Reminiscences of the Vienna Circle and the Mathematical Colloquium
Karl Menger was born in Vienna on January 13, 1902, the only child of two gifted parents. His mother Hermione, nee Andermann (1870-1922), in addition to her musical abilities, wrote and published short stories and novelettes, while his father Carl (1840-1921) was the noted Austrian economist, one of the founders of marginal utility theory. A highly cultured man, and a liberal rationalist in the nine teenth century sense, the elder Menger had witnessed the defeat and humiliation of the old Austrian empire by Bismarck's Prussia, and the subsequent establishment under Prussian leadership of a militaristic, mystically nationalistic, state-capitalist German empire - in effect, the first modern "military-industrial complex. " These events helped frame in him a set of attitudes that he later transmitted to his son, and which included an appreciation of cultural attainments and tolerance and respect for cultural differences, com bined with a deep suspicion of rabid nationalism, particularly the German variety. Also a fascination with structure, whether artistic, scientific, philosophical, or theological, but a rejection of any aura of mysticism or mumbo-jumbo accompanying such structure. Thus the son remarked at least once that the archangels' chant that begins the Prolog im Himmel in Goethe's Faust was perhaps the most viii INTRODUCTION beautiful thing in the German language "but of course it doesn't mean anything.