İçimin acıdığı anlardan biri

06 Aug

15. yüzyılda Endülüs?teki Müslümanlara ne oldu? diye sormuştum. IRC ve e-posta üzerinden bazı yorumlar geldi, güzel muhabbetler edildi. Konu konuyu açtı ve 20. yüzyılın başındaki İstanbul’a ve Türkiye Cumhuriyeti’ne geldi.

Bir başka önemli vaka, yine bir tür zorunlu göç hali. 1930lu yıllar ve Almanya’dan kaçıp Türkiye’deki modern akademinin temelini atan Alman yahudi felsefeci ve bilimadamları. Reichenbach‘a geldi dayandı konu. Hocası Kyburg üzerinden Reichenbach’ı akademik atalarından biri kabul eden bir dostum şu uzun alıntıyı gönderdi. Okudum ve içim acıdı. İçim acıdı ve 70 sene sonra geldiğimiz nokta üstüne düşüncelere daldım:

Shortly after his dismissal, Reichenbach went to Istanbul along with a score of other German scholars. Capitalizing on the brain-drain from Germany, Turkey created a new university, recruiting a faculty staffed almost exclusively with displaced German professors. Many of those who found asylum in Turkey were, like Reichenbach, established scholars in Germany. Included among them were the astronomer Ernest Freudlich and the mathematician Richard von Mises. Turkey lacked the academic facilities for a university, but the Turkish government promised to bring the library, classrooms, and laboratories up to the standards of those who were to make use of them. Reichenbach and the others signed five year contracts with the Turkish government. One condition of the contract was that professors had to learn Turkish within five years and thereafter teach all classes in Turkish.

In a letter to Walter Dubislav, a member of Reichenbach’s philosophical circle in Berlin, Reichenbach provides a detailed account of his situation in Istanbul. Reichenbach describes the university, the caliber of his students, his teaching methods, and the language problem. Although the position in Istanbul provided Reichenbach with a measure of security, the adjustment was not an easy one and certain problems were never resolved. Reichenbach had been promised a free hand and a large budget for books. However, he complained in letters that most of the books ordered never arrived, even after a number of years. Reichenbach eventually learned that the money for the books had been “lost” in the chain of government officials through which book orders passed.

Lecturing in German with a Turkish student translating into Turkish for the students proved to make teaching difficult, but what frustrated Reichenbach the most was the general lack of intellectual preparedness of his students. After teaching students such as Hempel and Grelling, Reichenbach found himself trying to teach students who had no background in the history of science and philosophy. As a result, he rarely taught his specialty in Turkey; instead he concentrated on the history of philosophy. As he came to express in many letters, Reichenbach felt that the Turkish government’s plan for a university had been misconceived. He believed that a university could only flourish where basic human needs had been met, and that they had not yet been adequately met in Turkey.

Reichenbach had other fundamental problems with the University of Istanbul. Through correspondence with Sidney Hook and others, a one year visiting professorship at New York University had been arranged. The appointment conflicted, however, with Reichenbach’s contractual obligations at the University of Istanbul. The administrators refused Reichenbach’s request for a leave of absence. More than the loss of an important academic opportunity, Reichenbach deeply resented the way the his superiors handled the matter. Upon learning of NYU’s offer, the Istanbul administration wrote to NYU refusing the offer for Reichenbach, without ever consulting him! Together with the other problems, this last matter solidified Reichenbach’s resolve to leave Turkey at the end of his five year contract and find a permanent position elsewhere.

Reichenbach had chosen Istanbul over a one year position at Oxford. In letters in which he refuses the Oxford job, Reichenbach gives as reasons the fact that the Istanbul job was for an “Ordinariat” (a full professorship). Years later, Reichenbach was to regret making the decision against Oxford and for Istanbul.

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Posted by on August 6, 2006 in General


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