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Tagungsnachlese, Königsberg 1930

In 1930 the city of Königsberg hosted the "Tagung für Erkenntnislehre der exakten Wissenschaften" (in connection with the "Physiker-, Mathematik- und Naturforscher-Tagung"). The announcement (together with the schedule, organizational details etc.) can be found here (this is the "Rundschau" section in the first volume of Erkenntnis from January 1930. It contains also a funny article titled "Deutsche Philosophie im Urteil eines Amerikaners".).

The two main topics were: the foundation of mathematics and the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics. If I had the chance for a time travel I would like to pick September 1930 to join this meeting. However, the talks have been published in Erkenntnis Volume 2, Number 1. December, 1931:

    September the 5th (friday)
  1. 9:00 Rudolf Carnap on logicism.
  2. 10:00 Arend Heyting on intuitionism.
  3. 11:00 Johann von Neumann on formalism.

  4. September the 6th (saturday)
  5. 10:00 Reichenbach on "Der physikalische Wahrheitsbegriff".
  6. 11:00 Werner Heisenberg on causality and quantum mechanics.
  7. 12:00 The discussion on QM (participating Heisenberg, Frank, von Neumann and others).
  8. after the lunch break:
  9. 15:00 Otto Neugebauer on pre-Greek mathematics.
  10. 16:00 Kurt Gödel (Wien), "Über die Vollständigkeit des Logikkalküls" (20min)
  11. Arnold Scholz (Freiburg), "Über den Gebrauch des Begriffs Gesamtheit in der Axiomatik" (20min)
  12. Walter Dubislav (Berlin), "Über den sogenannten Gegenstand der Mathematik" (20min)

  13. September the 7th (sunday)
  14. 10:00 The discussion on the foundation of mathematics with Hahn giving a longer opening statement. Participating are Carnap, von Neumann, Scholz and most important Gödel. This discussion marks the first public (although casual) announcement of his first incompleteness result. However, apparently only von Neumann realized its importance. In an addendum to this published version of the discussion, Gödel summarized his findings.

This conference was remarkable for the following reason: it was the last "pre-Gödel" meeting on that topic (i.e. prior to the publication of his incompleteness theorem(s)). Gödel presented in Königsberg the result of his Ph.D. (interestingly the completeness of first order logic) but his first incompleteness theorem was already discoverd. In the above discussion he mentions it, although rather casually. As mentioned above, the meeting was organized at the same time as the "Physiker-, Mathematik- und Naturforscher-Tagung". Ironically, the opening address of this conference (on September the 8th) was deliverd by Hilber, titled "Naturerkenntnis und Logik" (published in Naturwissenschaften, Vol 18, No. 47-49, Nov. 1930). It ends with an emphatic commitment to the solvability of all problems and the grandness of human mind:

"Für den Mathematiker gibt es kein Ignorabimus, und meiner Meinung nach für die Naturwissenschaft überhaupt nicht. [...] Statt des törichten Ignorabimus heiße im Gegenteil unsere Losung: Wir müssen wissen, Wir werden wissen." (Hilbert, 1930)
It is very likely that Gödel attended this lecture - knowing already that contary to Hilbert's belief mathematics contains undecidable statements.


  1. Reichenbach, H. (1930),"Tagung für Erkenntnislehre der exakten Wissenschaffen in Königsberg" Naturwissenschaften Vol 18, No 50