Logical Positivism

The Vienna Circle was an association of Philosophers gathered around the University of Vienna in 1922. Whilst Wittgenstien went to work on another philosophical manuscript, Moritz Schlick, Rudolf Carnap and Friedrich Waismann went on to write a manifesto against metaphysics. They believed that romanticised philosophy was outdated and metaphysical and religious values should be updated. They wanted to clean up philosophy by applying science.

Logical Positivism

The Logical Positivists believed statements could be split into sections. (Known as Demarcation) Demarcation in Philosophy was how to distinguish between science and nonsense.

The statements that are nonsense have no factual claim. For example ‘I like unicorns.’ The claim cannot be verified therefore it is not true nor is it a fact. This is also known as the verification principle, to determine whether statements are true or false.

The logical positivists attacked Hegel’s statement that ‘geist leads is through history,’ they also attacked Descartes ‘I think therefore I am,’ because I can not be verified and therefore has empty words. Both statements contain non verifiable induction.

(Induction is reasoning that has derived from your own experiments or using examples)

The logical positivists true task was to clarify philosophical statements. Their chosen method of clarification was to show how empirical statements were built up of ‘protocol’ statements that were built from experience. However this method of verification had problems. The experiences recorded by protocols were private to each individual. Therefore how can anyone understand someone’s meaning.
But to avoid Sophism (your existence is the only real) Schlick attempted to answer this problem. He explained that if two people agreed on the definition of a word, although our thoughts on that word are individual, we can still have a discussion using their language of science.

‘whereof one cannot speak one must be silent’

In Wittengenstien’s early book ‘Tractatus Logico Philopophicus’ he was ambitious project to identify the relationship of language and reality and to define the limits of science.
The Tractatus consisted of several statements. He said that language consists of proposition that picture the world. Propositions and thoughts were pictures in a literal sense. A language just disguises thought.
He later went on to criticise his own work saying to was too simple. He now saw this as a big mistake, words might look like each other but their function differs.

Karl Popper

There were many criticisms of Logical Positivism, one of the earliest came from Karl Popper, who argued that the Logical Positivists requirement that a statement be scientifically verifiable was too strong. Popper argued that instead, that every statement is not true by definition and every statement could be falsified.   

Popper saw problems with Induction that the logical positivists grounded their work on. The problems with induction is that you cannot be certain of something. We have always believed science to be true but it is based on induction. 

Although the Logical Positivits say we can prove if a statment is true using validitilty Popper attacks this and says although a statment can be verfiied now it can still be proved wrong. Everything is open to falsification.  

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