World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Friedrich Waismann

Friedrich Waismann (21 March 1896 – 4 November 1959) was an Austrian mathematician, physicist, and philosopher. He is best known for being a member of the Vienna Circle and one of the key theorists in logical positivism.


  • Early life and early interest in philosophy 1
  • Relationship with Wittgenstein 2
  • Linguistic philosophy and logical positivism 3
  • Porosity and verifiability 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and early interest in philosophy

Born in Vienna, Waismann was educated in mathematics and physics at the University of Vienna. In 1922, he began to study philosophy under the tutelage of Moritz Schlick, the founder of the Vienna Circle. He emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1938. He was a reader in philosophy of science at the University of Cambridge from 1937 to 1939, and lecturer in philosophy of mathematics at the University of Oxford from 1939 until his death.

Relationship with Wittgenstein

Intermittently, from 1927 until 1936, Waismann had extensive conversations with Ludwig Wittgenstein about topics in philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of language. These conversations, recorded by Waismann, were published in Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle (1979, ed. B.F. McGuinness). Other members of the Circle (including Schlick, Rudolf Carnap, and Herbert Feigl) also spoke with Wittgenstein, but not to Waismann's extent.

At one point in 1934, Wittgenstein and Waismann considered collaborating on a book, but these plans fell through after their philosophical differences became apparent.

Waismann later accused Wittgenstein of obscurantism because of what he considered to be his betrayal of the project of logical positivism and empirically-based explanation.[1] Ultimately the texts for the project, written or just transcribed by Waismann, have been published by Gordon Baker in 2003.[2]

Linguistic philosophy and logical positivism

In Introduction to Mathematical Thinking: The Formation of Concepts in Modern Mathematics (1936), Waismann argued that mathematical truths are true by convention rather than being necessarily (or verifiably) true. His collected lectures, The Principles of Linguistic Philosophy (1965), and How I See Philosophy (1968, ed. R. Harré), a collection of papers, were published posthumously.

Porosity and verifiability

Waismann's concept of open texture, or porosity, has been found in legal philosophy through the writings of H.L.A Hart (See Hart's "The Concept of Law about Rule Skepticism" and Waismann's article "Verifiability".)


  1. ^ Shanker, S., & Shanker, V. A. (1986), Ludwig Wittgenstein: critical assessments. London: Croom Helm,50-51.
  2. ^ The Voices of Wittgenstein, the Vienna Circle, by Ludwig Wittgenstein and Friedrich Waismann, Transcribed, edited and with an introduction by Gordon Baker, London:Routledge, 2003. On page xvii the editor asserts that "Like Ludwig Wittgenstein und der Wiener Kreis, this book is the publication of an important part of Waismann’s Nachlass, and authorship is therefore appropriately ascribed to Waismann."

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.