Sunday, May 10, 2009

81 Moritz Schlick

On June 22, 1936, Schlick was ascending the steps of the University for a class when he was confronted by a former student, Johann Nelböck, who drew a pistol and shot him in the chest. Schlick died very soon afterward. The assailant had been under psychiatrie observation for some time because of a previous attempt on Schlick's life.

The student was tried and sentenced, but he became a cause célèbre for the growing anti-Jewish sentiments in the city. (That Schlick was not Jewish tended to be overlooked.) Nelböck was paroled shortly afterward and became a member of the Austrian Nazi Party after the Anschluss.

In Austria, however, the philosophical movement initiated by Schlick encountered the uncompromising hostility of the state authorities. After the interruption caused by World War II, all the officiaI chairs in the Austrian universities were systematically filled by speculative philosophers generally committed to a theological outlook.

What could have been so threatening in the philosophical ideas of Schlick, that someone wanted to murder him?

Although it has its historical roots of course, beginning with men like Bacon, Newton and Hume, in the period of 1900 to 1925 you can see a kind of analogy between the scientific developments in physics and the developments in philosophy.

The discoveries in physics, deep penetration into matter, molecules, atoms, the analysis of nature into its smallest parts has a parallel in philosophy, where the philosophical discourse also more and more focused on the smallest parts: concepts and propositions as we saw in Moore's approach.

As Schlick himself put it it was no longer the goal of philosophy to acquire knowledge and to present it as a system of propositions but, rather, it was the application of a method.

In applying its method, philosophy must take as its aim the discovery and understanding of the meaning of the statements. concepts, and formulations of problems of the special sciences, of philosophy, and of everyday life.

When philosophy is understood in this manner, as Schlick emphasized, it resembles the method of Socrates, who constantly strove in his conversations to clarify the concepts, assertions, traditional notions, and ordinary modes of expression found in both the philosophy and the practical life of his time.

Here too we see an analogy. Socrates too had to die because of his method. So our big question is, how does this method according to Schlick look like?

A proposition is meaningful it it is true by definition, e.g. "All bachelors are unmarried men" or if it is verifiable by experience. Thence, for every proposition there must be an empirical method to verify it, unless it is meaningful by definition.

Schlick was a physicist and you can recognize the strict logical and scientific approach of philosophical questions here. The rigorous scientific requirements of the Vienna philosophy met with widespread sympathy in the West and in Poland and Scandinavia; as a result, philosophy as “the logic of knowledge" experienced a fruitful further development abroad. Not in Austria.

And maybe now you also understand the "danger" of this philosophical method. We already saw with Moore, that ethical propositions don't stand the test of verifiablity.

But there are thousands of such propositions, that will fail the strict requirements of verification. You find them in all areas of life, religion, politics, new Age theories, psychological theories. By this criterium all this kind of propositions are declared meaningless.

But, as we saw in Moore's case, we can not deny that ehtical discourse exists. In this case it is the aim of philosophical analysis to reveal the true status and function of such propositions. For instance, such propositions can express an emotion or an intention.

Did philosophy with the ideas of Schick finally find its golden egg? Unfortunately no. We'll get into more detail regarding the principle of verifiability, when we'll discuss philosophers like Carnap, Popper or Quine.

But the most servere criticism was this: the principle that a proposition is meaningful, if and only if it is empirically verifiable, doesn't comply to itself, for it can neither analytically nor empirically be tested.

Again a miss? Not that much, Schick and the other philosophers of the Vienna Circle had developed an important methodological principle. before the Vienna Circle philosophers paid little attention to the exact meaning of their statements. Language was so to speak taken for granted.

From now on the tool of the philosopher, language, was itself subject to severe analysis. "What do you mean?" had become a fundamental philosophical question ^_^

