Isaiah Berlin om den logiska positivismen

Isaiah Berlin, Flourishing. Letters 1928—1946, Chatto & Windus, London, 2004, s. 160.

Brev till Mary Fisher, 23 mars 1936.

My days have chiefly been spent in working honestly at Marx, and elaborating propositions against Logical Positivism (such as that all inductive propositions, acc. to Carnap, must be either tautologies or self-contradictions, which pleases me frightfully).

Från Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

By the time he began teaching philosophy he had joined a new generation of rebellious empiricists, some of whom (most notably A. J. Ayer) embraced the logical positivist doctrines of the Vienna Circle and Wittgenstein’s earlier writings. Although Berlin was always sceptical towards logical positivism, its suspicion of metaphysical claims and its preoccupation with the nature and authority of knowledge strongly influenced his early philosophical enquiries. These, combined with his historical bent, led him back to the study of earlier British empiricists, particularly Berkeley and Hume, on both of whom he lectured in the 1930s and late ’40s, and about both of whom he contemplated writing books (never written).


Berlin’s conception of philosophy was shaped by his early exposure to, and rejection of, both Idealism and logical positivism. With the former he associated a too exalted view of philosophy as the ‘queen of the sciences’, capable of establishing fundamental, necessary, absolute and abstract truths. With the latter he associated the reductionist and deflationary view of philosophy as, at best, a handmaiden to the natural sciences, and at worst a sign of intellectual immaturity bred of confusion and credulity.

En artikel i History of Political Thought som verkar intressant: ”From Logical Positivism to ‘Metaphysical Rationalism’: Isaiah Berlin on the ‘Fallacy of Reduction'”

Popper om ”uninterpreted data”

Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, Routledge Classics, 2004, s.520:

“That those experiences which we call ‘perceptions’ are interpretations – interpretations, I suggest, of the total situation in which we find ourselves when ‘perceiving’ – is an insight due to Kant. It has often been formulated, somewhat awkward, by saying that perceptions are interpretations of what is given to us by our senses; and from this formulation sprang the belief that there must be present some ultimate ‘data’, some ultimate material which must be uninterpreted (since interpretation must be of something, and since there cannot be an infinite regress). But this argument does not take into account that (as already suggested by Kant) the process of interpretation is at least partly physiological, so that there are never any uninterpreted data experiences by us: the existence of these uninterpreted ‘data’ is therefore a theory, not a fact of experience, and least of all an ultimate, or ‘basic’ fact.”

Väldigt slagkraftigt, även om slutklämmens terminologi känns lite slipprig. (Not: jfr. Deweys kritik av Russell)