Otto Neurath

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Neurath, Otto


Born Dec. 10, 1882, in Vienna; died Dec. 22, 1945, in Oxford. Austrian philosopher, sociologist, and economist. One of the founders and leaders of the Vienna circle.

Neurath lived in Holland from 1934 to 1940. In 1941 he settled in Great Britain, where he taught at Oxford University. Neurath’s philosophical and sociological views eclectically combined the materialism inherent in natural sciences with logical positivism. Neurath believed that the criterion of truth applying to protocol (basic) propositions of science—selected by scientists through agreement—was in the final analysis these propositions’ noncontradiction of other assertions of a given science.

Regarding the unification of knowledge as the most important task of the philosophy of science, Neurath assumed that this could be attained by means of a “unified language of science,” which would be based on the languages of physics and mathematics (this point of view was referred to as radical physicalism). Neurath himself was primarily concerned with the translation of statements of psychology and sociology into such a language. With R. Carnap, he was a contributor to and the editor in chief of the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science (1938–40).

In his sociopolitical views, Neurath was an Austro-Marxist. He took part in the revolutionary fighting of 1918–23 in Austria and Germany and in the struggle against fascism.


Vollsozialisierung und Arbeiterorganisation. Reichenberg [1920].
Anti-Spengler. Munich, 1921.
Antike Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 3rd ed. Leipzig-Berlin, 1926.
Lebensgestaltung und Klassenkampf. Berlin, 1928.
Empirische Soziologie. Vienna, 1931.
Le Développement du cercle de Vienne et I’avenir de I’empirisme logique. Paris, 1935.
International Picture Language. London, 1936.
Modern Man in the Making. [New York]–London, 1939.
Foundations of the Social Sciences. Chicago, 1954.