This article shows that there are square circles in the sense that there are mathematical objects that are at the same time both perfectly circular and perfectly square. The philosophical significance of this is discussed, especially in view of philosophy's widespread use of “square circle” as a typical example of an impossibility. In particular, the focus is on what the existence of square circles means for the possibility of conceptual analysis, and more generally what we can learn about the (...) nature of non-formal concepts and their use in philosophy. (shrink)
The problem of the Cartesian circle, as it is called, has sparked ongoing debate, which intersects several important themes of the Meditations. Discussions of the circle must address questions about the force and scope of the famous method of doubt introduced in Meditation I, and they must examine the intricate arguments for the existence of God and the avoidance of error in Meditations III to V. These discussions raise questions about the possibility of overturning skepticism, once a skeptical (...) doubt has been introduced. More generally, the problem of the circle resonates with recent questions about the foundations of knowledge: Must we be able to validate our methods of reasoning or of knowing before using them? If we must, wouldn't we be forever stuck at the beginning, unable to use our methods of reasoning or of knowing in their own validation? The problem of the Cartesian circle raises general questions about the validation of reason and the possibility of knowledge. This chapter examines the Cartesian circle in the context of Descartes' central project in the Meditations, to secure the foundations of metaphysics. In carrying out this project, Descartes felt the need, or adopted the strategy, of examining the possibility of human knowledge more generally. Such an examination can be interpreted in various ways. Depending on the interpretation given, the roles assigned to the method of doubt and the proofs about God may differ, thereby altering how we see the problem of the circle. We therefore need first to consider Descartes' metaphysical project along with the methods and strategies he adopted in carrying it out. Subsequently, I explain and evaluate several main approaches to the problem of the circle. The chapter concludes with some reflections on the relation of Descartes' metaphysics of knowledge to other prominent positions in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
The Berlin Group was an equal partner with the Vienna Circle as a school of scientific philosophy, albeit one that pursued an itinerary of its own. But while the latter presented its defining projects in readily discernible terms and became immediately popular, the Berlin Group, whose project was at least as sig-nificant as that of its Austrian counterpart, remained largely unrecognized. The task of this chapter is to distinguish the Berliners’ work from that of the Vienna Circle and (...) to bring to light its impact in the history of scientific philosophy. (shrink)
In two recent papers, Michael Della Rocca accuses Descartes of reasoning circularly in the Fourth Meditation. This alleged new circle is distinct from, and more vicious than, the traditional Cartesian Circle arising in the Third Meditation. We explain Della Rocca’s reasons for this accusation, showing that his argument is invalid.
This article introduces a Students’ Quality Circle in higher education, in the context of current debates. With increasing numbers of students entering the university and constrained financial resources in the sector, new approaches are needed, with new partnership between lecturers and students. The first Students’ Quality Circle at Kingston is located in a wider international context.
This article is intended as a contribution to the current debates about the relationship between politics and the philosophy of science in the Vienna Circle. I reconsider this issue by shifting the focus from philosophy of science as theory to philosophy of science as practice. From this perspective I take as a starting point the Vienna Circle’s scientific world-conception and emphasize its practical nature: I reinterpret its tenets as a set of recommendations that express the particular epistemological attitude (...) in which both the Vienna Circle’s (doing) philosophy of science and its political engagement were rooted. -/- Regarding politics, and referring to new primary sources, I reconstruct how the scientific world-conception placed the Vienna Circle within a neoliberal-socialist political network that pursued concrete political aims. In light of my reconstruction I shall argue that neither the Vienna Circle’s alleged ethical noncognitivism nor its alleged adhesion to the Weberian ideal of a value-free science rules out the possibility of ascribing to the Vienna Circle a politically engaged philosophy of science: the case of the Vienna Circle shows how philosophy of science, as a public activity, can itself become a form of political engagement, even without necessarily entailing a theory of objective values. (shrink)
In this paper, I show that there are important but hitherto unnoticed similarities between key figures of the Vienna Circle and early defenders of sociology of knowledge. The similarities regard their stance on potential implications of the study of science for political and societal issues. I argue that notably Otto Neurath and Karl Mannheim are concerned with proposing a genuine political philosophy of science that is remarkably different from today’s emerging interest in the relation between science and society in (...) philosophy of science. (shrink)
