Jan WoleĔski Kazimierz Twardowski and the Development of Philosophy of Science in Poland Kazimierz Twardowski studied with Brentano and followed his style of doing philosophy, in particular, the thesis that the method of philosophy is ...
The article shows how two domains of Neurath’s broad and multifaceted work are related to each other: the concepts and methods he wanted to implement in political economics, on the one hand, and the methods of visualization that he and his interdisciplinary team developed at the Social and Economic Museum of Vienna, on the other. Some of Neurath’s suggestions in both domains are surprisingly modern even today.
Eines der zentralen Anliegen des "Wiener Kreises" ist heute aktueller denn je. Es bestand darin sichtbar zu machen, wie ganz unterschiedliche, weit auseinanderliegende Bereiche wissenschaftlicher Theoriebildung miteinander in Zusammenhang gebracht werden können. Genannt sei hier Otto Neurath, als Motor der ganzen Sache. Die "Encyclopedia of United Science" sollte eine Vorstellung davon vermitteln, wie moderne Wissenschaften ihre Erkenntnisansprüche formulieren und überprüfen. Sie knüpfte ausdrücklich an die Enzyklopädisten der französischen Aufklärung an. Die in diesem Band zusammengefassten Beiträge durchleuchten das Aufklärungskonzept, das der (...) Enzyklopädie der Logischen Empiristen zugrunde liegt. (shrink)
Philipp Frank"s book Relativity â€“ a richer truth1 shows something we do not find very often after World War 2: a philosopher of science acting as a public intellectual. Taking part in the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion, Philipp Frank intervened in the public debate about the causes of Nazism and how to defend democracy and liberalism against totalitarian ideas and politics. Could philosophy of science contribute to such a struggle? Philipp Frank thought it could, he even thought that (...) Philosophy of Science should play a crucial role in it. It"s obvious that this position should be of some interest for philosophers in Austria and Europe today. Of course, any serious analysis of Frank"s position would have to take the whole historical constellation into account. Between the beginning of the conference in 1940 and the publication of the book in 1951 the historical situation had dramatically changed. And therefore one has to distinguish several political dimensions in Frank"s arguments. Let me just make a short remark on the plurality of political perspectives Frank"s discourse opened up. Philipp Frank defined the role science should play in democracy not only in contrast to the role of science as it was conceived by totalitarian governments. Of course he criticised the Nazis" and Soviets" â€?philosophies of scienceâ€? several times. But he also made very clear that in the 40ies and 50ies not even the majority of scholars and university teachers in the US supported the specific view of science which Frank thought was so important to the advancement of democracy. His rather critical comments on the teaching of science in the post war / cold war period show what he thought the really important political impact of science was. As far as I can see, these comments did not loose their significance. (shrink)
Der Band "Die europäische Wissenschaftsphilosophie und das Wiener Erbe" beschäftigt sich mit der Wissenschaftsphilosophie europäischer Prägung und ihren spezifischen Eigenschaften und enthält Beiträge aus theoretischer wie auch aus historischer Perspektive. Dabei werden auch die genuin Wiener Wurzeln und Einflüsse der Wissenschaftsphilosophie behandelt. Wenn man den europäischen Gesichtspunkt um die Geschichte und den gegenwärtigen Stand der Wissenschaftsphilosophie nach der transatlantischen Interaktion und Transformation, die „Rückkehr“ nach Europa nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg erweitert, so stellt sich die Frage danach, ob es auch in (...) der heutigen Wissenschaftsphilosophie europäische Charakteristika gibt. Auch die Rolle und Funktion des Wiener Kreises des Logischen Empirismus wie auch sein Einfluss auf die gegenwärtige Wissenschaftsphilosophie wird hier behandelt. Dementsprechend wird das Thema sowohl systematisch-formal als auch genetisch-historisch behandelt. (shrink)
This book provides a new all-round perspective on the life and work of Edgar Zilsel (1891-1944) as a philosopher, historian, and sociologist. He was close to the Vienna Circle and has been hitherto almost exclusively referred to in terms of the so-called “Zilsel thesis” on the origins of modern science. Much beyond this “thesis”, Zilsel’s brilliant work provides original insights on a broad number of topics, ranging from the philosophy of probability and statistics to the concept of “genius”, from the (...) issues of scientific laws and theories to the sociological background of science and philosophy, and to the political analysis of the problems of his time. Praised by Herbert Feigl as an “outstanding brilliant mind”, Zilsel, being as a Social-Democrat of Jewish origins, mostly led a life of hardship marked by emigration and coming to a sudden and tragic end by suicide in 1944. The impossibility of an academic career has hindered the reception of Zilsel’s scientific work for a long time. This volume is a contribution to its late reception, providing new insights especially into his work during his years in Vienna; moreover, it shows the heuristic value of Zilsel’s ideas for future Scholar research – in philosophy, history, and sociology. -/- (ISSN: 0929-6328). (shrink)
