Quine and the Aufbau: The Possibility of Objective Knowledge

  • Peter Hylton
Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)


From one perspective, Carnap and Quine appear to be rather similar in their preoccupations and their doctrines; seen from another, however, they seem to be diametrically opposed, and on absolutely fundamental issues. The particular point of comparison with which I am concerned here has to do with Carnap’s Aufbau (1928). Quine devotes considerable space to the discussion of that work. A more or less representative passage is as follows:

Russell reflected in 1914 on realizing the dream of empiricist epistemol-ogists: the explicit construction of the external world, or a reasonable facsimile, from sense impressions, hence from simple ideas. He adumbrated it in Our Knowledge of the External World, and a dozen years later Rudolf Carnap was undertaking to carry it out. Carnap’s effort found expression in Der Logische Aufbau der Welt. (Quine 1995, p. 10).


External World Objective Knowledge Perceptual Similarity Observation Sentence Simple Type Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barrett, R. & Gibson, R. (eds) (1990) Perspectives on Quine, Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  2. Carnap, Rudolf (1928) Der Logische Aufbau der Welt, Berlin-Schlachtensee: Weltkreis; translated, by Rolf A. George, as The Logical Structure of the World, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967; second edition (unchanged except for the addition of a new preface), Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag, 1961.Google Scholar
  3. —— (1934) Logische Syntax der Sprache, Wien: Springer; translated, by Amethe Smeaton, as The Logical Syntax of Language, London: Kegan & Paul, 1937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. —— (1936a) ‘Von der Erkenntnistheorie zur Wissenschaftlogik’, Actes du Congrès international de philosophie scientifique, v. 1, Paris: Herman & Cie, pp. 36–41.Google Scholar
  5. Carnap, Rudolf (1936b) ‘Testability and Meaning’, Philosophy of Science, v. 3, pp. 420–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. —— (1963) ‘Intellectual Autobiography’, in The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap, The Library of Living Philosophers, Vol. 11, Paul Schilpp (ed.), LaSalle, IL: Open Court, pp. 3–84.Google Scholar
  7. Friedman, Michael (1999): Reconsidering Logical Positivism, Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Giere, R. & Richardson, A. (eds) (1996) The Origins of Logical Positivism. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. XVI, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  9. Quine, W. V. O. (1953) From a Logical Point of View, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; second edition (revised) 1980.Google Scholar
  10. —— (1969) Ontological Relativity and Other Essays, New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  11. —— (1974) The Roots of Reference, New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  12. —— (1986) Theories and Things, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  13. —— (1995) From Stimulus to Science, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  14. —— (1996) ‘Progress on Two Fronts’, Journal of Philosophy, V. XCIII, pp. 159–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Richardson, Alan (1996) ‘From Epistemology to the Logic of Science: Carnap’s Philosophy of Empirical Knowledge in the 1930s’, in Giere & Richardson (1996), pp. 309–332.Google Scholar
  16. —— (1997) ‘Two Dogmas about Logical Empiricism: Carnap and Quine on Logic, Epistemology, and Empiricism’, Philosophical Topics, v. 25:2, pp. 145–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. —— (1998) Carnap’s Construction of the World, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Russell, Bertrand (1914) Our Knowledge of the External World, (London: Allen & Unwin).Google Scholar
  19. Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1953) Philosophical Investigations, (Oxford: Blackwell).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter Hylton 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Hylton

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations