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## Russell, Bertrand Arthur William

(386 words)

[German Version] (May 18, 1872, Ravenscroft, Monmouthshire – Feb 2, 1970, Plas Penrhyn, Wales), philosopher and political activist, visiting professor in China, Australia, the United States, and Europe, married four times, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. Russell studied mathematics and philosophy at Cambridge; after 1900 he concentrated philosophically on the program of logicism – the attempt to reduce all of mathematics to axioms of logic, at the same time working out its implicat…

## Probability

(716 words)

[German Version] I. Philosophy Objectively, probability is the measure of the chance that a particular event will take place (ontological probability); subjectively, it is the measure of the certainty or credibility of a statement (epistemic probability). The interest in ontological probability arising from decision theory, as in games of chance, led to the mathematical theory of probability (Andrey N. Kolmogorov; Chance). But we must distinguish the logical ( a priori) ¶ probability of throwing a six, namely 1/6, from its empirical ( a posteriori) probability, i.e. its actua…

## Wittgenstein, Ludwig Josef Johann

(1,104 words)

[German Version] (Apr 26, 1889, Vienna – Apr 29, 1951, Cambridge) I. Life Wittgenstein grew up in one of the wealthiest and most cultured families of Austria. After studying engineering in Berlin and Manchester, he studied philosophy with B. Russell and G.E. Moore at Cambridge. His first major work, the Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung, known under the title of its English translation, Tractatus logico-philosophicus ( TLP), made him one of the most innovative and influential philosophers of the 20th century. Published in 1921, it was written during a perio…

(281 words)

[German Version] A necessarily false set of statements contains a logical contradiction (Antinomy). Logical calculuses and theories should generally be free of contradiction (consistent) since, according to traditional logic all kinds of arbitrary conclusions can proceed from a falsehood ( ex falso quodlibet). Aristotle ( Metaph. Γ 1005 b 17–34) formulated the “principle of contradiction (to be excluded)” (which can be interpreted logically, psychologically and ontologically in his thinking) as a fundamental principle of …

## Speech Act

(540 words)

[German Version] Philosophers of language traditionally reflect on the relationship between language and reality along with the truth or falsity of utterances and propositions. Despite some intimations in the work of earlier authors, especially G. Frege (“Der Gedanke,” 1918) and Adolf Reinach (“Die apriorischen Grund­lagen des bürgerlichen Rechts,” 1913), it remained for L. Wittgenstein ( Philosophische Untersuchungen, 1953; ET: Philosophical Investigations, 2001 [bilingual]) and John Langshaw Austin ( How To Do Things with Words, 1962) to formulate the insight that …

## Ryle, Gilbert

(167 words)

[German Version] (Aug 19, 1900, Brighton – Oct 6, 1976, Oxford), philosopher. Ryle taught philosophy at Oxford; together with John L. Austin and L. Wittgenstein, in the mid-20th century he was the most influential exponent of ordinary language philosophy, which maintains that philosophical problems are an expression of linguistic confusions that can be resolved through precise analysis of how the words in question are used in ordinary language. In The Concept of Mind (1949), Ryle saw the dualism of body and mind, in which words like think and believe are treated analogously to go, as a …

## Positivism

(1,549 words)

[German Version] I. General Positivism is an umbrella term for a number of concepts that vary greatly in their specifics and are no longer compatible with each other, notably in epistemology and theory of science, as well as in the philosophy of social science. A definition of Positivism is therefore not possible. However, proponents of Positivism in general share the conviction that all rational knowledge that is relevant to human action (in the form of judgments or assertions) should be intersubj…

## Semiotics

(3,339 words)

[German Version] I. Religious Studies Semiotics, a discipline inaugurated primarily by C.S. Peirce and Ferdinand de Saussure (see II and IV below), is the systematic analysis of signs (Gk σημεῖον/ sēmeíon) and the way the human mind perceives and understands them. A sign in the sense of semiotics can be any present physical or mental entity that is in a position to stand for an entity not present. A sign is constituted by the conjunction of two elements, the signifier and the signified. In religious studies, semiotics examin…

## Vienna Circle

(227 words)

[German Version] self-designation of a group of philosophers (Moritz Schlick, R. Carnap), mathemati-¶ cians with philosophical interests (Hans Hahn, Kurl Gödel), natural scientists (Philipp Frank), and social scientists (Otto Neurath, Edgar Zilsel) at the University of Vienna, who met regularly from 1924 to 1934 for interdisciplinary discussion and debate. Adopting the traditions of Empiricism and Positivism, they shared a distaste for speculative metaphysics and a methodological orientation toward the natur…

## Realism

(4,743 words)

[German Version] I. Philosophy Realism in a given area B means the ontological thesis that names or terms used in a theory of B refer to things that exist independently of human thought. For example, in natural realism the existence of stones, trees, and ¶ tables is assumed; in scientific realism, that of electrons, force fields, and quarks (see V below); in mathematical realism, that of numbers and quantities; or in ethical realism, that of moral values. Critics of realism object, for example, that moral values are an expression of value…

## Doubt,

(549 words)

[German Version] a condition of objection, dismissal, caution or indecisiveness. In cases of practical (and moral) doubt, there is an objection to either a behavior or basic convictions relevant to action, and with religious doubt, to certain religiously motivated convictions as well. Existential doubt about the “meaning of existence” (Dasein) radically calls into question any action orientation (Nihilism, S. Kierkegaard, F. Nietzsche). People will reject or deny a proposition or judgment p if they have good grounds for thinking that p is false and that non- p is …

## Signs

(2,878 words)

[German Version] I. Terminology The term sign usually means something perceptible to the senses that signifies something else, which gives it its specific meaning. In theological and philosophical usage, it differs from the term symbol (Symbols), although the latter is sometimes used synonymously with sign in semiotics and mathematics as well as in logic. While Aristotle used the term σημεῖον/ sēmeíon in various contexts – including his theory of conclusions –,Augustine of Hippo associated the theory of signs more closely with the theory of language (Phi…