The present book aims at clarifying which of Neurath’s ideas remain of relevance today and how these are interrelated. The method chosen is to elucidate their biographical and general historical background and to put them into the framework of the academic and political controversies of their time. This contextual approach yields results that are not just of antiquarian interest. It also enables the reconstruction of the theoretical thrust and continuing practical relevance of a thinker whose ideas were obscured by the (...) catastrophes of the twentieth century. Neurath wanted to demonstrate by his own work in economics that scientific thinking always offers a number of different alternatives and that one must proceed towards applications in full awareness of this fact. In this respect, Neurath’s thought is unusually demanding.With perplexity in political and intellectual life becoming ever more widespread as the twenty-first century progresses, it strikes us as very useful to step back and reconstruct a type of thinking in the social sciences that goes back to the discussion on the big conflicts of the twentieth century but which does not accept as inescapable the intellectual alternatives seemingly cemented in these conflicts.The book is structured so that it first addresses the question why the study of Neurath’s contributions to economics in the context of his time is a worthwhile endeavour today. After all, the overwhelming majority of today’s economists regard his contributions as out-dated and largely irrelevant for the continuing development of their discipline. (shrink)
In this paper I would like to discuss some normative aspects of Otto Neurath’s concept of scientific knowledge. I will take some reflections of Pierre Bourdieu, a sociologist known for his harsh criticism of “philosophers” as a point of reference. I have decided to employ his “non-philosophical” perspective because of its convergence with the very tradition to which the Institute Vienna Circle has aligned itself. That tradition derived the form and power of its beginnings from the unbiased attitude, the impartiality (...) of its intellectual and scientific standpoint. This impartial attitude was all but naive I wish to claim; it was the result of a conscious effort to liberate the philosophical vision from the sediments of a history of perception and thought that had reached its end in the 19th century.1 Of course, that that history had come to its end was felt by many scientists, philosophers and artists at the beginning of this century. What distinguished the Vienna Circle was that its members reacted with new insights into the nature of knowledge, indeed with the attempt to develop the impartiality of the scientific point of view. What had been in the foreground up to that time receded into the background for those versed in modern formal logic and empirical science. The disciplinary boundaries, most notably those between the natural sciences and the humanities became blurred. What we know became so complex and rich that traditional forms of classification were revealed as inadequate. For Neurath “Unified Science” was the name for future forms of classification and “encyclopedia” the name for the “orchestration” of the individual sciences. What remained of “philosophy” focussed on the logical analysis of language and — long neglected — the historical and practical aspects of science. Taking these general developments as my background here I want to defend the thesis that working on the “impartiality” of the scientist’s point of view can be seen as a contribution to and work on the normative dimensions of knowledge. In the case of the Vienna Circle and Otto Neurath such a contribution has nothing to do with developing a scientific conception of ethics or rationality.2 Rather it represents an attempt to analyze the scientific approach to reality and to reinforce the social effects of this approach by making it more precise. Viewed in this context Neurath’s project of a “scientific world conception” coincides with some perspectives whose topicality cannot be overestimated, Pierre Bourdieu’s epistemological reflections on sociology among them. (shrink)
