The present book aims at clarifying which of Neurath’s ideas remain of relevance today and how these are interrelated. The method chosen is to elucidate their biographical and general historical background and to put them into the framework of the academic and political controversies of their time. This contextual approach yields results that are not just of antiquarian interest. It also enables the reconstruction of the theoretical thrust and continuing practical relevance of a thinker whose ideas were obscured by the catastrophes of the twentieth century. Neurath wanted to demonstrate by his own work in economics that scientific thinking always offers a number of different alternatives and that one must proceed towards applications in full awareness of this fact. In this respect, Neurath’s thought is unusually demanding.
With perplexity in political and intellectual life becoming ever more widespread as the twenty-first century progresses, it strikes us as very useful to step back and reconstruct a type of thinking in the social sciences that goes back to the discussion on the big conflicts of the twentieth century but which does not accept as inescapable the intellectual alternatives seemingly cemented in these conflicts.
The book is structured so that it first addresses the question why the study of Neurath’s contributions to economics in the context of his time is a worthwhile endeavour today. After all, the overwhelming majority of today’s economists regard his contributions as out-dated and largely irrelevant for the continuing development of their discipline.
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