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Biographical Notes: Kurt Grelling
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[5. Biographical Notes.]

Kurt Grelling.

The logician and philosopher Kurt Grelling (1886 - 1942) was a victim of Nazi persecution, and he died with his wife in Auschwitz concentration camp in September 1942. Hempel remembers that Oppenheim made every effort to allow Grelling to immigrate to the USA but, according to Hempel, immigration officials were perplexed by Grelling's alleged propensity towards Communism. Hence there was a delay that was fatal to Grelling, who was captured in France and later transferred in Auschwitz concentration camp. The episode is reported in Hempel, "Autobiografia Intellettuale" in Oltre il Positivismo Logico, Armando: Rome, 1988 (this essay is the text of an interview Hempel gave to Richard Noland in 1982, published for the first time in Italian translation in 1988).
Grelling was a teacher in secondary school and was interested in logical problems. A semantic paradox is named after him, the Grelling’s Paradox, formulated in 1908 by Grelling and Leonard Nelson. There are some words which have the property they express, for example "short" is short. Those words are called autological. The other words are called heterological. For example, "long" is a heterological word because it is not long. Now the question is whether "heterological" is heterological. If yes, then "heterological" is by definition an autological word and thus it is not heterological. If no, then "heterological" has the property it designates, and therefore it is heterological. Thus, "heterological" is heterological if and only if it is not heterological. This results in a semantic paradox.
Grelling collaborated with Gödel, and in 1936 he published an article in which he defended Gödel's Theorem of Incompleteness against an erroneous interpretation that implies Gödel's Theorem is a paradox like Russell's Paradox ("Gibt es eine Gödelsche Antinomie?" in Theoria, 3, 1936). Grelling was also interested in the analysis of scientific explanation and in the Gestalt approach in psychology.

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