A second appraisal
new French literature on logical empiricism
In recent years, one can discern an increasing interest in the philosophy of the Vienna Circle and logical empiricism in France, an interest that is vividly testified by the mere fact that three books on the subject have appeared in a single year. Before addressing them one by one, let me give a brief overview of the history of this reception. After a long time of ignorance, renewed interest in this philosophical movement slowly began already in the 1980s, when the first books appeared, mainly those by Pierre Jacob (1980) and Antonia Soulez (1985). Till the seventies French philosophy of science not only ignored logical positivism, but often consciously rejected it. Different reasons can be given for this attitude. A first phase of reception initiated in the thirties by the two Congresses for the Unity of Science in Paris (1935 and 1937) was interrupted by World War II and did not continue afterwards. After the Second World War, French philosophy of science was dominated by a historically oriented "épistemologie" highly critical towards the logical reconstructions and the ahistoric attitude of analytic philosophy. Following Auguste Comte, philosophers like Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem analyzed science through a historical reconstruction of the products of science and refused to suppose a unified scientific method that could explain scientific rationality, and they ignored the instruments of modern logic. In their books, we find only some negative remarks about logical positivism without any substantive confrontation with this philosophy or its later analytic developments. In the sixties, this negative attitude towards logical positivism was fueled by the usual political clichés against "positivism," especially by Marxist philosophers such as Louis Althusser who was strongly influenced by the "épistemologie" of Bachelard.
Limbeck-Lilienau, C. (2007)., A second appraisal: new French literature on logical empiricism, in E. Nemeth, S. W. Schmitz & T. Uebel (eds.), Otto Neurath's economics in context, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 183-195.
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