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Eino Kaila in Carnap's Circle

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Eino Kaila in Carnap's Circle
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  ”Eino Kaila 120 years”, University of Helsinki, 2 September 2010 Eino Kaila in ”Carnap's Circle”  Juha Manninen 1. Eino Kaila published in Finnish the book on  Human Knowledge: What it is and what it is not  in 1939. A Swedish translation by Georg Henrik von Wright appearedimmediately afterwards. The book was conceived as a systematic introduction tological empiricism, and in fact it had that function, especially in the two countries inwhich it could most easily be read. It was influential for many decennies and pawedthe way for what was later known as analytic philosophy, a dominating trend in the Nordic Countries. Still in 1979, von Wright commented that ”it was and still is, Ithink, the best of its kind”.Rudolf Carnap was able to read the book in Swedish, though not without difficulty.Finland was soon attacked by the Soviet Union, following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Stalin's and Hitler's states, but defending herself succesfully. Rudolf Carnap wrote to Kaila a letter from Chicago on 15 January 1940:”Seit dem Augenblick, in welchem Finnland in die tragischen Ereignisse in Europamit-hingerissen wurde, habe ich sehr viel an Sie gedacht. Wir verfolgen hier dieVorgänge mit lebhafter Anteilnahme. Die Zeitungen berichten täglich ausführlichüber Finnland, und nicht nur wir Europäer, sondern auch alle Amerikanern sind einigin ihrer Sympathie für Ihr Land. Als Sie ihren Brief vom 12. November schrieben,waren Sie noch im friedlichen Helsinki und ich weiss jetzt nicht, wo Sie inzwischensind. […] Wenn ich die Zeitungsberichten lese und Bilder vom zerstörten Helsinkisehe, werden lebhafte Erinnerungen wieder wachgerufen an die Zeit, wo ich in Ihrer schönen Stadt, in Wiborg, in Sortavala, auf der Insel Valamo, am Imatra und anderenStellen Finnlands gewesen bin und Ihr schönes Land liebgewonnen habe. […] ...ichhoffe dringend und wünsche Ihnen und Ihrem Lande vom Herzen, dass doch in nichtallzuferner Zukunft ein Friede geschlossen wird, der Finnland seine Unabhängigkeitsichert.”Finland was able to preserve her independency and democracy, without occupation by the great initially allied and then opposed states that rushed into the war, or by  anybody else, but not without a complicated history during the ensuing World War II,including Finland's losses of land areas for the overwhelmingly great neighbour in theEast, among them some of those mentioned by Carnap in his reminiscences about histourism in connection with an Esperanto conference early in the Twenties in Finland'sfrequently used holiday resort and actually very international Terijoki, quite near theRussian St. Petersburg, as the metropol is now again called.Carnap's main comments, however, concerned Kaila's book and its worth in general,and, of course, some problematic details of it. As his overall judgment andsuggestion, apparently commenting Kaila's lost letter, Carnap wrote:”Ich danke Ihnen herzlich für die Zusendung. […] Ich fand das Buch hier vor, als ichEnde Dezember nach Chicago zurückkam. Wir waren einige Monate in Florida, woich an einem stillen Ort an der Semantik gearbeitet habe. Da das Lesen desSchwedischen mich doch immerhin allerhand Zeit und Mühe kostet, habe ich Ihr Buch nicht ganz lesen können. Ich habe die Hauptabschnitte durchgesehen und vor allem den Abschnitt, auf den Sie mich hingewiesen haben, genau gelesen. Ich habeden Eindruck, dass das Buch sehr gut als Einführung in die Auffassungen desEmpirismus eignet und würde mich freuen, wenn es in English erscheinen würde. Ich begrüsse besonders auch, dass Sie vielfach den historischen ZusammenhängenAufmerksamkeit widmen. Für viele Leser wird das sehr erwünscht sein, denn inunseren bisherigen Veröffentlichungen kommt das historische ja meist zu kurz.Wie es mit der Frage einer Veröffentlichung vom geschäftlichen Gesichtspunkt desVerlages aus steht, besonders unter den jetzigen erschwerenden Umständen, kann ichim Augenblick nicht beurteilen. Unter normalen Verhältnissen würde ich denken,dass das Buch sich gut für unsere  Library for Unified Science eignet, die in Hollandverlegt wird. Ich werde Neurath schreiben, dass er diese Frage mit dem Verleger  besprechen soll. Sie schreiben, dass