Carnap, Rudolf

Carnap, Rudolf

biographical name

(born May 18, 1891, Ronsdorf, Ger.—died Sept. 14, 1970, Santa Monica, Calif., U.S.) German-born U.S. philosopher. He earned a doctorate in physics at the University of Jena in 1921. In 1926 he was invited to join the faculty of the University of Vienna, where he soon became an influential member of a group of philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists known as the Vienna Circle. Out of their discussions developed the basic ideas of logical positivism. Carnap immigrated to the U.S. in 1935 and taught at the University of Chicago (1936–52). After two years at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (1952–54), he joined the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles, where he remained until his death. Carnap sought to give the basic thesis of empiricism—that all concepts and beliefs about the world ultimately derive from immediate experience—a precise interpretation, construing it as a logical thesis about the evidential grounding of empirical knowledge. For Carnap, empiricism is the doctrine that the terms and sentences that express assertions about the world are “reducible” in a clearly specifiable sense to terms and sentences describing the immediate data of experience. His major works include The Logical Structure of the World (1928), The Logical Syntax of Language (1934), Introduction to Semantics (1942), Meaning and Necessity (1947), and The Logical Foundations of Probability (1950).

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