Privatdozent Photo Edition #10
Oskar Morgenstern visiting Kurt Gödel in Princeton (1950s)
Following the death of Kurt Gödel (1906-78)’s close friends John von Neumann (1903-57) and Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the mathematician gravitated towards another close friend in Princeton, economist Oskar Morgenstern (1902-77). In the photograph, the two are standing outside of Gödel’s house. We know the details of their relationship largely due to Morgenstern’s diaries being donated to the Duke University library. Alongside Gödel’s so-called Nachlaß (his correspondences, drafts, notebooks, unpublished manuscripts, books, as well as loose notes and memoranda, donated to the Institute for Advanced Study), these documents narrate a very close friendship which at times caused Morgenstern considerable frustration.
Among the funniest descriptions of their relationship I’ve found in Morgenstern’s archive is the following, by his wife Dorothy Morgenstern Thomas from 1991:
“He used to call […] As you know Gödel had a very inquiring mind and he had many interests. To go back even farther, when we were first married I was astounded, he would sometimes go to the movies and then he would like to call and discuss them. And he always had a different story, but a very logical one.”
Photo Edition #4 shows all three of Gödel’s “protectors” von Neumann, Einstein and Morgenstern, together in 1952.
Related Privatdozent newsletters:
Kurt Gödel’s Brilliant Madness, June 21st 2021
Gödel’s Constitutional Quarrel (1947), June 14th 2021
Oskar Morgenstern's Transformation (1925-38), August 27th 2021
Gödel's Solution to Einstein's Field Equations, May 4th 2021
The Duties of John von Neumann’s Assistant in the 1930s, July 11th 2021
The photograph above was auctioned via Bonhams in 2020. The lot’s description was:
“Original color slide, 50 x 50 cm including Kodachrome mount, Princeton, 1950s, depicting Morgenstern and Gödel standing beside the latter's house”
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