Mihály Vajda, a Széchenyi Prize-winning Hungarian philosopher, university professor, and regular member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, died at the age of eighty-eight.
His research areas primarily included phenomenology, twentieth-century German philosophy, the work of Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler, and later he turned to the social sciences.
Vajda was born in Budapest in February 1935, he began his higher education at the Lenin Institute, from 1957 to 1960 he attended the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of the Eötvös Loránd University, where he graduated from the philosophy and German department. He was a student of the philosopher György Lukács and belonged to the circle of the Budapest school. After graduating from university, he became a school teacher, and in 1961 he became a research associate at the Institute of Philosophy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In 1967, he defended his doctoral dissertation in philosophical sciences. After being dismissed for political incompetence due to his role in the Budapest School in 1973, he became a freelancer: he worked as a language teacher and translator, taught abroad, was a visiting professor in Bremen between 1977 and 1980, and in New York in the 1980s. In the nineties, he also taught in Siegen and Kassel, Germany.
He was rehabilitated in 1989, and in 1990 he was appointed head professor of the philosophy department of the present-day University of Debrecen (then Kossuth Lajos University). He defended his academic doctoral thesis in 1992. In 2001, he was elected a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and in 2007, an ordinary member. He was made emeritus in 2005, and in the same year he was appointed director of the Philosophical Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which he led until 2009. Over the course of his career, he has published nearly eighty publications. In the last two decades of his life, his interest became focused on Judaism, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, the Jew as the target of prejudice again and again. In connection with the war, Vajda pointed out “anti-Semitism that has risen in the guise of Western anti-Israelism”, but he could no longer answer the circular question sent to him in this regard.