Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)


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However, we would be well advised UN to look further and add some logical characteristics to the Isotype system. Pietarinen express with Isotype pictures complex assertions. But we can observe that they will contain some basic logical information such as connectives. But apart from the left to right ordering of images, the picture does not contain anything corresponding to the con- ditional. He thought that such iconic forms are directly apprehended in cognition, and even without prior knowledge of how the system as a whole is supposed to work, because such icons are capable of showing their own meaning.

Scientific Pluralism and the Mission of History and Philosophy of Science

Now it is perhaps more commonplace to use an arrow as a symbol for the con- UN ditional, but let us assume that such a convention has not been established in the community of picture users. Then the iconically communicated information con- cerning the nested structure of images is how the untrained eye is able to get the meaning even when the conventional meaning is yet to be established.

A picture language is a language among many. It is not a universal medium of expression, since to understand it other methods and languages must be augmented into its expressions. Pictures are closely RR related to the processes of human thinking and reasoning and not to the structures of the world our concepts talk about. The holistic and non-compositional nature of pictures means that there is little hope of formulating semantics in an inductive fashion. Assuming that comparable impossibility results arise in the logic of pictures as in symbolic logic, such semantics is effable though it cannot be defined in the CO same language of pictures.

For instance, by varying the locations of some of its subcomponents, the meaning of the picture as a whole can change. Since pictures — qua icons — so to speak show their own meaning, syntax is secondary to the semantic and pragmatic concerns UN of pictorial meaning. But iconic meaning is possible only because icons are closely linked with contextual and collateral information in the communities of interpreters. Pietarinen Otto Neurath has a good claim to having been a pioneer in information visuali- sation.

Image-like iconic representations allied to his Isotype conceptualisations are today in global use throughout the public sphere as well as on the Internet.


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Computer technology has greatly expanded the development of such representations, originally OF static pictures, towards picture languages that enable movement and animation with notably amplified educational value. Thus an appropriate and expressive enough picture language might accom- plish in the philosophy of science more than Carnap, but also bring about new modes of thinking and meaning that excel the mere educational and pedagogical merits of the particular system of Isotype emphasised by Otto and Marie Neurath.

DP Information visualisation of the broadly same kind that was envisioned by the Neuraths will play an ever-more important role in areas from public education to the software development for a broad spectrum of web-based statistics and presen- tations.

Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science

But this role will be more than just raising general awareness on emerging global issues. Information visualisation is likely to change the very fundamentals of TE how human beings can think and communicate. Inventions of new communication methods have done precisely that from the time immemorial. Therefore we should avoid to be in too close a contact with these fine people, who neverthelss [sic] do not belong to our movement as such. The contrast in the historiographies of logical empiricism has commonly been that of between OF Neurath and Carnap on the one side, and Schlick and Waismann on the other.

See van Heijernoort and Hintikka Just how long has been given some elucidations in Hintikka It is a sad thing, that now the German ill- ness enters the States. In history etc. The Nazidom of Haidegger [sic] did not sufficiently shock people on the other side of the Atlantic.

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CO This initiative fails to give credit to Otto Neurath as the originator and the innovator, however. It contains an online version of his International Picture Language. Related ideas have emerged recurrently — see, for instance, the broadcastings in YouTube about Ecolanguage, which is a graphic language designed for biology showing the interactions of ecology and economics. Odum Odum Von Engelhardt is a detailed study on language-like characters in graphical representations, such as OF maps, charts and diagrams.

RO Whether natural languages are compositional is a matter of ongoing debate see e. Lee ; Sandu and Hintikka DP In the late nineteenth century, Peirce developed a graphical, diagrammatic logic of Existential Graphs, which he suggests are in fact not limited to representations of declarative expressions only Pietarinen ; a. Neurath seems to be right in at least one respect: witness the various contemporary phenomena found, say, in the ease of the use of all kinds of emoticons in online chats, which interestingly are much more neutral and weaker in their locutionary effects than any corresponding verbalisations.

It is unnecessary to say in words what we are able to make clear by pictures. And on the other hand, it is frequently hard to make a picture of a simple statement. Education has to put the two together, and a system of education has to see which language is best for which purposes Neurath , 26— As likewise is the case in some expanded versions of the discourse-representation theory Kamp and Reyle Pietarinen a studies the characteristics of the logic of images from the Peircean per- spective, with some suggestions as to the logical aspects in such non-diagrammatic images as CO constituents of diagrams.

See Pietarinen b as to the possibilities of placing metaphors within the framework of pictorial logic of diagrams. Bildersprache: Otto Neurath, Visualisierungen. Wien: Facultas. Hintikka, J. Reprinted in Hintikka , — Lingua Universalis vs. Dordrecht: Kluwer. It seems that all goods behave mutually like complementary goods in such a way that only the total picture of the system of goods can serve as the basis of comparison.

This manner of considering the things leads to a conception of political economy and of the social sciences that very much resembles to an organicist theory. We should not proceed in by comparing particular aspects, for instance, first the constitutions, then the climate and so on.

Neurath He interprets all phenomena in their global context. It is impossible to understand them independently of the circumstances, of the whole context in which they appear and eventually ultimately of the cosmic context itself. Moreover, for Neurath, this global conception is closely connected with the rational activity of man, aiming at planned reorganization of the society through education and social engineering inspired by Marxism.

