The Analysis of Philosophy in Logical Syntax: Carnap’s Critique and His Attempt at a Reconstruction

  • Pierre Wagner
Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series


Like other members of the Vienna Circle, Carnap criticized traditional philosophy for its lack of clarity and precision, and he promoted a style of thinking more akin to scientific practice than to poetry or other forms of art. According to this line of thought, the everlasting struggles between metaphysical systems based on personal worldviews or on original intuitions should give way to a collective endeavour which may well be inspired by emotions and feelings but has ultimately to be given ‘a purely empirical — rational justification’ (Carnap 1928a/2003, p. xvii). In the case of Carnap and the other members of the so-called ‘left wing’ of the Vienna Circle, such commitment to a scientific conception of the world went far beyond the limits of academic disputes and took the form of an intellectual engagement reminiscent of the Enlightenment, which aimed at nothing less than the ‘conscious re-shaping of life’ (Carnap, Hahn, Neurath 1929/1973, p. 305) and at social progress, although Carnap himself did not frequently make such pronouncements in his philosophical writings.1 The Logical Syntax of Language (LSL from now on) should no doubt be considered as inspired by the same spirit, although this particular aspect will probably not be the first thing to strike the reader, especially if she has no prior knowledge of the historical context in which it was written.


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© Pierre Wagner 2009

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  • Pierre Wagner

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