlich
2
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: September 14, 1862
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Died: May 2, 1922

Eugen Ehrlich was an Austrian sociologist of law and legal scholar. Considered one of the founders of sociology of law, Ehrlich also served as a teacher and worked at several universities, including his alma mater, the University of Vienna. Although he converted to Roman Catholicism from Judaism, Ehrlich spent much of his time attending to the problems of the Jews.  

 48 Gustav Ratzenhofer

Gustav Ratzenhofer
0
Famous As: Officer
Birthdate: July 4, 1842
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: October 8, 1904

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.

 49 Leopold Kohr

Leopold Kohr
2
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: October 5, 1909
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria
Died: February 26, 1994

 50 Otto Of Freising

Otto Of Freising
2
Famous As: Bishop
Birthdate: 1114 AD
Birthplace: Klosterneuburg, Austria
Died: September 22, 1158

Otto Of Freising, also known as Otto I, was the bishop of Freising. He is best remembered for penning an extensive history of the world, Chronica. The four-volume Gesta Friderici, the first two of which were written by him, spoke about Frederick Barbarossa and the house of Hohenstaufen.