Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Locating Otto Neurath in twentieth-century philosophy of science Steed, Sheldon John Paul 2002

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


831-ubc_2002-0256.pdf [ 3.84MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0090293.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0090293-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0090293-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0090293-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0090293-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0090293-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0090293-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

LOCATING OTTO NEURATH IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE by SHELDON JOHN PAUL STEED B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1996 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Philosophy) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required-stamdard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April 23, 2002 © Sheldon John Paul Steed, 2002  In presenting  this  thesis in  degree at the University of  partial  fulfilment  of  the  requirements  for  an advanced  British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it  freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of  this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted  department  or  by  his  or  her  representatives.  It  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not permission.  Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  DE-6 (2/88)  is  by the  understood  that  head of  my  copying  or  be allowed without my written  Abstract  This thesis attempts to locate the work of Otto Neurath (1872-1945) in the history of twentieth-century philosophy of science. Neurath is perhaps best recognized from his role in the Vienna Circle of the 1930s where he contributed to the development of logical empiricist philosophy of science. The roots-of his ideas, as expressed within the Vienna Circle, provide insight into Neurath's conception of the development of science. Thus, the present essay attempts to identify his developing ideas in the 1910s, and situate that development historically. Chapter One considers his biography as a means of eliciting some of his defining philosophical assumptions. For Neurath, inquiries into the foundations of science carry broader social and political implications and we see him exhibiting this view throughout his life. Chapter Two examines three papers in the 1910s to show what his view of the development of science actually was. Neurath rejected notions of absolute foundations on which to base scientific theory and stood opposed to metaphysics as a meaningful framework by which to ground scientific claims. Chapter Three attempts to identify Neurath's driving assumptions with those articulated in postpositivist thinkers like W.V.O. Quine and Thomas Kuhn. Neurath's connections to logical empiricism and post-positivism make him an important figure whose contributions to the history of twentieth-century philosophy of science can enrich our understanding of the development of science and its role in society.  ii  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract  ii  Table of Contents  iii  Acknowledgements  iv  INTRODUCTION  1  CHAPTER I  3  OttoNeurath  1.1 Neurath's Philosophical Leanings through A Biographical Sketch  3  1.2 A Rediscovery of Neurath 1.3 A n Engaged Life 1.4 What Do We Gain from Neurath?  3 4 19  C H A P T E R II Otto Neurath: 1910s Papers And His Philosophical Assumptions  21  2.1 Neurath And 2.2 Neurath And 2.3 Neurath And 2.4 The Roots of  21 22 32 41  The History of Logical Empiricism The Lost Wanderers of Descartes The Foundations of The History of Optics Neurath's Anti-Metaphysics  C H A P T E R III Logical Empiricism, Quine and Kuhn  53  3.1 Situating Neurath 3.2 Quine's History of Logical Empiricism 3.3 Kuhn And A Role for History  53 55 67  BIBLIOGRAPHY  79  iii  Acknowledgements  It is a pleasure to acknowledge the contributions of teachers past and present to the work in this thesis. I wish to thank my supervisor Alan Richardson for his unwavering example of professional scholarship, and his patience, direction and encouragement throughout this undertaking. Paul Bartha provided indispensable comments on the final drafts, while I benefited from discussions with Elisabeth Nemeth on the importance of Neurath's early works. I should also like to thank Stephen Straker for introducing me to this fascinating field of history and philosophy of science. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Alexandra, for her unceasing support, encouragement and inspiration in the writing of this thesis.  iv  Introduction  This thesis considers the work of Otto Neurath (1872-1945), an organizing member of and contributor to the Vienna Circle. Neurath's name may be readily recognizable from his sailor metaphor mentioned in W.V.O. Quine's famous "Naturalized Epistemology" paper: We are like sailors who have to rebuild their ship on the open sea, without ever being able to dismantle it in dry dock and reconstruct it from the best components. (Neurath, 1931 [1983], 48) He also may be recognized as the founder of the Unity of Science movement and as the editor of International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, in which notably was published Thomas Kuhn's influential The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. However Neurath's influence on the development of philosophy of science in the last century has gone largely overlooked. Lola Fleck notes William M . Johnston's comment on Neurath: Otto Neurath ... is one of the most neglected geniuses of the twentieth century. He made innovations in so many fields that even his admirers lost count of his accomplishments.  1  We can gain much from an inquiry into Neurath's body of work. His view of the development of science bears resemblances to that of post-positivist critics like W.V.O. Quine and Thomas Kuhn. Yet Neurath numbered himself among the logical empiricists of the 1930s, whose allegedly failed vision of science motivates Quine and Kuhn's own projects.  1  Johnston 1972, 192, in Cartwright et al., 1996.  1  The present thesis has two aims. It attempts to articulate Neurath's view of the development of science by looking at three early papers in the 1910s. Further, it aims at locating Neurath's body of work in the context of broader currents in the history of twentieth-century philosophy of science. Therefore, Chapter One considers biographical details of Neurath's life as a means to elicit his philosophical leanings and situate his theoretical research in a broader historical context. Chapter Two examines three papers written in the 1910s that exhibit the roots of his ideas as they were expressed in the Vienna Circle of the 1930s. Neurath, as we will see, was an anti-foundationalist and advocated a role for history in understanding the development of scientific theory. History reveals the need for a two-stage analysis when attempting to understand the development of science. We will see that for Neurath, a structural analysis is supplemented with a cultural one, which respectively determine the structure of a given theory and second, the general cultural context within which that theory was adopted and developed. Chapter Three attempts to identify Neurath's proximity to debates involving Rudolf Carnap, Quine and Kuhn.  2  Chapter One Otto Neurath  1.1 Neurath's Philosophical Leanings through A Biographical Sketch This chapter considers some details of Neurath's biography to elicit a number of defining philosophical assumptions that carried for him social and political import. Neurath concerned himself with foundations of knowledge, but applied his conclusions about the nature of knowledge in a diverse range of pursuits. The biography attempts to give a sense of background to his ideas. It aims at locating his theoretical pursuits within broader historical events.  1.2 A Rediscovery of Neurath One takes up a study of lesser-known figures, at times, self-consciously. When few philosophers know about or express an interest in an individual in history, it can suggest a misguided zeal should one come to find that figure engaging. One might either recognize where one has gone astray, or be prepared to account for the importance of that figure's thought. Neurath has been largely overlooked in the history of logical empiricism, but recently Thomas Uebel and other scholars, have brought the body of Neurath's work to our attention. Uebel has been a prominent scholar in this field, contributing to our historical understanding of Vienna Circle logical empiricism and Neurath's role therein. However, Uebel's aim was not only to dig up Neurath's work—his is not merely a practice in "hagiography", but it seems there was cause to convince his readers that  3  Neurath was indeed worthy of study. In the introduction to his edited Rediscovering the Forgotten Vienna Circle, he writes, That there is something of value to be rediscovered in Neurath is a rather surprising finding, given his philosophical reputation. Thinkers as acute and from as diverse traditions as Lakatos and Blumenberg thought it safe to write off Neurath completely. The former called Neurath's resistance to Popper's criticisms 'typically blockheaded' ... the latter presented Neurath's index verborum prohibitorum as a denouement of pettymindedness that needs only to be pointed out in order to be dismissed.... Add to this the in-house reputation of sloppiness in the formulation of theses ... and the widespread belief that he held to an untenable coherence theory of truth—and his stature is clearly that of the original—confused—neo-positivist caveman. But the facts are otherwise. Thus let me assert somewhat polemically that analytical philosophy would not be what it is today, had there not been Otto Neurath. This is likely to strike most readers as simply preposterous. (Uebel ed. 1992, 5) Over the last decade we have been afforded resources no longer to find claims to Neurath's alleged influence on analytic philosophy preposterous. Indeed, though much remains to be examined and developed, Neurath can be considered an effective historical resource for understanding the roots of contemporary philosophy of science, and consequently the nature of philosophy in its broader context today.  1.3 An Engaged Life  4  Neurath sustained diverse interests throughout his life. He engaged his ideas as a political economist, historian, sociologist, bureaucrat, activist and philosopher (Cartwright et al. 1996, l ) . He held positions as a business-school teacher, a university professor, a 1  museum director; he pioneered studies on war economies, acted as secretary for a Vienna housing movement, and created a system of picture statistics by which to communicate economic structures to Viennese public (ibid., 7). Philosophers will be acquainted with his work on foundations in epistemology and, with Carnap, his staunch anti-metaphysical stance taken against contemporaries like Martin Heidegger (for Neurath, as we will see, there are no irreducible epistemological foundations, and his stance against metaphysics—much more extremely expressed than was Carnap's—relates to his views on political and social extensions of philosophical claims to provide such foundations). Not content to be sidelined, he likewise pursued applications of his ideas with a rare force and commitment. Neurath was a busy man. Neurath vigorously pursued and developed his ideas, compiling a voluminous body of work that exhibits as much to be admired in its quantity as its breadth and application. As a student in 1904, he published a paper on "monetary interest in antiquity", he edited an edition of Marlows Faust, for which he wrote a 500-page introduction (Cartwright et al. 1992, 11). In 1906, Neurath received his doctorate from the School of Philosophy of the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Berlin. Neurath's vigour showed little sympathy for his readers, Eduard Meyer and Gustaf Schmoller: he submitted two dissertations. In the end, Meyer and Schmoller accepted the first chapter of his second dissertation, Zur Anschauung der Antike iiber Handel, Gewerbe und Landwirtschaft, to  ' The following historical biography derives in large part from Lola Fleck's chapter in the Cartwright book. A fuller account of Neurath's activities can be found there.  5  grant his degree surnma cum laude (Stadler 2000, 699). The first chapter was published as his dissertation, while the next three chapters were published in the Yearbook for National Economy and Statistics (Cartwright et al. 1996, 11-12). Thus, Neurath's energies are exhibited while he was still a student. They continued throughout his career. Friedrich Stadler's study on the Vienna Circle, recently translated into English, lists approximately 250 publications written by Neurath throughout his life. Neurath published in economics, history, philosophy, picture statistics and adult education among other areas that can be seen to be tied to his conception of scientific philosophy (Stadler 2000, 701-14).  2  After receiving his PhD., Neurath took a position as assistant teacher in history and economics at the New Business School in Vienna. In 1910 he and his wife, Anna Schapire, published a two-volume reader on economics, while Neurath concurrently published a textbook on economics that became the reader for final year students (Cartwright et al. 1992, 13). Lola Fleck notes that in 1912, Neurath "received a one-year stipend from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in order to investigate the economic and social conditions in the Balkan states and the changes caused by the [Balkan] war" (ibid., 14). From this work, he developed his writings on war economies and how goals and ambitions of such economies might be harnessed to improve a population's living standard in peacetime (ibid.). However, Neurath did not compartmentalize his studies in history and economics—indeed, for Neurath such studies were rather intimately connected to philosophical inquiry into foundations for knowledge and his views on metaphysics; they related to his concerns over how to structure the language of science generally so as to 2  See also a list of 277 works in Neurath 1973.  6  provide consistent claims within each of these connected disciplines (Cartwright et al., 75). Stadler writes of Neurath's interests, "Transparency of construction, intersubjectively intelligible argumentation and a conscious life formation, represented a common mind-set and reached its theoretical apogee in Neurath's plans" (52). Neurath sought to articulate a language in which all of its constituents were transparent. For Neurath, transparency arises in the use of a community-based, unified language that embodies rules determining meaning in our statements. That is, one could analyze statements and provide a clear, intersubjective account of the meaning of constituents within given statements. This goal of transparency carried into his broader social concerns: that as a society, we may shape our future for the betterment of all our members on the basis of a clear understanding of social, political, economic and cultural relations comprising a society's value system. For Neurath, an attitude exemplified in his vision of scientific activity may be utilized for social progress. We will discuss this in the context of Neurath's own writings below.  3  In the years leading to his work in the Balkans in 1912, Neurath met frequently with Hans Hahn, Olga Hahn and Philip Frank—future members of the Vienna Circle—to discuss "new trends in theoretical physics, mathematics and logic" (ibid., 75). In June 1912, he gave a lecture entitled "The Problem of the Pleasure Maximum" where he critiqued utilitarian assumptions that pleasure may be a measurable notion from which to derive a system of moral prescriptions. In his conclusion, we see early signs of his attitude toward metaphysics: In general it is not possible to create an order of life which takes equal account of different views as to the best distribution of pleasures, as would have to be the 3  Neurath's notion of community-based meaning is expanded on in Chapter Three.  7  case with pleasures of each in a purely utilitarian world ... Perhaps struggle will decide which view about the best order of life shall be victorious; perhaps preference will be given to one order out of those in question, and the choice may be made with the help of an inadequate metaphysical theory or in some other way; tossing a coin would be much more honest. (Neurath 1912 [1973], 122) Neurath identifies a problem with choosing between competing moral systems based on one or other metaphysical backdrop. For Neurath, metaphysics provides an insufficient foundation by which to choose between one or another system. Happiness or living standards for a population are seen as motivating assumptions, but not foundations. The empirical problem is then whether one can effectively quantify happiness, and on what basis. Thus we recognize Neurath's activities moving along many fronts. His interest in foundations of knowledge sustain empirical studies into—among other areas—war economies, the new possibilities of analysis in physics, mathematics and logic, and questions of a choice between moral systems. Neurath's attitude is perhaps best described in Carnap's recollections of Neurath. He wrote the following about Neurath: In our discussion in the Vienna Circle, chiefly under the influence of Neurath, the principle of the unity of science became one of the main tenets of our general philosophical conceptions. This principle says that the different branches of empirical science are separated only for the practical reason of division of labor, but are fundamentally merely parts of one comprehensive unified science. For Neurath the aim of a unified science was of vital importance; he maintained the monistic conception that everything that occurs is a part of nature, i.e. of the  8  physical world. I proposed to make this thesis more precise by transforming it into a thesis concerning language. Among the possible forms of a unified language of science Neurath gave strong preference to a physicalist language as against a phenomenalist one. ("Memories of Otto Neurath" in Neurath [1973], 43-4) Carnap refers to the Vienna Circle of the 1930s, but these themes reveal themselves consistently throughout Neurath's career. He aims for this under the banner of "unified science", which utilizes a "unified language" and a "unified syntax", ("Sociology in The Framework of Physicalism", Neurath 1931 [1983], 58-90) He writes, "In a sense unified science is physics in its largest aspect, a tissue of laws expressing space-time linkages let us call it: Physicalism" ("Physicalism: The Philosophy of The Viennese Circle," Neurath 1931 [1983], 48-51). In 1913 we see early development of his anti-foundational stance in his "The Lost Wanderers of Descartes And The Auxiliary Motive" wherein he follows Descartes' assertion that we must often make decisions for action without sufficient knowledge as to the correct path. Rational analysis articulates the limits of reason for Neurath, which can only outline how given certain assumptions different avenues of inquiry might proceed. No rational foundations present themselves, and we must therefore make a choice among competing systems of ideas describing our world. For Neurath, one can witness such a predicament when choosing between economic systems or moral theories that satisfy a goal of maximizing human happiness.  