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Moritz Schlick

Philosopher and Scientist.

Friedrich Albert Moritz Schlick listen (help·info) (April 14, 1882 – June 22, 1936) was a German philosopher, physicist and the founding father of logical positivism and the Vienna Circle.

With the rise of the Nazis in Germany and the Austrofascism in Austria, many of the Vienna Circle's members left for America and the United Kingdom. Schlick, however, stayed on at the University of Vienna. When visited by Herbert Feigl in 1935, he expressed dismay at events in Germany. On June 22, 1936, Schlick was ascending the steps of the University for a class when he was confronted by a former student, Johann Nelböck, who killed Schlick with a pistol. The court declared Nelböck to be fully compos mentis, he confessed to the act, was detained without any resistance, but was unrepentant. The delinquent used the judicial proceedings as a chance to present himself and his ideology in the public. He claimed that Schlick's anti-metaphysical philosophy had "interfered with his moral restraint". In another version of the events, the murderer covered all political causes up and claimed, that he was motivated by jealousy over his failed attachment to the female student Sylvia Borowicka, leading to a paranoid delusion about Schlick as his rival and persecutor. Nelböck was tried and sentenced, but the event became a distorted cause célèbre around which crystallized the growing nationalist and anti-Jewish sentiments in the city. (The fact that Schlick was not actually Jewish did not seem to matter to propagandists capitalizing on the crime.) After the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938 the assassin was released on license after serving 2 years of a 10 year sentence.


1.) "Positivists did not merely reject religious discourse as meaningless, they rejected religion. They thought of religious belief as confused and nonsensical. ...their unofficial leader, Moritz Schlick, thought of religion as a kind of childhood phase in the intellectual development of humankind, a phase that will wither and become obsolete as scientific ways of knowing become the accepted paradigm. To this extent, one can say that Schlick's attitude and that of most of his fellow Positivists was atheistic." William James DeAngelis, Ludwig Wittgenstein - A Cultural Point of View: Philosophy in the Darkness of This Time, page 172.

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