The Discussion

[13:22] Herman Bergson: So much on Moritz Schlick
[13:23] Herman Bergson: Any questions or remarks?
[13:23] arabella Ella: Herman I actually saw the spot at the Uni of Vienna where Schlick was murdered on the steps where there is today a plaque in his memory
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: wow
[13:23] Herman Bergson: Wow...a bizarre incident, but it was the moment in history
[13:23] arabella Ella: and was it Quine who demonstrated that analytical propositions cannot be verified either with his dogmas of empiricism?
[13:24] arabella Ella: Actually the Viennese I met were rather embarassed to say much about Schlick's murder on the Uni steps
[13:24] Herman Bergson: Yes...but he'll get his turn..actually he will be the last of this 100 series :-)
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate:o f this 100 series :-) have another 100????:-)
[13:25] arabella Ella: oh no Herman will you not go past the 100 mark then?
[13:25] Herman Bergson: least a series of all those who we forgot
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: ahha
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:25] Qwark Allen: lolool
[13:25] Herman Bergson: Besides that a series on 25 female philosophers in store too
[13:25] arabella Ella: there are so many more important philosophers
[13:25] Ze Novikov: yesss
[13:26] Mickorod Renard: so what sort of questions can we reach conclusions to using his method?
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: it seems to me from reading about the philosophers this summer that almost all of them were affected in their thinking by events of their own lives
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: parents
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: or lack of
[13:26] Herman Bergson: Let's answer Mickorod first
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: suicide
[13:27] Herman Bergson: One of the new developments, and among others Moore already mentioned it, is the issue of justification
[13:27] arabella Ella: do you mean justification of knowledge Herman?
[13:28] Herman Bergson: You just cant say anymore for instance that the Not-being needs space
[13:28] Herman Bergson: Yes...justification of the knowledge claim
[13:28] Herman Bergson: besides that, this methode also put the issue of meaning in the spotlights
[13:29] Herman Bergson: You can not just use a word, like freedom, democracy, without explaining how the word gets its meaning
[13:29] Mickorod Renard: thank you Herman
[13:29] arabella Ella: but is truth so important Herman especially keeping in mind some contemporary philosophers such as Thomas Nagel who write about the subjectivity of truth and bring it down to individual perspective?
[13:30] Herman Bergson: For centuries meaning was taken for granted
[13:30] Ze Novikov: how does he deal with the problem of some words having multiple meanings?
[13:30] arabella Ella: (Thomas Nagel ... A View from Nowhere)
[13:30] Herman Bergson: No..I dont think that truth is that important, in the sense that it should be some monolithic thing
[13:31] Herman Bergson: What is important, is that we have to live together on theis globe and understand eachother
[13:31] Herman Bergson: and that may boil down to concluding that everything is say the most extreme...
[13:31] Ze Novikov: umm
[13:32] arabella Ella: or everything we know we know from a particular individual point of view
[13:32] Herman Bergson: but if we all agree on that we can develop a methode to live with it
[13:32] Mickorod Renard: I had an idea that philosophy was about creative thinking , but many philos seem to conduct their thoughts like in a law court
[13:32] Aya Beaumont: But if everything is subjective... we have no way to communicate, and thus no understanding, no?
[13:33] Herman Bergson: Logically you are right Aya :-), but I mentioned it only as a possibility :-)
[13:33] Aya Beaumont: heh. =)
[13:33] Cailleach Shan: Herman can we understand Schlick's philosophy without knowing about the " statements. concepts, and formulations of problems of the special sciences, of philosophy, and of everyday life." in his time or could you apply the theory to any time?
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: It boils down to each individuals interpretation of meanings
[13:34] Herman Bergson: Yet I think, the toughest nuts to crack are just these issues: subjectivism, relativism, scepticism
[13:34] arabella Ella: well Michael Dummett goes into meaning in depth and he talks about 'Verification Transcendent Truth' but his ideas have been widely criticised too
[13:34] Herman Bergson: and a man like Schick comes up with a method to do so
[13:34] arabella Ella: his scientific background obviously influenced his empiricism a great deal didnt it herman?
[13:35] Mickorod Renard: do you think his methods are a good practice today herman?
[13:35] Herman Bergson: I think so, yes, Schlick was a scientist
[13:35] arabella Ella: as he seems to have attempted to bring scientific method ... verification ... into philosophy
[13:35] arabella Ella: as an empiricist
[13:35] Herman Bergson: to give you an example:Verification Transcendent Truth
