Carnap and Twentieth-Century Thought: Explication as Enlightenment
by A.W. Carus
Rudolf Carnap (1891 1970) is widely regarded as one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. Born in Germany and later a US citizen, he was a founder of the philosophical movement known as Logical Empiricism. He was strongly influenced by a number of different philosophical traditions (including the legacies of both Kant and Husserl), and also by the Ge...more
Hardcover, 346 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Cambridge University Press
(first published December 13th 2007)
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There was a time, not long ago, when the philosophy of Rudolf Carnap was easy to comprehend. Carnap was the ultimate simple-minded logical positivist, committed to a radical empiricist account of science and critique of metaphysics, and dedicated to a notion of analyticity needed to provide an account of the a priority of mathematics consistent with that empiricism. This is the Carnap familiar from the work of W.V. Quine, A.J. Ayer, Hilary Putnam and others. For about a quarter century, however,...more
This book shares an interesting property with Augustine's City of God: it seems better and better the further and further away from having read it I get. A lot of the details in this book are somewhat dry and not as well explained as they could be. But the underlying idea, of seeing Carnapian positivism as part of an Enlightenment project of social improvement, is both beautiful and moving. And, at the least, deserves more attention than it has got so far. I hope to carry this torch!