George Molnar (philosopher)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

George Molnar (1934 – 1999) was a Hungarian-born philosopher whose principal area of interest was metaphysics. He worked mainly at the Philosophy Department at the University of Sydney but resided in England in 1976–1982. He published four philosophical papers in two separate spells; the first two in the 1960s and the second two after a return to the profession in the 1990s. His book Powers: A Study in Metaphysics was published posthumously in 2003.

Early life[edit]

Molnar's parents were middle-class Jews resident in Budapest. They became separated before World War II and George was in the care of his mother during pre-war upheavals and persecutions, the Siege of Budapest and progression through various refugee camps until 1951 when the family was reunited in Australia.[1] He studied economics at Sydney University and switched to philosophy in his final year, under the realist philosopher John Anderson.[1] He was later to be appointed as John Anderson Senior Research Fellow[2]


In the 1950s and 1960s he was a prominent member of the university's Libertarian Society and associate of the Sydney Push.[3] Philosophers and libertarians who frequented the racecourse knew Molnar as a fervid gambler. His other interests included philately and early Australian colonial history (particularly the railways systems). At various times he was a taxi-driver, tram-conductor, union advocate and public servant.[1]

In the 1970s Molnar was active in philosophy department disturbances.[4] He resigned from Sydney University in 1976 and moved to the UK where he is said to have participated in the left-wing Big Flame think-tank.[citation needed]

In 1982 he returned to Sydney, joined the Department of Veterans Affairs and became active in the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association (ACOA),[citation needed] later returning to Sydney University as a part-time tutor.

An infrequent but influential publisher of articles and material, Molnar was working on a book at the time of his death. He was in email contact with Stephen Mumford at the University of Nottingham, who acted as archivist of his work, edited the book and saw it through to publication in 2003 under the title Powers: A Study in Metaphysics,[1] with a foreword by David Armstrong. Its publisher, Oxford University Press, wrote "This is contemporary metaphysics of the highest quality".[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Varga S. Twice the man, Sydney Morning Herald 9 August 2003
  2. ^ Cole C. "A difficult legacy" Article on Anderson in Sydney Alumni Magazine (SAM), Winter 2009, p. 34 (fol. 32)
  3. ^ Baker A. J. Sydney Libertarianism and the Push
  4. ^ Franklin J. The Sydney Philosophy Disturbances in Quadrant v.43 (4) (Apr, 1999), pp 16-21
  5. ^ Powers: A Study in Metaphysics at Oxford University Press, 30 November 2006. Accessed 15 March 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Coombs, Anne, Sex and Anarchy: The Life and Death of the Sydney Push, Ringwood, Vic.: Viking, 1996.
  • Franklin, James, Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia, Sydney: Macleay Press, 2003.
  • Obituary: 'Free-living philosopher revelled in paradox', The Australian (newspaper), 15 Sept. 1999.