Historical Background of Logical Positivism
The position of the original logical positivists was a blend of the positivism of Ernst Mach with the logical concepts of Gottleb Frege and Bertrand Russell. But, their inspiration was derived from the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein and G.E Moore. According to Passmore, in his article “Logical Positivism”, the logical positivists thought of themselves as continuing a nineteenth century Viennese empirical tradition, closely linked with British empiricism and culminating in the anti-metaphysical scientifically oriented teaching of Ernst Mach. He further pointed out that in 1907 the mathematician Hans Hahn, the economist and sociologist Otto Neurath and the physicist Phillip Frank, all of whom were later to be prominent members of the Vienna Circle, came together as an informal group to discuss the philosophy of science. In addition, Passmore posited that they did this in hope that they could ‘give an account of science to the importance of mathematics, logic and theoretical physics without abandoning Mach’s general doctrine that science is, fundamentally, the description of experience’ (par. 2). Subsequently, they adopted views from the “new positivism” of Poincare and coupled it with Mach’s views in an attempt to anticipate the main themes in logical positivism (par. 2).
Logical Positivists view of Traditional Philosophy
The philosophical position of logical positivism in its original form was the outcome of the profoundly incisive influences of Wittgenstein and Moore (Runes 359). Logical positivists were concerned about the soundness of metaphysics and other traditional philosophy. They asserted that many philosophical problems were indeed meaningless. Hence, they decided to abandon the traditional approach to philosophy and attempted to persuade people to utilise their approach instead. One of the chief tenets of logical positivism was that the supposed propositions of metaphysics, ethics and epistemology were not verifiable and so were not strictly ‘meaningful’. Furthermore, Carnap, of the Vienna Circle, corroborated this view in his work “The Unity of Science”, when he stated that ‘we give no answer to philosophical questions and instead reject all philosophical questions, whether Metaphysics, Ethics or Epistemology’ (qtd. in the...