Ernst Mach at the Crossroads of Twentieth‐Century Philosophy

Jaakko Hintikka

in Future Pasts

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780195139167
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833214 | DOI:
 Ernst Mach at the Crossroads of Twentieth‐Century Philosophy

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Hintikka questions the principled division between analytic and continental philosophy by arguing that Mach should be considered the century’s most influential philosopher, a giant on whose shoulders thinkers like Wittgenstein, Husserl, and Heidegger subsequently stood. Hintikka notes that Frege’s direct influence on philosophy proper outside of logic and the foundations of mathematics was for a very long time quite minimal. Mach’s wider impact is measured in the great importance to much 20th-century philosophy of the question whether knowledge may be given to us apart from what is conceptualized in thought (in, e.g., pure sense perception, intuition, or the sensory given). Mach’s phenomenalism (or phenomenology) set the agenda, according to Hintikka, for future discussion of this question in philosophy and in physics. Mach’s disputes with Bolzmann about the reducibility to knowledge of sensation affected Einstein. Hintikka argues that both Husserl and the early Wittgenstein embraced phenomenological conceptions of experience and knowledge that were indebted to Mach’s ideas. Heidegger was therefore wrong to insist that phenomenology and phenomenalism are distinct philosophical traditions.

Keywords: Mach; phenomenalism; phenomenology; Wittgenstein; Husserl; sensory given; Bolzmann; origins of analytic philosophy

Chapter.  10088 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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