[13:36] Herman Bergson: such a statement gives me the creeps
[13:36] arabella Ella: me too Herman ;)
[13:36] Herman Bergson: it doesnt say a thing, tho it suggests a lot
[13:36] Mickorod Renard: sometimes i think that being scientific should have been seperated when science split from philosophy
[13:36] Ze Novikov: yes
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: why would it have taken so long to realize that knowledge is obtained by any other way than scientific analysis?
[13:37] Herman Bergson: Here Schick would ask how to verify such a statement: exit stement as meaningfull
[13:37] arabella Ella: surely Ari there are more ways than just the scientific method to obtain knowledge?
[13:37] Herman Bergson: Well, Aristotle...look back into the history we have passed through
[13:38] Aya Beaumont: Yes, but that knowledge has different qualities than the scientific knowledge has.
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: I think the voodooism of theology supressed our advancemnt
[13:38] Herman Bergson: It took about 600 years for (Western) mankind to begin to believe in the capacities of is own brains
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)]
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: what other way is there but scientific?
[13:38] Tiara Calvert: The people who bring in the scientific method seem to be a little like those crashing the party of the mind, so to speak. Trying to shackle the exercise of thought. Maybe?
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: and now it is full of questions only
[13:38] Cailleach Shan: lol I still have serious doubts about my brain..
[13:39] arabella Ella: even science today has problems obtaining consensus on definitions such as 'matter'
[13:39] Herman Bergson: Men like Da Vinci, Copernicus, Bacon, wasnt a day's work
[13:39] Aya Beaumont: Study of witnesses of miracles is a popular theological way...
[13:39] Mickorod Renard: I like that Tiara
[13:39] Herman Bergson: absolutely, Arabella
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: but there is not other avenue to knowledge but the scientific study of nature
[13:39] arabella Ella: and take consciousness or what philosophers call 'qualia' for example
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: miracles?
[13:40] Aya Beaumont: Yes... what did you think religious knowledge dealt with?
[13:40] Aya Beaumont smiles.
[13:40] arabella Ella: also the existence of God and other metaphysical questions Aya
[13:40] Herman Bergson: Yes....look at the impact this change of philosophical method has gotten on our world
[13:40] Mickorod Renard: is there anything true in religious knowledge?
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: this 'not-nature' and 'super nature is troubling
[13:41] Herman Bergson: We BELIEVE in science these days
[13:41] Aya Beaumont: Religion isn't about numbers or weights.
[13:41] Aya Beaumont: It's about feelings, community, morality, and transcendence.
[13:41] Menard Wemyss: the fact that we believe in science has brought religious fundamentalism to us...interesting isnt it ?
[13:41] arabella Ella: i think one consequence has been to (unfortunately) disregard other philosophical methods and to take only scientifically verifiable issues as being (possibly) true ... so unfortunate in my opinion
[13:41] Cailleach Shan: I always understood the miracles in Christian theology were mythical and alagorical.
[13:42] Herman Bergson: Yes Aya, we have great trouble dealing with such issues
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: arabell, what other methods are there?
[13:42] Aya Beaumont: If religion holds truths, it has to be in those areas.
[13:42] arabella Ella: reasoning for example Ari
[13:42] Mickorod Renard: but shouldnt science be left to scientists, and philo left to thinkers
[13:42] arabella Ella: other logical methods of argumentation and discourse
[13:42] Tiara Calvert: I think it's funny how often people forget that science itself is in large part faith based. Not all scientific thought is proven, even when accepted.
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: I think reasoning is absolutely scientific
[13:43] Herman Bergson: Listing to your remarks, I think there is one great achievement of modern philosophy
[13:43] Herman Bergson: The issue of belief.
[13:43] arabella Ella: which are often used for ethical issues such as philosophers being involved in ethical issues concerning topics such as stem cell research
[13:43] arabella Ella: yes Tiara I tend to agree with you there
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: still, everthing has to fall within nature
[13:43] Herman Bergson: I mean, we cant live in a world where everyone claims that because of what he believes he is right and entitled to do what he does
[13:43] arabella Ella: Ari some of us ... me included .. believe in miracles
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: and religion is not empirical
[13:44] Aya Beaumont: Science has other explanations for those areas, of course. Feelings are hormones, and so on.
