Friedrich Stadler will deliver the Bard Graduate Center Library Lecture on Tuesday, April 10, at 6 pm. His talk is entitled “A Viennese Library in Exile: Otto Neurath and the Heritage of Central European Culture in the Anglo-Saxon World.”

Otto Neurath (1882–1945) lived an adventurous as well as dangerous life. Starting in childhood he was fascinated by his father’s huge library, as described in his posthumous published visual autobiography (2010). He was especially impressed by images and illustrations from ancient times and the French Encyclopédie, which inspired his lifelong dealing with picture language. This became manifest with the founding of his “Social and Economic Museum in Vienna” (1928–34) along with the invention of his “Vienna Method of Pictorial Language,” later renamed the “International System of Typographic Picture Education” (Isotype).

During his study years in Vienna and Berlin the young Neurath extended his interests from history and economics to philosophy, sociology, and literature. In the flourishing period of “Red Vienna” he acquired a large number of books in several languages covering his research fields and practical activities as a social reformer, teacher, museologist, philosopher, sociologist, and historian of science. With his forced migrations from Vienna (1934) and The Hague (1940) this most valuable collection of books and brochures was partly destroyed, dispersed, and Aryanized. But most parts of this valuable library were saved by Neurath’s friends, sent to Marie Neurath in London, and returned by her to Amsterdam after the war. Other parts of the archives were confiscated by the “Amt Rosenberg” during World War II and later on brought to Moscow by the Soviets.

Luckily, Otto Neurath and some members of his family and collaborators survived and saved parts of this unique collection of books. It mirrors the education and intellectual background of the polymath Neurath in his Dutch and British exiles. Here, he again bought and published books continuing his activities for the Vienna Circle of Logical Empiricism as well as the Unity of Science and the Isotype movements. This, second, library covered some 3000 books by 1945.

In this lecture Stadler highlights the dramatic journey and fate of the Otto Neurath Library through some 1400 books which were donated by the Vienna Circle Foundation in Haarlem (NL) to the Institute at the University of Vienna in 1995. This forgotten story is also a representative case study for an intellectual and contemporary history of the twentieth century. Neurath’s unique library remains a symbol for a destroyed and vanished cosmopolitan “republic of scholars.”

Friedrich Stadler is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Vienna, Founder and Head of the Vienna Circle Institute, and Guest Professor and Research Fellow at the Humboldt University Berlin, University of Minnesota, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, and University of Tübingen. He is the author of books on Ernst Mach and the Vienna Circle, editor/co-editor of three book series, author of many articles in the fields of intellectual history, history and philosophy of science, and German and Austrian exile studies, and series editor, volume editor, and author of 650 Jahre Universität Wien (4 vlms., 2015). He is President of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society and was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour of the Austrian Republic (2014), the Honorary Field Memorial Medal Jan Patočka of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (2016), and the George Sarton Medal for History of Science of the University of Ghent (2017).

This event will be livestreamed. Please check back the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.