A Viennese Library in Exile: Otto Neurath and the Heritage of Central European Culture in the Anglo-Saxon World

  • Friedrich StadlerEmail author
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 336)


Otto Neurath experienced an adventurous as well as dangerous life. Already in his childhood, he was fascinated by his father’s huge library. He was especially impressed by images and illustrations since Ancient times and the French Encyclopédie, which inspired his lifelong dealing with picture language. This became manifest with the founding of his “Social and Economic Museum of Vienna” and the invention of his “Vienna Method of Pictorial Language,” later on renamed ISOTYPE. In the flourishing period of “Red Vienna” he acquired a lot of books in several languages covering his research fields and practical activities as a social reformer, teacher and museologist, philosopher, sociologist and historian of science. With his forced migrations from Vienna and The Hague, this most valuable collection of books and brochures was partly destroyed, dispersed, and aryanized, when Austro-Fascism came into power in Austria and Hitler’s troops invaded into the Netherlands. Luckily, Otto Neurath and some members of his family and collaborators could survive and save parts of this unique collection of books which mirrors the education and intellectual background of the polymath Neurath in Dutch and British exile. Here, he again bought and published books continuing his activities for the Vienna Circle of Logical Empiricism as well as the Unity of Science and the Isotype movements covering some 3000 books in 1945. Three typical case studies from the Neurath library are provided covering economics, philosophy, and literature: Neurath’s annotations in books of Friedrich A. von Hayek, Karl Popper, and the writer Stefan Zweig.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vienna Circle InstituteUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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