[hist-analytic] The Character of Rudolf Carnap

Danny Frederick danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk
Wed Aug 12 14:53:47 EDT 2009

At the risk of raining on the parade, I will draw your attention to a
dissenting voice. The following is from W W Bartley, 'Unfathomed Knowledge,
Unmeasured Wealth,' p.188:

'neither the obstruction nor the plagiarism began in the period of his
[Popper's] fame, but go back to the early days of his career. The first can
already be seen in Carnap's callous refusal in 1936 - when Popper [of Jewish
descent] was attempting to escape Austria for America - even to provide an
affidavit for Popper's US visa application, a refusal privately defended
with the suggestion that Popper was not fit to teach in an American college
or university. [A footnote refers to correspondence between Mrs Carnap and
Mrs Hempel in the Carnap Archive at the University of Pittsburgh.]It is
hardly a matter of there being real doubt - in the minds of Carnap or anyone
else - about Popper's significance. For Herbert Feigl had already confessed
to Popper, early in the 1930s, that it was unfortunate that the Vienna
Circle had not known his work earlier - for they had by then committed
themselves to Wittgenstein.'

Of course, this is quite consistent with the testimonies to Carnap's good
character: no one was saying he was perfect. We all have character blemishes
because we all have to struggle with the defects of our common human nature.
Carnap might still have been exemplary despite this stain (and others).


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