Archives of Scientific Philosophy: The Rudolf Carnap Papers
363 Hillman Library
3960 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
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Born in 1891 in Ronsdorf, Germany, Rudolf Carnap was educated at the Universities of Freiburg and Jena. He studied mathematics, philosophy, and physics, completing his doctoral thesis, Der Raum, in 1921. Before emigrating to America in 1935, Carnap held positions in Vienna and Prague, where he laid the foundations for his own logical empiricism and participated actively in the discussions of the Vienna Circle. After arriving in the United States, Carnap taught at the University of Chicago until 1952, was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study from 1952 to 1954, and held a position at UCLA from 1954 until his death in 1970.
Carnap made substantial contributions in the areas of constructional theories, physicalism, the epistemological foundations of physics and mathematics, the syntactical structure of language, semantics, modal logic, and probability theory. Throughout his career he stressed the importance of formal analysis as the key to solving philosophical problems.
The Carnap Collection contains some 10,000 pages of letters to and from Carnap, which cover his entire life and career. Since Carnap relied heavily on the mail to discuss important philosophical problems, he corresponded with hundreds of other scholars, among them Feigl, Hempel, Kaufmann, Neurath, and Schlick. A substantial collection of photographs taken throughout Carnap's life depicts him, his relatives, and a number of thinkers with whom he worked closely.
Among Carnap's student notes, perhaps the most interesting come from his seminars with Frege, which were devoted to the Begriffsschrift and the role of logic in mathematics. Also available are Carnap's notes from Russell's seminar at Chicago and notes he took from discussions with Quine, Tarski, Gödel, Hempel, Jeffrey, Heisenberg, and many others.
More than 1,000 pages of lecture outlines used for courses that Carnap taught in Vienna, Prague, and the U.S. trace his development as a teacher. Moreover, the collection includes manuscript drafts and typescripts both for his published works and for many unpublished papers and books. Among his unpublished works there is, for instance, a book entitled Allgemeine Axiomatik (1928). A short report about this research of more than 300 pages appeared in the first issue of Erkenntnis. In addition, two unpublished papers represent first formulations of Carnap's Aufbau. "Quasizerlegung" ("Quasianalysis," 1932, 21 pp.) outlines the analytical methods for defining quality classes, and "Vom Chaos zur Wirklichkeit" ("From Chaos to Reality," 1922, 14 pp.) represents his first attempt at a construction system using more than six basic relations, instead of one as in the Aufbau. Topologie der Raum-Zeit-Welt (Topology of the Space-Time World, 1924) is Carnap's 104-page attempt at a logical reconstruction of the space-time framework of modern physics without using numbers. These are only a few examples of Carnap's many unpublished papers.
Carnap's working library consists of more than 2,000 books and 1,600 issues of periodicals. They range over his entire career and are mostly philosophical. Many are marked with underlining, but material that interested Carnap the most is annotated extensively. These marginalia are of particular interest in Carnap's copies of his own writings, like Logical Syntax of Language and Philosophical Foundations of Probability, and they often refer to notes and discussions elsewhere in the Carnap Collection.
The collection's correspondence and manuscripts measure more than 32 linear feet. They are indexed according to proper names, and limited subject access is afforded by a file folder index, which approximates the order in which Carnap organized his papers during his lifetime. Much material is written in an outdated German shorthand (the Stolze-Schrey system), which Carnap used extensively since his student days. However, transcription of such manuscripts into standard German has been underway for several years, and the curator of the ASP can assist scholars in using sources that have not yet been transcribed.
A small amount of Carnap's correspondence and some personal documents are sequestered. Such items may neither be examined by researchers nor photocopied at this time. Once conditions for de-sequestration have been met, these materials will be available for use.