In a definition (∀ x )(( x є r )↔D[ x ]) of the set r, the definiens D[ x ] must not depend on the definiendum r . This implies that all quantifiers in D[ x ] are independent of r and of (∀ x ). This cannot be implemented in the traditional first-order logic, but can be expressed in IF logic. Violations of such independence requirements are what created the typical paradoxes of set theory. Poincaré’s Vicious Circle (...) Principle was intended to bar such violations. Russell nevertheless misunderstood the principle; for him a set a can depend on another set b only if ( b є a ) or ( b ⊆ a ). Likewise, the truth of an ordinary first-order sentence with the Gödel number of r is undefinable in Tarki’s sense because the quantifiers of the definiens depend unavoidably on r. (shrink)
Descartes’ circle has been extensively discussed, and I do not wish to add another paper to that literature. Rather, I use the circle to facilitate our understanding of two types of scepticism and the proper attitude to them. Descartes’ text is especially apt for this purpose, because a case can be made for attributing to him both types. Although I will touch on the interpretative question, that is not my main aim. My contention is that one brand - (...) whether or not it is the one that Descartes favoured - should be taken very seriously, and Descartes’ failure to respond to it non circularly cannot be met with equanimity. (shrink)
The Uppsala School in philosophy and the Vienna Circle are prima facie similar currents in contemporary philosophy. Both reject metaphysics, claim that reality is a spatio‑temporal realm and adhere to noncognitivism in terms of values. However, justifications of these assumptions are quite different. In the following article we reconstruct main theses of both mentioned currents and then we indicate their impact on one of the major jurisprudential movements, namely Scandinavian Legal Realism. We focus on Alf Ross’ legal philosophy, as (...) it was an attempt to accommodate both: the philosophy of the Uppsala School and of the Vienna Circle. We trace those two sources of inspiration in Ross’ theory of legal validity and of legal concepts. (shrink)
The paper is devoted to the presentation and analysis of the philosophical views concerning logic and mathematics of the leading members of Cracow Circle, i.e., of Jan Salamucha, Jan Franciszek Drewnowski and Józef Maria Bocheński. Their views on the problem of possible applicability of logical tools in metaphysical and theological researches is also discussed.
This paper is a background study. It gives an overview of the institutions, decisive trends and major achievements of Hungarian philosophy at the beginning of the 20th century. Thus light is shed on the philosophical scenery which forms the background to the Lukács Circle. The paper discusses the relation of the Lukács Circle at the turn of the century to "official" Hungarian philosophy. First, the introduction portrays the various phases of the evolution of Hungarian institutions of philosophy. Then (...) it sketches the institutional scene at the turn of the century. Thirdly, it attempts to determine the relation of the Lukács Circle to the official academic philosophy, and also sketches some of its aspects after 1919-1920. (shrink)
Classically, an osculating circle at a point of a planar curve is introduced technically, often with formula giving its radius and the coordinates of its center. In this note, we propose a new and intuitive definition of this concept: among all the circles which have, on the considered point, the same tangent as the studied curve and thus seem equal to the curve through a microscope, the osculating circle is this that seems equal to the curve through a (...) microscope within microscope. (shrink)
A new direction in philosophy Between 1920 and 1940 logical empiricism reset the direction of philosophy of science and much of the rest of Anglo-American philosophy. It began as a relatively organized movement centered on the Vienna Circle, and like-minded philosophers elsewhere, especially in Berlin. As Europe drifted into the Nazi era, several important figures, especially Carnap and Neurath, also found common ground in their liberal politics and radical social agenda. Together, the logical empiricists set out to reform traditional (...) philosophy with a new set of doctrines more firmly grounded in logic and science. Criticism and decline Because of Nazi persecution, most of the European adherents of logical empiricism moved to the United States in the late 1930s. During the 1940s, many of their most cherished tenets became targets of criticism from outsiders as well as from within their own ranks. Philosophers of science in the late 1950s and 1960s rejected logical empiricism and, starting in the 1970s, presented such alternative programs such as scientific realism with evolutionary epistemology. A resurgence of interest During the early 1980s, philosophers and historians of philosophy began to study logical empiricism as an important movement. Unlike their predecessors in the 1960s-for whom the debate over logical empiricism now seems to have been largely motivated by professional politics-these philosopher no longer have to take positions for or against logical empiricism. The result has been a more balanced view of that movement, its achievements, its failures, and its influence. Hard-to-find core writings now available This collection makes available a selection of the most influential and representative writings of the logical empiricists, important contemporary criticisms of their doctrines, their responses, as well as the recent reappraisals. Introductions to each volume examine the articles in historical context and provide importantbackground information that is vital to a full understanding of the issues discussed. They outline prevalent trends, identifying leading figures and summarize their positions and reasoning, as well as those of opposing thinkers. Available individually by volume. 