Vienna Circle


Vienna Circle
   / Wiener Kreis
   The Vienna Circle dominated this discipline at the University of Vienna in the interwar period. Its members and their students had a great influence throughout Europe and the United States even after World War II, because so many of them emigrated during the years when Austro-Fascism and the Nazi Party dominated the Austrian political scene. In the United States, the doctrines of the Circle came to be known as logical positivism. Among its most famous representatives were the Berlin-born Moritz Schlick (1882–1936), Otto Neurath (1882–1945), Rudolph Carnap (1891–1970), and Kurt Gödel (1906–1978). All had studied logic as well as either mathematics or physics, and their outlook reflected this training.
   The program of the Circle first appeared in a 1929 pamphlet, Wissenschaftliche Weltanschauung: Der Wiener Kreis (Knowledge and an Understanding of the World: The Vienna Circle), which abandoned all metaphysics. Henceforth, the goal of philosophy was to unify logic and empiricism. Such principles had already been advanced by the Viennese physicist Ernst Mach; indeed, the first name of the Vienna Circle was the Ernst Mach Society. Crucial to the Circle’s undertaking was the creation of a formal language, with the properties of mathematics or physics, for all the concepts of philosophy.
   The extent to which this goal defined the totality of philosophy soon created factions in the circle. Neurath and Carnap represented a wing that argued that the sole standard of truth was the logical consistency of statements. Schlick himself, who was assassinated in 1936 by a disgruntled student, maintained that truth was also to be found in empirical observation.
   See also Popper, Karl Raimund.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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