[13:44] Mickorod Renard: I think if science has hijacked philosophy then no wonder religion is still so popular
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: how can a miracles exist within the confine of nature?
[13:44] Aya Beaumont: It can't.
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: where is the place outside of nature?
[13:45] arabella Ella: scientific influence on philosophy gave rise to some ridiculous philosophical positions such as eliminative materialism which the Churchlands had proposed
[13:45] Herman Bergson: Well far as I now there is no one who can revive the dead anymore
[13:45] arabella Ella: i did not say miracles exist within the confines of nature ... I said I believe in miracles
[13:45] Mickorod Renard: well then science isnt that good then
[13:45] arabella Ella: Herman ... there is still no consensus on a definition of 'death'
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: i have to excuse myself back to 911 for an event
[13:45] Tiara Calvert: Isn't life natures biggest miracle? Life can't come from lifeless-ness. So in a way, that must be considered a miracle?
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: but if nature is all there is, then where do the miracles come from?
[13:46] arabella Ella: bye Gemma
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Gemma
[13:46] Cailleach Shan: cu Gem
[13:46] Mickorod Renard: bye gemma
[13:46] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:46] Aya Beaumont: From our own brains, Aristotle.
[13:46] arabella Ella: even conception is a miracles when one reflects on how it happens or does not happen
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: then they can not be miracles
[13:46] Herman Bergson: You are right Tiara, it is a mystery
[13:46] Aya Beaumont: Miracles are INTERNAL concepts, not scientific ones.
[13:46] Cailleach Shan: How do you define a miracle?
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: they are just natural
[13:47] arabella Ella: a miracle is a supernatural occurence that cannot be explained scientifically
[13:47] arabella Ella: or if u prefer extraordinary
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature
[13:47] Herman Bergson: I think that Moritz Schlick now would leave the room..:-)
[13:47] arabella Ella: bye Moritz ;)
[13:47] Aya Beaumont: Among the most common of medieval miracles were visions. We suspect today that most of those visions were caused by various neurological conditions, ones such as migraine and epilepsy.
[13:48] Herman Bergson: lol
[13:48] Ze Novikov: lol
[13:48] Cailleach Shan: So where are our miracles today?
[13:48] Tiara Calvert: Forgive me, I don't mean to be slow. But I don't see the reason or understand the passion that would have surrounded his murder. What am I missing?
[13:48] Aya Beaumont: Being treated with antiepileptics. Not joking.
[13:48] arabella Ella: come to visit Malta and you will find both miracles and visions here
[13:48] Herman Bergson: What do you mean Tiara..the reason why he was killed?
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Aya, tecnology has adavnece far enought to explain away events that we thought were miracles
[13:49] Tiara Calvert: Yes, what was so troubling in his ideas?
[13:49] Mickorod Renard: yea,why Herman?
[13:49] arabella Ella: was he a communist herman? is that why he was killed by pro-nazis?
[13:49] Herman Bergson: I think, like Socrates, his ideas lead to a too critical attitude.
[13:50] Alarice Beaumont: the article i found about him was quite short!
[13:50] Mickorod Renard: surly that is a nazi trait too
[13:50] Herman Bergson: Dont forget that the Wiener Kreis was an international community of the gretest minds of those days
[13:50] Herman Bergson: It wouldnt surpris me that it was a politiccal murder
[13:50] Tiara Calvert: Thank you
[13:51] arabella Ella: i think it was a political murder by someone who was mentally unbalanced
[13:51] arabella Ella: but as always there may have been more to it than just that
[13:51] Herman Bergson: Especially when you notice that with the death of Schlick the Vienna Circle was dead too, the prominent scholars and scientists all emigrated to UK or US
[13:51] Menard Wemyss: am sorry thank you herman, bye
[13:51] arabella Ella: yes like Karl Popper right Herman?
[13:51] Herman Bergson: Bye menard
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: in the best of times we are surrounded by deranged people, at the time of his death time was even a worse time
[13:52] Herman Bergson: Yes and Carnap
[13:52] Mickorod Renard: so I guess his death defeated the nazi's in a way
[13:52] arabella Ella: yes
[13:52] Ze Novikov: indeed Ari
[13:52] Tiara Calvert: Yes thank you everyone, makes more sense now
[13:52] Aya Beaumont: It's funny how every public murder of an interesting individual is explained away by "mentally unstable".
[13:52] Qwark Allen: ehhehe
[13:52] arabella Ella: could it be a cop-out Aya?
[13:53] Herman Bergson: Yes that is the easy way out...tho it is a staged murder definitely
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: what else could be the source when someone kills another
[13:53] Aya Beaumont: The question it ask is always: Who stands to gain?
