Oliver Reiser

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In existographies, Oliver Reiser (60 BE-19 AE) (1895-1974 ACM) (IQ:#|#) (CR:13) (LH:3) was an American philosopher, characterized a "Goethe, Rumi, and twentieth century Pascal" (Smith, c.1955), noted for his 1935 “super-observer” model, aka advanced perspective (Thims, 2007), and for his 1940 Scientific Humanism, wherein he attempts to outline a beyond-Aristotle beyond-Darwin "scientific humanism" (TCN:36)[1] or "cosmic humanism" (Reiser, 1966), per Einstein's suggestion; and for his 1945 suggestion that a global "Institute for Scientific Humanism" needs to be established.



Reiser associated and corresponded with Edwin Slosson, John Dewey, and Albert Einstein.


In 1935, Reiser, in his Philosophy and Conceptions of Modern Science, building on the work of Edwin Slosson, he attempted to apply the second law to the study of human history, taking a “a step forward”, as he says, wherein he devotes a section to "social energetics", i.e. those who brought physical chemistry methods to bear on social problems, such as: Vilfredo Pareto, Wilhelm Ostwald, Henry Adams, and Thomas Carver.[2]

In 1945, Reiser, prompted by an official at some foundation who asked him "how long till we achieve utopia?", penned out an article suggesting that the world needs first and foremost is to set up an "Institute for Scientific Humanism", per reason that as the pace of time accelerates, the world becomes more quickly integrated, and that as such a so-called "global brain" like institute is needed, before any naive talk about future utopias can result, or something along these lines.[3]

Humanist Manifesto

In 1933, Roy Sellars and Raymond Bragg penned A Humanist Manifesto, which outlined a 15 statement generic secular belief system, which was signed by those including: John Dewey, Oliver Reiser, among others, the gist of which was a rejection of supernatural, rejection of dualism (#3), and the general idea that in “place of the old attitudes involved in worship and prayer the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in a heightened sense of personal life and in a cooperative effort to promote social well-being” (#9).[4]


Quotes | Employed

The following are quotes employed by Reiser:

“The book of nature is a fine and large tapestry rolled up, which we are not able to see all at once, but must be content to wait for discovery of its beauty and symmetry, little by little, as it gradually comes to be more unfolded and displayed.”
Robert Boyle (c.1675), Publication; cited by Oliver Reiser (1940) in The Promise of Scientific Humanism (pg. 304) [5]

Quotes | On

The following are quotes on Reiser:

Oliver Reiser joined the circle of eternal cosmic humanists on June 6, 1974. This gentle man of strong conviction trod with giants. John Dewy and Albert Einstein counted him a friend. Tagore, Aurobindo, and John Bennett of England correspond with him. A Goethe, Rumi, and twentieth century Pascal, Oliver Reiser spent 50-years as professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Oliver always found time to help his students or any neophyte and none had ideas too wild for him to consider. An author of numerous books and articles with his best known being ''Cosmic Humanism''. To those of us who knew him he was immortal and will ever be so-a guide who put no boundaries on his followers. Reiser is the cosmic synergist.”
— Robert Smith (c.1995), “Obituary on Oliver Reiser” [6][7]
Reiser's interests ranged across epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, and metaphysics. An advocate of science and scientific humanism, he was an original signer of the first Humanist Manifesto in 1933 and also a signer of the second in 1973. Among his friends were Albert Einstein and John Dewey. Einstein suggested Reiser use ‘cosmic humanism’ instead, probably because Reiser was no materialist and his search for a meta-physically satisfactory synthesis of the sciences, religions, and values took his cosmological speculations far beyond contemporary science.”
— John Shook (2005), Dictionary of American Philosophers (pg. 2037) [8]

Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Reiser:

“If, as Pareto says, human society as a system of molecules undergoing various combinations in space and time, some critics might like to raise the question of how it is that if we, as individuals, corresponding to the molecules of a gas we can know anything of the ‘total state’? As constituents of a statistical ensemble we see what happens within the system, but only a super-observer could note from without those changing combinations which constitute the cultural patterns. the impossibility of such a human super-observer would seem to place a limitation upon the possibility of a science based on such assumption.”
— Oliver Reiser (1935), Philosophy and Conceptions of Modern Science (pg. 225)
“The problem of the origin of life is one of the oldest enigmas with which the human mind has been concerned; and yet it is a problem which is ever-recurring, seemingly as insurgent as life itself.”
— Oliver Reiser (1940), Scientific Humanism (§12: Life as a Form of Chemical Behavior, pgs. 159-72) [2]
“As the world shrinks in size, as it progressively contracts in its spatial relations, social processes already at work are speed up. As the world becomes ‘one world’ through technological unifications by means of radio, airplanes, television, and the rest, the forces that make for destruction of friendly human adaptions are intensified and speed up, s that, in a sense, time moves faster and faster. This heightens the tensions and intensifies the struggles of conflicting forces—and the old time-scale breaks down. This means that if the world is not to destroy itself, the forces that make for integrative human relationships mist also be accelerated in their operations.”
— Oliver Reiser (1945), “An Institute of Scientific Humanism” [3]


  1. Scientific humanism – Hmolpedia 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Reiser, Oliver L. (1935). Philosophy and Conceptions of Modern Science (Slosson, pg. 240; Pareto, pg. 225). MacMillan.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Reiser, Oliver L. (1945). “An Institute of Scientific Humanism” (abs), Philosophy of Science, 12(2): 45-51.
  4. (a) Humanist Manifesto I – AmericanHumanist.org.
    (b) Humanist Manifesto – Wikipedia.
  5. Reiser, Oliver. (1940). The Promise of Scientific Humanism: Toward a Unification of Scientific, Religious, Social and Economic Thought. Oskar Piest.
  6. Oliver Reiser (1997) – EarthPortals.com.
  7. Smith III, Robert A. (c.1995). “Folder 394”, Oliver Reiser Papers, University of Pittsburgh.
  8. Shook, John. (2005). Dictionary of American Philosophers (pg. 2037). Bloomsbury.

Further reading

  • Reiser, Oliver. (1958). Integration of Human Knowledge. Publisher.
  • Reiser, Oliver. (1966). Cosmic Humanism. Publisher.
  • Reiser, Oliver L. (1973). “Cosmic Humanism: and World Unity”, World Union Journal, Pondicherry, India, Sep. 19.

External links

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