Sie in diesem Falle das Werk umarbeitenmöchten. Können Sie augenblicklich abschätzen, ob Sie in naher Zukunft hierzu Zeitfinden würden, falls der Verleger das Buch herausbringen will, und wie lange Sieetwa dazu brauchen würden? Vielleicht können Sie über diese Frage an Neurathdirekt schreiben oder ihm einen Durchschlag Ihres Briefes an mich schicken, damitnicht zuviel Zeit verloren geht.” Nothing came of these suggestions. Holland was soon occupied by German troops. Neurath, the editor and organizing spirit, escaped over the Channel with his secretaryMaria Reidemeister (later Neurath) to England, in a last boat. And much else inEuropean history went horribly, but it did not move anything in Kaila's book on  human knowledge, an extraordinary presentation in a dark age. Carnap, of course,could not help making a few corrections to Kaila's book, for instance concerning thedisposition concepts, pointing to difficulties in the formulation of natural laws, etc.Only now we are happy to have the book in an English translation by AnssiKorhonen.In what follows, I will throw some light on the prehistory of the book. Ten yearsearlier here was an intensive period in the communication between Carnap and Kailain what could be called ”Carnap's Circle” in Vienna. How did it come about? Whathappened and what it meant for the persons engaged in it? I will restrict my attentionto this single series of events and to what needs to be said around it.2. On 1 March 1923, Kaila sent a letter to Hans Reichenbach. He had foundreferences to them in Reichenbach's book   Relativitätstheorie und Erkenntnis Apriori (1920), and, after having found the book fascinating and important for his own philosophical concerns, he was asking for reprints of certain publications on probability. This led to an exchange of letters and publications, though Kaila was ableto meet Reichenbach personally only much later in Berlin. One year later Kaila published his first study of this topic  Der Satz vom Ausgleich des Zufalls und das Kausalprinzip (1924), followed by  Die Prinzipien der Wahrscheinlichkeitslogik  (1926). In addition to Reichenbach's contributions and more general reading, thecritical discussion in the first book was heavily influenced by a Viennese dissertation,Edgar Zilsel's  Das Anwendungsproblem (1916). Only in the second book Kaila wasusing  A Treatise on Probability (1921) by J. M. Keynes. A devastating critique of  both of Kaila's books followed by Herbert Feigl in his dissertation  Zufall und Gesetz (1927), presented for Moritz Schlick in Vienna.In a letter to Reichenbach on 12 January 1928, Kaila expressed his delight over Reichenbach's return to the problems of probability. His judgment about his ownattempts was now as follows:”Das Problem der Grundlegung der allgemeinen Wahrscheinlichkeitstheorie ist m. E.die wichtigste Angelegenheit der gegenwärtigen Erkenntnislehre, und ich muss bekennen, dass soviel ich auch über die einschlägigen Fragen nachgedacht habe, ichzu keinem recht befriedigenden Ergebnis gekommen bin. Der 'naturphilosophische'Weg, den ich – in engem Anschluss an Ihre Auffassung – in meiner früheren Schriftversuchte, scheint mir jetzt deshalb unbefriedigend, weil die Prinzipien der Wahrscheinlichkeit – als logische Prinzipien – doch in jeder Welt gültig sein müssen  und deshalb von der Wirklichkeit nichts präjudizieren dürfen; wenn etwa der Ausgleich des Zufalls in irgendeiner Welt nicht bestünde, so würde man freilichvielleicht keine Naturgesetze aufstellen können; gewisse Wahrscheinlichkeitssätzewürden aber wohl auch in jener Welt möglich sein. Ich versuchte deshalb in meiner zweiten Schrift den rein logischen Weg, muss aber zugeben, dass ich auch das bescheidenste Mass der erforderlichen Exaktheit nicht erreicht habe und dass – wieich nachträglich bemerkt habe – gewisse Formen von allgemein anerkanntenWahrscheinlichkeitssätzen auf dem von mir eingeschlagenen Weg sehr schwer  begründbar sind.”Meanwhile, in the process of writing the second book, Kaila clarified his conceptionof empiricism, actually ”logical” empiricism, as he now called it. This time hisinterest was aroused by Moritz Schlick's writings and by the friendly letters Schlick sent to him. Empirical research as such was not foreign to Kaila. His doctoraldissertation Über die Motivation und die Entscheidung  (1916) had been anexperimental study in the vicinity of the Würzburg School