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Discipline Filosofiche

Rethinking the history of the Vienna Circle

Vol. 35 (1)

Edited by

Massimo Ferrari

Official Call for Paper:

Deadline: Wednesday 15th January 2025

The Vienna Circle was an extraordinarily important crossroads for twentieth-century philosophy, contributing greatly to the emergence of analytic philosophy as one of the main currents of contemporary thought. For a long time, however, the history of the Vienna Circle was little known or even essentially ignored. Reconstructing its origins and investigating its historical-philosophical context is what more recent historiography has attempted to do, enabling to draw a more complex picture than the one suggested by the dominant narrative until the 1980s.
Thanks to the work of scholars such as Friedrich Stadler, Thomas Uebel, Michael Friedman, Alberto Coffa, Elisabeth Nemeth, Matthias Neuber, Cristian Damböck, and Andreas Vrahimis (to name but a few), the Vienna Circle appears to us today as a ‘working collective’ in which different souls and intellectual histories converged and coexisted (not without tensions). The traditional image of the Vienna Circle as the home par excellence of anti-metaphysics, the principle of verification, the rejection of Kant’s philosophy in the name of Russell’s new logic and the linguistic turn prompted by Wittgenstein’s Tractatus has undergone a profound revision. The historical and even political context has proved to be of great importance in understanding the roots of the ‘scientific worldview’; the relations with early twentieth-century German philosophy (especially in the case of Schlick and Carnap) have been the subject of very thorough investigations, which have shown the importance of the Circle’s neo-Kantian roots; a closer look at Neurath’s original but long neglected contribution has allowed to date back to 1920s-1930s Vienna some themes of naturalized epistemology usually associated with Quine’s refutation of logical empiricism; and Wittgenstein’s own influence on the Vienna Circle has been reconstructed in a more nuanced way, in part even downplaying the role of the Tractatus in promoting the ‘turnpoint in philosophy’ proclaimed by Schlick in 1930. In short, the history of the group of scholars who gathered around Moritz Schlick and in 1924 began meeting in Vienna, at Bolztmanngasse 5, to read and comment on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus has been revisited and partly rewritten by going beyond the ‘dogmas’ of the received view. However, there still remain several aspects worth investigating, and in recent years novel results have indeed been achieved along this path, opening up further fronts for investigation. Nor should it be forgotten that access to a vast amount of unpublished material – from the correspondence of Schlick, Carnap, and Neurath to the very recent publication of Carnap’s Tagebücher – has made it possible to follow, as it were, in ‘real time’ what was going on in the meetings of the Circle and the debates that nurtured its history up to the dramatic intellectual emigration to the United States in the second half of the 1930s.
The present issue of Discipline Filosofiche intends to offer a further contribution to the scholarship on the Vienna Circle, in the wake of a critical literature that is now very substantial but also looking for new frontiers worth exploring.

Submission of papers on the following topics is encouraged:
1) the Vienna Circle and the Austrian tradition;
2) the Vienna Circle and the legacy of positivism;
3) the origins of the Vienna Circle in the early 20th century: holism, conventionalism, pragmatism;
4) the political and cultural context of the Vienna Circle;
5) Moritz Schlick: science, ethics, culture;
6) Rudolf Carnap between neo-Kantianism and Lebensphilosophie: at the origins of the Aufbau;
7) Wittgenstein, Waismann and the Vienna Circle;
8) protagonists to be reassessed: Philipp Frank, Edgard Zilsel, Karl Menger;
9) for an anti-foundationalist epistemology: Otto Neurath;
10) the intellectual emigration to the United States and the Encyclopedia of Unified Science.

Guidelines for the authors: Submissions should not exceed 9,000 words including abstract, refer-ences and footnotes. Manuscripts may be submitted in Italian, English, French, German, or Spanish. They must be sent as an email attachment in .doc or .docx format, along with a .pdf version, to Massimo Ferrari (massimo.ferrari@unito.it). Submitted manuscripts will be sent to two independent reviewers, following a double-blind peer review process. The reviewers may ask authors to make changes or improvements to their contributions in view of publication. Authors are kindly requested to attach both an anonymous version of their contribution entitled “Manuscript” and a separate “Cover Page” stating their name, academic affiliation and contact details. Manuscripts must include an English abstract of less than 150 words and 5 keywords. Any property of the file that might identify the author must be removed to ensure anonymity during the review process. A notification of receipt will be issued for each submission. In drafting their text, authors can adopt any clear and coherent style, but should the text be accepted for publication, they will be required to send a final version in keeping with the style guidelines of the journal (please refer to the style guidelines at https://www.disciplinefilosofiche.it/en/norme-redazionali/). Submission of a manuscript is understood to imply that the paper has not been published before and that it is not being considered for publication by any other journal. Should the manuscript be accepted for publication, the author will be required to transfer copyrights to the University of Bologna. Requests to republish the article may be made to the Editorial Board of the Journal.

Deadline for the submission of manuscripts: January 15, 2025
Notification of acceptance, conditional acceptance, or rejection: February 28, 2025
Deadline for the submission of the final draft: April 15, 2025


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