[13:53] Ze Novikov: what is the meaning of mentally unstable? ;))
[13:53] Mickorod Renard: accident?
[13:53] arabella Ella: it could all have been strategically set up by others
[13:53] arabella Ella: who may not have been identified
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: it may not and indiviual instabilty but a collective one
[13:53] Herman Bergson: The Nazis gained by his death
[13:53] Aya Beaumont: Any schlub can be used to kill someone else, given enough pressure.
[13:54] Tiara Calvert: great point Aya, it certainly takes a mind that has seperated itself from a level most consider, normal
[13:54] arabella Ella: exactly Aya
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: all of os has the capacity to do it
[13:54] Cailleach Shan: My friend Wiki says Nelbock became a member of the Austrian Nazi Party
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: us
[13:54] Herman Bergson: yes Cailleach
[13:54] Mickorod Renard: but their downfall was in some large way down to looosing many of its leading scientists
[13:54] arabella Ella: hey Ari speak for yourself ...
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: it is the acqusition of ethices that prevents us from acting on it
[13:55] Aya Beaumont: German society in the 30s was not too different than our society today. Though it's not a popular line of thought.
[13:55] Herman Bergson: yes Mickorod...a lot of them emigrated..Oppenheimer and Einstein and the bomb
[13:55] Mickorod Renard: what goes around comes around
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: the primordial brain exists in us all
[13:55] Cailleach Shan: I think you're right Ari.. the ability to kill is in us all.
[13:56] Aya Beaumont: Those who could not under any circumstance kill another did not survive.
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: civilization is a result of cerbral growth
[13:56] arabella Ella: I disagree with that Cail and Ari ... I cannot even kill a fly
[13:56] Herman Bergson: civilisation is a thin varnish only
[13:56] Aya Beaumont: It is.
[13:56] Mickorod Renard: I disagree Ari
[13:56] Herman Bergson: But philosophy can help to keep it in good condition :-)
[13:56] Cailleach Shan: Then the circumstances to test this have yet to arrive Ari.
[13:56] Aya Beaumont: And the worst thing you can do is ignore the darkness of humanity.
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Herman
[13:56] arabella Ella: I sincerely hope not Cail
[13:56] Herman Bergson: We all fear the darkness Aya
[13:56] Mickorod Renard: it is proven that neanderthals had larger brains than us
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Aya, exactly right
[13:57] Cailleach Shan: Me too
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: not the cerebral cortex
[13:57] Qwark Allen: but with less brain
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: cerebral
[13:57] Aya Beaumont: But some think they can forbid people to be cruel, wicked, uncaring, or brutal.
[13:57] Mickorod Renard: they just couldnt have sex as often
[13:57] Herman Bergson: You go for quantity in stead of quality, Mickorod ^_^ ???
[13:57] Aya Beaumont: In doing so, they play right into the hands of that darkness.
[13:57] Cailleach Shan: lol
[13:57] Qwark Allen: and their heritage was microencephalie to sapiens DNA
[13:57] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:57] Qwark Allen: TY HERMAN
[13:58] Qwark Allen: cya soon
[13:58] Ze Novikov: yes ty
[13:58] arabella Ella: bye Qwark
[13:58] Herman Bergson: Thnx Qwark,,bye
[13:58] Mickorod Renard: bye quark
[13:58] arabella Ella: thanks Herman
[13:58] Ze Novikov: bye
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: one doesn not need a fat brain stem, wish for a fat cerebral cortex
[13:58] Herman Bergson: Ok my friends...this concludes the discussion of today
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank yu Herman
[13:58] Aya Beaumont: Thank you, herman.
[13:58] Mickorod Renard: cool, thanks Herman
[13:58] Herman Bergson: A good one
[13:58] Cailleach Shan: Thanks everyone.... another excellent hour..
[13:59] Alarice Beaumont: most interesting, thanks
[13:59] Tiara Calvert: Thank you. Have a wonderful rest of your day eveyone:)
[13:59] arabella Ella: very interesting Herman thanks again
[13:59] Herman Bergson: You too
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Tiara
[13:59] Mickorod Renard: thanks Tiara
[13:59] Mickorod Renard: bye
[13:59] Ze Novikov: bb everyone
[13:59] arabella Ella: bye Herman bye all
[13:59] Herman Bergson: I try to keep up with you arabella...^_^
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: bye arabella
[13:59] Mickorod Renard: Bye Herman bye everyone
[13:59] Alarice Beaumont: bye everyone :-)
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: later on Mick
[14:00] arabella Ella: apologies herman ... i am by nature spontaneous ... cant help commenting ... hope u dont mind ;)
[14:00] Alarice Beaumont: see you on sunday :-))
[14:00] Mickorod Renard: bye Ari

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-09-11 18:54:56

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