The education is to be the global formation having its aim in the development of all the capacities of an individual.

This does not mean, of course, that a future scientist or engineer should not first have a thorough general instruction in his discipline as well as an informed introduction into general culture. Is Neurath a holist? He surely is if we follow the contemporary usage of the word by Quine and other epistemologists.

But he is not, if we adhere to the original meaning of the term as defined by General Smuts, for whom: holist metaphysics was, a kind of mysticism of universal harmony, similar to Neoplatonism. Neurath opposes the global thinking of science to the mystical holism which he finds in the works of his contemporaries Karl Mannheim, Othmar Spann and of course Oswald Spengler, the target of his Anti-Spengler. Surprisingly, he combines his scientifically oriented holism with nominalism.

Holism, then, but without mysteries, without mysticism and metaphysics. In spite of the preceding quotation of the young Neurath, his global thinking is not an organistic theory like that of Hans Driesch, which admits a force vitale and works with the Aristotelian concept of entelechy. This unexpected combination of global thinking and nominalism does not have its roots in biology, but rather in physics and in social sciences: on one hand, his inspiration comes from Mach and Duhem, on the other hand Marx.

In spite of all the differences among these three authors, they agree in the following substantial points: 1 our concepts depend both on the system to which they belong, and on historical circumstances which gave birth to them, 2 all research develops on the background of wholes which are not directly given, but whose global properties are locally reflected in objects in such a way that through the objects directly aimed at, our concepts reveal the global structures, whether this be social or even cosmic. We cannot get rid of it and, at least in principle, we are obliged to take it into account.

Let us look first on at synchrony. Contrary to the largely widespread image of the positivist collecting isolated facts and believing that the theory will simply follow from them — which is not true even of Auguste Comte — Neurath stresses that all observation, all experiments are saturated by theory. We do not have on one side the ordinary language full of impurities, on the other side the purified language of science.

It is precisely these verbal clusters which make possible the communication possible between the scientists and the engineers who design, produce, install and use the instruments for observation, experiments and measure. If we want to reconstruct the science from the first elements, we cannot but operate with existing theories and material we have at our disposal. We possess no fixed point which may be made the fulcrum for moving the earth; and in like manner we have no absolutely firm ground upon which to establish the sciences.

Our actual situation is as if we were on board ship on an open sea and were required to change various parts of the ship during the voyage. We cannot find an absolute immutable basis for science. Sebestik Let us turn now to consider diachrony. Our language and our theories are rooted in the past, grow out of it. No scientific language is created ex nihilo, and an uninterrupted chain connects the new concepts with the old words and with the words of the common language. Our actual statements about the world are thus related by multiple links to the science of the past.

We have inherited our language from the past generations and the scientific activity develops against the background of ancient habits and usage. Neurath is attentive to global aspects and interconnections in studying historical phenomena: specific forms of behavior, of habits, ideas and convictions characterize each society as well as each person.

These global phenomena are nevertheless not isolated. Neurath stresses the function of each phenomenon and can thus escape to the objection of historicism. His interpretation of the relationship between Protestantism and capitalism is not too far from the functionalism of Malinowski.

Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science | John Symons | Springer

For Neurath, scientific knowledge takes place against the background of common knowledge; it is its systematical conceptual elaboration. On this point, in opposition to the positivist and neopositivist stress on continuity, Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem both emphasize the phenomena of rupture and oppose to positivist and neopositivist stress on continuity the sudden systematical reorganization of scientific theories, which makes the ontological import and the normative character of scientific knowledge conspicuous. Neurath would probably not object to the discontinuist picture of the scientific revolutions, but he always insists on the necessity of using more or less the same language for the needs of communication.

Even a revolutionary scientist like Gallileo must speak a language apt to be understood by his colleagues if he wants to persuade them. Moreover, even in the case of the twentieth-century science, a common if perhaps only fragmentary language must be found for the communication between scientists, designers of instruments and heavy equipment, and the laboratory technicians who use them. Old words acquire a slightly different meaning and new words cannot but be explained by means of old ones.

It is as if a continuous series of slight misunderstandings connected old languages and theories to the new ones. Which are the objects of science? His nominalism, as well as his concern about coherence, should lead to such a conclusion, as well as his concern about coherence. The only warrant of our predictions which remains is the coherence of our statements. Neurath draws the conclusion from his refusal of all metaphysics and ontology: the truth of a scientific theory can be measured only by itself.

Nevertheless, in the Anti-Spengler, Neurath rejects the view held by Mach, according to which the theoretical parts of science are mere auxiliary constructions whose only purpose is just to classify and to connect the data in order to predict future data. For him, to set out a scientific statement means tacitly to use countless other statements as more or less remote premises.

As Duhem taught, the fate of a theory never depends on the approval or rejection of a single statement. How can we then explain innovation, the discovery of a new phenomenon, of a new property? How these can be integrated into actual theories? They all defend themselves jointly against the intruder or the troublemaker, because no statement is shielded 46 J.

Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science) Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)
Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science) Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)
Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science) Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)
Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science) Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)
Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science) Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)
Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science) Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)
Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science) Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)
Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science) Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)
Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science) Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science: 18 (Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science)

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