Rudolf Carnap

Rudolf Carnap Biography
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Rudolf Carnap Biography

Rudolf Carnap (May 18, 1891 – September 14, 1970) was born in Ronsdorf, Germany. German philosopher, one of the most important exponents of the Vienna Circle, a philosophical collective formed by Moritz Schlick, in which the philosophers Kurt Gödel and Otto Neurath stood out. Throughout his career, Carnap served as a professor of philosophy in different universities (Vienna and Prague). Before World War II broke out, he moved to the United States, where he continued teaching in Chicago, Princeton, and Los Angeles. For his contributions concerning neo-positivism, the construction of logical systems and discourse analysis is considered one of the most relevant philosophers of the twentieth century.

Early years

Son of Johannes Carnap and Anna Dorpfeld. Carnap was born into a modest German-Western family, which provided him with a good education. He began his academic training at the Barmen Gymnasium. Between 1910 and 1914 he studied philosophy, mathematics and traditional logic at the universities of Jena and Freiburg. While studying at the University of Jena he was a disciple of the mathematician Gottlob Frege, who at that time was known for his studies on mathematical logic, becoming seen as one of the most prominent exponents of his time; Frege’s work profoundly influenced Carnap’s studies.

After the outbreak of the First World War, he entered the University of Berlin, where he continued his philosophical training. Later he obtained his doctorate at the University of Jena with the thesis on the concept of space, which he divided into three types: space physical, intuitive space, and formal space. Since then he began to carry out research in which he addressed topics such as time and causality, and also discussed theories of symbolic and physical logic.

Carnap and the Vienna Circle

Towards the end of the 1920s, he began to work as a professor of philosophy in Vienna, at which time he associated with the Vienna Circle.Philosophical collective founded by the empiricist logical Moritz Schlick, who invited Carnap to participate in meetings and studies of the circle. At that time the group was trying to create a scientific perspective of the world, through which the rigor of the exact sciences could be applied in philosophical theories and their studies, an idea that contrasted with the philosophical approach of the time, which was carried out Verifications based on deductions through an unofficial or strict language, which opened space for any doubts.

In 1929 the circle presented the manifesto The scientific conception of the world: the Vienna Circle, written by Otto Neurath. This showed the signatures of Carnap and Hans Hahn. In the manifesto the circle set out the principles of neo-positivism and its opposition to meaningless metaphysics, emphasizing the importance of verifiability; these approaches were inspired by the work of Wittgenstein Tractatus logico-philosophicus (logical-philosophical treatise).

During this period the philosopher delved into the philosophical problems and the language with which they are addressed. Because these problems derived from the inappropriate use of language, to test this approach he carried out various studies in which he tried to build logical systems that were capable of avoiding ambiguities and misuse of language. In parallel, he focused on analyzing scientific discourse, among the most outstanding works that addressed these themes are: The logical structure of the world (1928), the overcoming of metaphysics through the logical analysis of language (1931) and The logical syntax of the language (1934). Towards the middle of the 1930s, he moved to the United States, motivated by the rise of Nazism in Germany. When he settled down, he began working as a professor at the University of Chicago, an institution where he worked until the early 1950s.

In these years he wrote Investigations in semantics (1942-47), Meaning and necessity (1947) and Logical foundations of probability (1950). In the first two books he studied the formal and conceptual aspect of language and in Logical Foundations of the probability in which he distinguished between statistics and logic, generating important contributions in the field of statistics. Between 1952 and 1954 he taught at Princeton, followed by moving to California where he was hired as a professor at the University of California. He worked until the 1960s.

In the last years of his career, Carnap published Introduction to Symbolic Logic (1954), Philosophy Della Scienza: anthology (1964) and Philo Foundations Of Physics (1966), among others. Throughout his academic career, Carnap defended and promoted the principles of mathematical logic or symbolic logic, through which he tried to create a scientific perspective of the world.

After a long and outstanding academic career Carnap, he died on September 14, 1970, in Los Angeles, California.

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