Michael Krausz
Michael Krausz (philosopher).jpg
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Interpretation, Relativism

Michael Krausz (born 1942) is a Swiss-born American philosopher as well as an artist and orchestral conductor. His philosophical works focus on the theory of interpretation, theory of knowledge, philosophy of science, philosophy of history, and philosophy of art and music. Krausz is Milton C. Nahm Professor of Philosophy at Bryn Mawr College,[1] and he teaches Aesthetics at the Curtis Institute of Music.[2] He has taught at University of Toronto and has been visiting professor at American University, Georgetown University, Oxford University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, American University in Cairo, University of Nairobi, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, and University of Ulm, among others. Krausz is the co-founder (with Joseph Margolis) and former Chair of the fourteen-institution Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium.[3]


Krausz is a son of musician and artist Laszlo Krausz (1903–1979) and pianist and composer Susan Krausz (1914–2008), and he is husband of artist Constance Costigan.

Krausz earned a PhD from University of Toronto, including post-graduate work at Linacre College, Oxford University. He was a Special Student at the London School of Economics, and holds a BA from Rutgers University and an MA from Indiana University. His notable teachers include Sir Isaiah Berlin, William Dray, Patrick Gardiner, Rom Harré, Sir Karl Popper, and John Oulton Wisdom. He has also been influenced by R.G. Collingwood, Joseph Margolis and Bimal Krishna Matilal.

Krausz currently serves as series editor for a number of publications, including Brill Publishers Series in Philosophy of History and Culture,[4] Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Series on Philosophy and the Global Context,[5] Rodopi Publishers Series on Interpretation and Translation,[6] and Penn State University Press Series of the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium.[7]



I. Ideals and Aims of Interpretation. Michael Krausz’s interests in the theory of interpretation address the following cluster of questions.[8] For such cultural phenomena as works of art, music, literature, and the self, can a single admissible interpretation exist? Or, for such phenomena, can a multiplicity of admissible interpretations exist?[9] For such phenomena, can opposing interpretations be jointly defended?[10] Does interpretive activity affect the nature and number of that which is interpreted?[11][12] Does interpretation aim for the elucidation of its objects, the edification of its interpreters, or both?[13] How does the question of singularity or multiplicity of admissible interpretations bear on the singularity or multiplicity of life paths and projects?[14]

Singularism asserts that objects of interpretation always answer to one and only one ideal interpretation. In contrast, multiplism asserts that objects of interpretation may answer to more than one opposed interpretation. Both singularism and multiplism require that competing interpretations address one and the same object of interpretation. Where different interpretations address different objects of interpretation, an innocuous pluralism occurs.[15] Where objects of interpretation cannot be delineated as to number, neither singularism nor multiplism can apply.[16]

Krausz probes the relation between these ideals of interpretation and their ontologies.[17] Singularism and multiplism are each compatible with either realism or constructivism. Singularism does not uniquely entail realism (and vice versa) and multiplism does not uniquely entail constructivism (and vice versa). Orthodox combinations include singularist-realism and multiplist-constructivism. Heterodox combinations include singularist-constructivism and multiplist-realism.[18]

Krausz affirms that the contest between singularism and multiplism is logically detachable from the contest between realism and constructivism.[19] He further shows that the contest between singularism and multiplism is detachable from a range of other ontologies that fall under the reconciliatory heading of “constructive realism.”[20] None of the ontologies in Krausz’s inventory of constructive realisms uniquely entails either singularism or multiplism (and vice versa). Yet Krausz denies that his “detachability thesis” demonstrates that ontology as such is unnecessary for the theory of interpretation. For the question of the countability of objects of interpretation as well as interpretations themselves is ontological.[21] Krausz extends the notion of ideals of interpretation to ideals of life paths or projects, such as self-realization.[22] That is, directional singularism is the view that for a given person there is one admissible life path, and directional multiplism is the view that for a given person there may be more than one admissible life path. He develops the idea of directional multiplism from a non-essentialist or non-foundational view of human nature.[23]

II. Relativism. In addition, Krausz’s work on relativism canvasses the range and significance of relativistic doctrines and rehearses their virtues and vices. He considers relativism as the claim that truth, goodness, or beauty (among other values) is relative to some reference frame, and no absolute standards to adjudicate between reference frames exist. He defines and differentiates various strands of absolutism: realism, universalism and foundationalism.[24] Krausz argues that when these strands of absolutism are unwoven, and when relativism is understood as the negation of these strands, classical self-refutation arguments against relativism do not apply.[25][26] In turn, Krausz considers whether the idea of “undifferentiated unity” survives the relativist challenge. He suggests that the assertion of undifferentiated unity, instanced for example in some Asian soteriologies, is compatible with relativism as here he defines it.[27]