4  Neurath was drafted in August 1914, at the beginning of the First World War serving in communications headquarters, and was decorated in July 1915, being commended for "excellent performance in battle" (Cartwright et al. 1996, 19). A year 4  We shall examine this more closely in Chapter Two below.  9  later, on his initiative to create a department for war economics, he was transferred to the "Scientific Committee for War Economics" and promoted to "Head of the General War and Army Economics section" (ibid.). Stadler notes that he at the same time became director of the Museum of War Economy in Leipzig (Stadler 2000, 700), alternating fortnights there and in Vienna (Cartwright et al. 1992, 20). Another year following, in July 1917, with the war still on, Neurath became university lecturer at the University of Heidelberg, but was listed on leave because of his work in Leipzig (ibid.). Stadler remarks that because of his war service and his involvement in the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1918, he never actually took up the position (Stadler 2000, 700). Meanwhile, he published, among other articles, two papers which will be considered below: "On the Foundations of The History of Optics" (1915), and "On the Classification of Systems of Hypotheses (With Special Reference to Optics)" (1916) wherein he discusses the role of history for understanding the structure of scientific theories, and how historians might account for the development of theory given the notion that science does not build from the ground up a system of thought that works toward some reality or truth. These papers are important for understanding Neurath's developing conception of science and arguably share points of convergence with Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which makes Neurath interesting. Within ideas that were to contribute to logical empiricism, we find a concern for the role history plays in our understanding of the development of science. Philosophers will find these papers engaging even today. What is more remarkable about them and what we wish to emphasize in this section is how they indicate Neurath's intense commitment to the ideas he was developing: these papers, concerned with the foundations of scientific knowledge,  10  were written by a man employed as a Head for the War Economics Department, a director for the War Museum and a university lecturer, all in the middle of a World War. For Neurath such interests in the foundations of eighteenth-century optics were not segregated from his broader activities in wartime Europe. The war's conclusion in August 1918 had Neurath dismissed from his wartime duties in the War Economics Department with the "highest recommendation for an excellent performance during the war"; afterward he moved to Dresden from where he commuted to Leipzig at the war museum (ibid., 21). By November 1918, the Bavarian revolution brought Neurath into the realm of politics and marks a controversial era in his life. Fleck tells us that social breakdown in Vienna led to the closure of the museum. Neurath's colleagues attempted to convince him to come up with a socialization plan for the breakaway Bavarian Republic, which he eventually agreed to by late March 1919 when he was appointed president of the Central Economic Administration. From its declaration on April 7 until its overthrow only six days later Neurath functioned as a social technician attempting to enact the socialization programs he developed through his war economies research (ibid., 43-51). Neurath's role in the breakaway republic can, for some, mark a stain on the credibility of his work as a whole. We need not fear such a conclusion. Neurath testified at his later trial for high treason that he "decided to participate in active life after lengthy arguments with my friends and their hints at the cowardice that would reside in not doing the right thing, in not doing what one was able to do in times as serious as these" (ibid., 53). He also maintained that his "only goal throughout had been to 'implement socialism as an economic system' and that he never intended to have an active role in politics"  11  (ibid.)- Fleck writes that other witnesses testified to his political neutrality and his status as a civil servant. Nevertheless, Neurath's involvement had him indicted as follows: "Dr. Otto Neurath is under sufficient suspicion of having consciously supported in word and deed the attempt to change by violent means the constitution of the federal state of Bavaria" (ibid.). In July 1919, Neurath was convicted of assisting high treason and 5  sentenced to eighteen months "incarceration in a fortress", but was deported to Austria on the request of an associate who was Foreign Secretary of Austria (ibid. 55). His fellow administrators received much harsher sentences from two to fifteen years for some, and death for a key figure, which gives some sense of the gravity of Neurath's situation. This period deserves analysis that goes beyond the scope of the present paper. And such an analysis may provide a more sympathetic understanding of Neurath's decision to be involved. His participation has raised difficult questions, but some have been willing to disregard Neurath's involvement in such radical political activity as an error, or as an expression of an embarrassing naivete. For example, Rudolf Haller refers to the "confusion of the year 1919" (Uebel ed., 1991). We need not offer apologies or regrets at all for Neurath's involvement. Historically we may suggest that he seized upon an opportunity to put his socializing ideas into practice. It may suffice here to recognize that the volatility of European society at that time may have made it less clear beforehand what the stakes or outcomes might have been for such revolutionary activity. Indeed, Neurath was a man of action and it may have been just the sort of volatile atmosphere he needed to initiate social change on the scale he believed possible.  6  Indictment of the public prosecutor against Otto Neurath of 25 June 1919. State Archives Munich, in Cartwright et al. 1992, 53. Neurath's activities risked grave ideological repercussions. Fleck notes that Max Weber testified on Neurath's behalf at his trial and later wrote to him: "Later that year [Weber] wrote to Neurath that he 5  6  12  Neurath's Bavaria experience must surely have been a sobering one. However it did not seem to restrain his intellectual activity. While awaiting trial in jail, he wrote a near book-length critique of Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West (1918), which he dedicated to the young and the future they shape (Neurath 1921 [1973], 213). "AntiSpengler" (1919) relentlessly takes apart the German philosopher's attempt to "systematically predetermine history" (ibid., 160). The concluding paragraph is worth quoting at length, since it indicates the tone of Neurath's critique: Everyone in his innermost soul must come to terms with mysticism and antinomies; but the struggle against the mystic euphoria that attaches to trivial contradictions can be fought independently of that. Young people who take life seriously must quickly settle this in order to advance to strong and constructive activity, but also to old and difficult questions of existence and world-views, which are spared no one, be he as logical and acute as a man can possibly be. To these young people who today often toil with Spengler and waste much effort on him, this critical essay is dedicated. It has been set out in such detail not because of Spengler's significance, but in order to do justice to the significance of the young whom it wants to help, (ibid., 213) Neurath's conception of socialization might perhaps be read throughout all of his work— political, philosophical, critical. Fleck writes that he "described socialization as 'the conscious creation of a new way of life'" (Cartwright et al. 1996, 29) and such a way of life would aim at a population's happiness. Thus he passionately disparages Spengler's  considered his schemes for planned economies an 'amateurish, objectively absolutely irresponsible foolishness that could discredit "socialism" for a hundred years and will tear everything that could be created now into the abyss of a stupid reaction ... I fear you are contributing to this danger, which you greatly underestimate'" (Cartwright et al. 1996, 54).  13  work because he sees it as so profoundly misguided, and even more importantly misguiding for the youth who will shape the way of life to come.  7  Neurath thereafter returned to Vienna, a changed place after the war. Fleck writes that the "First World War not only resulted in the dissolution of the monarchy but in the breakup of the multinational state into numerous individual nation-states. The remains often referred to as Deutsche-Osterreich (German-Austria), reconstituted itself as a republic" (ibid., 56). She notes that since the formation of the Austrian republic in . November 1918, the labour movement began to influence socialization measures through its attainment of significant positions (ibid.). Neurath had taken a position to head a training institute for teachers of factory councilors at the Central Committee of the German Trade Union Association in Czechoslovakia (founded in 1920), which Fleck remarks, "may be considered a continuation of his Munich plans for the organization of factory councils" (ibid., 60). Subsequently he became General Secretary of the Research Institute for Social Economy in Vienna where he headed an umbrella organization for all housing co-operatives and societies. From this position he attempted to improve standards of living for the poor: "He urged solidarity in the fight against the poverty and bad housing that encouraged diseases and proposed significant measures against tuberculosis and alcoholism (ibid., 61). In 1923 he organized an "open-air exhibition" to communicate the activities of the association. At this time he again began lecturing around Vienna (ibid., 63).  Happiness for Neurath came to be understood through a populace's standard of living—which could be measured. Fleck notes that a "way of life" was, for Neurath, "the totality of measures, institutions and customs of a person or group of people" (ibid., 29). Thus these measures and institutions when structured a given way can provide a higher standard of living by which to gauge happiness. 7  14  Neurath's activities that most obviously concern philosophers of science involve the Vienna Circle. Between 1906 and 1912 he gathered with Hans Hahn, Olga Hahn and Philipp Frank to regularly discuss new trends in theoretical physics, mathematics and logic, and the epistemological problems therein; the group's influences were the French Conventionalists, Pragmatists, Mach and Einstein (ibid., 75). Rudolf Haller has named this group the First Vienna Circle (Uebel ed. 1991, 95-108). In 1912, Frank and Hahn 8  received appointments away from Vienna and the 'Circle's' activity reduced until the early 20s. In 1921 Hahn returned to the University of Vienna as professor of mathematics. He became part of a group gathered around Moritz Schlick, which came to be known as the Vienna Circle. Some of the group's members included Hans Hahn, Rudolf Carnap, Gustav Bergmann, Herbert Feigl, Kurt Godel, Felix Kaufmann, Viktor Kraft, Edgar Zilsel, Olga Hahn and Neurath (who was introduced to the group by Hans Hahn) and others. The year 1929 had the Vienna Circle make its public declaration of 9  existence and goals in its paper "The Scientific Conception of the World: The Vienna Circle" jointly written by Neurath, Carnap and Hans Hahn. As is well known, this pamphlet marked their public arrival as a group of scholars and in it they made their famous statements in the rejection of metaphysics: The goal ahead is unified science. The endeavour is to link and harmonize the achievements of individual investigators in their various fields of science. From this aim follows the emphasis on collective efforts, and also the emphasis on what can be grasped intersubjectively; from this springs the search for a neutral system  For a discussion on the influences of the First Vienna Circle, see Haller's discussion in Uebel ed. 1991, 95-108. An official list of members is to be found at the end of the Vienna Circle's manifesto: "The Scientific Conception of The World: The Vienna Circle" (1929). 8  9  15  of formulae, for a symbolism freed from the slag of historical languages; and also the search for a total system of concepts. Neatness and clarity are striven for, and dark distances and unfathomable depths rejected.... The scientific worldconception rejects metaphysical philosophy. (Neurath 1929 [1973], 306, 307) It is worth noting here that the Vienna Circle defined itself, not by a body of knowledge or uniform (indeed unified) theoretical structure, but by its goals and ambitions (in part to work toward a sufficient account of knowledge and perhaps some structure that could define its process of cooperative scientific activity). Indeed, though the Circle attempted to maintain a unified front, there was a definite diversity that requires any historical analysis of the Vienna Circle and the empiricism that emerged from it to account for the various positions held by its members. Therefore, traditional accounts of logical empiricism that render it a foundationalist project will necessarily misconstrue its ambitions by which it is defined. The 1929 article itself acknowledges a difference in outlooks among its members: Of course it is still clearly noticeable from which of the various problem areas the individual members of the Vienna Circle come. This often results in differences in lines of interests and points of view, which in turn lead to differences in conception, (ibid., 316) Nevertheless, its various members were united against what they took to be the problematic metaphysical baggage of traditional philosophy: Not one of the members is a so-called 'pure' philosopher; all of them have done work in a special field of science.... It became increasingly clearer that a position not only free from metaphysics, but opposed to metaphysics was the common  16  goal of all.... The attitudes toward questions of life also showed a noteworthy agreement, although these questions were not in the foreground of themes discussed within the Circle.... For instance endeavours toward a new organization of economic and social relations, toward the unification of mankind, toward a reform of school and education, all show an inner link with the scientific worldconception; it appears that these endeavours are welcomed and regarded with sympathy by the members of the Circle, some of whom indeed actively further them, (ibid., 304-5). Of course, Neurath betrays his own bias here connecting his socialization activities (and occupation as head of the Vienna Museum of Economy and Society from 1924 to 1934— active years for the Vienna Circle) to the scientific world-conception. But such an inclusion, and its acceptance by Neurath's fellow authors, reveals a diversity of thinkers who united themselves under an umbrella of goals that connected attitudes toward physics and logic to those motivating broader social and political goals. Differences manifest themselves in the well-known protocol sentence debates in which most notably Carnap, Schlick and Neurath disagreed over what should count as a basic observation sentence, and more generally how to structure the language of science. Neurath at this time published several articles promoting his 'physicalism' that characterized his view of the language of scientific inquiry. He concludes "Physicalism: 10  The Philosophy of The Viennese Circle" (1931) in the following manner:  See for example "Physicalism: The Philosophy of the Viennese Circle" (1931), "Physicalism" (1931), "Sociology in the Framework of Physicalism" (1931), "Protocol Statements" (1932), in Neurath (1983). For an extensive discussion of the protocol sentence debate and Neurath's role therein see Thomas E. Uebel's Overcoming Logical Positivism from Within: The Emergence ofNeurath's Naturalism in the Vienna Circle's Protocol Sentence Debate (1992).  17  No matter in what country or continent they may be, those who regard themselves as simple labourers in solving the riddle of life unconsciously join forces whenever they devote time and effort to the clarification of science and whenever they systematize and interpret with the aid of logic and mathematics all that we perceive through the senses. To predict what will happen and to guide one's actions accordingly is the greatest triumph of earthly striving, the concrete success of human effort which does not make use of theses devoid of sense but is rooted in the soil of Physicalism. (Neurath 1931 [1983], 51) Neurath's physicalism is the entire language of science, which motivates his criticisms of Carnap's attempts to construct a phenomenalist language, since Neurath felt Carnap to be establishing a language outside that of science, but one to which science must be upheld. This will be discussed in Chapter Three below. In February 1934, authorities dissolved the Ernst Mach Society with which the Vienna Circle allied itself. Political turmoil in Austria brought about a ban on "Social Democratic and Communist organizations" (Cartwright et al. 1996, 83). Neurath's Museum of Economy and Society was closed and its offices searched by police (ibid.). Neurath had been in Moscow introducing his method of picture statistics utilized in the Museum at Vienna. Fleck reports that he went to see Philipp Frank in Prague and then fled in exile to The Hague where he met his wife and assistants. There and with very little money, he organized both the Preparatory Conference for the First International Congress for the Unity of Science in Prague for August 1934 and the Congress for The Unity of Science in Paris for September 1935. Fleck remarks that these gatherings were likely held in part to keep the Vienna Circle in contact: Feigl had emigrated to the US, Carnap went  18  to Prague, Hahn died suddenly in 1934 and Neurath was then living in the Netherlands. In 1936 Schlick, who had remained in Vienna, was murdered by a student, and Carnap had moved to the US (ibid., 83-4). The Vienna Circle was falling victim to the broader social and political events that surrounded it. Neurath fled the first signs of a German invasion of The Hague for Britain in 1940, and was given a place to stay at Oxford. There he taught on logical empiricism and the social sciences and founded an institute at Oxford for his picture statistics (ibid., 86). He lived there until his death in December 1945.  