The First Vienna Circle: Myth or Reality?

Hungarian Philosophical Review 62 (4):50-65 (2018)

Christoph Limbeck-Lilienau
University of Vienna
In the genealogy of logical empiricism, the so-called “First Vienna Circle” (Neurath, Frank, Hahn) has been considered an essential episode, connecting the philosophy of Mach and the French conventionalists with the later logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle around Schlick. The present paper makes three claims: (1) We make the historical claim that the lack of archival sources on the “First Vienna Circle” does not allow a reliable reconstruction of such a discussion group, and even allows some doubts about its existence, at least as a regular discussion group. (2) We emphasize the interaction of the young Neurath, Hahn and Frank, in Vienna around 1910, with a group of philosophers strongly influenced by Meinong and claim that this interaction was very advantageous for a reception of the new symbolic logic and especially of Russell´s philosophy of logic and mathematics. New archival sources permit us to reconstruct such an interaction. (3) We claim that this Meinongian context in Vienna shaped some philosophical positionss of Neurath and Hahn, especially their view of the nature of logic and mathematics. We claim that at least Neurath, but probably also Hahn, endorsed a logical realism similar to that of Russell and Meinong. It was only after the reception of the Tractatus in the Vienna Circle that such a logical realism was unanimously rejected by the logical empiricists. Besides the obvious influence of Mach and the French conventionalists on the young Neurath, Hahn and Frank, this heritage from the Meinong school should be taken into account in an evaluation of the early philosophies of our mentioned trio.
Keywords Vienna Circle  Brentano School
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