Letters to Michael Josef Fesl, 1831–1836. Edited by Otto Neumaier. (Briefe an Michael Josef Fesl, 1831–1836.) (German) Zbl 1475.01044

Bernard Bolzano-Gesamtausgabe. Reihe III: Briefwechsel 2,2. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog Verlag (ISBN 978-3-7728-2623-8/hbk). 332 p. (2020).
The book under review is the second of five volumes of the critical edition of Bernard Bolzano’s (1781–1848) correspondence with Michael Josef Fesl (1788–1864). The theologian Fesl was Bolzano’s student and friend. The correspondence comprises only Bolzano’s letters to Fesl written between 1831 and 1836, some of them authored in parts by Anna Hoffmann (1784–1842) who occasionally mediated between the two. Fesl’s letters to Bolzano were published elsewhere [O. Neumaier (ed.) and P. M. Schenkel (ed.), Michael Josef Fesl. Briefe an Bernard Bolzano 1831–1836. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag (2020; Zbl 1448.01035)]. In the correspondence, a big variety of theological, philosophical and political topics is discussed, most of them related to pending publications. The preparation of Bolzano’s “logic”, later published as Wissenschaftslehre (1837) is of special interest for mathematics. Main concern was the search for a suitable title which could properly express Bolzano’s high pretensions: the logic aimed at a “complete reconfiguration of this science and furthermore, with this, a reform of all other, particularly philosophical sciences” (p. 94). The final choice of the sub-title was “Attempt of a comprehensive and mostly new presentation of logic with constant consideration of its previous examiners”. Bolzano reported that he began to collect material for the book in 1809, the actual work started in 1820 and in 1830 he distributed the manuscript among relevant scholars (p. 119). The two debated whether the book should be published anonymously. On the published titlepage it finally says “Dr. Bolzano’s Wissenschaftslehre … edited by several of his friends”. They debated whether a frontispiece should be included (denied) and who among contemporary logicians should get review volumes.
The book is closed by several useful indices, the list of Bolzano’s and Fesl’s letters, the bibliography, the list of Bolzano’s publications and project discussed in the letters, the list of persons with short biographical information, and the list of matters.


01A75 Collected or selected works; reprintings or translations of classics
01A55 History of mathematics in the 19th century
01A70 Biographies, obituaries, personalia, bibliographies

Biographic References:

Fesl, Michael Josef; Bolzano, Bernard


Zbl 1448.01035