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Mohr, Georg

1. Dates
Born: Copenhagen, 1 Apr 1640
Died: Kieslingswalde, near Goerlitz, Germany, 26 Jan 1697
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 57
2. Father
Occupation: Governmental Position, Merchant
His father was David Mohrendal, a hospital inspector and tradesman.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Copenhagen, Denmark
Career: Holland (as best I can make out). Partly. Denmark and Germany.
Death: Kieslingswalde, near Goerlitz, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: No University
His parents taught him reading, writing, and basic arithmetic.
1662, wanting to learn more mathematics, he left Denmark for Holland, where Huygens was teaching. Where he studied, and whether he met up with Huygens is unknown. He almost certainly studied under Spinoza.
He later travelled in France and England.
There is no mention of any university degrees.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Lutheran (assumed).
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics
7. Means of Support
Primary: Unknown
Secondary: Patronage
What he did to support himself is unknown for most of his life. He enjoyed being a free, learned man, and did not want to be tied down to a government job which would interfere with his scientific work. A reasonable guess is that he taught to support himself. It is clear that he settled in Holland after studying (presumably) there. He fought in the Dutch-French conflict of 1672-3 and was taken prisoner. Sometime, perhaps directly after the war or around 1681, he returned to Denmark where the King offered to make him supervisor of royal ship building. He refused and returned to Holland around 1687.
1695-1697, finally, after resisting for several years, he accepted a job at Tschirnhaus's little museion in Kieslingswalde. This appears clearly to have been an arrangement of patronage.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Scientist
His Euclides Danicus (1672) is dedicated to the Danish King Christian V. Mohr tried to benefit from this dedication, and was offered a position as supervisor for royal ship building. But he thought that as a mathematician and philosopher he should have more independence than this position would allow. According to the D.S.B. he left Denmark in 1687 because of a difference with the King; whether this alludes to the unsatisfactory job offer in not clear. This desire for independence has been mentioned by a few sources (Seidenberg, Andersen), who say that Mohr avoided patrons after this incident. Andersen even illustrates this with Mohr's surprised reaction to Tschirnhaus's marriage (1683), where he wonders how Tschirnhaus could give up his independence. Mohr himself then married in 1687.
Despite this avoidence of patrons that has been cited, Tschirnhaus was a patron of Mohr toward the end of Mohr's life. They met in Holland, later spent some time together in France and England, and finally, Mohr joined Tschirnhaus's museion two years before his death.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: None Known
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None known He corresponded with Tschirnhaus and Leibniz.
Sources
  1. Kirsti Andersen, "An Impression of Mathematics in Denmark in the Period 1600-1800," Centaurus, 24 (1980), 322-4. [Biol. Q1.C39 v. 24] C.M. Taisbak, "Mohr, Georg," Dansk Biografisk Leksikon, 9 (Copenhagen, 1979), 605b-606b. [ref. CT1263.D33 1979] v. 9 J. Hjelmslev, "Om et af den danske matematiker Georg Mohr udgivet skrift Euclides Danicus," Matematisk Tidsskrift, B (1928), 1- 7.
  2. , "Beitraege zur Lebenabschreibung von Georg Mohr (1640-1697), Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, Math.-fysiske Meddelelser, 11 (1931), 3-23.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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1995 Al Van Helden
Last updated
 
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