David Edmonds traces the rise and fall of the Vienna Circle—an influential group of thinkers led in the early 20th century by Schlick, who was killed by one of his students. A philosophical movement that sought to do away with metaphysics and pseudoscience in a city darkened by fascism, anti-Semitism, and unreason, the Vienna Circle's philosophy was ultimately deemed a threat by Austro-fascists and the Nazis.
... a lively and accessible introduction to this much written-about group. Rather than plumbing the depths of the Vienna Circle’s work, which is formidably technical, Edmonds mainly explores how its ideas reflected the group’s tumultuous time and place. His research has also uncovered important new biographical information, including about its lesser-known female members ... Edmonds brings to life the volatile political and cultural scene in nineteen-twenties Austria, a small country created after the First World War out of the German-speaking lands of the former Habsburg Empire.
David Edmonds has written an absorbing book on the group of (mostly but not entirely) men who took it upon themselves to try to determine what is knowable, including exploring how we can say there is such a thing as knowledge ... Edmonds’s professionally researched study documents not only the philosophical problems the group addresses, but also the fates of these towering intellects, driven far from Vienna by traumatic events. Ideas have consequences, despite the modest limits academic discourse seems to place on them. And it is the resonance of this point that makes The Murder of Professor Schlick so fascinating and relevant now.
... [an] engrossing and eminently readable history of the Circle ... Edmonds clearly believes the contribution of the members of the Vienna Circle to philosophy has been benign. However, they never really offered any compelling grounds for dismissing all forms of metaphysical speculation as meaningless without any basis in fact or value. Unmentioned by Edmonds is the rigorously argued-for form of theism contemporaneously articulated in Vienna by Franz Brentano ... Brentano more permanently influenced a second eminent Viennese Jewish intellectual of the same period whose body of thought was equally at odds with Logical Positivism, but who receives only the most cursory of mentions in Edmonds’s book. This was the economist Ludwig von Mises. His small-government proclivities, shared coincidentally by Schlick, found favour with another Viennese economist, Friedrich Hayek, who in turn profoundly influenced the political thought of Karl Popper. As much as anyone, it is these three Viennese thinkers, of whom two were Jews, who have helped keep the economies of Britain and America as business-friendly as they still are.