Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada

the Complete Review
the complete review - diaries

Band 2: 1920–1935

Rudolf Carnap

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Tagebücher Band 2: 1920–1935

Title: Tagebücher Band 2: 1920–1935
Author: Rudolf Carnap
Genre: Diaries
Written: (2022)
Length: 793 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Tagebücher Band 2: 1920–1935 - Deutschland
directly from: Meiner Verlag
  • Edited by Christian Damböck, in collaboration with Brigitta Arden, Roman Jordan, Brigitte Parakenings, and Lois M. Rendl
  • Tagebücher Band 2: 1920–1935 has not yet been translated into English
  • With an Introduction by the editors, and an editorial appendix
  • Includes four facsimile pages of the diaries and forty-eight photographs

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

(--) : impressively assembled and presented, and providing a fascinating glimpse into Carnap's life

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 24/3/2022 Miguel de la Riva

  From the Reviews:
  • "Die zunächst sporadischen, ab 1920 lückenlosen Aufzeichnungen sind eine Quelle, die neue Einsichten in die Geschichte der Philosophie des vorigen Jahrhunderts eröffnen wird. So enthalten die Tagebücher der Wiener Jahre eine tagesgenaue Chronik aus dem Innenleben des Kreises, dessen Debatten Carnap gemeinsam mit Moritz Schlick und Otto Neurath prägte. (…) Carnaps Tagebücher sind indes keine leichte Kost. Sie enthalten keine tiefschürfenden Selbstbetrachtungen oder Lebensmaximen. Ebenso verzichtet ihr Autor auf das Festhalten seiner Gefühle oder Urteile über andere Personen. Selbst philosophische Überlegungen oder Betrachtungen zur Zeit sind in den Tagebüchern nur insoweit enthalten, als sie aus der Wiedergabe von Gesprächen hervorgehen. Stattdessen dokumentiert Carnap in trockenen Sätzen seine Tagesabläufe – von Gesprächen mit Fachkollegen über Urlaubsreisen bis hin zum Sex. Jedem Tag sind wenige Zeilen in Kurzschrift gewidmet, die knapp das Erlebte zusammenfassen. Die Selbstbeobachtung erfolgt dabei gleichsam aus der Perspektive der dritten Person: Notiert wird nur, was auch einem äußeren Beobachter zugänglich oder mitteilbar wäre." - Miguel de la Riva, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       Tagebücher Band 2: 1920–1935 is the second in the planned five volume edition of Rudolf Carnap's diaries and, as the editors note right at the outset in their Introduction, the fifteen years covered here encompass the most significant period of Carnap's intellectual biography. As was the case with volume one, the biographical section of the Introduction again serves as a useful overview and guide to Carnap's life in these years, but much of the diaries here then does go beyond mere supporting material to that, as Carnap mostly does offer a somewhat more detailed record than in the earlier diaries -- and also is a bit more open, both about his personal life and in his opinions.
       During these years, Carnap still traveled a great deal, but he does have several main stations. There is a lengthy stay in Mexico, where his then-still wife's family, the Schöndubes, had holdings, while in the period from 1926 to 1931 he was based in Vienna and then, until 1935, in Prague. This volume concludes with his arrival and first weeks in what would prove to be permanent exile, in the United States.
       For much of this time, Carnap was very much witness to -- and often a participant in -- much of the most significant philosophical work of the time, and he knew and interacted with many of the significant figures in the field. Already one of the first entries has him attending the inaugural lecture (Antrittsvorlesung) by Erwin Schrödinger in Jena, while in 1929 he was witness to what the editors call the "legendary confrontation" between Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer, the 'Davos debate'. (About the debate itself Carnap doesn't say much, but he does sketch his impressions of the two men: "Cassirer, spricht gut, aber doch etwas pastoral. [...] Heidegger, ernst und sachlich, menschlich sehr anziehend" ('Cassirer, speaks well, but somewhat pastorally. [...] Heidegger, serious and matter-of-fact, humanly very appealing').) Carnap was also at the 1930 Königsberg conference (Tagung fur Erkenntnislehre der exakten Wissenschaften) where Gödel read his famous lecture on his first incompleteness theorem -- having revealed the results to Carnap at the Café Reichsrat in Vienna (along with Herbert Feigl and Friedrich Waismann) some two weeks earlier, casually noted by Carnap without going into the significance of Gödel's great leap. (So, too, the lecture then is noted by Carnap as just one among several, including his own.)
       In Vienna, Carnap was closely involved with the Vienna Circle and its members, as well as those around it, including Wittgenstein, Alfred Tarski, and Willard Van Orman Quine. Karl Popper came onto the scene later, but then regularly engaged with Carnap, 'young Ayer from Oxford' (A.J.) first gets a mention when Carnap meets him in London in late 1934 (but Carnap notes that he had visited Vienna, and surely had encountered him there the previous year). (In Prague, Carnap also meets, for example, Roman Jakobson, who expresses interest in some of his work.) Bertrand Russell also looms large -- first as the (co-)author of Principia Mathematica, Carnap enthusiastically noting in 1923 when he receives a shipment of books: "Russells Werke sind da !" ('Russell's works have arrived !') and eventually reviewing it (the second edition, in 1931, in Erkenntnis), and then meeting him, in the fall of 1934 in England and then a year later in Paris (where Carnap notes, inter alia: "Ich berichte über die Ergebnisse von Gödel, die er noch nicht kennt aber interessant findet" ('I report on Gödel's findings, with which he is not yet familiar but which he finds interesting)).
       Carnap at least gives some sense of what he discusses with his fellow philosophers, if mostly only very generally. So also with his own work, he records mainly their progression rather than the evolution of the thought and content itself. Nevertheless, much of this is of interest and helpful in conjunction with the work -- both his and that of others -- familiar from and found elsewhere.
       Of interest, too are the asides and incidents that are less directly connected to the philosophical work, moments such as a visit to the (not quite finished) Wittgenstein-designed house in 1923 ("Starker Eindruck" ('Strong impression') or a tea with the wife of painter Lyonel Feininger, where he mentions: "meine Vermutung, dass das Bedürfnis nach Metaphysik allmählich verschwinden wird" ('my supposition that the desire for metaphysics will eventually disappear'). Carnap is rarely very expansive, but even just some of the mentions of what was discussed are revealing, as when he goes walking with Gödel, in Prague in 1931:

