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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Otto Neurath and the unified science


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Heinrich Hoffman,


Otto Neurath (1882-1945) was an Austrian philosopher best known his contributions to the philosophy of science and the Vienna Circle. Philosophy historian Friedrich Stadler said,


"Many innovations of current history and philosophy of science were, in fact, anticipated in Neurath's oeuvre. The rediscovery of Neurath was therefore not merely a phenomenon of academic nostalgia, but itself constitutes research into the conditions and possibilities of changing a paradigm int he philosophy of science." (Encyclopedia and utopia: The life and work of Otto Neurath, 1996)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Neurath.


Unified science


"...there is but one science with subdivisions - a unified science of sciences... we need a science that unites them all." (Physicalism: The Philosophy of the Viennese Circle, 1931)


"The attempt to construct a fundamental taxonomy of the sciences encounters great difficulty. For instance, logicians and mathematicians disagree among themselves about the objects of their respective research; there is no agreement on the relation of theoretical physics to empirical knowledge and to mathematics." (Protocol Statements, 1932)


"At first the Vienna Circle analyzed 'physics' in a narrow sense almost exclusively; now psychology, biology, sociology. The task of this movement is unified science and nothing less." (Physicalism, 1931)


"Every new statement is to be confronted with existing ones, already brought to a state of harmony between themselves. A statement will be considered correct if it can be joined to them." (Soziologie im Physikalismus, 1931)