Moritz Schlick

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Schlick, Moritz

Schlick, Moritz (mōˈrĭts shlĭk), 1882–1936, German philosopher, b. Berlin, grad. Univ. of Berlin (1904). He taught at Rostock and Kiel before he became (1922) professor of the philosophy of inductive sciences at the Univ. of Vienna; there he was the leader of the Vienna Circle, a group of logical positivists (see logical positivism). Influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein and Rudolf Carnap. Schlick emphasized experience as the means of establishing the truth of claims to knowledge. His works include General Theory of Knowledge (2d ed. 1925) and Problems of Ethics (tr. 1939).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Schlick, Moritz


Born Apr. 14, 1882, in Berlin; died June 22, 1936, in Vienna. Austrian philosopher and physicist; leading representative of the early stage of logical positivism, founder of the Vienna circle.

Schlick was a professor of philosophy and physics at the universities of Rostock from 1917 to 1920, Kiel in 1921 and 1922, and Vienna from 1922 to 1936; he was a visiting professor at Stanford University in California in 1931 and 1932. Schlick’s philosophical framework was logical empiricism, at which he arrived after renouncing critical realism under the influence of R. Carnap and L. Wittgenstein. Schlick based himself on the concept of the “sensible present”—the sense experience of a cognizing individual that is incommunicable to other subjects. According to Schlick, only the structural relations of a sense experience can be the object of knowledge—relations that reproduce the order of phenomena. The so-called rational truths, including the statements of logic and mathematics, have a purely analytical character; they are tautologies that do not make it possible to penetrate into unperceived reality. According to Schlick, the problem of the cognition of the essence of existence is meaningless; the laws of nature are for him formal rules determined by the syntax of the language in which a description of nature is given.

Schlick was one of the first to formulate the principle of verification as a criterion of scientific understanding. He occupied himself extensively with the application of his philosophical viewpoint to specific problems of the philosophy of science (analysis of space and time, causality, probability) and of ethics.


Der Raum und Zeit in der gegenwärtigen Physik. Berlin, 1917.
Allgemeine Erkenntnislehre, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1925.
Fragen der Ethik. Vienna, 1930.
Les Enoncxés scientifiques et la réalité du monde exterieur. Paris, 1934.
Gesammelte Aufsätze. Vienna, 1938.
Philosophy of Nature. New York, 1949.
Natur und Kultur. Vienna, 1952.


Hill, T. E. Sovremennye teorii poznaniia. Moscow, 1965. Pages 365–69. (Translated from English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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