More than an Analogy: Rudolf Carnap and Theodor Adorno on Music and Philosophy

Trevor Pearce


Philosophers frequently quote Rudolf Carnap’s critiques of metaphysics, but few have investigated his claim of a parallel between metaphysics and music.  A similar parallel appears in the work of Theodor Adorno, a figure much more familiar to musicologists.  Unbeknownst to many music scholars, however, the biographies of Adorno and Carnap intersect in many significant ways.  Each became the foremost intellectual emissary of a cutting-edge philosophical movement in the second quarter of the twentieth century, and Adorno’s Institut für Sozialforschung Frankfurt frequently crossed paths with Carnap’s Verein Ernst Mach in Wien.  Both of these groups launched flagship journals in the 1930s, with Carnap co-editing the journal Erkenntnis and Adorno contributing articles to the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung.  The first issue of the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung contained a review of Empirische Soziologie (1931), a book by Otto Neurath, a founding member of the Vienna Circle.

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