Kristeller, Paul Oskar

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Kristeller, Paul Oskar Gender: M
Paul Oskar Gräfenberg
born on 22 May 1905 at 00:30 (= 12:30 AM )
Place Berlin, Germany, 52n29, 13e21
Timezone CET h1e (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_gemcol.18.gif 00°12' s_mo.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 11°17 Asc.s_aqucol.18.gif 06°11'


German-American-Jewish scholar of Renaissance humanism who was awarded the Haskins Medal in 1992. He was last active as Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Columbia University in New York, where he mentored both sociologist Irving Louis Horowitz and political scientist A. James Gregor.

During his university years in Germany he studied with Werner Jaeger, Heinrich Rickert, Richard Kroner, Karl Hampe, Friedrich Baethgen, Eduard Norden, and Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff. He also attended lectures by noted philosophers such as Ernst Cassirer, Edmund Husserl, and Karl Jaspers. In 1928, he earned his doctorate from the University of Heidelberg under Ernst Hoffmann with a dissertation on Plotinus. He did postdoctoral work at the universities of Berlin and Freiburg. At Freiburg, Kristeller studied under the philosopher Martin Heidegger from 1931 to 1933.

The Nazi victory in 1933 forced Kristeller to move to Italy. At his arrival, Giovanni Gentile secured for him a position as lecturer in German at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. It was at the Scuola Normale that Kristeller completed his first great works in the Renaissance, the Supplementum Ficinianum (1937) and The Philosophy of Marsilio Ficino (1943).

In 1939, he fled Italy, due to the enactment of Mussolini's August 1938 racial laws, to live in the USA. Thanks to the help of Yale University historian Roland Bainton, he sailed from Genoa in February 1939 and by March was teaching a graduate seminar at Yale on Plotinus. However Kristeller taught for only a short time at Yale University until moving to Columbia University, where he taught until his retirement in 1973, as Frederick J. E. Woodbridge Professor of Philosophy. He continued to be an active researcher after he retired.

Paul Kristeller received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1957, the Serena Medal of the British Academy in 1958, the Premio Internazionale Galileo Galilei in 1968, the Commendatore nell'Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 1971, and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1984. He was three times (1954-1955, 1961-1962, 1968-1969) a member at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1955, to the Medieval Academy of America in 1959, and to the American Philosophical Society in 1974.

The emphasis of Kristeller's research was on the philosophy of Renaissance humanism. He is the author of important studies on Marsilio Ficino, Pietro Pomponazzi and Giambattista Vico.

An especially important achievement is his Iter Italicum (the title recalls Iter Alemannicum and other works of Martin Gerbert), a large work describing numerous uncatalogued manuscripts. After decades of neglect, Kristeller's lengthy, erudite essay of the early 1950s, "The Modern System of the Arts", in Journal of the History of Ideas, proved to be an influential, much reprinted classic reading in Philosophy of Art.

Kristeller was the chief inspirer of the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, the ongoing project that aims to chart the fortune of all extant classical works through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, serving as Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the first two volumes and Associate Editor for the next five volumes.

Paul Oskar Kristeller died on 7 June 1999 in New York City at age 94.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • (has as) teacher relationship with Heidegger, Martin (born 26 September 1889). Notes: Philosophy
  • (has as) teacher relationship with Jaeger, Werner (born 30 July 1888). Notes: Classical philology
  • (has as) teacher relationship with Jaspers, Karl (born 23 February 1883). Notes: Philosophy


  • Family : Change residence 1933 (Moved to Italy to escape Nazis)
  • Family : Change residence 1939 (Moved to USA to escape racists)
  • Work : Prize 1992 (Haskins Medal)

Source Notes

Birth certificate in hand from Sy Scholfield, copy on file. He was born as Paul Oskar Gräfenberg; his father Oskar Gräfenberg died before he was born. Kristeller took the name of his stepfather Heinrich Benjamin Kristeller (1871–1942) in 1919.


  • Family : Childhood : Family traumatic event (His father died before he was born)
  • Lifestyle : Work : Mentor/Tutor
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Gain - Grant, Scholarship, etc.
  • Lifestyle : Home : Expatriate
  • Personal : Death : Long life more than 80 yrs (Age 94)
  • Vocation : Education : Researcher
  • Vocation : Education : Teacher
  • Vocation : Humanities+Social Sciences : Historian
  • Vocation : Humanities+Social Sciences : Philosopher
  • Vocation : Writers : Publisher/ Editor
  • Vocation : Writers : Textbook/ Non-fiction
  • Notable : Awards : Medals (Haskins Medal)