Nachmittags Gödel hier; mit ihm auf den Berg spazieren. Über Hilberts Aufsatz; über Prag; über Sozialismus; Gödel liest Lenin und Trotzki, ist für Planwirtschaft und Sozialismus und interessiert sich für den Mechanismus des Einflusses der Wirtschaft, z.B. des Finanzkapitals, auf die Politik.

[Gödel here in the afternoon; walk with him on the mountain. About Hilbert's essay; about Prague; about socialism; Gödel reads Lenin and Trotsky, favors a planned economy and socialism, and is interested in the mechanism of the influence of the economy, e.g. of finance capital, on politics.]
       There are interesting insights into many of those he deals with, such as the observation about Gödel: "Er denkt scharfsinnig" ('He thinks astutely'), or his impression when he first meets Wittgenstein, in 1927: "Sehr interessanter, origineller, sympathischer Mensch" ('Very interesting, original, sympathetic person') -- despite Wittgenstein being 'vehemently against Esperanto'. (Carnap continues his interest in Esperanto, and attends several Esperanto conferences; only later does he immerse himself -- but then also more intensely -- in learning English.)
       There is also more about and from Carnap's personal life, as his marriage to Elisabeth moves towards divorce. (Later, he will note his 'Eheuntauglichkeit' ('unfitness for wedlock').) Always forthright with one another, he and Elisabeth recognize already in 1923 they're ill-matched: "Wir sprechen über unser verlorenes Abenteuertum. Wir brauchen beide Freiheit" ('We talk about our lost adventurousness. We both need freedom'). Later, he describes a 'last night' with her in 1928, where he notes her words, "Jetzt nimmt wohl der Rudi Abschied von mir" ('I guess now Rudi is taking his leave from me'), a rare occasion of him quoting anyone. An interesting detour also came earlier, when he spent several months with her and her father's family in Mexico. Here there are both nice descriptions of some of what he experienced -- such as going to see a solar eclipse -- and the concern about her father's business-dealings. Elisabeth's father is a real piece of work -- and thinks nothing of having his son-in-law do endless paperwork for him: for quite a while, Carnap devotes a considerable amount of time basically as his secretary ("5 Stunden für Papa getippt" ('Typed for Papa for five hours')).
       The economic situation in Germany does also lead to some financial concerns, though these are rarely at the forefront (or truly desperate -- at least not the extent that he complains much about hardships). But he does admit at one point, in early 1924:
Ich überlege jetzt oft Pläne zum Geldverdienen (Spekulieren in Paris; Feuerversicherungsagentur; Motorradgeschäft mit Albrecht; Schule mit Flitner bei ‡Bondy‡; usw.)