1.4 What Do We Gain from Neurath? The preceding biography gives a sense of the activities Neurath undertook throughout his career. It indicates a life engaged with its ideological and practical surroundings. Neurath was a man of his time, which perhaps made his activities in their context highly effectual, but it is perhaps this same fact in part which has contributed to his obscurity: the culture within which he developed and pursued his ideas was foreign to the direction philosophy of science took in an American context in the second half of the century. Thus, the problems and solutions that concerned Neurath were not those concerns motivating research across the Atlantic where they seemed to take scientific philosophy in a different direction. Neurath's fade into obscurity was perhaps aided by the fact that due to his 11  death in the mid-40s his career was over twenty years shorter than that of someone like  For a discussion on the change of emphasis in the US, see Peter Galison, "The Americanization of Unity" (1998). See also Galison's "Constructing Modernism: The Cultural Location of Aufbau" (1996) to understand the role cultural location can play for the historian attempting to grasp concerns motivating Neurath's research. See also George Reisch's forthcoming, "From 'The Life of The Present Day' to 'The Icy Slopes of Logic': Logical Empiricism and The Cold War" for a discussion of the reception in the US of the 'left' scented scientific philosophy of the scattered Vienna Circle members. 11  19  Carnap. He therefore was not around to shape his ideas in the 'new world' following the Second World War.  12  However Neurath is someone whose work should be taken seriously. As will be demonstrated in the chapters to follow, his early works exhibit a relevant relation to the development of philosophy of science in North America over the past fifty years. His pieces chosen for this particular analysis, and written in the 1910s, not only provide a clue to the roots of his more notably expressed ideas in the hey-day of Vienna Circle activity (indeed, the 1929 manifesto contains Neurathww^ that can be traced back to these papers). They also provide a potential framework for development by current historians and philosophers concerned with articulating an effective framework of analysis in contemporary history and philosophy of science. The above biography intends to show that Neurath was an active intellectual engaging his theoretical pursuits in very practical context. It aims at situating his intellectual activities in the broader historical context that he found himself.  It would remain to pure speculation how Neurath would have proceeded in the next decades, but one might guess that the critiques against the 'received view' of logical empiricism of the next thirty years, to be found in scholars like Quine and Kuhn, might not only have looked different, but had a different sort of impact on the intellectual community had Neurath been around to promote the more historical and naturalized features of Vienna Circle logical empiricism.  20  Chapter Two Otto Neurath: 1910s Papers Providing A Glimpse into His Philosophical Assumptions 2.1 Neurath And The History of Logical Empiricism Part of what motivates the present thesis is a desire to locate Neurath's relation to larger currents in the history of philosophy of science. Contemporary philosophy of science has inherited a standard view of the goals of logical empiricists (among whom Neurath numbered himself), based largely in the work of Carnap. Famous papers by W.V.O. Quine—"Two Dogmas of Empiricism" (1951) and "Epistemology Naturalized" (1969)— and T.S. Kuhn's influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) provide for us a model of how we have been invited to recognize logical empiricism's contribution to philosophy of science. Quine argues that Carnap espoused a foundationalist project, aimed at reducing statements in science to sense experience. Kuhn has attributed the vision of science as incremental growth toward truth to logical empiricism (Kuhn 1969, 98). Neither of their accounts recognizes the contributions made by Neurath to discussions framing the development of logical empiricism in the 1930s. Neurath's conception of the development of science was neither a foundationalist philosophy, nor one aiming at some absolute truth. Though by no means complete, logical empiricist theory has potential to encompass both the logical analysis of language and a role for history. Much reinterpretive historical work sustains a claim that there is more to be found in the writings of logical empiricists than a naive empiricism. The present chapter considers what else is present in logical empiricism in light of the roots of Neurath's thought as it developed in the 1910s.  21  We therefore take up three papers written in the 1910s that exhibit how in Neurath's work an effort to bridge the logical with the empirical, and by which we may identify Neurath's proximity to Carnap, Quine and Kuhn. We consider "The Lost Wanderers of Descartes And The Auxiliary Motive" (1913), wherein Neurath exhibits his anti-foundationalist attitude that derives from Descartes' metaphor that we are like wanderers lost in a forest. To find our way out we necessarily must choose a direction without sufficient knowledge as to our correct route. We examine two other papers, "On The Foundations of The History of Optics" (1915) and "On The Classification of Systems of Hypotheses" (1916), which reveal Neurath's anti-metaphysical stance and consequent assertion that logical and historical analysis are stages of inquiry that can effectively inform us of the structure and development of scientific theory. We intend to answer the following three questions in light of his early work. What does Neurath's theory of science look like? What is his image of the development of science? How does history play a role in understanding the development of philosophy of science?  2.2 Neurath And The Lost Wanderers of Descartes His paper on Descartes' lost wanderers shows how, for Neurath, there are no indubitable foundations on which to base a theory of knowledge. Absent such absolutes, we necessarily construct fallible theories accounting for our experience of the world. Neurath suggests that because of under-determination of theory by facts, we necessarily must at some point make a choice between equally well-established and competing theories accounting for phenomena. Thus, the role of decision in the development of scientific  22  theories identifies a pragmatic element in Neurath's understanding of that development, and marks interesting parallels with Kuhn's notions of incommensurability and revolution in the development of science—a point which will be taken up further in Chapter Three below. Considering Descartes' preliminary rules for practical action, Neurath identifies what he takes to be our philosophical quandary. Like the forest from which wanderers must escape, any claims to knowledge of our world and practical scientific activity rely upon an uncertain basis insofar as phenomena can support more than one theory: we must often choose one theory accounting for phenomena among competing rivals without sufficient criteria to determine the correctness of that choice. Neurath aims at what he considers an "honest" means to choose. Let us clarify. Neurath quotes from a well-known passage in the Discourse on Method: My second maxim was to be as firm and decisive in my actions as I could, and to follow even the most doubtful opinions, once I had adopted them, with no less constancy than if they had been quite certain. In this respect I would be imitating a traveler who, upon finding himself lost in a forest, should not wander about turning this way and that, and still less stay in one place, but should keep walking as straight as he can in one direction, never changing it for slight reasons even if mere chance made him choose it in the first place; for in this way, even if he does not go exactly where he wishes, he will at least end up in a place where he is likely to be better off than in the middle of a forest. Similarly, since in everyday life we must often act without delay, it is a most certain truth that when it is not in  23  our power to discern the truest opinions, we must follow the most probable. (Descartes Discourse on Method, trans. John Cottingham et. al, 1994, 32) Neurath identifies in the above passage "a resignation in the field of practical action" (Neurath 1913 [1983], 1). If the lost wanderers have any hope of escaping the forest at all they must head in a direction without an assurance of the correct way out. Therefore they must choose their path—a choice for which Descartes "formulates preliminary rules for practical action" (ibid., 2). Given insufficient insight into a correct path of action, these rules provide a means for the wanderer to make a resolute decision without changing his mind "willy-nilly". Likewise in the "field of study of the world" we necessarily construct theories accounting for our experience without an absolute grounding in the truth of one theory over another. From Descartes' preliminary rules, Neurath articulates the need for what he takes to be a clear and "honest" means in the auxiliary motive to choose among competing theories. Before discussing what the auxiliary motive is, we should consider the relation of theory to action to show that for Neurath thought is itself an action. Descartes makes a distinction between action and theory that Neurath rejects. Though he acknowledges that we must often act without sufficient insight, Descartes nevertheless holds that in the area of theory, we may eventually arrive at a true account of the world. Neurath writes, Descartes was of the opinion that, in the field of theory, by forming successive series of statements that one has recognized as definitely true, one could reach a complete picture of the world. He places great confidence in this endeavour which is in sharp contrast to the resignation mentioned above. "Nothing is so difficult that one could not reach it in the end, nothing so hidden that one could not  24  discover it." But how should the man act who has not yet attained complete insight? For this purpose Descartes formulates preliminary rules for practical action which have to be applied as long as one has not reached complete insight. For those who are of the opinion that complete insight can never be reached, these preliminary rules become definitive ones, (ibid., 3) Thus, Neurath rejects Descartes' assumption that one may, by a succession of true statements arrive at a complete understanding of the world—that theory develops toward some absolute truth. The rules for action given insufficient insight, become for Neurath, definitive by virtue of his rejection of notions of some absolute truth as a goal. For Neurath, absolute truth remains elusive as both a foundation for a theory and a goal. Given two competing theories providing equal accounts of phenomena, we necessarily choose between them. "It is precisely this that matters, that the course of events depends on our decision" (ibid., 2)—and not, we might add, on absolute notions of truth. We see a consistent attitude expressed nearly twenty years later when Neurath writes that, "adherents of a rigorous empiricism reject anything that smacks of the 'absolute,'" (Neurath 1931 [1983], 48). Absent foundations in truth, thinking is itself an action for Neurath. One pursues one theory accounting for phenomena in the world over another on the basis of a decision, just as the wanderers' direction is determined by a choice. In short, Neurath argues the following. We have no foundations in an absolute truth on which to base theories accounting for our experience of the world. Absent foundations, and maintaining an interest in understanding the world within which we find ourselves, we necessarily construct theories accounting for that world. But how do we determine which theory is best? There will be any number of concerns satisfying the  25  impetus of a choice, but Neurath notes that "one very often finds oneself in the position of having to choose one of several hypotheses of equal probability" (ibid., 3). Neurath suggests that Descartes' preliminary rules can suffice to direct us, and formulates them thus: "One should assume as true only what is clearly known, dissect all problems into separate questions, arrange the problems according to their complexity, and attempt to make a complete survey of them within an investigation" (ibid., 1). We might suggest here that these rules provide the basis for Neurath's conception of understanding the relation between logical and empirical analysis of the structure and development of scientific theory. Though we will go into this more fully in the following sections on optics, it might suffice to note here that the first three preliminary rules arguably relate, for Neurath, to an analysis provided by logic—determining the structure of a given theory. The last rule attempting to make a complete survey can be related to broader historical concerns. Let us leave this point for now however and consider Neurath's rendering of the auxiliary motive as an appropriate motivation behind theory choice. What is the auxiliary motive? Above all, it marks the pragmatic element in the development of theories about our world. For Neurath, it constitutes a conscious acknowledgement of the limits of human understanding to fully grasp phenomena we encounter. One might recognize here an anti-realist position since Neurath holds that we cannot claim to rely on indubitable foundations for our theories; neither can we assume that theories utilized in science provide a progressively complete view of the structure of the world. We see that for Neurath the auxiliary motive is the means by which we choose among different possibilities. He states,  26  We have seen that in many cases, by considering different possibilities of action, a man cannot reach a result. If he nevertheless singles out one of them to put it into operation, and in so doing makes use of a principle of a more general kind, we want to call the motive thus created, which has nothing to do with the concrete aims in question, the auxiliary motive, (ibid., 4) The choice is based upon some feature outside the structure of the theories themselves and reflects Neurath's view that a theory reaches, at some point, its own limits to recommend itself. The question for Neurath then is what type of impetus to utilize in choosing among theories. He writes that it "appears in its purest form as a drawing of lots" (ibid., 4). Neurath's auxiliary motive is the action of flipping a coin, drawing straws. However, he is not trivializing the development of theory. Flipping a coin is a rather simple and even possibly silly method to be sure. However its "honesty" is revealed when considering to what he proposes it as an alternative. His essay functions largely as a criticism of those individuals who, according to Neurath, assume that with enough thought, one may accurately account for the true structure of the world through insight: Most of our contemporaries rely on their insight and want to leave the decision in all things to it once and for all.... Men of this type are mostly of the opinion that if difficulties turn up, sharper thinking will have to lead to the goal; they completely fail to see that even the sharpest thinker can end up with several conclusions of equal value if premises are lacking. Whoever adheres to the belief that he can accomplish everything with his insight, anticipates in a way that  27  complete knowledge of the world that Descartes puts forward as a far-off aim of scientific development. (Ibid., 7) Neurath rejects that type of thinking because it obscures the pragmatic element of the decision and its consequent role in the development of scientific theory. Once one recognizes that one has reached one's limits, for Neurath an appropriate attitude toward the nature of theory development draws attention to those limits and avoids false claims to insights where they are not available. In "Anti-Spengler", written a number of years later, he writes, a world-view, too, is action; embracing the manifold universe is an anticipation of unpredictable efforts. In the end all our thinking depends on such inadequacies. We must advance, even without certainty! The only question is whether we are aware of it or not. (Neurath 1921 [1973], 159) The auxiliary motive draws attention to that lack of certainty. Further, it exemplifies Neurath's deep resistance to scholarship that in his view feigns deeper insights than our individual and collective efforts allow. "Anti-Spengler" provides numerous and delightful comments to understand how profoundly he rejected "pseudo-rationalism" that "leads partly to self-deception, partly to hypocrisy" (Neurath 1913 [1983], 8): Our pseudo-rationalists dare not face this fact. Frivolity! They cry, when it is found that even with the most developed insight more than one way remains open for important decisions and that casting lots can thus become meaningful. They will not admit, precisely when some great task is to be undertaken, that insight becomes awareness of its own limits. Insofar as kind and size of given conditions are hidden, lack of knowledge alone leaves open a multiplicity of possibilities; but  28  even the fullest clarity reveals many goals of which only one can determine our actions. (Neurath 1921 [1973], 159)  1  Neurath's auxiliary motive underscores for him the limits of our insights. He is concerned to identify, first of all, that scientific theories develop to some extent on the basis of a decision (to what extent remains an empirical question), and second that those decisions should be clearly identified in their relation to theoretical development. Further, for Neurath, the auxiliary motive functions in opposition to what he terms pseudorationalism: "The pseudo-rationalists do true rationalism a disservice if they pretend to have adequate insight exactly where strict rationalism excludes it on purely logical grounds" (Neurath 1913 [1983], 8). Since for Neurath an empirical examination determines the effectiveness of this method, we may consider how it may be applied. Neurath acknowledges that one concern with recommending the auxiliary motive is that it may be utilized prematurely: It is an empirical question how the auxiliary motive meets the test in practice. Its general acceptance could, for example, have the effect that one already uses it at a time when reflexion might still perfectly well make headway.... Already the  'This passage is worth quoting in full. It indicates Neurath's deep commitment to an honest inquiry: Whoever attempts this task [advancing without certainty] is disinclined to overestimate insight in any way, as if it were to give wings to our action. As a man he comes to terms with the fact that comprehensive goals are deliberately defended on insufficient grounds, and indeed they must be so. He abhors self-deception about this. Can whole peoples adopt this attitude, like that lost wayfarer of whom Descartes speaks? Surrounded by dense forest without signposts and having vainly consulted reason, he chooses one direction which he follows unswervingly, because that is the only conceivable salvation. Or will peoples forever resemble the other lost wayfarer, who