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The Vienna Circle and Logical Positivism


Admission requirements

BA knowledge of epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, and logic.


Philosophy is commonly thought of as the work of Einzelgänger. The Vienna Circle, under the leaderschip of Moritz Schlick, constituties a remarkable exception. Here a common view of science and philosophy was pursued as a collaborative effort in a spirit of great optimism. In the course, a number of the central figures and their articles will be studied: Moritz Sclick, Rudolf Carnap, Otto Neurath, Friedrich Wasimann, Carl Hempel, and others. Also the relation to the Viennese philosophers Popper and Wittgenstein will be considered, as well as to a number of other well-known philosophers (Ayer, Quine).

Three quarters of a century after its collapse with the murder of Schlick and the exodus of its members after the Austrian Anschluss, the Vienna circle is no longer contemporary philosophy, but has become part of the history of philosophy. Much interesting historical work has been carried out in recent years by Michael Friedman and others.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Timetables Master’s Programmes 2010-2011

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Active, well-prepared particpation during the course

  • Term paper

  • Take-home exam (possibly)


Reading list

Every week a central Vienna Circle article or historical study will be read. In the second half of the course the articles will be chosen in order to reflect the interests of participants.
Master copies will be available at the Philosophical Institute (secretarial office).


Please register for this course on uSis. See registration procedure

Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm:


Specialisation: History and Philosophy of the Sciences