ABSTRACT: Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848), the famous logician and mathematician, worked from 1805-1819 as a religious professor at the Prague University. His studies focused on three main themes: (1) ethical education, including a rather liberal sexual education as well as the problems of the coexistence of Czechs and Germans in one country (with foresight into some of these matters before the rise of extreme nationalism); (2) social problems, where he formulated for the first time his social-utopian vision of human society based on the fundamental equality of people, ideas later gathered in his book, Von dem besten Staate; and (3) philosophy and religion, of which his lectures concentrate on the social function(s) of the Church and the social mission of the priesthood. Because of his opinions, he was disqualified from his professorship, resulting in a Church investigation against him. He was unable to return to the university, denied the right to publish in Austria, and relegated to live out his life as a private research worker. Bolzano's fate is similar to that of another pedagogue from Bohemia-Jan Patocka.
Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848), presently a logician and mathematician of international repute, worked from 1805-1819 as a theological professor at the Prague University. This post he received immediately after he ended his mathematics and theology studies. In this period he had already published his first scientific study Betrachtungen über einige Gegenstände der Elementargeometrie (A reflection on some elementary geometry questions), which was his final dissertation study. In the study Lebensbeschreibung des Dr. B. Bolzano (Biography of Dr. B. Bolzano), he remembers, that it was not easy to decide, if he should become a priest or a mathematician. Finally he decided on theology, rather than mathematics, mainly because he wanted to influence the young people and serve his nation in this way. He realized that he would influence future priests, teachers, doctors, lawyers, writers and scientists and so the future of society itself. The fact that this faculty was reopened in 1805, because of the Austrian Catholic restoration after the years of the Josefine Enlightenment persuaded Bolzano to see in this employment "the sign of God".
Not only did he teach Catholic religion, but his duties also included general themes lectures on Sundays and Holidays during the school year. These talks were in place of church sermons and were intended to help the young men to better orientate themselves in life and society. These talks became very popular and thanks to Bolzanos students were some years later published under the comprehensive name Erbauungsreden (Educational lectures).
The subject covered can be roughly divided into three areas: (1) ethical education, included sexual education, then (2) social problems and (3) philosophical-religious problems.
Bolzano's ethics were principally rationalistic in the spirit of the...