first advances in one direction, then returns to push forward in another, thereby losing time and strength? Once severed from faith and tradition which restricted possibilities from the start and gave extra-personal arguments to those who still wavered, must people fall victim to the eternal antitheses that insight alone cannot banish? To every well-founded theory today there are equally well-founded counter-theories. The necessary unity in action is undermined if insight by itself is to bring thefinaldecision. (Neurath 1921 [1973], 159)  29  Greek poet warns: "First set to work yourself, then call the gods for help", (ibid., 9). Practically, one wonders how it may be determined when "reflexion" might make headway, and when perhaps one should flip a coin to choose one theory among many. Indeed, more work may reveal one path to be better suited than another. However, we might recognize that the strength of Neurath's assertion is in the attitude it evokes toward understanding the limits of an inquiry into the world around us. To be sure, the auxiliary method is not promoted consistently throughout Neurath's body of work. We find it promoted in the context of the early "Lost Wanderers" paper wherein he suggests it is more honest than pseudo-rationalist motivations like a presumption to have insights where individual and collective analyses have shown such insights to be inaccessible. Let us consider the role the auxiliary motive might play within Neurath's own discussion of eighteenth-century optics. We take up his papers more fully in the sections to follow, but may refer to them presently to suggest that the auxiliary motive points to a more complete notion of Neurath's view of the development of scientific theory. We may remark that Neurath exhibits a concern over interpreting historically located theories from the perspective that somehow we now have it "right". And he aims at providing a more historically adequate account of theories that are no longer in vogue. He cites a number of examples demonstrating that the success of wave over "emission" theory should not be understood to reflect the former's closer fit with some "reality". In "On The Foundations of The History of Optics" (1915), he writes, Because, on the whole, wave theory won, many even among the scientifically cultured have been led to imagine that through its greater wealth it outpaced  30  emission theory, which they regard as rather primitive. The unfair contrast between complete and incomplete theories partly springs from the unfortunate dichotomy of emission and wave. How differently the history of physics would have figured in human thought if physicists had been divided into periodics and non-periodics. This too would have been faulty, as must be any classification based on a single characteristic. (Neurath 1915 [1973], 109) As we will discuss below, these theories for Neurath, are more adequately understood in the context of their own individual development, rather than in their being more closely attuned to the world within which we find ourselves. Emission theory was superseded because it remained less developed. He writes, How far a hypothesis meets all demands may depend on the efforts made on its behalf. Duhem said that i f physicists had offered a prize for an optical system based on emission while agreeing with Foucault's finding that light traveled faster in air than in water, such a theory would have been found. Often promising theories were dropped because the young are always eager to tamper with the work of their elders.... Before fighting a hypothesis, one ought to give it its most finished form, a task often too great for a lifetime's work, (ibid., I l l ) The point for Neurath is that the value of a theory depends often on how well developed it is, and how many challenges it has been formed to address, not because it has been determined better by phenomena it interprets. Further, he argues that phenomena that had been used to support wave theory supported emission theory: "[Newton] regarded polarization as proof of emission theory, though later it was used as a prop of wave theory" (ibid., 109).  31  Thus how does one decide to interpret phenomena as props of one theory and not another? A n eighteenth-century physicist need not rely on the auxiliary motive because empirical work can still determine how to interpret the findings of polarization. The decision to choose among theories may fall upon more general considerations surrounding how much will be gained by choosing one theory over another. There is here no need to rely on the auxiliary motive. However, we may hypothesize a scenario in which one could conceive of the need to fall on the auxiliary motive. Neurath believes that emission theory could have been developed enough to account for phenomena as effectively as wave theory. If we imagine both theories being equal, and there being no reason to choose between one or the other, we may find the auxiliary motive useful. Neurath recommends the auxiliary motive in the face of claims that one theory supersedes another because it is closer to reality—that wave theorists had the "right" theory. We sense that Neurath recognizes this attitude in historical accounts of wave theory that unfairly compare its success to an incomplete emission theory. The auxiliary motive identifies, for contemporaries of a theory, how far our insights extend in our knowledge of the world.  2.3 Neurath And The Foundations of The History of Optics Neurath's early papers assert a role for history in understanding the development of scientific theories. Indeed, in his papers "On The Foundations of The History of Optics" (1915) and "On The Classification of Systems of Hypotheses" (1916) he examines how history can contribute to our grasp of the nature of scientific development. Historical study, beyond chronicling who did what when, can suggest how certain events came to  32  be—how one theory came to be adopted over another. It may highlight what features of some given phenomena came to be emphasized in what particular way to bring about the success of one and not another theory. He writes, History of science, i f seen as more than a mere chronicle of findings and biographies, is a young discipline. It can aim much higher: like the history of any field of enquiry, it may try to shed light on the psychology of the enquirer; besides, it may exhibit the logical structure of theories, and from it derive how they may develop. To follow how such possibilities happen to be realized by this or that enquirer is an especially engaging task. (Neurath 1915 [1973], 101) He suggests richer possibilities for our understanding of the development and structure of theories through historical analysis. Neurath considers the history of eighteenth-century optics. He notes that historians had typically considered the scope of issues in this field in terms of a dichotomy of wave versus emission theory. That is, the history of eighteenth-century optics played out as a battle between emission and wave theorists with wave theory emerging victorious. According to Neurath, the "wave"-"emission" dichotomy is useful for a preliminary classification of optical theories of that time; he argues, however, that the dichotomy is not sufficient for an adequate classification of the theories constructed to account for optical phenomena. He writes, Accounts in the history of physics are rarely started from a complete dissection of the several theories into elementary propositions. Hence the lack of an adequate classification of different views that takes note of their constituent parts. Writers  33  usually describe schools of thought by one outstanding characteristic without consulting, as they should, the totality of characteristics, (ibid., 103) By dissecting theories into more precise accounts of propositions one can identify more precise relationships among the various physicists: for Neurath we gain a better understanding of the process involving developing theories of optical phenomena by seeing where the various thinkers diverged to come up with an emission or wave theory. Their thought may be more adequately classified in terms more precise than "emission" and "wave". He goes on to state that different historians, on the basis of this dichotomy, numbered Descartes among both emission and wave theorists (ibid.). This shows not a problem with one or another historian, but that the dichotomy by which they characterized optical phenomena (is light a wave or a particle?) requires a more refined examination. He notes, " i f one analyzes the whole doctrine of Descartes carefully, one must say that it contains elements of emission and wave theory at the same time" (Neurath 1916 [1983], 14). We will see that one significant concern for Neurath is his resistance to claims that wave theory emerged as the preferred account of optical phenomena because it is closer to the real world. He wants rather a history that judges the strength of theories in terms of how well they adapt to new findings or new phenomena; for Neurath this approach provides a richer account of how those theories developed than that provided by a history of wave theory that derides emission theory. We see him attempting to assess theories, or various assertions within them, on the basis of how well they fit with an overall conception of the world—a conception which itself may be revisable. We view this in the following passage:  34  Many a hypothesis appears important only when we note that it was meant to prop up much wider sets of notions prevailing at the time. When deciding to give up a hypothesis, or to preserve it through what may be rather daring auxiliary assumptions, we must ask above all what other hypotheses stand or fall with this one. Through its scope a hypothesis has a rank. We cannot call it more or less correct; but we can say that one hypothesis matches another in scope and that to give it up would greatly, or little, transform our picture of the world. (Neurath 1915 [1973], 101) Neurath's conception of adequate historical analysis marks the roots of his antimetaphysical stance expressed more explicitly within Vienna Circle debates of the 1930s, but we shall return to this point below. Let us first consider what methodological principles he advocates for a more adequate history of science. He suggests the need for historians to engage in joint efforts to understand the development of science. He writes, "genuine contributions have come only from those historians of science who were familiar with the philosophy of their time and had formed some views on the nature of hypotheses" (ibid., 101). Among others he notes the progress made by Whewell, Mach and Duhem, but remarks that their "achievements remain rather individual. These men did not work jointly with others on the history of physics as chemists may be said to work on chemistry" (ibid., 102). What is required in 1915 for Neurath is a "generally acknowledged method" in the history of science, so that research may be unified and the work of individual scholars brought together (ibid.). We may see here Neurath introducing what he will consider two stages in an adequate analysis of scientific theory: a logical stage, and (what we will call) a cultural  35  stage of analysis. First, he suggests we should "dissect" theories into their "elementary constituents"—a demand he attributes to Descartes (ibid.). This stage reflects the need for a systematic analysis of the structure of a given theory to see how various assumptions within that theory relate to one another. Second, he requires an analysis of more general considerations—of the cultural context within which theories are developed: We must show how best to sift out from the systems of hypotheses what became most vital for the development of physics.... We must try to see clearly how far a physical theory hinges on the images used, how far on those features that actually carry the argument. Perhaps we cannot grasp some developments unless we consider the images and pictures; in other cases we must rely on what governs the mathematical treatment of phenomena; or, maybe, both ways of looking at it are steps, (ibid.) We see him here making a distinction between the features of the structure of a theory that recommend it, and the participation of individuals actually adopting this theory (how that participation affects which images motivate the adoption of one theory over another). We can characterize his distinction as that between analysis of the formal properties of a theory and more general, cultural, features related to theory choice (historical, psychological, political, socio-economic contexts within which theories are adopted). Neurath chooses the history of eighteenth century optics because "in that period a series of outstanding thinkers discussed a fairly narrowly defined field of phenomena which was yet rich enough to evoke complicated hypotheses" (ibid., 103). There were a variety of views on the nature of light, which he asserts "stems partly from the different ranges of findings and partly from different ways of accounting for them" (ibid., 105) He  36  notes that as physicists struggled to construct theories accounting for optical phenomena, they utilized analogies to fields of inquiry that at that time were relatively established (ibid., 103). Therefore, acoustics provided an analogy in the work of Grimaldi, Malebranche and Huyghens (ibid., 106). The analogy of sound served to push researchers to examine optical phenomena in terms of what features of acoustics were readily developed. Theories in acoustics and optics then developed in some respects in conjunction with one another: "the theory of interference arose in acoustics and optics at about the same time" (ibid.). What then is Neurath's method of analysis? Rather than dividing theorists among wave and emission theories, he proposes four features on which to base an analysis: To show on what kind of classification of outlooks a systematic historical treatment would have to rest, let us confine ourselves to periodicity, polarization, interference and diffraction, leaving aside whether in any instance these are elementary findings or elementary notions, (ibid., 105) Thus he aims at a more precise classification of the various theories by considering four optical features that the various theories had to account for. He suggests we consider how those constituents of a more precise classification relate to broader cultural currents. How were these features grouped? What features appealed to whom? Let us note that the degree of precision in this analysis is relative: these four features of light do not mark, for Neurath, basic notions by which to identify the nature of light. Rather, they comprise a more precise analysis that provides a richer insight into the nature of the relations between theories. For Neurath analyzing theory in terms of these more precise features  37  affords an understanding of those phenomena that perhaps contributed more greatly to the development of optical theory than notions of wave and emission. He writes, For a clear picture, we must group the elementary observations on which the various outlooks rest.... Our analysis would aim less at finding what scientists knew but rather at stating, for each theory, the essential parts of experience, (ibid., 105) We find Neurath outlining in rough the developments worked by Grimaldi, Malebranche, Huyghens and Newton in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. We can summarize Neurath's examination as follows. Grimaldi (1618-1663), working with an analogy to sound, accounts for diffraction and interference. He assumes an elementary property of wave motion, among others, and his work "hints at periodicity" (ibid., 106). Malebranche (1638-1715) accounts for periodicity of light emission (ibid.). Huyghens (1629-1695) advocated a wave theory of light, accounted for polarisability, but not periodicity. "Huyghens' principle" suggests that light has a tendency to move in more than one direction, supporting his wave theory (ibid., 107). Newton (1642-1727) held to an emission theory, accounted for polarisability, diffraction and periodicity, the latter of which Neurath argues "first made possible a theory of periodic waves and interference" (ibid., 108). Neurath writes that by the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, "optical controversies became very lively" (ibid., 109). He notes that Young (1773-1829) and Fresnel (1788-1826) advocated a wave theory and accounted for interference and diffraction. Meanwhile, Brewster (1781-1868), Biot (1774-1862) and Malus (1775-1811) were among the main opponents of wave theory (ibid.). Neurath writes that the "theories  38  had grown so far that they agreed in many vital points" and that "contending workers recognized each others' special advantages" (ibid.). To be sure, emission theory for a long time had been held superior: "Newton's opponents long failed to produce an equally valuable hypothesis to explain phenomena" (ibid.). The main opponent to Newton's emission theory had been Euler (1707-1783), whose main criticism had been "that one could not grasp how emitted particles might penetrate solid bodies, a criticism since superseded, given that alpha and beta particles penetrate aluminum as corpuscular rays" (ibid.). However at the turn of the century physicists were recognizing the strengths of one another's projects. Young, whose theory Neurath notes was "ultimately victorious" (Neurath 1916 [1983], 22), had written to Malus on the occasion of the latter's published work on "polarization by reflection", saying that, according to Neurath, "Malus' experiments had shown where Young's own theory was wanting, though they had not shown it false" (Neurath 1915 [1973], 110). Likewise Neurath notes that Biot had admitted to Fresnel the superiority of the latter's thesis, while Fresnel had "recognized that Biot's formulas were useful" (ibid.). Let us not stray too far from our task which is to identify Neurath's goals of evoking a richer sense of the theories in question than can be provided through the lens of an emission/wave dichotomy. We are not intending a comprehensive history of optics, since that would take us far beyond our immediate concerns. We rather aim to show Neurath's goal of providing a more textured appreciation of the development of optical theory through considering more detailed phenomena, and relating those phenomena to broader historical considerations. He writes, "If we attend to features like the four we have used, then emission or wave character would in some cases become rather  39  unimportant" (ibid., 112). Like the eighteenth-century theorists themselves, Neurath would have historians consider the strengths of the abandoned emission theory in terms of what it aimed to accomplish. Ultimately, Neurath asserts, A main difference between the two parties could be seen in the fact that the wave theorists displayed a greater uniformity of hypothesis formation than the emission theorists, who needed a special hypothesis for almost each new phenomenon treated by wave theorists. Nothing, however, would be more mistaken than making little of the emission theorists as was usual in many circles, partly as a consequence of school teaching. While it is always reported of the wave theory that it teaches the periodicity of waves, the point is often omitted that Newton had a periodicity in the emission theory at a time when this was still foreign to wave theorists. (Neurath 1916 [1983], 22) Let us then consider a rough sketch of Neurath's method, by which he intends to evoke a richer historical sense of optical theory development. He suggests theory analysis take place in two steps. First, one dissects theories into more precisely identified components. In the example given, Neurath therefore has identified key features in the various theorists' accounts of phenomena, in terms of periodicity, diffraction, interference and polarisability. Second, he considers what we have called a cultural analysis. He notes that as optical theory developed there was a range of different findings and a difference in how those findings were interpreted. Some early emission theorists had an account of periodicity, while others did not. Similarly, Neurath identifies an account of periodicity in both emission and wave theories. We note that for Neurath, the theoretical structure is insufficient to recommend one theory over another. Periodicity can  40  be found in both emission and wave theories, which suggests that such a feature cannot recommend the success of wave theory over the failure of emission. One cannot deduce wave theory from periodicity. The second, cultural, step of analysis identifies that physicists ultimately chose wave theory and why they did. This step fosters a more refined historical conception of past theoretical development. We might see in his efforts a resistance to interpret history from the perspective that we now have the right view of the world: like historical analysis, we may judge contemporary theory (indeed, in any field) in terms of its relation to phenomena and other coexisting theoretical accounts of the world. Thus, for Neurath an adequate historical understanding of science contributes to a grasp of how scientific theory develops. Neurath's place for history suggests two stages in understanding science: first, a logical analysis reveals the structure of a given theory; second, a historical-cultural analysis affords a broader understanding of the conditions in which various theories come to be adopted over competitors.  