Notes on the Origins of Fleck’s Concept of “Denkstil”

Part of the Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook [2004] book series (VCIY, volume 12)


Thought Style Scientific Observation Boston Study Cultural Style Scientific Perception 
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  1. 1.
    “...Wittgenstein’s new philosophy [after 1933] is...entirely outside any philosophical tradit and without literary sources of influence”, G.H. von Wright, “Biographical Sketch” in Norman Malcolm, Wittgenstein: A Memoir (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), 15.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See, for example, Jerzy Giedymin, “Polish Philosophy in the Inter-War Period and Ludwik Fleck’s Theory of Thought Styles and Thought Collectives”; Boguslaw Wolniewicz, “Ludwik Fleck and Polish Philosophy”; Wladislaw Markiewicz, “Lvów as a Cultural and Intellectual Background of the Genesis of Flack’s Ideas”, Cognition and Fact: Materials on Ludwik Fleck, eds. Robert S. Cohen and Thomas Schnelle (“Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science”, Vol. 87; Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1986), 179–230. I cite this book in parentheses in the text for convenience.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    G. H. von Wright, “Wittgenstein in Relation to His Times”, Wittgenstein and His Times, ed. Brian McGuinness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 116.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rudolf Haller, “War Wittgenstein von Spengler beeinflusst?” Fragen zu Wittgenstein und Aufsätze zur österreichischen Philosophie, (“Studien zur österreichischen Philosophie”, Bd. 10, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1986), 155–69.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Rafael Ferber, “Wittgenstein und Spengler”, Archiv für die Geschichte der Philosophie Bd. 73,2 (1991), 188–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    I have presented this in a lecture entitled “How Did Spengler Influence Wittgenstein?” at Roma Tre University in December 2003. See also Allan Janik Assembling Reminders (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France; forthcoming [in French]), Ch. 9, “The Morphological Turn”.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Oswald Spengler, Der Untergang des Abendlandes: Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte (Münuch: DTV, 1972), 401. I refer to Spengler hereafter in the text in parentheses.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    I have discussed this matter in “Wie hat Schopenhauer Wittgenstein beeinflusst?” Schopenhauer Jahrbuch 73 (1992), 75–6.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See Thomas S. Kuhn, Foreword, Ludwik Fleck, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, Trans. Fred Bradley and Thaddeus J. Trenn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), ix.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ludwik Fleck, “Some Specific Features of the Medical Way of Thinking”, Cognition and Fact, 39 (see n. 2).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    A certain similarity of usage between Fleck, Spengler and Martin Heidegger, in whose Sein und Zeit the notion of Stimmung is inextricably linked to our perceptions of the world, should be noted here. Whether the notion of Stimmung involved in Fleck’s concept of Denkstil owes anything to Heidegger’s usage in Sein und Zeit, (14 Aufl.;Tübingen: Max Niemayer, 1977) § 29; 134–40, is an interesting question; for there seems to be significant parallels in the ways that both Fleck and Heidegger, as well as Spengler, link the formation practical judgment to an ethos.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See Thomas Kuhn’s Foreword to Fleck, n. 9. By the time Prof. Kuhn wrote this he was not particularly clear himself about the “influences” upon his classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962) as it became clear to me in conversation with him in 1985. His graciousness in such matters precluded dissimulation.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    See Stephen Pepper, World Hypotheses (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1942).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    See Ronald H. Bray, “Form and Cause in Goethe’s Morphology”, in Frederick Amrine, Francis J. Zucker and Harvey Wheeler (eds.) Goethe and the Sciences: A Re-appraisal (“Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science” Vol. 97; Dordrecht: Reidel, 1987), 257–300.Google Scholar

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© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Brenner Archives Research InstituteUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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