The Response to the Vienna Circle’s Critique of Metaphysics in the Inter-war Poland

Logical positivism caught considerable attention of variety of philosophical centers in the inter-war Poland. Most notable reactions came from the Lviv-Warsaw School where Viennese philosophy was commented quite early, i.e., before the Circle went public. While the Lviv-Warsaw School philosophers sympathized with the urge to clarity and precision in philosophy, in general they distanced themselves from the Vienna Circle radical anti-metaphysical statement, or even rejected it as too vague or false. Thus, for instance, Kokoszyńska, as well as Ajdukiewicz or Łukasiewicz, pointed to some conceptions of metaphysics in which it was meaningful or even scientific, and Mehlberg identified some non-testable presuppositions of science. Tarski indicated a whole group of problems related to the neo-positivist reconstruction of science (e.g., the question of the universal language or the question of establishing a logical connection between theoretical models and experience), which, if stayed unsolved, would severely affect the conclusiveness of ‘demetaphysicalisation.’ The rejection of metaphysics was discussed (mostly criticized) also outside of the Lviv-Warsaw School by philosophers of science, logicians, non-analytic philosophers, as well as some outsiders. Thus, Chwistek, otherwise a merciless enemy of verbalism in philosophy, asked whether the principle of verifiability was not arbitrary; Ingarden argued that the principle was not applicable to anything, and if it were, it would be false and—as implied by Fleck—harmful for science. The closely related unity of science thesis was criticized from many angles (Witkiewicz, Wiegner). These counters form a quite complex challenge to the rejection of metaphysics and verificational theory of meaning. Since many of these arguments remain unknown or forgotten, I will, firstly, restate them. Secondly, I will examine whether advancing these arguments was justified at the time they were published and if so, whether they were subsequently answered by the Vienna Circle.