2.4 The Roots of Neurath's Anti-Metaphysics Let us look more closely at Neurath's conception of historical analysis with an eye for the roots of his "anti-metaphysical" stance. In the 1930s, while advocating a scientific conception of the world, Neurath came out against metaphysics. He advocated a "purge of metaphysical formulas" (Neurath 1931 [1983], 49) from physics and rendered his interests not so much philosophy as "anti-philosophy" (ibid., 48). His notion of "systems of hypotheses" in 1916 identifies the roots of his rather polemical disposition expressed  41  in later years. Considering those roots enables us to understand what "anti-metaphysics" and "anti-philosophy" meant for Neurath. In his "On The Classification of Systems of Hypotheses" (1916), we witness his resistance to claims to knowledge of reality. Neurath writes, "I always speak of 'systems of hypotheses' without wanting to delimit what is denoted as hypothesis, what as reality" (Neurath 1916 [1983], 23). In terms of what we can grasp of reality, we are for Neurath, like Descartes' lost wanderers. Though we can construct theories accounting for our experience of the world, there are limits to the extent that we may determine the right one. He writes, The scarce data that we possess about the world insufficiently determine the wealth of relationships and thus do not enable us to create all imaginable systems of relations by going through all possible combinations, and then to find out about their reality.... In order to exhaust all imaginable possibilities one should establish all possible relations purely logically and deduce their consequences. Of course reality is also contained among these imaginable possibilities; however, there is no means to detect it. (ibid., 25) Neurath should not be read as suggesting here an extreme pluralism. Rather, his claim underscores the challenge of coming up with a theory that encompasses reality. To claim that one has the "right" theory, one would have to first complete the impossible task of outlining all possibilities and then determine which one is reality. This point reinforces his assertion in his "Lost Wanderers" paper that we must rely upon a decision rather than absolute foundations to determine which theory accounting for phenomena to adopt. We  42  examine the world and construct theories accounting for its phenomena without assuming that we have provided a complete account of those phenomena. Neurath suggests that any number of such theories might account for the same facts of experience and that to most effectively analyze the strengths or weaknesses of those theories, one should imagine all theoretical possibilities and deduce systems from them, thereby deriving an ampler field from which to compare theories. He writes, For even if one sifts out a system that coincides with reality in certain points and now investigates whether there exist facts in experience that can be related to the remaining qualities of this system, one has to remember that an infinite number of systems can be indicated which are applicable in the part that so eludes empirical interpretation. In order to be able to orient oneself in these systems and to make a selection among them, one has to operate again with some assumptions concerning the probability that certain systems may be realized, (ibid.) We judge those theories on the basis of how well they fit with all other statements about the world; we do this without assurance of the correct "path" of inquiry. This is a fundamental assumption behind Neurath's notion of conceiving of our knowledge of the world in terms of systems of hypotheses. Let us consider what Neurath means by "systems of relations". Given that we do not appear to have access to a complete account of reality, theories become the object of our analysis. We can consider that theories are comprised of systems of relations. We take empirical claims and supplement them with auxiliary hypotheses in order to come up with a cohesive theory. Thus, to take Neurath's example in eighteenth-century optics, periodicity supplemented with hypotheses about the nature of light, i.e. that it is a wave  43  or a particle, comprises a derived system of relations in the form of wave or emission theory. For Neurath our analysis extends as far as the structures and contexts of those theories and not to some claim about the reality of light. Our focus therefore is the status of theories. He writes, "Precisely in the field of optics, hypothesis and experience are thoroughly mixed up. In order to disentangle them one should first define exactly how 'hypothesis' should be understood" (ibid., 23). To demonstrate what he means, Neurath considers differences in how Newton and Goethe accounted for light viewed through a prism. He writes, In his experiment Newton looks through a prism at a strip of cardboard that is partly blue, partly red. If the refracting edge of the prism is on top, the blue strip appears more raised than the red one. Goethe violently criticizes Newton's description of this experiment. Goethe imputes a blue margin along the blue as well as along the red strip when looked at through the prism; whereas this [the blue margin] is added to the width of the blue strip, it diminishes the red one because it is there in counteraction and hardly visible. We see how differently the optical phenomena can be grouped. Goethe pushes the coloured margins to the forefront. If something does not suit this view, it is neglected to begin with; Newton vice versa puts the course of the rays in the foreground and neglects other things as being, so far, unimportant." (ibid., 23) Thus we see that as theories develop they necessarily must account for new phenomena, but features of light can be emphasized in different ways to fit given theories. Neurath does not suggest that Newton or Goethe have ignored phenomena, only that they have emphasized or ignored different aspects to adapt the empirical with theory—if only until  44  such time as that theory with some additional hypotheses can account for the said light feature. He writes, "One sifts out certain facts, combines them into a whole and hopes to be able to incorporate the remaining facts. Possibly one assumes that one can do them justice even by modifying the initial view" (ibid., 24). We might remember that Neurath suggests the strength of wave theory lay in its capacity better to incorporate new findings with itself. Neurath's point in this example is to show that no theory can account for the "fullness" of phenomena, but necessarily contains hypothetical elements. He notes, Merely by neglecting or stressing some facts, a hypothetical element is already introduced into a theory. The whole fullness of a phenomenon can never be completely reflected [in the theory].... A complete mastery of the whole multiplicity seems an impossibility to us. (ibid.) Such is the condition of any attempt to comprehend the world around us for Neurath: every statement about the world ought to be viewed as hypothetical and judged according to its relations to other statements, themselves hypothetical elements of a broader conception of the world. Perhaps we can summarize Neurath's view as follows. If we are to have an adequate account of the development of theory, talk of reality is out. Any account of the world fails to provide a complete story about the "fullness" of phenomena and therefore necessarily contains hypothetical elements. We formulate our analysis of the world in terms of systems of hypotheses, which are assessed in terms of the extent to which they can adapt to additional discoveries and which they fit with other more general theories. The task of the historian plays out in two stages: logical analysis, and cultural analysis.  45  First, theories should be broken down into their structural elements to determine how the theory itself combines empirical findings with auxiliary hypotheses to come up with a unified conception of phenomena. He remarks that any number of theories can coincide with empirical elements and adequately account for the strength of a given system of hypotheses; and that to determine the strength of one or another, all possible combinations of theories, in principle, should be articulated. This step sets up the second, which considers more general cultural contexts within which various theories are adopted and developed. One examines how the theory fits within the cultural context of a broader world conception and how that conception provides analogies by which individuals work to develop their own projects. Thus, for Neurath, analysis of the development of science incorporates many various disciplines: history, sociology, politics, economics etc. One considers how theories are actually utilized by different groups and how they advance within the structure of the given theory. This view of theory development sustains, for Neurath, his claims against notions of "reality" as a basis for assessment of the strength of one system of hypotheses over another. Further, his view may afford for us an understanding of his anti-metaphysical stance taken in the 1930s. Neurath's philosophical assumptions throughout his body of work can be recognized, in some ways, as dealing with the predicament of Descartes' lost wanderers. For Neurath, the world that we experience is indeed a forest, and the human predicament is such that we do not know the way out. That is, we do not have some complete picture of the nature of human experience. This, to be sure, is the perennial philosophical challenge.  46  We recognize Neurath suggesting that to make our way through we need to have some account of how we can structure our statements about that philosophical challenge—absent foundations in some knowledge of truth or reality. In his "Ways of The Scientific World-Conception" (1930), he advances a means by which, for him, we may adequately attempt to account for the world. He writes, In its deliberations, the comprehensive scientific conception always starts from the individual which it joins with what is similar into greater, and clearly surveyable complexes. It recognizes no 'world' as a whole, it does not aim at comprehending a mighty world-picture in its totality, at a world-view. If one speaks of a scientific world-'conception' in contradistinction to a philosophical world-'view', 'world' is not to indicate a definitive whole, but the daily growing sphere of science. (Neurath 1930 [1983], 33) Let us draw connections from his scientific world-conception to what we have outlined as some of the roots of Neurath's thought. For Neurath, we construct systems of hypotheses accounting for phenomena. These comprise theories that describe experience as comprehensively as efforts afford. The realm of science, in these terms, accounts for the vast range of systems of hypotheses constructed by humanity. It is science in the broadest sense: every meaningful statement we make about the world falls under its heading. In this sense, as scientific theory develops, so does the 'world' we live in. As scientists develop ever more complex theories accounting for phenomena, so grows the world. This conception of science has implications for what one means by the term "scientist", which extends to all aspects of life for Neurath. He writes in "Physicalism" (1931), "At first the Vienna Circle analyzed 'physics' in the narrower sense almost  47  exclusively; now psychology, biology, sociology are more and more drawn into the discussion" (Neurath 1931 [1983], 52. Science would account for knowledge generated in all aspects of life: 'Making predictions' is what all of science is about. At the beginning of the process are observation statements, which, of course, contain measurements of time and space, i f only in an approximate manner. There are always spatiotemporal formulations behind which we cannot reach at all without saying something meaningless. 'Saying' itself is a spatio-temporal arrangement. (Neurath 1931 [1983] Thus insofar as one constructs spatio-temporal formulations, one engages in "scientific" activity. "Neurath wrote a book" would fit into this category, as would, one surmises, "The cat ate Chapter Two". Formulations of this type would fit into a broader system of hypotheses or theory accounting for some aspect of experience and would be assessed according to how well it fits with that broader set of systems. In Chapter One of this 2  thesis, we have seen that Neurath envisioned scientific activity at all levels of society. His own employment consisted of activities as a museum director and housing planner in Vienna, where he can be seen to have engaged his conception of how to adequately generate knowledge claims about the world. Neurath provides a more precise account of what constitutes a meaningful scientific statement. He writes, "Neurath wrote a book" is a basic observation sentence that can be judged according to how itfitswith other accepted hypotheses like "That man is Neurath"; "Writing is a particular activity"; "A book is a certain configuration of systems of hypotheses"; "Some made an observation statement that Neurath wrote a book" etc. These last four statements are themselves hypotheses that may be analyzed with other systems of hypotheses about language designators and the relation of statements to experience. Neurath's claim is not in the same line of debate over what counts as a science. Rather, for Neurath, a Utopian of his time, a scientific attitude extending to everyday life can function to transform society into something better. We might read this attitude in his biographical sketch in the first chapter. 2  3  48  With the help of observation sentences we formulate laws [which are to be seen as] directives for finding predictions of individual courses of events; these predictions can then be tested by more observation statements.... The study of language can perfectly well be combined with the study of physical processes; for one always stays in the same field. In staying within the closed area of language one can express everything.... Thus statements are always compared with statements, certainly not with some 'reality', nor with 'things', as the Vienna Circle also thought up till now.... If a statement is made, it is to be confronted with the totality of existing statements. If it agrees with them, it is joined to them; if it does not agree, it is called 'untrue' and rejected; or the existing complex of statements of science is modified so that the new statement can be incorporated ... There can be no other concept of 'truth'for science. (Neurath 1931 [1983], 53) Thus meaningful statements begin with observation statements—"Our knowledge of phenomena is controlled by sight, hearing, tasting - our sense organs" (Neurath 193 l a [1983], 48)—and are those that may be compared to other statements within the context of the scientific language. We might put the same statement in terms of his work in 1916: the object of a study of scientific theory is theory itself; systems of hypotheses are compared for their strength with other systems of hypotheses.  4  We therefore see that observation statements play a role, for Neurath, in conferring meaning upon statements. What exactly that role is provides a challenge for Neurath's conception of meaningful statements. We will not try to argue Neurath's position on this: it will suffice to point to its importance for Neurath. It may be of value Neurath is not merely providing a coherence theory of truth. Though coherence surely plays a role, Neurath's goal is to provide a criterion of meaning within an existing, conventionally determined, natural language. The meaning of "truth" is to be found within the body of statements generated by a community. 