Book: Exact Thinking in Demented Times (Sigmund)

Karl Sigmund, Exact Thinking in Demented Times: The Vienna Circle and the Epic Quest for the Foundations of Science, New York, NY: Basic Books, 2017.

Sigmund tells a riveting story about the intellectual vortex of ideas and thinkers centered on Vienna in early years of the 1900s, and how those thinkers survived (or in many cases, did not survive) those years of increasing violence and persecution, climaxing with World War II.

Attempting to establish firm foundations for the new “scientific worldview” was an extremely future-focused activity, not to say visionary. Participants in the Vienna Circle — overwhelmingly male — were aiming at nothing less than the intellectual reform of humanity. To an astonishing degree, when one looks at the various threads of impact that ultimately radiated out of Vienna and into the world, from the interpretation of the implications of Einstein’s breakthroughs, to the development the fundamental mathematical theory behind the design of computers, to the invention of the use of infographics for public education, and more, they succeeded.

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