Logical Positivism

A.J.Ayer, Rudolf Carnap, Moritz Schlick and others started the positivistic movement in philosophy. Positivism as a philosophical movement not only decried metaphysics as non-sense and meaningless but decried ethics and religion as meaningless and nonsense. For the positivists, all significant propositions are of two types (i) analytic and (ii) synthetic. Metaphysical propositions are neither synthetic nor analytic. Further, positivism also dethroned synthetic a priori propositions from its pristine glory. Thus positivism created an intellectual vacuum. Only sciences and scientific methods hold the sway. Even grand Social theories were ridiculed. Only science and scientism were encouraged. For a spell, metaphysics came to a grinding halt. Philosophers were busy with discussing and discovering the concepts of meaning and verification. It made philosophers self conscious. Thus, the task of philosophy was reduced to analysis of language and methods of sciences. No more philosophy was held in high esteem for the simple reason that now it has a very minor and insignificant function, no more it has the important function of guiding the people.

Positivism later made its reappearance under the title ‘logical positivism’, which arose during the 1920’s mainly in the universities of Vienna in Austria in a group called the Vienna Circle. The Vienna Circle consisted of philosophers, mathematicians and scientists like Mortiz Schlick, Ernst Mach, Rudolf Carnap, Carl Hempel and Otto Neurah. The Logical positivists and Logical Empiricists tried a synthesis of Humean empiricism, Comtean positivism and logical analysis in an effort to get rid of metaphysics for ever. The logical positivists wanted to unify all science under a framework of physical laws and scientific method for analyzing the world and gaining knowledge.

(Source: BPY008/Block 1/Unit 4/Page 52 and BPY008/Block 4/Unit 4/Page 48)

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