1. The Emergence of Logical Empiricism (0-8153-2262-3) 432 pages 2. Logical Empiricism at its Peak (0-8153-2263-1) 4243 pages 3. Logic, Probability, and Epistemology (0-8153-2264-X) 424 pages 4. Logical Empiricism and the Special Sciences (0-8153-2265-8) 376 pages 5. Decline and Obsolescence of Logical Empiricsm (0-8153-2266-6) 440 pages 6. The Legacy of the Vienna Circle (0-8153-2267-4) 400 pages. (shrink)
The traditional picture of the development of analytical philosophy, represented especially by such thinkers as G. Frege, G. E. Moore, B. Russell or R. Carnap, whose attitude was generally anti-metaphysical, can, on closer study, be shown to be incomplete. This article treats of the Cracow circle – a group of Polish philosophers among whom are, above all, to be counted J. Salamucha, J. M. Bocheński, J. F. Drewnowski, and B. Sobociński, who were, at the beginning of the twentieth century, (...) fascinated by the development of modern formal logic and its application to philosophical thinking. They also attempted to apply it to Catholic philosophy. The result of their endeavours were many remarkable works introducing not only a defence of the use of modern philosophical approaches in Christian thought, but also the reconstruction, by means of formal logic, of significant proofs given by Scholastic authors. (shrink)
Logical positivism had an important impact on the Danish intellectual climate before World War Two. During the thirties close relations were established between members of the Vienna Circle and philosophers and scientists in Copenhagen. This influence not only affected Danish philosophy and science; it also impinged on the cultural avant-garde and via them on the public debate concerning social and political reforms. Hand in hand with the positivistic ideas you find functionalism emerging as a new heretical language in art, (...) architecture, and design. Not surprisingly, you may say, since the logical positivists’ wishes of stripping philosophy of metaphysics is spiritually similar to the functionalists’ desire to get rid of symbols and ornaments. One event more than anything confirmed the connection between the Vienna Circle, Denmark, and the rest of the Nordic countries. For a short while Copenhagen became the centre for the Circle’s activities when in 1936 the 2nd Inter national Congress for the Unity of Science was held there between June 21 and 26. A photograph, taken during the conference, shows many of the participants sitting in the hall of Carlsberg’s honorary mansion where Niels Bohr was living at the time. Among the audience you find Otto Neurath , Carl Gustav Hempel and Karl Popper , but also some of the more prominent Danish scientists and scholars whose world views were congenial with the logical positivists. (shrink)
There are many important questions still unresolved concerning the philosophical and personal relations between Ludwig Wittgenstein and the members of the Vienna Circle, and there are also current views on those relationships that do not bear closer scrutiny. For instance, in the last few decades, it has been fashionable to emphasize the differences between the philosophical views of Ludwig Wittgenstein and those of the members of the Vienna Circle. It has even been suggested that the members of the (...) Vienna Circle misunderstood or otherwise misinterpreted Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. For instance, in a recent book we find the statement that the “members of the so-called Vienna Circle ... had founded logical positivism partly on a deep misunderstanding of the Tractatus”. (shrink)
In the rise of modern scientific philosophy, one can distinguish four general periods. Its early phase is part of the intellectual history of 19th-century Austria-Hungary. Second, we find it reaching its self-confident form in the 1920s and early ‘30s, chiefly in the collaborative achievements of the Vienna Circle and its analogous groups in Prague, Berlin, Lwow and Warsaw. Third is the period of its further growth and accommodation during the period roughly from the late 1930s to about 1960, especially (...) in the U.S.A., as mediated largely by the European refugees from fascism. Lastly, the movement’s fate from the 1960s on may be understood as its integration with, or dissolution into, other related modern streams. (shrink)
Georg Henrik von Wright always mentioned that his academic teachers had been Eino Kaila and Ludwig Wittgenstein. He even spoke of the two as his “father figures”. Georg Henrik was a sunny boy, but his “fathers” appear to be quite enigmatic. An industry of philosophical literature is needed to interpret Wittgenstein. Kaila seems to be at most a minor figure with some contacts to the Vienna Circle. It is not wrong to see von Wright as a follower of Wittgenstein, (...) and von Wright’s life-long work was decisive for the fact that all of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass is now available. In what follows, I will concentrate more on Kaila and his Viennese connections than on Wittgenstein. I make an attempt of trying to see the two “fathers” from a perspective that was or at least could have been von Wright’s contemporary view. Vienna – or, more accurately – the recent past of Vienna was also von Wright’s city of dreams. Kaila is an interesting case as concerns the networking typical of the Vienna Circle, especially as an example of Rudolf Carnap’s rich scientific contacts at that point of his career. It was Kaila who made the start of von Wright’s career possible and determined a number of his philosophical interests and orientations, including the specific way in which von Wright’s work can be said to be linked to the Vienna Circle and logical empiricism. Of course, after World War II “analytic philosophy” was the acceptable designation for that kind of work that von Wright was pursuing in Cambridge, but his story can not be told without attention to the impulses from Vienna. (shrink)
