Document (#24720)

Author
Breitenstein, M.
Title
From revolution to orthodoxy : an evolutionary history of the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science
Source
Knowledge: creation, organization and use. Proceedings of the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science, 31.10.-4.11.1999. Ed.: L. Woods
Imprint
Medford, NJ : Information Today
Year
1999
Pages
S.783-797
Series
Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science; vol.36
Abstract
The approach of the new millennium inclines us to reflect backward on earlier influences in information science and technology. Among them are Otto Neurath (1882-1945), an educator, sociologist, and scientist of the early 20th century; and the Vienna Circle, an innovative group of scientists and philosophers. Neurath was the Circle's cofounder, chief propagandist and tireless motivator. His modern vision of scientific communication as a salutary unifying force in the quest for utopian social reform was revolutionary in its time. He shared ideas with Albert Einstein, Kurt Gödel, Rudolph Carnap, and others whose names and ideas still resonate today. The Circle's thoughtful progress towards modern scientific inquiry laid the groundwork for scientists such as Willard van Orman Quine, Thomas Kuhn, and Karl Popper. In a time of social and economic upheaval in Germany, these scientists were motivated by utopian ideals of social reform and free expression. Encyclopedism, logical positivism, Viennese culture, and Neurath's vision culminated in the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, the idea of which was kept alive while its contributors were moving across Europe to escape Nazi persecution. Neurath's radical vision of a unified scientific world, of an enlightened and empowered populace, and of the historically grounded values of empiricism, made him a prescient voice in modern philosophy of science and society. The International Encyclopedia of Unified Science records an incomplete dream of unified scientific thought, and the revolutionary ideas that now comprise the orthodoxy of positivist science of an earlier time

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