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Gotthard Günther (also Gunther, Guenther), (June 15, 1900 in Arnsdorf, Landkreis Hirschberg, Silesia - November 29, 1984), was a German (Prussian)[1] philosopher.



From 1921 to 1933, Günther studied sinology and philosophy at the universities of Heidelberg and Berlin, and wrote his doctor's thesis on Hegel in 1933 under the guidance of Eduard Spranger. From 1935 to 1937, he worked at the institute of Arnold Gehlen at the University of Leipzig, publishing “Christliche Metaphysik und das Schicksal des modernen Bewusstseins” (“Christian metaphysics and the fate of modern consciousness”, together with Helmut Schelsky in 1937). He was a member of the Leipzig School.

In the same year, following his wife, the Jewish psychologist Dr. Marie Günther-Hendel, he emigrated from Germany first to Italy, afterwards to Stellenbosch University in South Africa and, in 1940, to the United States. There he completed his system of place-valued logics and morphogrammatics. His great study “Die philosophische Idee einer nicht-Aristotelischen Logik” (“The philosophical concept of a non-Aristotelian logic”) went to print in 1957 (Hamburg, Meiner). As a research professor, he joined the department of electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1960, working together with Warren Sturgis McCulloch, Heinz von Foerster, Humberto Maturana and others. In 1962, he published Cybernetic ontology and transjunctional operations. Later he lectured at the University of Hamburg, until he died, in 1984.

According to Isaac Asimov, who considered Gunther "a good friend," Gunther "felt that civilization was a product of the Old World and could not flourish indigenously in the New."[1] Asimove noted that Gunther thus "maintained [that] when Old WOrld civilization was transplanted to the New World, a distortion was introduced and one of the wasy in which this distortion was evidenced was by the peculiar American invention of science fiction, which was not to be confused with earlier European ventures in the field (i.e., Jules Vernes)."[1]

Work and Legacy

Günther's work was based upon Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Martin Heidegger and Oswald Spengler. He developed a trans-Aristotelian logical approach (omitting the tertium non datur). Günther's transclassical logic was the attempt to combine improved results of modern dialectic with formal logic. His focus on the philosophical problem of the "Du" ("You" /"Thou") was trailblazing. He also contributed to the fields of cybernetics and to both natural and social sciences, especially to sociology.

His œuvre (body of work), in German and English, is quite substantial. An overview can be gathered from his three volumes, helping make dialectics operationable (see below). He was of influence in the areas of philosophy, cybernetics, mathematics, and sociology. As of 2004, the Gotthard Günther Research Center (“Gotthard-Günther-Arbeitsstelle”) is working at the University of Klagenfurt in Austria.


  1. ^ a b c In Memory Yet Green. Isaac Asimov. 1979 p. 605.


  • 1933, Fundamentals of a Theory of Thought in Hegel's logic, ("Grundzüge einer neuen Theorie des Denkens in Hegels Logik")
  • 1959, Idea and Outline of a Non-Aristotelian Logic, ("Idee und Grundriss einer nicht-Aristotelischen Logik")
  • 1976, Contributions to the Foundation of an Operational Dialectic, 1, ("Beiträge zur Grundlegung einer operationsfähigen Dialektik, 1")
  • 1979, Contributions to the Foundation of an Operational Dialectic, 2, ("Beiträge zur Grundlegung einer operationsfähigen Dialektik, 2")
  • 1980, Contributions to the Foundation of an Operational Dialectic, 3, ("Beiträge zur Grundlegung einer operationsfähigen Dialektik, 3")

Further reading

  • Actual research on polycontextural theories is documented at ThinkArt Lab Glasgow, Scotland.
  • A comprehensive archive of Gunther's work (mainly out of print) is made accessible by Vordenker.
  • A first insight into the terminology of Gunther's work is offered by the interactive Glossary.

See also

External links



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