Mauro Murzi's pages on Philosophy of Science - Logical Positivism
Early Research in Europe
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[3. History of Logical Positivism.]

b. Early Research in Europe.

1922 was a very important year in the history of logical positivism. During that year, Schlick moved from Prague to Vienna, where he held the chair of theory of inductive science. At that time, Schlick had already published several philosophical works which heralded the new philosophical point of view: Space and Time in Contemporary Physics, and General Theory of Knowledge. In addition, Reichenbach had already published The Theory of Relativity and A Priori Knowledge, a philosophical analysis of the Theory of Relativity that argued against Kantian philosophy. Moreover, Hahn, Frank, and Neurath had begun their meetings on philosophy of science in 1907. Why was the coming of Schlick in Vienna so important? Schlick soon organized a discussion group and established relations with other philosophers of science, and so the Vienna Circle took shape. Schlick called Carnap to Vienna, and in 1926 Carnap became assistant professor under Schlick. The Vienna Circle joined up with the Berlin Circle (a similar group of philosophers of science that gathered round Reichenbach). The Vienna Circle took many initiatives, among them the publication of two series dedicated to the new philosophy of science, the journal Erkenntnis, and the organization of several congresses on epistemology and philosophy of science.

Between 1924 and 1936 (in that year Schlick was murdered), there were many philosophical outcomes that would influence the new school of logical positivism. The Verifiability Principle was formulated and metaphysics was ruled out as not verifiable. Reichenbach published extensive analyses of the Theory of Relativity. Carnap was primarily interested in logical analysis of science, and he gave the first logical formulation of the Verifiability Principle. Wittgestein's Tractatus was discussed in the Vienna Circle's meetings. Other philosophers were attracted by the new movement: Hempel studied with Reichenbach, Schlick, and Carnap; the Italian philosopher Geymonat went to Vienna and studied with Schlick and Carnap; American philosophers were interested in logical positivism; Morris and Quine went to Prague to meet Carnap; Polish logicians Ajdukiewicz and Lukasiewicz contributed essays to Erkenntnis; and Popper published his Logik der Forschung in the Vienna Circle's series.

In the early 1930s, logical positivism was an influential philosophical movement in the USA and Europe. Its members taught in many European universities and one of them (Feigl) in an American university. logical positivism was not only interested in pure philosophical research, but also in political and educational activity. The ideas of its members were progressive, liberal, and sometimes socialist. But in 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, and Nazism was hostile towards logical positivism. During that time, many logical positivists were forced to immigrate, and two of them (Schlick and Grelling) were murdered. The United States became the new home for Carnap, Feigl, Frank, Gödel, Hempel, and Reichenbach, while Neurath and Waismann sought refuge in England.

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