Kraus, Oskar

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KRAUS, OSKAR (1872–1942), author and philosopher. Kraus was born in Prague, where he became a student of the philosopher Anton Maurus Marty. In 1902 he joined the faculty of the German University at Prague, and later became professor of philosophy. Kraus coedited his mentor's Gesammelte Schriften (2 vols., 1916–20), and Raum und Zeit (1916), a treatment of time and space. In addition, Kraus undertook an evaluation of Marty's impact in his book, Anton Marty; sein Leben undseine Werke (1916). The personality of Albert Schweitzer had a strong attraction for Kraus, and the two men corresponded. In 1926 Kraus published a character study of Schweitzer which described him as an ethical personality and philosophic mystic. This work appeared posthumously in English and was entitled Albert Schweitzer, his Work and his Philosophy (1944). Another personality compelling Kraus' attention was Franz Clemens Brentano. Five of Brentano's philosophic works edited by Kraus were published between 1926 and 1930. Previously Kraus had written Franz Brentano, zur Kenntnis seines Lebens und seiner Lehre (1919). Kraus' own philosophy was early characterized by a satirical pessimism, which he elaborated in Wege und Abwege der Philosophie (1934) and Werttheorien; Geschichte und Kritik (1937). He ventured into disciplines beyond the realm of technical philosophy, studying the general implications of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. These ideas on the relativity theory appear in his letters to Einstein, Offene Briefe an Albert Einstein und Max V. Laue ueber die gedanklichen Grundlagen der speziellen und allgemeinen Relativitaetstheorie (1925). In a foray into the principles of international law, Kraus edited Jeremy Benthams Grundsaetze fuer ein kuenftiges Voelkerrecht um einen dauernden Frieden (1915). About 1938 Kraus was detained in a concentration camp. Paradoxically, the harsh new realities of camp life turned him from his critical pessimistic outlook toward a positivistic mysticism. During the period of his confinement he devoted himself to a consideration of Brentano's proof for the existence of God, a proof in which Kraus had early detected a flaw, and which he was now moved to improving. Before the outbreak of the war he was released and managed to escape to England. Kraus settled in Cambridge, and became active as a public lecturer.