Born in 1937 in Neusalz/Oder, Christian Thiel entered school in Vienna in 1943 and graduated from a gymnasium (then “Oberrealschule”) in Nuremberg in 1956. With the exception of a year in art education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, he studied at the Universities of Erlangen and Munich; among his teachers were Rudolf Zocher and Paul Lorenzen in philosophy, Wilhelm Specht and Georg Nöbeling in mathematics, and Georg Weippert in sociology. Having obtained his Dr. phil. at Erlangen in 1965, he became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also was appointed assistant professor of philosophy in 1967. After his return to Erlangen as assistant to Paul Lorenzen in the same year, he obtained the venia legendi for philosophy in 1970. Having substituted on chairs for philosophy at Konstanz and at Kiel, Thiel accepted a call to the newly created chair of philosophy and theory of science at the RWTH Aachen in 1972. Ten years later, he succeeded Paul Lorenzen at Erlangen, and was appointed acting director of the Erlangen Interdisciplinary Institute for Philosophy and History of Science, holding both positions until his retirement as professor emeritus in 2005. He has been a corresponding member of the Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences since 1993, full member since 1997 (membre émérite since 2012), and a member of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina since 2000.
Thiel’s publications include Sinn und Bedeutung in der Logik Gottlob Freges (1965, English trans. 1968, Spanish trans. 1972), Grundlagenkrise und Grundlagenstreit (1972), Elementare Logik (1983), Philosophie und Mathematik (1995), FREGEANA. Zwölf Studien über Freges Logik, ed. Volker Peckhaus (2022), and more than 200 papers and contributions to collections and encyclopedias as well as over 500 entries to the Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie (1980–1996, 2nd ed. 2005–2018 in 8 vols.). He is also editor of the centenary edition of Frege’s Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik (1986).