George Molnar

by Brian on August 11, 2003

The Sydney Morning Herald recently ran a long profile on the Hungarian-Australian philosopher George Molnar. Australian philosophers can be a weird lot sometimes, but Molnar stands out quite a bit even by our standards. I met him a few times at conferences after he returned to philosophy, but I never knew how many things he’d done outside philosophy. Somehow I don’t think a life in the academy with some blogging on the side will lead to quite the same kind of newspaper reports about me any time down the track.



Doug 08.11.03 at 8:46 pm

It may not be the philosophy, it may be the Hungarianness…

cf John von Neumann, Leo Szilard, Paul Erdos, George Soros, Joseph Pulitzer, Robert Capa, etc etc etc


eszter 08.12.03 at 1:00 am

Everyone on that list is a Hungarian Jew actually.. and most of them (perhaps all of them) had to flee their place of residence at one point during their lives. (Most of those names are not their original names in case the Hungarian/Jewish heritage is not obvious.)


Doug 08.12.03 at 8:03 am

Hadn’t realized that all of them were Jewish, but did know that all of them had to leave Hungary to become famous on the world stage. (Although that last bit may be a tautology; it’s not as if Szexepil is as well known as the Rolling Stones, or the Magyar Narancs as the New York Times.) Using the anglicized forms, rather than, say, Erdös Pàl, was a convenience to readers.

So maybe it’s not the philosophy, but Hungarian Jewishness…


eszter 08.12.03 at 11:10 pm

I didn’t mean the difference b/w Erdõs Pál and Paul Erdos, I wouldn’t have commented on that. His original family name was Engländer, but maybe he was always Erdõs. Some of the others definitely changed their names from what they had been born with. Robert Capa was born Endre (Andre) Friedmann, for example.

My father’s last name was Wilhelm until he was 18 at which point he switched it to our last name: Hargittai (b/c his brother changed his and he wanted to have the same name as his brother). Now most Hungarians think we’re from Romania b/c there’s a Hargita mountain there. But we’re Hungarian Jews and the Wilhelm side came from northwest of Budapest. Mind you, Paul Erdõs’s mother’s maiden name was Wilhelm as well and also came from that area. It’s a rare Jewish last name.. maybe we’re related.:) But partly due to all these name changes – and partly due to all the people who died – it’s extremely hard to construct a family tree for Jewish families from that area.

I realize this is a bit off the original topic now, but I find it interesting.:)

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