4  49  to note however that the Protocol Sentence Debate within the Vienna Circle marks an attempt by logical empiricists to deal with the question of what constitutes a basic observation sentence. We may also recognize how this can be linked to Neurath's opposition to metaphysics. Let us consider what "anti-metaphysics" means for Neurath in light of our examination of the roots of his thinking in the 1910s. If all our statements about the world comprise systems of hypotheses and are considered as such, then a criterion for meaningfulness for Neurath will be that a statement about the world will be comparable to the general range of systems of hypotheses. Scientific theory and the systems of hypotheses stem from basic observations (which we noted themselves comprise a system of hypotheses), and those mark a criterion for determining the meaning of an assertion. We might note that Neurath has designated the language of science "physicalism": "Unified science based on physicalism recognizes only statements with spatio-temporal data" (Neurath 1931b [1983], 55). Metaphysics by definition and aims falls outside the language of science—outside physicalism. Since for Neurath meaningful statements can only be made within physicalism, metaphysical assumptions are meaningless. In "The Vienna Circle of The Scientific Conception of The World" (1929) we read, If someone asserts "there is a God", "the primary basis of the world is the unconscious", "there is an entelechy which is the leading principle in the living organism", we do not say to him: "what you say is false"; but we ask him: "what do you mean by these statements?" Then it appears that there is a sharp boundary between two kinds of statements. To one belong statements as they are made by empirical science; their meaning can be determined by logical analysis or, more  50  precisely, through reduction to the simplest statements about the empirically given. The other statements, to which belong those cited above, reveal themselves as empty of meaning i f one takes them in the way that metaphysicians intend. One can, of course, often reinterpret them as empirical statements; but then they lose the content of feeling which is usually essential to the metaphysician. (Neurath 1929 [1973], 306-7) Neurath's claims against the meaningfulness of metaphysics resemble those he makes in the 1910s about "pseudo-rationalists" who do a disservice to our understanding of the world when "they pretend to have adequate insight exactly where strict rationalism excludes it on purely logical grounds" (Neurath 1913 [1983], 8). The error of metaphysics is that it "consists in the notion that thinking can either lead to knowledge out of its own resources without using any empirical material, or at least arrive at new contents by an inference from given states of affair[s]" (Neurath 1929 [1973], 308). For Neurath, the resources we have consist in a language structure built around verifiability in observation statements. Metaphysicians misappropriate scientific theory which consists in the Physicalist language: "It is dangerous to choose the linguistic garb of a theory ... a theoretical content is simulated where none exists" (ibid., 307). Thus, Neurath attempts to account for what we claim to know about the world given the absence of a comprehensive picture of the nature of our experience. This marks theme that runs consistently from his early work in the 1910s through his work in the Vienna Circle. He suggests that we construct theories about experience and the object of our analysis when trying to understand the development of scientific theory is theory itself. Physicalism in this sense attempts to articulate the means by which we make  51  meaningful statements about the world. As a consequence he opposes metaphysics that asserts a knowledge beyond the scope of systems of hypotheses constructed to account for the world. Likewise he opposes philosophical knowledge insofar as that knowledge claims to go beyond the empirical resources that make up the means by which we say anything meaningful about the world. In rejecting overt metaphysics ... all adherents of the scientific world-conception are at one. Beyond this, the Vienna Circle maintain the view that the statements of (critical) realism and idealism about the reality or non-reality of the external world and other minds are of a metaphysical character, because they are open to the same objections as are the statements of the old metaphysics: they are meaningless, because unverifiable and without content. For us, something is 'real' through being incorporated into the total structure of experience, (ibid., 308)  52  Chapter Three Logical Empiricism, Quine and Kuhn  3.1 Situating Neurath This essay has worked to articulate Neurath's conception of the development of scientific theory. Neurath's papers of the 1910s advocate a view of science that is antifoundationalist: that there are no indubitable foundations on which to base a theory. As we have seen, Neurath suggests that absent such foundations we construct theories accounting for experience in the world, and decision among those theories plays a role in how they develop. History shows, for Neurath, that methodological analysis is not in itself adequate to determine the direction of the development of theory, but rather requires a second stage of cultural analysis to identify the conditions in which one theory comes to be developed over another. That stage supports the pragmatic role played by decision: for Neurath, at some point theories reach their limits to recommend themselves, at which time one must choose one or another. The historian in his two-stage analysis attempts to identify the context of that choice. The second aim of this thesis is to link Neurath's thought to broader currents within twentieth century philosophy of science. Thus, Chapter One has provided a biographical sketch of Neurath's life to suggest that for him inquiries into the foundations of science have extensions into broader social and political contexts. His physicalism encompasses all areas of life and aims at unifying society's efforts to construct a society based on progressive principles that actually represent the interests of members of that society. For Neurath, debates within philosophy of science therefore have import not only  53  within that discipline itself, but concerns over the foundations of knowledge can impact how we want to structure our society socially and politically. Thus Chapter One has aimed to show that, in his own life, Neurath drew connections between philosophy of science and broader concerns. The present chapter attempts to draw connections between Neurath's view of scientific development and broader currents within twentieth-century philosophy of science. Connecting Neurath's thought to that of Quine, Kuhn and Carnap suggests that Neurath exhibits a relation to familiar trains of discourse. Indeed, Neurath may prove to have something to offer our understanding of historical issues in philosophy of science. Quine and Kuhn, who have been highly influential over the last half-century, bear some similarities to Neurath. We therefore examine Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" (1951) and "Epistemology Naturalized" (1969), in which Quine motivates a move to naturalized epistemology on the basis of what he deems a failed reductionist project to be found in Carnap's Aufbau. A n historical examination of those papers and the debate over the analytic/synthetic distinction show that Carnap and Quine sustained different visions for the project of philosophy. That Carnap was not swayed by Quine's arguments against the distinction, even though generally the field of philosophy of science appears to have supported Quine's conclusions, allows the historian to reevaluate what, in fact, Carnap's account of philosophy was. Further we may then look into the development of Carnap's work, to derive a sense of the goals of logical empiricists in general; which takes us to a consideration of the protocol sentence debates wherein we see the interaction between Neurath and Carnap.  54  Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions calls for a role for history in understanding the development of scientific thought. He attributes to logical empiricism the general idea that science develops as an accretion of facts toward truth, which motivates his argument that history reveals scientific theory development through revolutions. As we know from Chapter Two, history plays a central role for Neurath's scientific world-conception. He also rejects from early on the notion that science develops as a growth toward truth. This chapter considers some features of logical empiricism in light of Quine and Kuhn's analyses. Of course, logical empiricism is not a unified body of thought and there is a rich historical background to the development of its goals and ambitions. We will consider logical empiricism therefore in light of our analysis of Neurath in the preceding chapters, and attempt to relate our understanding of his advocacy of the scientific worldconception to Carnap, and to Quine and Kuhn's account of the goals of logical empiricism. We do not offer an argument against Quine and Kuhn. Rather, they provide for the present purposes the opportunity to evoke otherwise overlooked features of logical empiricist philosophy of science.  3.2 Quine's History of Logical Empiricism In his "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" (1951), Quine argues that empiricism has been "conditioned" by two dogmas (Quine 1951, 20). The first is the analytic-synthetic distinction, which asserts, roughly, that analytic truths are grounded in meaning, while synthetic truths are grounded in fact. The second dogma states that all synthetic sentences can be reduced to claims about immediate experience (ibid.). The first would show how  55  mathematical certainty is possible (ibid., 37). The second would provide the empiricist with a foundation in experience for empirical scientific claims (ibid., 40). Quine argues that empiricism, with Carnap as its most notable adherent, fails to establish these two theses—they remain unproven commitments—and are, consequently, dogmas of empiricism (ibid. 40). Quine asserts that the first dogma—the analytic-synthetic distinction—resists explanation, and consequently fails to account for how one can claim there are truths independent of experience. According to the distinction, analytic truths are those "grounded in meanings independently of matters of fact," while those that are synthetic are "grounded in fact" (ibid., 20). But he questions whether "analytic" has been sufficiently explained; he argues that the notion of truth cannot rely on meaning (ibid., 23). A sufficient definition, he claims, remains wanting, for the term analytic. What is an analytic statement? And what makes it analytic? Analytic statements might, he suggests, be defined as those "whose denials are self-contradictory", but that merely pushes the question back one step further: how does one define self-contradictory, or meaning (ibid., 20)? A n analytic statement, the truth of which is defined in virtue of meaning, remains unexplained because this term itself needs clarification. There is therefore no effective distinction drawn between true statements that are independent of matters of fact and those that are determined by facts in the world. Thus, Quine believes that Carnap fails to account for analytic truth of mathematics and logic. He writes, "That there is a distinction to be drawn at all is an unempirical dogma of empiricists, a metaphysical article of faith" (ibid., 37).  56  The second dogma—reductionism—is "intimately connected" to the first through the verification theory of meaning (ibid., 41), which Quine asserts has been a "catchword of empiricism ... conspicuous in the literature from Peirce onward" (ibid., 37). The verification theory of meaning provides an account of cognitive synonymy of statements, which would allow one to derive synonymy for other linguistic forms (ibid.). According to this theory, synonymous statements are synonymous " i f and only if they are alike in point of method of empirical confirmation or infirmation" (ibid. 37). However, Quine questions the relation between a statement and experience: "What... is the nature of the relation between a statement and the experiences which contribute to or detract from its confirmation?" (ibid.). For Quine, Carnap's account of physical objects in the Aufbau falls "short of reduction": statements about physical objects do not reduce to those of experience (ibid., 40), which indicates the untenability of the dogmas. Given the failures of what he takes to be the ambitions of Carnap, Quine proposes an empiricism without dogmas. Famously, his rejection of Carnap's project in "Two Dogmas of Empirism" (1951) motivates his naturalism. Quine argues in his welNknown paper, "Epistemology Naturalized" (1969), that an empiricism untainted by dogma is a naturalistic empiricism. Quine rejects what he takes to be Carnap's foundational motivations for epistemology in favour of an empirical account of how human beings come to know what they know. As he writes, We are after an understanding of science as an institution or process in the world, and we do not intend that understanding to be any better than the science which is its object. This attitude is indeed one that Neurath was already urging in Vienna  57  Circle days, with his parable of the mariner who has to build his boat while staying afloat in it. (Quine 1969, 84) Quinean naturalism has become a standard project in epistemology and philosophy of science. It is taken to be a decisive turn from logical empiricism and the foundationalist aspirations therein. Further, it has been noted that Quine's attacks on Carnap's notion of analyticity "have received attention as the principal argumentative motor for moves to naturalism" and have become a focal point for contemporary naturalists in motivating their projects (Richardson 1997, 145). Alan Richardson's "Two Dogmas about Logical Empiricism: Carnap and Quine on Logic, Epistemology and Empiricism" (1997) draws out an important feature of the analyticity debate. He argues that an appropriate historical understanding of the debate reveals divergent philosophical expectations between Quine and Carnap for analyticity (Richardson 1997, 146). Richardson states his intention is to generate an argument neither for nor against the analytic/synthetic distinction, but "to raise anew the question of what such a distinction was meant to do philosophically in Catnap's hands" (ibid., 146). Quine's objections to Carnap, argues Richardson, "stem from an understanding of the point of analyticity that is significantly different from the one that Carnap promulgates" (ibid.). Quine argues that the analytic/synthetic distinction is an epistemological distinction, bearing epistemological weight, whereas Carnap did not understand it to be epistemological, but rather determined through convention. We therefore see that for Carnap no epistemic justification was required for the distinction. Richardson notes that Carnap considers Quine's objections themselves to reveal an "implicit acceptance" of such a distinction (ibid., 151). He writes further that "For  58  Carnap, the science of philosophy is the mathematics and physics of language" (ibid., 162). Richardson asserts that a striking feature of the debate was the "lack of genuine engagement between Carnap and Quine" (Richardson 1997, 150). And yet Quine has been monumentally influential on the direction taken by philosophy of science. His project has captured the attention of philosophers of science for the past number of decades, but logical empiricism, according to his account—and by which he motivates his naturalized epistemology, is a failed reductionist project. Further, Quine's "Epistemology Naturalized" characterizes Carnap's project as a "fabrication of a fictitious structure" (Quine 1969, 78). "Why all this creative reconstruction," he asks famously, all this make believe? The stimulation of his sensory receptors is all anybody has had to go on.... Why not just see how this construction really proceeds? Why not settle for psychology? (ibid., 75) Quine throws his arms in the air on behalf of logical empiricists and suggests naturalism as the appropriate alternative. Carnap's efforts, "heroic" as they were (ibid., 74), lead to disappointment. We thus receive Carnap's philosophy with Quine's hindsight vision of its alleged failure: Carnap sought a strict translational reduction of statements to experience, and a rational reconstruction linking synthetic statements to experience via translation. To be sure, Carnap's project not only fails, but also for Quine, is no longer a project to be taken seriously:  59  I hope we are now impressed with how stubbornly the distinction between analytic and synthetic has resisted any straightforward drawing.... M y present suggestion is that it is nonsense, and the root of much nonsense, to speak of a linguistic component and a factual component in the truth of any individual statement. (Quine 1951, 41-2) We may recognize that Quine's argument fails to account for Carnap's philosophical goals motivating his recognition of the distinction. Further, the reader is led to conclude with Quine that one should not bother with Carnap's goals at all, and that indeed, the distinction is nonsense. As a consequence, Quine's naturalized epistemology has gone on to be very influential (and arguably to good effect), but logical empiricism, with all it may have to contribute to our understanding of the world disappears into a distant background, renowned as an embodiment of what Thomas Uebel calls a "naive empiricism" (Uebel, 1992, 205). We might draw attention to the fact that Quine looks to Neurath's boat metaphor in claiming what kind of understanding of science we ought to be after. We shall here only remark that there are interesting similarities between Neurath and Quine in the types of criticisms they offered of Carnap's philosophy as means to locate Neurath's thought. There are, to be sure, interesting differences, but a sufficient comparison must be forgone at the present.  1  We may gain by identifying some of the features that logical empiricist philosophy exhibits—which are not afforded by Quine's analysis, and which have been demonstrated in the previous two chapters. Let us briefly consider the protocol sentence debates of the 1930s wherein we may give attention to the context within which Carnap 1  For a discussion on Quinean and Neurathian Naturalism, see Uebel (1992), Ch 10.  