Language, Truth, and Logic and the Anglophone reception of the Vienna Circle

In Adam Tamas Tuboly (ed.), The Historical and Philosophical Significance of Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave. pp. 41-68 (2021)
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A. J. Ayer’s Language, Truth, and Logic had been responsible for introducing the Vienna Circle’s ideas, developed within a Germanophone framework, to an Anglophone readership. Inevitably, this migration from one context to another resulted in the alteration of some of the concepts being transmitted. Such alterations have served to facilitate a number of false impressions of Logical Empiricism from which recent scholarship still tries to recover. In this paper, I will attempt to point to the ways in which LTL has helped to foster the various mistaken stereotypes about Logical Empiricism which were combined into the received view. I will begin by examining Ayer’s all too brief presentation of an Anglocentric lineage for his ideas. This lineage, as we shall see, simply omits the major 19th century Germanophone influences on the rise of analytic philosophy. The Germanophone ideas he presents are selectively introduced into an Anglophone context, and directed towards various concerns that arose within that context. I will focus on the differences between Carnap’s version of the overcoming of metaphysics, and Ayer’s reconfiguration into what he calls the elimination of metaphysics. Having discussed the above, I will very briefly outline the consequences that Ayer’s radicalisation of the Vienna Circle’s doctrines had on the subsequent Anglophone reception of Logical Empiricism.

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Andreas Vrahimis
University of Cyprus


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