Famous Austrian Philosophers

Our existence in this universe is too bizarre for words, too obscure for thoughts. Needless to say, we tend to take our mundane lives and existence for granted. However, so often, we are wheedled out of our complacency and thrown into a profound existential awareness, mulling over matters that extends beyond the parameters of our comprehension. That is where philosophy sets us free. Some wise man has truly stated, “Philosophy goes where hard science can't or won't.” And rightly so! It is in the nature of philosophers to speculate about everything, from metaphysics to morality, and help answer the basic questions of existence, otherwise mysterious to man. Their philosophies are treasure trove of profound wisdom and makes for great food for thought. Let us explore the lives of some such profound thinkers who redefined life in a way you have probably never imagined before. These avant-garde Austrian philosophers like Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sigmund Freud, Ernst March and Martin Buber propounded ideas within the context of their times and intellectual accomplishments, thereby immortalizing themselves and their philosophies in the annals of time. Go through the biographies of famous Austrian philosophers to learn all about the timelines, life stories and interesting trivia & facts related to their lives.

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

Vote for Your Favourite Austrian Philosophers

 1 
Ludwig Wittgenstein
(Philosopher)

Ludwig Wittgenstein
6
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.

 2 
Kurt Gödel
(Logician, Mathematician, Philosopher)

Kurt Gödel
7
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.

 3 
Rudolf Steiner
(Philosopher)

Rudolf Steiner
5
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.

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 4 

Friedrich von Hayek
5
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.

 5 
Edmund Husserl
(Philosopher)

Edmund Husserl
4
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.  

 6 
Martin Buber
(Philosopher)

Martin Buber
3
Birthdate: February 8, 1878
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
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.

Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi
5
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.

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 8 
Ivan Illich
(Roman Catholic Priest and Author of 'Deschooling Society' which Criticises Modern Society's Educational Approach)

Ivan Illich
3
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. 

 9 
Sigmund Freud
(Neurologist & the Founder of Psychoanalysis)

Sigmund Freud
22
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.

 10 
Paul Feyerabend
(Philosopher, Professor)

Paul Feyerabend
3
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. 

 11 
Hans Kelsen
(Jurist, legal philosopher and political philosopher)

Hans Kelsen
3
Birthdate: October 11, 1881
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
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.

 12 
Otto Weininger
(Philosopher, Writer, Psychologist)

Otto Weininger
3
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.  

 13 
Alfred Schutz
(Philosopher)

Alfred Schutz
2
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.” 

 14 
Paul Watzlawick
(Philosopher, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Sociologist, University teacher, Non-fiction writer, Communication scholar)

Paul Watzlawick
3
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

 15 
Richard von Mises
(Mathematician, Physicist, Philosopher, Engineer, University teacher)

Richard von Mises
3
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.  

 16 
Otto Neurath
(Economist, Philosopher, Sociologist, Graphic designer, Statistical graphics)

Otto Neurath
2
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. 

 17 
Jean Améry
(Former writer whose notable works included On Aging (1968) and On Suicide: A Discourse on Voluntary Death (1976))

Jean Améry
2
Birthdate: October 31, 1912
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
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.

 18 
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
(Philosopher, University teacher, Journalist, Literary critic)

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
2
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. 

 19 
Alexius Meinong
(Philosopher)

Alexius Meinong
2
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.

 20 

Wolfgang Paalen
2
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.

 21 
Othmar Spann
(Economist, Philosopher, University teacher, Sociologist)

Othmar Spann
2
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.

 22 
Otto Bauer
(Politician)

Otto Bauer
2
Birthdate: September 5, 1881
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: July 4, 1938

One of the founders of the socialist movement Die Zukunft, Otto Bauer was an Austrian Social Democratic Party leader who suggested Austria’s union with Germany after World War I. Bauer, who boasted of a PhD in law, believed in Austro-Marxist socialism and nationalism at the same time.

 23 

Christian von Ehrenfels
1
Birthdate: June 20, 1859
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: September 8, 1932

One of the pioneers of Gestalt psychology, Austrian philosopher Christian von Ehrenfels also made a significant contribution to the value theory. Apart from his pathbreaking work System of Value Theory, he had also penned plays and pamphlets. He also believed Asians were a threat to the European race.

 24 

Friedrich von Hügel
1
Birthdate: May 5, 1852
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: January 27, 1925

Friedrich von Hügel, also known as Baron von Hügel, believed in Roman Catholicism but was tolerant of other views, too, making him a significant figure of Modernist Christian theology. He believed a middle path between religion and science could be reached. The Mystical Element of Religion remains his best-known work.

 25 
Pietro Verri
(Economist)

Pietro Verri
1
Birthdate: December 12, 1728
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: June 28, 1797

Author of numerous literary, historical, and economic works, Pietro Verri was a leader of Milanese academy and moving force behind Società dei Pugni. Also a distinguished public administrator and political economist employed with the Milanese government, he has been credited with abolition of tax farming. Some of his important works are Riflessioni sulle leggi vincolanti and Meditazioni sull’ economia politica.

 26 
Carl Grünberg
(Philosopher)

Carl Grünberg
1
Birthdate: February 10, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Focșani, Romania
Died: February 2, 1940

Carl Grünberg was a German Marxist philosopher of law and history. He studied law in Strasbourg and practiced as an advocate. He then proceeded to study political economy in Vienna and eventually became an academic reader. He was one of the founders of Austromarxism. He became the director of the Institute for Social Research in 1924. 

 27 
Theodor Gomperz
(Philosopher)

Theodor Gomperz
0
Birthdate: March 29, 1832
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brno, Czechia
Died: August 29, 1912

 28 

Gustav Ratzenhofer
0
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.