Kaarl Jaakko Juhani Hintikka was born in Vantaa, Helsinki, Finland.
mathematics with Rolf Nevanlinna and philosophy with
Georg Henrik von
Wright at the University of Helsinki where defended his
dissertation on distributive normal forms.
So we see the cross-reference
mathematics -- as per mathematics logic, that
today, for example, is taught
at Oxford not within the Sub-Faculty of
Philosophy but across the street,
so that people enrolled in disciplines other
than Philosophy can attend.
The chair is called "Mathematical logic" -- and
loved Wright and he borrowed from him (but never returned) the word
'alethic'. That Hintikka was inspired by these two people (and these two
fields: mathematical logic and philosophy -- moral theory --) to write his
essay on 'distributive normal forms' is interesting.
commented: "A distributive normal form is not as normal as it
adds with sarcasm: "especially if you catch it undistributed!".
his Ph.D. studies Hintikka worked as junior fellow at Harvard and
(independently of Stig Kanger) the founder of possible world
The keyterm is Leibniz, as in Leibniz's world: the best of all possible
worlds. Woody Allen (who wrote "Irrational man") and Barrett (who wrote
"Irrational man") have something to say about this, because Leibniz is
with the "best" (morally best) of all possible worlds and Lucas
character in Allen's film fallaciously thinks he has discovered it!).
treatment is more abstract: he uses subindexes w1 w2 w3 wn to
each world. Thus
"All man is rational"
is true in
all possible worlds if for any world n, man is rational.
published his groundbreaking work "Knowledge and Belief" on
-- the semantics of which is 'possible-worlds'. He uses now two
to represent that A
believes and knows that p respectively. He liked to
play with 'paradoxes'
K(A, p) --> KK(A, p)
i.e. if you know that God exists, you
know that you know that God exists.
Hintikka was appointed professor of
Practical Philosophy at Helsinki --
which was a good thing since, having
been born there, he never got lost! In
fact, he moved not far from the
house where he had been born. And a nice
house it was, too!
later became professor of philosophy at Stanford -- which is a
from Helsinki, if just more or less at the same distance from the
(different beaches, admittedly).
Stanford, with Hintikka, Patrick Suppes
and Dagfinn Föllesdal, and the
programme initiated by Grice "Hands across
the Bay" from across the Bay in
UC/Berkeley -- became one of the leading
centres of philosophy of science and
philosophical logic, if not conceptual
analysis: Urmson and S. N. Hampshire
also taught there.
new interests included inductive logic and semantic information.
say, "What's the good of a philosopher if you don't have a new
He shared his time between Stanford and Helsinki for a
Later Hintikka started his work with D. Reidel’s Publishing
Kluwer Academic Publishers) in Holland as the
editor-in-chief of the
journal "Synthese" and the book series "The Synthese
Library" -- which Geary
calls "hardly synthetic".
This activity made
Hintikka the most influential editor of philosophical
works. In fact, he
was co-editor of a festschrift, as it were, for Quine, who
"Words and Objections". This came out in Reidel as Words and
what's the good of a philosophical theory if you are not going
it, as Joaquin Phoenix says in "Irrational man"? -- and they
invited H. P.
Grice to contribute. Grice took his time -- which delayed the
of the thing -- and Hintikka was strict with deadlines -- but
the thing came out with Grice's "Vacuous Names" in it, and a
short reply by
Quine crediting Grice's brilliancy.
Hintikka was appointed to a Research
Professorship in the Academy of
Finland which allowed him to establish a
research group of Finnish scholars
working mainly in logic, philosophy of
science, philosophy of language, and
history of philosophy.
Academy of Finland owes its name to the Academy of Athens founded by
Most countries have Academies: Greece first, then Rome, then Italy,
France. Then Finland. Even Britain has its academy and Grice was
FBA in 1966 but he delayed the deliverance of his philosophical lecture
the British Academy to 1971, when he came up with "Intention and
Uncertanity": a parody on Hart and Hampshire's 'slightly ridiculous' claims
their joint essay for "Mind" on intention and certainty.
teacher and supervisor, Hintikka was highly influential though the
of his new ideas and research initiatives.
Many of the former students
of Hintikka have been appointed to chairs in
philosophy. To wit: Risto
Hilpinen, Raimo Tuomela, Juhani Pietarinen, Ilkka
Knuuttila, Veikko Rantala, Juha Manninen, Lauri Carlson,
Matti Sintonen, Gabriel Sandu.
Lauri Carlson wrote a Synthese Library
essay on "Dialogue games" -- the
ideas will be later developed by Hintikka
himself in his contribution to P. G.
R. I. C. E., the Grice festschrift
edited by Grandy and Warner.
Hintikka divorced his first wife
Hintikka married Merrill Bristow Provence -- Mrs. Hintikka willl
co-edit with Vermazen a festschrift for Davidson and they invited H.
to contribute. He did with a brilliant essay on 'akrasia'.
Hintikka and Provence were appointed at Tallahassee, Florida.
Hintikka married Ghita Holmström.
Hintikka became philosophy
professor at Boston -- not far from where he
had been a fellow in the next
town -- when he was in Harvard, Massachussets
-- He would walk from Boston
to Cambridge, and back, as he seemed to prefer
the bookshops in Cambridge
than those in Boston.
During his Boston pewriod, Hintikka resided in a
non-New-Englanders call them) at
Marlborough was not named after the person -- via rigid
designation -- but
after the borough.
Hintikka retired from Boston
and moved back to Finland.
Besides his activities in research, teaching,
and publication, Hintikka
served in many important positions in
international organizations, among
others vice president of The Association
for Symbolic Logic, vice-president and
later president of the Division of
Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of
Science of the International Union of
History and Philosophy of Science
(DLMPS/IUHPS), president of the Charles
S. Peirce Society -- D. Ritchie was
mentioning this genial philosopher
recently -- and the chairman of the
organizing committee of the Twentieth
World Congress of Philosophy.
As a proof of the appreciation of
Hintikka’s work, a volume dedicated to
him in "The Library of Living
Philosophers" was published.
Hintikka’s publications cover an
exceptionally wide range of topics.
During his career he published lots
of books or monographs, edited lots of
books, and authored lots of essays
in international journals or
His main works deal
-- mathematical logic (proof theory, infinitary logics,
-- intensional logic and propositional attitudes
of logic and mathematics
-- philosophy of language (game-theoretical
-- philosophy of science
(interrogative model of inquiry)
-- epistemology, and
-- history of
philosophy (Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Peirce, Frege,
-- in the P. G. R. I. C. E. festschrift).