What is Logical Positivism, Logical Positivism?

What is Logical Positivism, Logical Positivism?

June 29, 2021 Off By Felso

Logical positivism, also known as logical empiricism, scientific empiricism, Vienna School or Vienna Circle, and neo-positivism, is a philosophy movement that emerged in the Vienna School, formed by Moritz Schlick’s students in Austria in the 20th century.

Logical positivism names the philosophical thought systems of philosophers called the Vienna Circle.

Logical positivism is the continuation of the positivism that became evident in the late 19th century by reevaluating. Although its effect was lost later, it was very influential in the philosophy of the 20th century and gained a decisive position in the debates on science and philosophy.


As it is known, positivism is an approach based on empiricist understanding of knowledge and accepting the source and validity of knowledge based on facts based on experiments and observations.

Moritz Schlick (middle and front) and his students.

The source of knowledge is not only sensory data, but also laws are formed by generalizations reached by an inductive method from these sense data, and these laws are the laws necessary for the explanation of a certain event and phenomenon in positivist thought. Knowledge originates from the external world and in this sense is subject to external reality; Accordingly, there is a correspondence relationship between knowledge and reality.

When it comes to logical positivism, it is seen that the fields of language and logic come to the fore. In this sense, logical positivism maintains the scientific/scientific assertive philosophical status of positivism.

Logical positivists, denying the non-experimental nature of philosophy and declaring it metaphysics, claim to put philosophy on the right basis for themselves. Science and philosophy are handled as two separate departments and the task of philosophy is determined as language.

According to logical positivism, philosophy should be limited to language analyses, and it is responsible for making explanations on the propositions on which we express the facts based on them and on the linguistic contexts of these propositions. This view is particularly evident in the approach in which Wittgenstein is regarded as a logical positivist.

From these, logical positivism undertakes to fulfill a dual task; firstly, the theoretical purification of metaphysical and theological elements in the scientific understanding of the world, and secondly, to give philosophy a scientific character.

Wittgenstein is one of the most influential philosophers of the philosophy of language.

It is possible to put forward the basic philosophical problem or position of logical positivism in the context of meaning and meaninglessness. Accordingly, meaningful propositions are propositions determined by their verifiability.

The concept of verification is of fundamental importance to these philosophers, because it is this verification process that determines whether a linguistic statement is correct and, accordingly, meaningful. In a sense, Schlick, who is considered to be the pioneer of this current of thought, states that the meaning of a proposition is its verification method.

The priority in verification is sensory data, that is, data obtained by experiment and observation. Thus, for the logical positivists, anything that is not verifiable is meaningless, that is, metaphysical.

Meaningless propositions are of two kinds:

The first ones are the ones that are meaningless even though they are correct in terms of sentence structure (absolute, nothingness, unconditional, actual, etc. sentences whose structure is correct but not verifiable in meaning).
The second type are those that are meaningless in terms of sentence structures (sentences such as birds are vegetables).

Propositions that are stated and denied metaphysically are essentially propositions of the first kind. These are pseudo-problems because they are meaningless, outside the field of experimentation and observation.

Logical positivism accepts synthetic propositions and logical propositions, but sets the task of philosophy as analyzing metaphysical propositions. Metaphysics must be purged from philosophy and a scientific understanding of the world must be revealed.

The philosophical theses of logical positivism are developed through these two basic approaches. The scientific understanding of the world approach also has a dual character; Depending on what has been said above, these are, first, that knowledge is based on facts based on observation and experimentation, and secondly, it occurs with a precise logical analysis.

Scientific activity, at this point, is to analyze and present experimental data through logical analysis.


This new positivist view, which argues that scientific knowledge is possible only with the logical analysis of science, is the work of Carnap, Otto Neurath, Reichenbach, Hans Hahn, A.J. Ayer, Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Weismann, Moritz Schlick, Ludwig Wittgenstein reduced scientific knowledge to logic analysis.

This understanding developed by the Vienna school, the Berlin school, and the American neo-positivists is actually a positivist combination of the subjective thoughtism initiated by Berkeley and Hume and continued by Ernst Mach and Richard Avenarius.