On This Day … 17 March

People (Births)

  • 1877 – Otto Gross, Austrian-German psychoanalyst and philosopher (d. 1920).
  • 1922 – Patrick Suppes, American psychologist and philosopher (d. 2014).

People (Deaths)

  • 1917 – Franz Brentano, German philosopher and psychologist (b. 1838).

Otto Gross

Otto Hans Adolf Gross (17 March 1877 to 13 February 1920) was an Austrian psychoanalyst. A maverick early disciple of Sigmund Freud, he later became an anarchist and joined the utopian Ascona community.

His father Hans Gross was a judge turned pioneering criminologist. Otto initially collaborated with him, and then turned against his determinist ideas on character.

A champion of an early form of anti-psychiatry and sexual liberation, he also developed an anarchist form of depth psychology (which rejected the civilising necessity of psychological repression proposed by Freud). He adopted a modified form of the proto-feminist and neo-pagan theories of Johann Jakob Bachofen, with which he attempted to return civilization to a ‘golden age’ of non-hierarchy. Gross was ostracized from the larger psychoanalytic movement, and was not included in histories of the psychoanalytic and psychiatric establishments. He died in poverty.

Greatly influenced by the philosophy of Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche and the political theories of Peter Kropotkin, he in turn influenced D.H. Lawrence (through Gross’s affair with Frieda von Richthofen), Franz Kafka and other artists, including Franz Jung and other founders of Berlin Dada. His influence on psychology was more limited. Carl Jung claimed his entire worldview changed when he attempted to analyse Gross and partially had the tables turned on him.

He became addicted to drugs in South America where he served as a naval doctor. He was hospitalized several times for drug addiction, sometimes losing his guardianship of himself to his father in the process. As a Bohemian drug user from youth, as well as an advocate of free love, he is sometimes credited as a founding grandfather of 20th-century counterculture.

Patrick Suppes

Patrick Colonel Suppes (17 March 1922 to 17 November 2014) was an American philosopher who made significant contributions to philosophy of science, the theory of measurement, the foundations of quantum mechanics, decision theory, psychology and educational technology. He was the Lucie Stern Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Stanford University and until January 2010 was the Director of the Education Program for Gifted Youth also at Stanford.

Franz Brentano

Franz Clemens Honoratus Hermann Josef Brentano (16 January 1838 to 17 March 1917) was an influential German philosopher, psychologist, and former Catholic priest (withdrawn in 1873 due to the definition of papal infallibility in matters of Faith) whose work strongly influenced not only students Edmund Husserl, Sigmund Freud, Tomáš Masaryk, Rudolf Steiner, Alexius Meinong, Carl Stumpf, Anton Marty, Kazimierz Twardowski, and Christian von Ehrenfels, but many others whose work would follow and make use of his original ideas and concepts.

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