The Selected Works of Arne Naess, ed. by Harold Glasser and Alan Drengson in cooperation with the author, Dordrecht: Springer 2005. 10 volumes. On January 12, 2009 Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess passed away at the age of 96. He was still actively involved in putting together the edition of the Selected Writings of Arne Naess . He worte an introduction to the writings which is printed at the beginning of each volume together with the extensive introduction by the editor Harold (...) Glasser. At first sight this seems strangely repetitive and superfluous but on closer scrutiny it certainly makes sense. In view of the large breadth of philosophical themes that are presented in the volumes it is quite likely that the readers interested in the writings will come from different areas. A number of these writings make high demands on the reader who is expected to be relatively versed in logical analysis and in the work and thought of Spinoza, Kierkegaard, Gandhi, Husserl, Carnap or even Sextus Empiricus. The reader who is interested in one of these heterogenous fields is encouraged by both introductory texts to reflect on a specific theme against the backdrop of the philosophers’s entire oeuvre – and that’s a good thing. (shrink)
Why concern oneself with Otto Neurath’s economic thought in its historical context? Could anything be more out of fashion than a theory proposing a centrally managed planned economy? Than the views of a theorist whose ideas on in-kind economic planning drove the notion of economic planning to its utmost extreme ? Indeed, Neurath’s ideas appeared too radical and utopian even for the social democrats of the 1920s. So why give even a second thought to them today? Would it not be (...) better to follow the advice a colleague gave me in the 1980s and to pass over Neurath’s “youthful sins” silently so as not to tarnish the reputation that – finally, after a lengthy delay – has been accredited to Neurath for his impressive philosophical achievements within the framework of logical empiricism?In the years since the 1980s, however, Neurath’s economic writings have attracted much more interest than anyone would previously have suspected. Today we are aware of the fact that Neurath formulated ideas at an unexpectedly early stage that are currently relevant in ecological economy, social choice theory and developmental economy. And that his reflections vis-à-vis “associational socialism” could provide interesting impulses for a new theory of socialism. Viewed from this perspective, Neurath’s status is secure as a precursor of theoretical developments and debates that are in full swing today. But is that enough? After all, if the role of the precursor is an endearing one, isn’t it also quite thankless? For even in the areas in which Neurath can be regarded as a precursor, the relevant questions are posed today with far greater precision and with reference to current facts – so why should anyone concern oneself with a precursor whose fundamental assumptions differ so greatly from those of the overwhelming majority of economists working today? (shrink)
Initially it seems surprising that Edgar Zilsel’s work has found as little response among philosophers as it has. After all, his contributions to the Vienna Circle’s debates about probability and protocol statements were published in Erkenntnis. Already his doctoral dissertation dealt with a central problem of modern philosophy of science—the status of statistical laws in physics—and revealed a remarkably knowledgeable mathematician, physicist and philosopher. Yet the way in which Zilsel raised the issues, namely via Leibniz, Spinoza and Kant, was not (...) easy to accept for many of the later logical empiricists. Zilsel stuck with what in his dissertation he had called the “problem of application” and held that it needed to be solved even once the framework of logical empiricism had been accepted. By contrast, Richard von Mises and Otto Neurath considered it a pseudo-problem. Zilsel’s views are difficult to categorise and nowadays even difficult to understand. Just as Mises and Neurath were puzzled by the problem of application, so contemporary readers are likely to be puzzled by Zilsel’s search for “historical laws”. What were they supposed to be and why did Zilsel think it so important to discover them? (shrink)
Eine plarmiäßig gestaltete Naturalwütschaft setzt an die Stelle der abstrakten Eiiüieit des Geldes und des Marktes eine konkrete Einheitlichkeit, die das Ergebnis von Beratungen und Entscheidungen ist. Da diese Eiiüieitlichkeit nicht auf ein Prinzip (das Geld) zurückgeführt werden kann, wüd in üir das "naturale Wesen aller Leistungen" einerseits und die Abhängigkeit der Wirtschaftsordnung von Machtverhältnissen andrerseits sichtbar. Ebenso soll die Eirüieitswissenschaft an die Stelle der abstrakten Eirüieit des phüosophischen Systems eine lebendige Verknüpfung des historisch gegebenen wissenschaftlichen Wissens setzen und es (...) so als Ergebnis "schöpferischer Tat" sichtbar und verfügbar machen. (shrink)
Eine plarmiäßig gestaltete Naturalwütschaft setzt an die Stelle der abstrakten Eiiüieit des Geldes und des Marktes eine konkrete Einheitlichkeit, die das Ergebnis von Beratungen und Entscheidungen ist. Da diese Eiiüieitlichkeit nicht auf ein Prinzip zurückgeführt werden kann, wüd in üir das "naturale Wesen aller Leistungen" einerseits und die Abhängigkeit der Wirtschaftsordnung von Machtverhältnissen andrerseits sichtbar. Ebenso soll die Eirüieitswissenschaft an die Stelle der abstrakten Eirüieit des phüosophischen Systems eine lebendige Verknüpfung des historisch gegebenen wissenschaftlichen Wissens setzen und es so als (...) Ergebnis "schöpferischer Tat" sichtbar und verfügbar machen. (shrink)