60  and Neurath strove to articulate their conception of scientific philosophy. The protocol sentence debate provides opportunity to reiterate that logical empiricists did not aim at a reductionist empiricism grounded in observation. Rather, they grappled over how to account for an experiential basis for empirical knowledge. We can view logical empiricism therefore, not as a unified body of doctrine (and dogma), but as a development—an evolving analysis aimed at rendering more precise how scientific theories account for the world. Uebel's historical analysis of the protocol sentence debate suggests that it was not, as is conventionally viewed, a debate over how to ground empirical science via a reductionist program. The main participants—Carnap, Neurath and Moritz Schlick— considered rather the question of how to account for the credibility of knowledge claims generated in science. He writes, "the debate was not a string of blunders committed by a monolithic movement of philosophical levelers, but rather a clash between different notions of'scientific philosophy'" (Uebel 1992, 204). They considered scientific knowledge a "basic epistemological fact to be explained," and therefore sought to suggest the kind of justification appropriate for these claims (ibid.). He explains further, the debate concerned ... the question what empiricists should do given the untenability of naive empiricism. What I call 'naive empiricism' has it that immediate sense experience is by itself sufficient to provide the foundations for knowledge, (ibid., 205) The central question Uebel identifies for the players then was how to justify scientific knowledge claims, while the methodological answers to this question varied among the  61  three main players depending on their conception of what this question meant (ibid., 206). Each person had a different diagnosis of the problem of knowledge: [the] epistemologists defined themselves and the concept of knowledge through the challenges they set themselves to answer ... [their] different conceptions of scientific philosophy are fixed by their answers to three groups of questions and problems which figured in the debate, (ibid., 207) The three problems—the content or meaning of scientific statements, their logicolinguistic form, their epistemological status—generate answers to the more general question regarding the basis of scientific knowledge claims (ibid., 208). Disagreement amounts to different conceptions of epistemology and therefore different conceptions of how to answer the question of knowledge. Uebel identifies three periods of Carnap's thought in the protocol sentence debate (ibid.). The first period, which extended to around 1930 and concerned the thesis as it was outlined in the Aufbau, had Carnap concerned generally with the foundations of empirical science. During this time, Uebel notes, Carnap developed conceptual models in which "scientific knowledge ... proceeded from the phenomenal given..." (ibid.). Uebel writes, "His method consisted in providing rational reconstructions of the logicolinguistic bases of scientific theories which perspicuously exhibited the meaning of scientific propositions" (ibid., 29). Thus, his focus rested on the concepts with which experience was comprehended rather than on experience as an independent object (ibid., 30). Carnap attempted to determine whether a "genealogy of concepts" might be presupposed that related these concepts to experience (ibid.). Uebel explains further,  It might be noted here that Uebel characterizes their defense of science as "a practical engagement against cultural and political adversaries, not against an imagined philosophical threat" (ibid., 13). 2  62  "Once this phenomenalist setting was granted, however, knowledge became itself the object of scientific analysis: the given itself was to receive scientific descriptions of its relational structure''' (ibid.). Uebel asserts that Carnap's Aufbau was neither foundationalist, nor reductionist: "Carnap's reductive definitions were themselves relative to a given state of scientific knowledge" (ibid., 38), and were therefore not distinct from the language of science or meant to ground it. Because they were given by a conventionally chosen language structure (that used in science), they comprised a feature of it. For Carnap, Uebel argues that the "ultimate basis of scientific theories consists of the experiences of individual investigators" (ibid., 31). This is, he says, the phenomenalist basis. Carnap recognized that the phenomenalist basis derives from a choice: "Nothing in the 'logicoconstructional order of objects' forced him to adopt [it]" (ibid.). Convention determined the choice of using experiences of individuals as the basis of meaning in scientific statements. Neurath disagreed with what he took to be Carnap's philosophical assumptions at this point. Uebel writes that "what ultimately prompted Neurath's criticism of the Aufbau then, was Carnap's philosophical assumption which led to his adoption of the position of methodological solipsism: the Cartesian idea of the epistemic self-sufficiency of a solitary individual" (ibid., 78). Neurath's account of scientific knowledge claims insisted that the language of science is an intersubjective body of statements. Meaning must come from usage of members within a group and not from the solitary individual. In "Sociology in The Framework of Physicalism" Neurath argues,  63  It is the physicalist language, unified language, that all science is about: no 'phenomenalist language' beside the 'physical language'; no 'methodological solipsism' beside another possible standpoint; no 'philosophy'; no 'theory of knowledge'; no 'new world view' beside other world views; only unified science with its laws and predictions." (Neurath 1931 [1983], 68) Our understanding of the world must be articulated, for Neurath, in the intersubjective body of language to be utilized in science. It is on the basis of intersubjectivity afforded by the physicalist language that we make knowledge claims about our world. He writes, Alongside the present system of statements there is no further 'true' system of statements. To speak of such, even as a conceptual boundary does not make any sense. We can only state that we operate today with the spatio-temporal system suitable for physics, and that we obtain successful predictions in that way. This system of statements is that of unified science—that is the standpoint that we can call physicalism. (ibid., 61) Any recourse to a language other than the intersubjective physicalist language of science is metaphysics because a language that claims to be outside of the language of science could not be checked by intersubjective standards. He writes, Carnap ... speaks of a "primitive" protocol language.... [He] speaks of a "first language" also called "language of experience" or "phenomenalist language". Here he stresses that "the question of a more precise characterization of this language cannot yet be answered at the present state of inquiry". These remarks  64  might induce younger people to search for this protocol language, and this easily leads to metaphysical digressions. (Neurath 1932/33 [1983], 93) To Neurath, Carnap's Aufbau program resembled all-too-closely a project intended to ground knowledge claims of science from outside of it. Indeed, Carnap himself seems to have agreed, to some extent, with this point since he moved his view closer to Neurath's throughout the debate—abandoning primitive protocols and moving toward a revisability of protocol statements (Uebel 1992, 138). The protocol sentence debate marks a locus of disagreement among Vienna Circle members regarding how to justify scientific knowledge claims. Uebel writes, it reflects their "different conceptions of the aims and methods of scientific philosophy" (ibid., 69). What they did share was a sense of the "central question of the protocol sentence debate" (ibid.). Their answer, according to Uebel was that "the statements expressing [scientific knowledge claims] stand in appropriate logical relations to statements formulating proven evidential conditions" (ibid., 206). Carnap intended an inquiry into the objectivity of protocol statements through explication of those logical relations. "Such conditions," writes Uebel, "make possible the evaluation of the claims" (ibid., 230). He was therefore concerned with a priori conditions implicated in logico-linguistic frameworks (ibid., 231). It is this avenue of pursuit that marks Neurath's principle objection to Carnap's program. Neurath objected to Carnap's attempt to offer a justification of science claims through his methodological solipsism, which Uebel notes Neurath believed "neglected the distinctive characteristics of what he deemed the real object of concern, historically developed theories" (ibid., 74). Neurath's objections aimed at what he took to be the 3  Neurath refers to (Carnap 1934, 42ff,76ff).  65  nature of Carnap's phenomenalist language. He challenged Carnap's notion that "it was possible in principle to express [statements] in a language separate from the physicalist one;" he questioned the possibility in principle of "such a separate, even phenomenalistic language" (ibid., 146). Further, he objected to Carnap's Aufbau view that primitive phenomenalistic protocol statements did not need to be justified (ibid.). For Neurath, the language of science necessarily proceeds via physicalist protocol sentences, whose meanings derive from use within a community. Such sentences consist in part of ambiguities: any ideal language like that Neurath attributed to Carnap's ambitions "was fully cleansed of the ambiguities of natural languages" (ibid., 75) and thereby did not consist of statements as they are constructed within the language of science. For Neurath, "The rationality of science was instead to be located in its practical medium of intersubjectively accessible and thus controllable assertions" (ibid., 232). There had to be a controllability of meaning, derived not from the a priori—a claim that amounted for Neurath to reliance on metaphysics—but empirically, via intersubjectively accessible constraints present in physicalist statements. This point, Uebel notes, marks their "central and continuing disagreement" (ibid., 238). A more comprehensive discussion of the protocol sentence debate can be found in Uebel (1992). Our brief venture into that debate has been intended only to show some facets of what was at stake for logical empiricists like Carnap and Neurath. Logical empiricism was not a unified doctrine of thought. In light of the debate over protocols, we witness a group by no means in agreement. Further, Carnap's position itself shifted throughout the debate. Quine surely knew this—he points to Neurath as a backdrop for his naturalism—but his account of Carnap's work does not invite readers to recognize  66  that there is a wealth of concerns within Carnap's attempts to articulate his program; an even larger, messier historical picture when one considers Neurath (and also Schlick's) positions. Perhaps, by analogy, we may share Neurath's sympathies for those theories— like emission theory—that receive short shrift and are historically assessed unfairly in their incompleteness.  3.3 Kuhn And A Role for History The remainder of this chapter takes up Thomas Kuhn's more general critique of the image of science that he suggests derives from the logical empiricist impact on philosophical conceptions of scientific activity. Readers will be well acquainted with Kuhn, but we will benefit from an examination of his book so as to draw similarities between his conception of science and that of Neurath. History, if viewed as a repository for more than anecdote or chronology, could produce a decisive transformation in the image of science by which we are now possessed. (Kuhn 1962 [1970], 1) So begins Kuhn's monumental work on the structure of science wherein he asserts the importance of a "role for history" to understand adequately how scientific knowledge develops. The image that possesses us, he suggests, has been promulgated in part by a culture in science that communicates the development of its ideas through textbooks. These portray science as a cumulative body of knowledge built piecemeal as an accretion toward truth (ibid., 1,2), while such a view of science leaves it to the historian of science to chronicle what facts were discovered when, and by whom (ibid., 2). However, historical study raises questions about such a conception of science when one asks  67  questions like, "When was oxygen discovered?" (ibid.). Kuhn asserts that such a question evokes a "misleading" answer "by suggesting that discovering something is a simple act", when history reveals a sequence of events leading to such an act that is varied and complex (ibid., 55). "Increasingly," he writes, "a few [historians] suspect that these are simply the wrong sorts of questions to ask" (ibid., 2). History suggests that methodological directives are insufficient to "dictate a unique substantive conclusion to many sorts of scientific questions" (ibid., 3). One discovers rather that received beliefs, various experimental backgrounds, or particular phenomena that attract one's attention "are often essential determinants of scientific development" (ibid.). He writes, "Observation and experience can and must drastically restrict the range of admissible scientific belief, else there would be no science. But they cannot alone determine a particular body of belief (ibid.). Kuhn undertakes therefore to describe how science does develop: not via incremental growth toward some ultimate and complete truth, but rather through revolutions wherein a significant portion of the relevant scientific community abandons a current paradigm being developed in normal science, for another which raises new sort of questions and areas for development. Paradigms may be considered as follows: "Men whose research is based on shared paradigms are committed to the same rules and standards for scientific practice" (ibid., 11). Normal science, for Kuhn, "is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like" (ibid., 5); it means "research firmly based upon one or more past scientific achievements ... that some particular scientific community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice" (ibid., 10); and it is within normal science that  68  scientists assert a shared understanding of explanations of the world. Scientific education, "both rigorous and rigid," ensures that shared explanations within the scientific community "come to exert a deep hold on the scientific mind" (ibid.). Normal science will therefore suppress "fundamental novelties because they are necessarily subversive of its basic commitments" (ibid.). However anomalies inevitably creep into research until a point when they cannot be suppressed: when ... the profession can no longer evade anomalies that subvert the existing tradition of scientific practice—then begin the extraordinary investigations that lead the profession at last to a new set of commitments, a new basis for the practice of science, (ibid.) Thus through revolution the scientific community shifts its research and inquiry. Kuhn looks to Newton, Lavoisier and Einstein—among others—for examples of these significant shifts. Normal science is research "firmly based upon one or more past scientific achievements ... that some particular scientific community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice" (ibid., 10). Kuhn mentions, among others, Ptolemy's Almagest, Newton's Opticks and Lavoisier's Chemistry as works that served to define problems and methods for normal scientists in their respective fields of scientific inquiry, and notes that these succeeded in so defining a framework of research because "their achievement was sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group of adherents", and they left open interesting problems for normal scientists to resolve (ibid.).  69  For Kuhn the road to normal science however is an arduous one (ibid., 15). Absent a defined paradigm directing research "all facts that could possibly pertain to the development of a given science are likely to seem equally relevant" (ibid.). "Factgathering" therefore is a rather more "random activity" before a dominant interpretation determines which facts fit better within an interpretive paradigm. Subsequent to the adoption of a paradigm by the scientific community, research proceeds at more direct and rapid pace since the resultant "confidence that they were on the right track encouraged scientists to undertake more precise, esoteric, and consuming sorts of work" (ibid.). Thus he notes that in the field of eighteenth-century electricity, "effectiveness and efficiency of electrical research increased" because researchers could focus on selected phenomena interpreted by their shared framework (ibid., 18). Kuhn states, When the individual scientist can take a paradigm for granted, he need no longer, in his major works, attempt to build his field anew, starting from first principles and justifying the use of each concept introduced, (ibid., 19-20) For Kuhn, the adoption of a paradigm focuses research into a more clearly defined field that rejects formerly competing interpretations of encountered phenomena. The "nature of normal science" is to preserve and develop given paradigms through research. He writes, Mopping-up operations are what engage most scientists throughout their careers. They constitute what I am here calling normal science. Closely examined, whether historically or in the contemporary laboratory, that enterprise seems an attempt to force nature into the preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies. No part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts  70  of phenomena; indeed those that will not fit the box are not seen at all.... Normalscientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies, (ibid., 24). Kuhn notes that such paradigm preservation and development "possesses a built-in mechanism that ensures the relaxation of the restrictions that bound research whenever the paradigm from which they derive ceases to function effectively" (ibid.). Such a mechanism ensures, for Kuhn, that scientists may proceed with the understanding that their work is puzzle-solving (ibid., 28). A given framework of understanding may be further developed, as can tools and instruments for developing that framework. Paradigm development leads to scientific revolutions based on the nature of paradigms themselves. Kuhn notes that though normal science preserves and develops given paradigms, it also creates the possibility of a paradigm's eventual rejection. Theory and instrumentation create the climate of normal scientific research wherein, given success, no novelty is to be found (ibid., 52). However, Kuhn remarks that normal science often produces surprises of new and unsuspected phenomena (ibid.). Researchers will adapt such phenomena to their theoretical framework, except when it cannot sustain the paradigm. The resulting persistence of an anomaly leads to crisis. In his chapter "Crisis and the Emergence of Scientific Theories" he notes that, "The state of Ptolemaic astronomy was a scandal before Copernicus' announcement" (ibid., 67). He writes further that, "Galileo's contributions to the study of motion depended closely upon difficulties discovered in Aristotle's theory by scholastic critics" (ibid.); and that, "Thermodynamics was born from the collision of two existing nineteenth-century physical theories, and quantum mechanics from a variety of difficulties surrounding black-body radiation,  71  specific heats, and the photoelectric effect" (ibid.). A l l of these examples show how anomaly festers throughout the eventually-to-be-rejected paradigm until it must be confronted. Considering the cases above, Kuhn remarks that, "the awareness of anomaly had lasted so long and penetrated so deep that one can appropriately describe the fields affected by it as in a state of growing crisis" (ibid.). Insecurity arises in the scientific community because of "the persistent failure of the puzzles of normal science to come out as they should. Failure of existing rules is the prelude to a search for new ones" (ibid., 68). Thus for Kuhn, science cannot be viewed as a cumulative enterprise: "The man who takes historic fact seriously must suspect that science does not tend toward the ideal that our image of its cumulativeness has suggested" (ibid., 96). Although one can see a cumulative trend within normal science, that is only because of the "ability of scientists," he states, "regularly to select problems that can be solved with conceptual and instrumental techniques close to those already in existence" (ibid., 96). He here places himself in opposition to "the most prevalent contemporary interpretation of the nature and function of scientific theory" (ibid.). And it is here where we learn explicitly that he associates that interpretation with "logical positivism," which would "restrict the range 4  and meaning of an accepted theory so that it could not possibly conflict with any later theory that made predictions about some of the same natural phenomena" (ibid.). Yet such an assumption does not do justice to a logical empiricist conception of scientific theory. Kuhn wishes to find a place for history in our understanding of the development of science, but we recognize from Chapter Two that Neurath in 1915 has a place for an historically informed understanding of scientific theory development. History for Neurath 4  "Logical positivism" and "logical empiricism" will be used interchangeably.  