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PRINT September 2000

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the New Vienna School

THE SO-CALLED VIENNA CIRCLE, which flourished in the years before the Second World War, was an informal association of philosophers and scientists dedicated to the overthrow and eradication of metaphysics, regarded by them as nonsense, portentously disguised. Nonsense was understood as whatever could not be verified empirically. This was the notorious verifiability criterion of meaning, which, they believed, the natural sciences exemplified to perfection. Final solutions, of course, were much in the air in '30s Vienna, and such was the ferocity of the Vienna Circle, whose texts bristled with the weaponry of mathematical logic, that anyone in pursuit of scientific credibility was anxious to purge his discourse of metaphysical taint. The New Vienna School, a constellation of art historians that flourished in the same city at the same time, saw itself as practicing Kunstwissensschaft, the “

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