Nicholas Rescher Receives Prestigious Honor From German Government

Issue Date: 
January 9, 2012

In recognition of his contributions to philosophy and to German-American cooperation in this field, Nicholas Rescher, University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, was presented with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz erster Klasse) by Busso von Alvensleben, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, during a Dec. 8 ceremony in Pitt’s University Club. The event marked the Consul General’s first visit to Pittsburgh.

Professor Rescher is the second Pitt philosophy professor to receive this prestigious form of recognition from the German government. The honor was previously accorded in 1997 to Rescher’s friend and colleague, Gerald J. Massey, Pitt Emeritus Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy and former director of the Center for Philosophy of Science at Pitt.

A statement from the German Consulate noted that Rescher is one of the most renowned and widely read philosophers in the world and that he received the award for his outstanding contribution to the dissemination and more profound understanding of German philosophy in America. The consulate also noted that Rescher’s research on Leibniz, Kant, and German Idealism have become benchmarks in the field of philosophical studies.

“We have long been the direct beneficiaries of all that Professor Rescher—a giant in the world of philosophy and one of the most committed, respected, and beloved members of our faculty—has done to elevate the University through the excellence and impact of his work and through his remarkable generosity in donating to the University his invaluable personal collection of original and rare materials relating to some of the world’s most renowned philosophers,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “This notable recognition of his lifetime of contributions to the advancement of philosophy and the philosophy of science is a testament to his untiring devotion to furthering knowledge and fostering German-American scholarly pursuits.”

“I am very honored to receive this award and find great satisfaction in knowing that almost 100 years after my father was awarded a decoration by the German state for services rendered in war—viz., the Iron Cross for Services on the Western Front in 1916—I am awarded one for services rendered in peace,” said Rescher.

Rescher is a renowned systematic philosopher and author of a system of pragmatic idealism that weaves together threads of thought from continental idealism and American pragmatism.