72  shows that phenomena can support competing and incompatible systems of hypotheses, a feature which links Neurath's notion of theory development as the expansion or rejection of systems of hypotheses, to Kuhnian notions of incommensurability and revolution. Let us draw connections between Kuhn's understanding of the development of science and Neurath's by returning briefly to Neurath's discussions in the 1910s on the history of optics. Kuhn and Neurath share the view that history reveals science not to be a body of knowledge marked by an accretion of facts toward some truth. Kuhn suggests that methodological directives are insufficient to determine a body of belief. As we noted above, he holds that received beliefs and experimental backgrounds contribute to this body. Likewise Neurath holds that, for example, mathematical elaboration leads to "systems of formulas" (Neurath 1916 [1983], 25), but does not determine "which facts have been neglected, which favoured" (ibid., 24). To find this latter feature, one necessarily takes into account broader considerations of the community of physicists. These suggestions, of course, mark for Neurath two steps involved in an adequate understanding of theory development: logical and cultural. One analyzes the structure of a theory and then inquires into how various facts have been incorporated into that theory. Kuhn's "received beliefs" and "experimental backgrounds" mark the same domain of inquiry identified by Neurath's cultural stage of analysis. Revolutions, wherein a community abandons an existing paradigm, mark a key element in scientific development for Kuhn. This suggests that science is not accumulative, except within normal science. Neurath likewise acknowledges that scientists may come to reject predominant theories, which allows one to acknowledge that for Neurath, there is a sense of scientific revolution (consider the abandonment of  73  emission theory for wave theory of light) and that science is not an accumulation of facts toward truth (consider the lost wanderers in a forest). We might suggest here a feature of Neurath's thought to recommend his particular account of the development of science. Where Kuhn speaks of paradigms and revolutions, Neurath asserts notions of systems of hypotheses and the willingness to abandon systems when they do not readily adapt to new phenomena. However, although Neurath's account allows for Kuhn's notion of revolutionary change in the rejection of one dominant paradigm to another, his particular characterization of a body of shared beliefs—the systems of hypotheses—suggests a less radical characterization than "revolution". That is, Neurath would likely find Kuhn's terms under-specified: "revolution" suggests a dramatic event (even if that event takes place over a long period of time). Likewise "paradigm" suggests a rather fixed body of thought, and being so fixed, open to revolutionary interpretations. Neurath's systems of hypotheses on the other hand are recognized at the outset as comprised of individual statements standing in some relation to other hypotheses within the system, which affords one a finer grain of analysis: individual hypotheses may be accepted (within a paradigm), supplemented with auxiliary hypotheses (to account for anomaly, according to the rules in normal science that sustain and push a paradigm to its limits), or eventually rejected outright (when crisis determines that a given paradigm can no longer account for anomaly). At some point the larger system of hypotheses itself may be rejected (revolution) "with reservation" when it appears that it does not adequately account for new phenomena (or when anomaly proves too pervasive to support an existing paradigm)—or it is too much work and involves too many auxiliary hypotheses to sustain. In this light, emission theory making way for wave theory of light might be  74  interpreted not as a revolutionary event, but rather an evolution of conceptions of light in eighteenth-century optics. Neurath's systems of hypotheses can describe the same events without the drama of paradigm shifts. Neurath's view of the development of theory and the role he accords to history in understanding that development affords the means to reevaluate how we view the goals and ambitions of logical empiricists. Recent literature, analogous to that examining Quine's critique of logical empiricism, has raised questions about the relation of Kuhn's "role for history" to what standardly is taken to be the logical empiricist conception of the activity of science. One notable article is George Reisch's "Did Kuhn K i l l Logical 5  Empiricism?" (1991). Reisch considers two unpublished letters from Carnap to Kuhn that suggest there are similarities between their views on revolutions in scientific activity: "[c]ontrary to the common wisdom that Kuhn's book refuted logical empiricism, [Reisch] argues that Carnap's views of revolutionary scientific change are rather similar to those detailed by Kuhn" (Reisch 1991, 264). He argues further that in light of these letters, one can "explain Carnap's appreciation of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and ... suggest that logical empiricism, insofar as that program rested on Carnap's shoulders, was not substantially upstaged by Kuhn's book" (ibid.). Though Kuhn's book has typically been taken to provide such an "upstaging," similarities between Carnap and Kuhn suggest—as with the relation of Quine to Carnap—that there is a more interesting story to tell about logical empiricist conceptions of the development of scientific theory than traditionally thought.  See for example, John Earman (1993), Michael Friedman (1992), (1999), (forthcoming), Ronald Giere (1988) and George Reisch (1991). This last piece is treated in the present section. 5  75  Reisch uncovers two letters from Carnap to Kuhn in 1960 and 1962. Carnap was an editor for the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, which published Kuhn's work. He sent favourable comments regarding Kuhn's manuscript, supporting the thesis 6  therein: I believe that the planned monograph will be a valuable contribution to the Encyclopedia.... I liked your emphasis on the new conceptual frameworks which are proposed in revolutions in science, and, on their basis, the posing of new questions, not only answers to old problems, (ibid., 266)  7  He writes in a second letter, I am convinced that your ideas will be very stimulating for all those who are interested in the nature of scientific theories and especially the causes and forms of their changes.... In my own work on inductive logic in recent years I have come to a similar idea: that my work and that of a few friends in the step for step solution of problems should not be regarded as leading to "the ideal system", but rather as a step for step improvement of an instrument... your formulations and clarifications by examples ... helped me to see clearer what I had in mind, (ibid., 267)  8  Carnap's comments certainly exhibit support for Kuhn's work. Reisch comments, "If Carnap had just read the monograph which doomed logical empiricism, we should certainly ask why these letters are so complementary" (ibid.). The cumulative aspects of  Kuhn's book was published both as part of Volumes I and II of the Encyclopedia and in its book form by The University of Chicago. For details see the copyright page of Kuhn (1970). Letter is dated, 12 April 1960. Letter is dated, 28 April 1962. 6  7  8  76  Carnap's philosophical interests do not necessarily stand in contrast to revolutionary paradigm change in Kuhn. Thus we see that Reisch identifies that Carnap supported Kuhn's work. Likewise, Neurath's view of science finds a place for history within logical empiricism. Though Carnap and Neurath did not resolve their apparent differences in the 1930s, and though we do not want to glaze over the rich differences within logical empiricism, we might nevertheless emphasize that this attempt at an adequate conception of science, as it was being forged in the protocol sentence debate, sufficiently ties the thought of Carnap and Neurath together to resist Kuhn's claims about logical empiricism's lack of historical considerations. For Neurath, history necessarily supplements technical analysis of theory to give an adequate account of the nature of theory development. Though we will not go further into issues between Carnap and Neurath, we might look to Carnap's recollections of their debates. He writes, In our discussion in the Vienna Circle, chiefly under the influence of Neurath, the principle of the unity of science became on of the main tenets of our general philosophical conceptions. This principle says that the different branches of empirical science are separated only for the practical reason of division of labour, but are fundamentally merely parts of one comprehensive unified science. For Neurath the aim of a unified science was of vital importance; he maintained the monistic conception that everything that occurs is a part of nature, i.e. of the physical world. I proposed to make this thesis more precise by transforming it into a thesis concerning language. (In "Memories of Otto Neurath" 1973, 43,4)  9  Rudolf Carnap, The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap, ed. P.A. Schilpp (La Salle, Illinois, Open Court and London, Cambridge U. Press, 1963), 22.  9  77  A n attempt to unify efforts to understand science marks a defining characteristic of logical empiricism as treated by Carnap and Neurath. This chapter has attempted to tie Neurath's thought to broader currents in philosophy of science. There is a more interesting story to be told about the ambitions and goals of the logical empiricist conception of scientific knowledge as it was being formed by, among others, Neurath and Carnap. In the hands of logical empiricists themselves, their project aimed not at a naive empiricism bent on reducing scientific claims to experience, but attempted to articulate how science can provide knowledge of the world given an untenability of such a reduction. Further, we witness a place for historical analysis within logical empiricism. Indeed, as suggested in Chapter Two, Neurath's developing program, variously described over the years as physicalism or unified science, attempts to articulate a relation between logical analysis of language and an historically, culturally, informed understanding of the development of scientific theory. For Neurath this conception extends to all levels of everyday life.  78  Bibliography  Agassi, J. 1974. Modified Conventionalism Is More Comprehensive Than Modified Essentialism. In P.A. Schilpp ed.. In Philosophy of Karl Popper. La Salle, IL: Open Court. Carnap, Rudolph. (1928) 1967. The Logical Structure of the World and Pseudoproblems of Philosophy. Translated by R.A. George. Berkeley: U of California Press.  . (1932) 1987. On Protocol Sentences. Translated by R. Creath and R. Nollan. Nous 21:45770. . (1950) 1956. Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology. In Meaning and Necessity. 2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago Press. Cartwright, Nancy, Jordi Cat, Lola Fleck and Thomas Uebel. 1996. Otto Neurath: Philosophy Between Science and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge U . Press. , and Jordi Cat. 1996. Neurath Against Method. In Giere and Richardson 1996, 80-90. Earman, John. 1992. Bayes or Bust? A Critical Examination of Confirmation Theory. MIT Press: Cambridge. Feyerabend, Paul. 1969. Science Without Experience. Journal of Philosophy 66:791. . 1970. Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge. In M . Radner and S. Winokur eds. Analyses of Theories and methods of Physics and Psychology. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 4. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. . 1975. Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge. London: New Left Books. . 1979. Dialogue on Method. Structure and Development of Science, G. Radnitzky and A . Andersson, eds. Dordrecht: Reidel. Friedman, Michael. 1987. Carnap's Aufbau Reconsidered. Nous 21:521-45. . 1988. Logical Truth and Analyticity in Logical Syntax of Language. In Essays in the History and Philosophy of Modern Mathematics, W. Asprey and P. Kitcher, eds. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. . 1991. The Re-evaluation of Logical Empiricism. The Journal of Philosophy 88:505-19.  79  . 1992. Epistemology in the Aufbau. Synthese 93:15-57. . 1996. Overcoming Metaphysics: Carnap and Heidegger. In Giere and Richardson 1996. Galison, Peter. 1990. Aufbau/Bauhaus: Logical Positivism and Architectural Modernism. Critical Inquiry 16:709-52. . 1996. Constructing Modernism: The Cultural Location of Aufbau. In Giere and Richardson 1996, 17-44. . 1998. The Americanization of Unity. In Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 127:45-71. Giere, R.N. 1996. From Wissenschaftliche Philosophic to Philosophy of Science. In Giere and Richardson 1996, 335-54. and A . W . Richardson. 1996. Origins of Logical Empiricism. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 16. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Haller, Rudolph. 1979a. "On Otto Neurath." In Uebel 1991. . 1979b. "History and the System of Science in Otto Neurath." In Uebel 1991. . 1986. On the Historiography of Austrian Philosophy. In Uebel 1991. Hanson. N.R. 1958. The Logic of Discovery. Journal of Philosophy 55:1073-89. Heidegger, Martin. (1929b) 1977. What is Metaphysics? Translated by David Farrell Krell. In Basic Writings, ed. by D. Krell. New York: Harper and Row, 1977. Kohler, Eckehart. 1982. "On Neurath's Writings on Logic, Ethics and Physics." In Uebel 1991. .1985. "Metaphysics in the Vienna Circle." In Uebel 1991. Irzik, Gurol, and Teo Grunberg. 1995. Carnap and Kuhn: Arch Enemies or Close Allies? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46(3):285-307. Nemeth, E. (1982b) 1991. Otto Neurath's Utopias - The Will to Hope. In Uebel, ed. 1991, 285-92. Neurath, Otto. (1913) 1983. The Lost Wanderers of Descartes and the Auxiliary Method. In Neurath 1983, 1-12. . (1916) 1983. On the Classification of Systems of Hypotheses. In Neurath 1983, 13-31. , R. Carnap, H . Hahn. (1929) 1973. The Scientific Conception of the World: The Vienna Circle. In Neurath 1973, 299-319.  80  . (1930) 1983. Ways of the Scientific World Conception. In Neurath 1983, 32-47. . (1931a) 1973. Empirical Sociology. In Neurath 1973, 391-421. . (1931b) 1983. Physicalism: The Philosophy of the Viennese Circle. In Neurath 1983, 4851. . (1931c) 1983. Physicalism. In Neurath 1983, 52-57. . (1932a) 1983. Protocol Statements. In Neurath 1983, 91-99. . (1932b) 1983. Sociology in the Framework of Physicalism. In Neurath 1983, 58-90. . (1934) 1983. Radical Physicalism and the Real World.' In Neurath 1983, 100-14. . (1935) 1983. The Unity of Science as a Task. In Neurath 1983, 115-20. . 1973. Empiricism and Sociology. Edited by M . Neurath and R. S. Cohen. Dordrecht: Reidel. .1983. Philosophical Papers: 1913-1946. Edited by R.S. Cohen and M . Neurath. Dordrecht: Reidel. Oberdan, T. 1993. Protocols, Truth and Convention. Studien zur Osterreichischen Philosophic, vol.19 Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi. . 1996. Postscript to Protocols: Reflections on Empiricism. In Giere and Richardson 1996, 269-91. Polyani, M . 1958. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. London: Routledge. Quine, W.V.O. (1951). Two Dogmas of Empiricism. In Quine 1953, 20-47. . 1953. From a Logical Point of View. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P. . 1960. Carnap and Logical Truth. In Quine 1976, 107-32. . 1969. Epistemology Naturalized. In Ontological Relativity and Other Essays, 69-90. New York: Columbia U.P. . 1976. Ways of Paradox. Cambridge: Harvard U.P. . 1981. Has Philosophy Lost Contact With People? In Theories and Things, 67-72. Cambridge: Harvard U.P.  81  Reisch, G.A. 1991. Did Kuhn K i l l Logical Empiricism? Philosophy of Science 91:264-77. . 1994. Planning Science: Otto Neurath and the "International Encyclopedia of Unified Science." British Journal for the History of Science 27:153-75. Richardson, A . W . 1996. Origins of Logical Empiricism. In Giere and Richardson 1996, 1-13. . 1996b. From Epistemology to the Logic of Science: Carnap's Philosophy of Empirical Knowledge in the 1930's. In Giere and Richardson 1996, 309-32. . 1997a. Toward a History of Scientific Philosophy. In Perspectives on Science 5:418-451. . 1997b(?). Two Dogmas About Logical Empiricism: Carnap and Quine on Logic, Epistemology and Empiricism. In Philosophical Topics 25:145-68. . Forthcoming. Philosophy as Science: The Modernist Agenda of Philosophy of Science, 1900-1950. In the Proceedings of International Congress of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science at Cracow. Rutte, Heiner. 1982. "The Philosopher Otto Neurath." In Uebel 1991. Stadler, Friedrich. 1979. "Aspects of the Social Background and Position of the Vienna Circle at the University of Vienna." In Uebel 1991. . 2000. The Vienna Circle: Studies in the Origins, Development and Influence of Logical Empiricism, trans. Camilla Nielsen. Vienna: Springer. Toulmin, Stephen. 1961. Foresight and Understanding: An Enquiry into the Aims of Science. Indiana U . P.: Bloomington. Uebel, T.E. 1991. Neurath's Programme for Naturalistic Epistemology. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 22:623-46. . 1992a. Neurath vs. Carnap: Naturalism vs. Rational Reconstructionism before Quine. History of Philosophically Quarterly 9:445-70. . 1992b. Overcoming Logical Positivism from Within: The Emergence of Neurath's Naturalism in the ViennaCircle's Protocol Sentence Debate, Amsterdam-Atlanta: Rodopi. . 1992c. Rational Reconstruction as Elucidation? Carnap in the Early Protocol Sentence Debate. Synthese 93:107-40. . 1993a. Neurath's Protocol Statements: A Naturalistic Theory of Data and Pragmatic Theory of Theory Acceptance. Philosophy of Science 60:587-607.  82  . 1996. The Enlightenment Ambition of Epistemic Utopiansim: Otto Neurath's Theory of Science in Historical Perspective. In Giere and Richardson 1996, 91-112. ed. 1991. Rediscovering the Forgotten Vienna Circle: Austrian Studies on Otto Neurath and the Vienna Circle. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Wartofsky, Marx W. 1976. "The Relation Between Philosophy of Science and History of Science," Essays in Memory oflmre Lakatos. R.S. Cohen et al. (eds.), 717-737. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing.  83  


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items