of thought psychology andhe kept publishing experimental research especially in the journal of the Berlin Gestalt  -psychologists. As a professor of philosophy at the University of Turku he wasresponsible for psychology too, and in fact founded the first psychological laboratoryin Finland.In his review of Ernst Cassirer's book on Einstein's relativity theory, Schlick hadwritten with great emphasis: ”[...] the epistemological motive which (rightly or wrongly) led Mach and Einstein in the postulate of relativity of all motion, was the principle that differences in reality may be assumed only where there are differenceswhich can, in principle, be experienced  . This fundamental role has often beenenunciated, even by such metaphysicians as Leibniz, with whom it actually appearsin two forms, namely as the principle of the identity of the indiscernibles, and as the principle of observability (Cassirer also introduces it in the latter form [… but it isstill a large step from stating the rule to a consistent upholding and enforcement of it.Yet if the principle is recognized and evaluated in its true significance, it can, I believe, be elevated to the supreme principle of all empirical philosophy, to theultimate guideline which must govern our attitude to every question of detail, andwhose ruthless application to all special problems is an exceedingly fruitful procedure.”Kaila quoted and explained further this passage in the final chapter of his  Die Prinzipien der Wahrscheinlichkeitslogik  , where he called it the principle of   observability ( das Prinzip der Erfahrbarkeit  ). In a paper in Finnish from the sameyear as the book Kaila was very explicit in his summarizing formulation:” Scientific thinking is predominated by the '  principle of verification ' which states thatevery statement about reality must imply something definite about experience whichis a ground for the truth or the probability of that statement. Thus, either such astatement must express something about the content of experience itself (likestatements of psychology and in a way historical sciences), ot if the real of humanobservability is transcendent in such a statement (as in the assumption of electrons),this statement must logically imply that in such and such circumstances this and this will be observed  . As the logic of probability shows, the validity of the principle of verification is absolute; it is also self-evident, since we know something about realityonly through our own experience, and we have no possibility to assess the truth or  probability of such a statement which not only transcends the realm of humanexperience but also implies nothing about it.”At this stage, Kaila believed that factual knowledge is a system of probabilisticsentences, based on the immediately given, on the hic et nunc , a ”logical function” of it in the described sense. A radical ” logical  empiricism” was opposed to the classical”  psychologistic empiricism”, deriving ”ideas” from ”impressions”, etc.: ”Wir werdennur nach logischen Gründen, d.h. nach  sachlichen Relationen , nicht nach psychologischen und genetischen Relationen fragen […].” The object of this studywas not thought, but the products of thought.Kaila's verificationism was very near the one that Rudolf Carnap would publish in his Scheinprobleme der Philosophie (1928), but the presuppositions on the backgroundand the philosophical conclusions were different. Both of these, again, were broader than the strict one which Ludwig Wittgenstein would teach to Moritz Schlick andFriedrich Waismann in their discussions on the Christmas vacation of 1929: ”[...]wenn ich den Sinn des Satzes nie vollständig verifizieren kann, dann kann ich mitdem Satz auch nichts gemeint haben.” And: ”Wo verschiedene Verifikationenvorliegen, liegen auch verschiedene Bedeutungen vor.” The first published exampleof this strict verificationism can be found in Waismann's paper on the logical analysisof probability, allegedly presented at the Prague conference, September 1929: ”[...]der Sinn eines Satzes ist die Methode seiner Verifikation.” But Waismann had plentyof time to finalize his paper before it was published in the  Erkenntnis .Kaila's empiricism denied the possibility of metaphysics, but on the other hand itrejected all positivism, any merely descriptive approach to the given in contrast to
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