Michael Krausz is the founding Artistic Director and Conductor of the Great Hall Chamber Orchestra at Bryn Mawr.[28] The GHCO is composed of 42 young professional and conservatory musicians, and has collaborated with principal players of the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra as soloists. Krausz studied violin with Cleveland Orchestra concertmaster Josef Gingold. He received his early conducting coaching from his father, Laszlo Krausz, noted violist with l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Cleveland Orchestra, and conductor of the Akron Symphony Orchestra. Frederik Prausnitz of the Peabody Conservatory, and Luis Biava, Resident Conductor Laureate of the Philadelphia Orchestra also coached Michael Krausz. Krausz has been guest conductor of professional orchestras in Bulgaria, including the Pleven, Vratsa and Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestras.


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Michael Krausz has had thirty-three solo and duo shows in galleries in the U.S., U.K., and India, and he has participated in many group exhibitions. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (F.R.S.A.) in 1973. Krausz studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. He was Resident Fellow at the Ossabaw Foundation. Krausz's artworks have been reproduced in numerous publications including the British journal, Leonardo. He is a member of Artist's Exchange, DE, and Delaware by Hand, which, in 2009, awarded him the status of “Master.”[29]

Krausz's paintings depict various spatial planes at once, embodying scripted messages of no literal significance. They are concerned with the emergence and dissolution of ciphers in infinite spaces. The works embody a kind of automatic writing arising from conductorial musical gestures in meditative spaces. The paintings are done with dry pigment on museum board and other mixed media.


Major works
Volumes edited
Secondary sources


  1. ^ "Faculty Page". Bryn Mawr College. Archived from the original on October 8, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  2. ^ "Faculty Directory". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved September 27, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Board of Directors". Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  4. ^ "Series in Philosophy of History and Culture". Brill Publishers. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  5. ^ "Series on Philosophy and the Global Context". Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  6. ^ "Series on Interpretation and Translation". Rodopi Publishers. Archived from the original on July 20, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  7. ^ "Series of the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium". Penn State University Press. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  8. ^ Michael Krausz, “Interpretation and Its Objects: A Synoptic View,” chap. 2. In Andreea Deciu Ritivoi, ed., Interpretation and Its Objects: Studies in the Philosophy of Michael Krausz. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2003
  9. ^ Michael Krausz, Rightness and Reasons: Interpretation in Cultural Practices, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993, chap. 2.
  10. ^ Michael Krausz. “Interpretation and Its Objects,” chap. 7. In Michael Krausz, ed. Is There A Single Right Interpretation? Philadelphia: Penn State University Press, 2002
  11. ^ Krausz, Rightness and Reasons, chap. 3, 4.
  12. ^ Michael Krausz, Interpretation and Transformation: Explorations in Art and the Self. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007, chap. 5.
  13. ^ Michael Krausz, Limits of Rightness, Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2000, chap. 11
  14. ^ Krausz, Interpretation and Transformation, chap. 9
  15. ^ Krausz, Rightness and Reasons, chap. 2.
  16. ^ Krausz, Interpretation and Transformation, chap. 10.
  17. ^ Krausz, “Interpretation and Its Objects.”
  18. ^ Krausz, “Interpretation and Its Objects.”
  19. ^ Krausz, Limits of Rightness, chap. 4,5.
  20. ^ Krausz, Limits of Rightness, chap. 5–9
  21. ^ Krausz. “Interpretation and Its Objects.”
  22. ^ Krausz, Interpretation and Transformation, chap. 9, 10
  23. ^ Michael Krausz, Limits of Rightness, chap. 13.
  24. ^ Michael Krausz, “Mapping Relativisms,” chap. 1. In Michael Krausz, ed., Relativism: A Contemporary Anthology. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.
  25. ^ Krausz, “Mapping Relativisms.”
  26. ^ Michael Krausz, “The Debate,” chap. 1. In Michael Krausz and Rom Harré, eds. Varieties of Relativism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publishers, 1996
  27. ^ Michael Krausz, Dialogues on Relativism, Absolutism, and Beyond: Four Days in India, Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2011, Day Four.
  28. ^ "Michael Krausz". Great Hall Chamber Orchestra. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  29. ^ "Master Artisans". Delaware By Hand. Archived from the original on November 20, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2010.