On March 12, 1938 the German army crossed the border into Austria. By the following September Gustav Bergmann had managed to send his first wife, Anna, and his daughter, Hanna, to safety in England. In October he managed to leave Austria himself. He first went to the Hague in the Netherlands to see Otto Neurath, who gave him enough money to assist his passage to New York. Bergmann’s prospects were quite uncertain at that time and it was not clear that (...) he would ever be able to repay Neurath. Neurath told Bergmann not to worry about repayment; he merely requested that Bergmann writes something about his recollections of the Vienna Circle. Bergmann wrote the following letter on the S. S. Staatendam while enroute to New York City to begin his new life. (shrink)
In 1929 Moritz Schlick and those scholars he had brought together came to realize that they had given rise to something entirely new, so the text of the Vienna Circle Manifesto has it. What was novel was the conception of the world, henceforth scientific. Or as we may put it otherwise: a discipline had been established, the philosophy of science, that is a reflection on science no longer subordinate to traditional theory of knowledge and metaphysics. The text goes on (...) to explain why such a conception arose geographically where it did: “That Vienna was specially suitable ground for [the development of the spirit of a scientific conception of the world] is historically understandable” 1. The Vienna Circle Manifesto proceeds to enumerate the multifarious intellectual movements that were brought together at the beginning of the 20th century in the city of Vienna. Is it irrelevant or untimely to emphasize this cosmopolitan spirit? I believe, on the contrary, that cosmopolitanism provides both a lesson about philosophical creativity and a key for understanding the vitality of Viennese philosophy: the achievements of the Vienna Circle were the result of an exceptional open-mindedness on the part of its members. (shrink)
During its most vigorous period, the Vienna Circle movement was, by and large, kept rather marginal by the political and academic forces in its European home; they tended to see it as a dangerous search, in the Enlightenment tradition, for a world conception that would be free from metaphysical illusions, free from the kind of clericalism that had a strangle-hold on state and university, and free from the romantic madness of the rising fascist ideology. The wonder, in fact, is (...) that in its day, against such opposition, the Vienna Circle commanded adherence by such an array of distinguished intellectuals, even if they were only a small fraction of the total intelligentsia. (shrink)
In 1980, Pierre Jacob1 published a book about the itinerary of logical positivism from Vienna to Cambridge , a story of the migration and of the effects of logical positivism in America since the fifties. Christiane Chauviré 2 took the other way round in a paper about the early influence of Peirce’s pragmatism on the Vienna Circle . We are also aware of the importance of logical positivism in England. Sir Alfred Ayer brought it back to England after having (...) met, on Ryle’s recommendation, Moritz Schlick in Vienna in 1932. Gilbert Ryle was Ayer’s tutor in Oxford. The meeting between the two of them took place two years after the International Congress of Philosophy in Oxford . It was on this occasion that Gilbert Ryle, who opened the congress, met Schlick for the first time. In his autobiographical sketch,3 he mentions the impact of the Viennese philosophy on his own philosophical development in the early thirties. This attests to the Vienna/Cambridge /Oxford triangle. (shrink)
The history of the Vienna Circle is bound up with what was called the Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung. But with the requirements of the members when it came to deciding whether a sentence expressed scientific knowledge or not, the basic sentences expressing a Lebens- und Weltauffassung would scarcely qualify as such, nor would hypotheses about a scientific world view. The Wissenschaftlichkeit ofphysicalism, logical behaviorism,logical syntax, unity of science, were hypothetical at best, and in my opinion should not be identified with the (...) total philosophical enterprise of the Vienna Circle. To its strictly speaking philosophical enterprise I attribute a certain kind of scientific or research attitude and clarity as much as any set of philosophical opinion of a substantial sort. (shrink)
Members of Vienna Circle explicated determinism in terms of predictability in principle, or calculability. This paper attempts to uncover the rationale for this explication. It argues that the explication was an attempt to escape trivialization arguments; another important factor was the Circle’s views on meaning as testability.
