On Wikipedia Gödel is described as a philosopher and since I do know of his logical works (as far as I am able to understand what I've read and heard of it). I wanted to know if he wrote more stuff, especially things that could be considered philosophical or that explain his own world-view.

I googled this a bit and looked at some German book-sellers online, but I haven't found anything that goes in that direction.

Maybe I haven't searched deep enough. But still, are there any such things? Preferably direct sources, not autobiographies or such.

  • Formal logic is widely considered a subfield of philosophy (and mathematics of course). Being a philosopher doesn't mean that he wrote about his "worldview". If he did, then your best bet is to look into the Collected Works Vol.1 and Vol.2 published by Oxford University Press. I do speak German and from what I could find from a quick google search, there do seem to be some informal and unpublished writings of his on non-logic philosophy but it appears to not be widely discussed or considered relevant and thus I couldn't even find anything on it except hints of it existing in letters and notes.
    – MM8
    Jan 21, 2018 at 3:52
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    Gödel wrote extensively about philosophy, a lot of it was about the philosophy of mathematics and logic (What is Cantor's continuum problem?, Some basic theorems on the foundation of mathematics and their implications, Is mathematics syntax of language?) but he also wrote about the philosophy of physics (Some observations about the relationship between theory of relativity and Kantian philosophy), Timon is correct in that you should check out his Collected Works, but Vol.3 is where most of his philosophical essays are, 1 and 2 are his published works which are mostly technical results in logic
    – Not_Here
    Jan 21, 2018 at 7:03
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    Also you should not discount biographies so quickly, Hao Wang was Gödel's close friend and he corresponded with Gödel for decades, over the course of which they talked about Gödel's philosophical views, the philosophical impact of his work, and everything else. Wang wrote two different books detailing his views of Gödel's philosophical positions, they are invaluable in scholarship on Gödel's views, especially because Gödel didn't formally publish many of his ideas. The extensive amount of writing he did was mostly done in personal letters as well as unpublished manuscripts (which are in Vol.3)
    – Not_Here
    Jan 21, 2018 at 7:06
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    Apparently he read the bible regularly. I mention this, because being Godel, all anyone wants to mention when they mention his name is math & logic. Jan 22, 2018 at 1:08

1 Answer 1


The most oft-quoted of Gödel's philosophical works might be Is Mathematics a Syntax of Language? It is not available online, unfortunately, but excerpts are read in this YouTube video. Tait wrote a survey Gödel's Unpublished Papers on Foundations of Mathematics, which is also freely available. For Gödel's metaphysics and epistemology see Ternullo's Gödel's Cantorianism and Solomon's On Kurt Gödel's Philosophy of Mathematics gives another overview.

Young Gödel was initially associated with the positivist Vienna Circle and was courted by Carnap himself. On this period, which led to the incomleteness theorems see Goldfarb's On Gödel's Way In: The Influence of Rudolf Carnap. But he already had misgivings, and his growing fascination with Leibniz shows strong Platonist leanings, see Why did Gödel believe that there was a conspiracy to suppress Leibniz's works? Gödel's Is Mathematics a Syntax of Language? written in 1950-s is a repudiation of Carnap's positivist philosophy of mathematics (nutshelled by the title), and the philosophical alternative that attracted Gödel in the later years was Husserl's phenomenology:

"Now in fact, there exists today the beginning of a science which claims to possess a systematic method for such a clarification of meaning, and that is the phenomenology founded by Husserl. [...] But one must keep clearly in mind that this phenomenology is not a science in the same sense as the other sciences. Rather it is [or in any case should be] a procedure or technique that should produce in us a new state of consciousness in which we describe in detail the basic concepts we use in our thought, or grasp other basic concepts hitherto unknown to us."

The idea of fallible extra-sensory "perception" of mathematical objects, which is how Gödel interpreted Husserl, was later developed by some analytic philosophers, like Maddy:

"It should be noted that mathematical intuition need not be conceived as a faculty giving an immediate knowledge of the objects concerned. Rather it seems that, as in the case of physical experience, we form our ideas also of t’ose objects on the basis of something else which is immediately given. [...] Evidently the "given" underlying mathematics is closely related to the abstract elements contained in our empirical ideas. It by no means follows, however, that the data of this second kind, because they cannot be associated with actions of certain things upon our sense organs, are something purely subjective, as Kant asserted. Rather they, too, may represent an aspect of objective reality, but, as opposed to the sensations, their presence in us may be due to another kind of relationship between ourselves and reality."

"Purely subjective" is not how Kant would put it, but for Gödel anything coming from the subject is inferior, and this covers not only Kant but Carnap and Wittgenstein too. Late Gödel does not hide his philosophical sympathies on the side of Plato, Leibniz and Husserl:

"I believe that the most fruitful principle for gaining an overall view of the possible world-views will be to divide them up according to the degree and manner of their affinity to or, respectively, turning away from metaphysics (or religion). In this way we immediately obtain a division into two groups: skepticism, materialism and positivism stand on one side, spiritualism, idealism and theology on the other."

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