The Vienna Roundabout. On the Significance of Philosophical Reaction

Hrachovec, Herbert (1989) The Vienna Roundabout. On the Significance of Philosophical Reaction. Topoi, 6. pp. 121-129.

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There are three sentimental centres of 20th-century philosophical geography: Todtnauberg, Frankfurt and Vienna. Their exceptional status results not only from having given rise to decisive philosophical movements but also from the weight of stories about victimization and exile lacking with regard to Paris, Berkeley and Cambridge. Each of these centres is compromised in its own way: the Schwarzwald cottage from which Heidegger emerged to take over the Rektorat of Freiburg University and to which he returned after this disastrous intermezzo, the "Institut für Sozialforschung" which on its part returned to claim moral authority at a location that increasingly turned into the most important bridgehead of transatlantic logistics, finally the former imperial city where traces of the origins of analytic philosophy were only conserved beneath the enormous sedimentation of a massive counter-reformation. Provincialism, NATO and tourism turned out to be perfectly compatible with remembrance of an heroic epoch at these sites while exiting philosophical work was being done at different locations.

How much weight is carried by impressions like these? Not too much as long as well defined philosophical schools promote progress as defined within their own realm. Some doctrin, established all over the world does not depend on the place at which it is further refined. It is, however, in doubt whether philosophy counts among the disciplines so easily internationalized; Heidegger and Adorno being among those who would insist on the inseparability of a theory's fate and its place of origin. Be this as it may, my subject being the precarious relationship between the city and the Circle of Vienna I have to start from the assumption of obvious incomparability between the roots and the extension of the branches of the movement. Only a decade ago this would have presented itself as a fairly easy task. Historians were coming to this city to save the remnants of the beginnings of the movement whereas Anglo-American philosophers were busy refining the orthodoxy and hardly interested in historical matters. Much has changed since. Firstly the analytic enterprise is in certain ways approaching what can be called closure from within.gif Secondly Austrian universities have (with sometimes considerable delay) taken an interest in what is felt to be a lost opportunity.gif Both of these developments coincided with a more general renaissance of fin de siecle and modernist Vienna. Since the imminent conclusion of any movement reactualizes the circumstances of its beginning, renewed attention was drawn to what was happening within and to the Vienna Circle.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Philosophie > Philosophische Disziplinen > Logik, analytische Philosophie
Philosophie > Philosophische Institutionen > Institut für Philosophie, Wien
Philosophie > Geschichte der Philosophie > g) 20.Jahrhundert
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2020 14:43
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2020 14:43

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