The Vienna Circle as part of the intellectual movement of Central European philosophy of science is certainly one of the most important currents for the emergence of modern philosophy of science. Independent from this uncontested historical fact there remains the question of the direct and indirect infl uence, reception and topicality of this scientifi c community in contemporary general philosophy of science as well as in the philosophy of the individual sciences, including the social sciences and humanities.
Here we give a semantical account of propositional quantification that is intended to formally represent Russell’s view that one cannot express a proposition about "all" propositions. According to the account the authors give, Russell’s view bears an interesting relation to the view that there are no sets which are members of themselves.
This article distinguishes between Machian empiricism and the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle and associated philosophers. Mach's natural philosophy was a first order attempt to reform and reorganize physics, not a second order reconstruction of the "language" of physics. Mach's elements were not sense data but realistic events in the natural world and in minds, and Mach admitted unobserved elements as part of his world view. Mach's critique of metaphysics was far more subtle and concerned the elimination of (...) sensory visual imagery from natural science, leaving only concrete elements and functions, very much an inspiration to the young Einstein and Heisenberg and a useful engine of theory construction in physics. (shrink)
Considerable unclarity exists in the literature concerning the origin and authorship of Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung. Der Wiener Kreis, the Vienna Circle’s manifesto of 1929 and on the extent of and the reasons for the mixed reception it received in the Circle itself. This paper reconsiders these matters on the light of so far insufªciently consulted documents.
Abstract In a context of human demographic, technological and economic pressure on natural systems, we face some demanding challenges. We must decide 1) whether to “preserve” nature for its own sake or to “conserve” nature because nature is essentially a reservoir of goods that are functional to humanity’s wellbeing; 2) to choose ways of life that respect the biodiversity and evolutionary potential of the planet; and, to allow all this to come to fruition, 3) to clearly define the role of (...) scientific expertise in a democratic society, recognizing the importance of biospheric equilibrium. In fact, in socio-scientific controversies, which are characterized by complex linkages between some life and environmental sciences objects and economic, political and ethical issues, a posture of transparent, impartial commitment is appearing, more and more, as a deontological necessity. (shrink)
This paper defends an interpretation of Descartes according to which he sees us as having normative (and not merely psychological) certainty of all clear and distinct ideas during the period in which they are apprehended clearly and distinctly. However, on this view, a retrospective doubt about clear and distinct ideas is possible. This interpretation allows Descartes to avoid the Cartesian Circle in an effective way and also shows that Descartes is surprisingly, in some respects, an epistemological externalist. The paper (...) goes on to defend this interpretation against some powerful philosophical objections by Margaret Wilson and others by showing how Descartes' doctrine of the creation of the eternal truths can be brought in to support his epistemology. This doctrine and other analogous positions in Descartes can also reveal that Descartes, again surprisingly, takes important steps toward doing epistemology without direct appeal to God and God's veracity. (shrink)
: Considerable unclarity exists in the literature concerning the origin and authorship of Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung. Der Wiener Kreis, the Vienna Circle's manifesto of 1929 and on the extent of and the reasons for the mixed reception it received in the Circle itself. This paper reconsiders these matters on the light of so far insufficiently consulted documents.
Recent scholarship resuscitates the history and philosophy of a ‘left wing’ in the Vienna Circle, offering a counterhistory to the conventional image of analytic philosophy as politically conformist. This paper dis- putes the historical claim that early logical empiricists developed a political philosophy of science. Though some individuals in the Vienna Circle, including Rudolf Carnap and Otto Neurath, believed strongly in the importance of science to social progress, they did not construct a political philosophy of science. Both Carnap (...) and Neurath were committed to forms of political neutralism that run strongly against a political reading of their logical empiricism. In addition, Carnap and Neurath sharply differ on precisely the subject of the place of politics in logical empiricism, throwing into question the construct of the ‘Left Vienna Circle’ as a coherent, sociohistorical, programmatic unit within the Vienna Circle. (shrink)
Classical Gricean pragmatics is usually conceived as dealing with far-side pragmatics, aimed at computing implicatures. It involves reasoning about why what was said, was said. Near-side pragmatics, on the other hand, is pragmatics in the service of determining, together with the semantical properties of the words used, what was said. But this raises the specter of ‘the pragmatic circle.’ If Gricean pragmatics seeks explanations for why someone said what they did, how can there be Gricean pragmatics on the near-side? (...) Gricean reasoning seems to require what is said to get started. But then if Gricean reasoning is needed to get to what is said, we have a circle. (shrink)