[I now often consider plans to make money (Speculating in Paris; fire insurance agency; motorcycle business with Albrecht; school with Flitner at ‡Bondy's‡; etc.)]
       (Needless to say, these plans went nowhere -- though they are so far-fetched that they do suggest some measure of desperation.)
       The many trips to the dentist he records do suggest considerable issues with his teeth, and there are other health issues he addresses. While he only occasionally mentions his reading her -- though the reading list-appendix does list seven-hundred-odd books he read during this period --, he does mention going to the theater and especially to films, sometimes going to the cinema twice in one day. Numerous films are mentioned, often with (very) short judgements (e.g. 'Good'). And in 1929 he takes his first dance lesson ("Fox, Tango, English Waltz, macht Spaß, wenn auch ohne Musik" ('Fox(-trot), tango, English waltz, it's fun, even if there's no music')). A winter-sports enthusiast, he often goes skiing -- and is quite taken by the ski-jumping he sees on the Semmering ("gewaltig, wie die Kerls daherfliegen" ('tremendous, how the fellows fly through the air')), even if 44 meters (jumped by Dagfin(n) Carlsen, with 'splendid posture' on the large hill) was the best they could do in those days.
       Politics naturally intrude in this time, and there is some discussion of it -- though notably Carnap tends only to record others' (varied) opinions on the states of affairs. He is in Vienna during the July Revolt of 1927, his entry on the 15th reading:
Unruhen in Wien (Erregung der Arbeiterschaft wegen der Freisprechung der Schattendorfer Arbeitermörder; Demonstration, Schießen der Polizei, Justizpalast in Brand, sinnloses Schießen der Polizei in Passanten). Ich bleibe drinnen.

[Unrest in Vienna (Agitation of the working class because of the acquittal of the Schattendorf worker-murderers; demonstration, police shootings, the Palace of Justice on fire, senseless shooting by the police into crowds). i stay inside. ]
       The entry is typical, the significant events presented parenthetically -- and Carnap staying out of it. Not that he was politically disinterested: repeatedly he notes that politics is discussed, with a variety of people, and presumably at these times he has his say -- but he shares almost none of that here. One does, however, certainly get a sense of his increasing unease with the situation in Europe, and his (and others') efforts to find positions in the United States, including in his efforts to improve his English.
       Typical, too, is the scene from among the last entries in these diaries, from the Atlantic crossing -- where he records (only):
Es wird schöneres Wetter. Darum nehmen wir Deckstühle, liegen darin und lesen (englische Dramatik, Hitlers „Mein Kampf“)

[The weather gets nicer. That's why we take deck chairs, lie in them and read (English drama, Hitler's Mein Kampf).]
       There's also a photograph of Carnap reading on deck; Mein Kampf is the last volume on the reading-list for this diary -- the penultimate one having been Brecht's Threepenny Novel (about which he regrettably records nothing).
       (As in the previous volume, the reading list is tantalizing in its depth and variety, and one wishes to know (much) more of what Carnap thought as he read, say, Steppenwolf or Journey to the End of the Night, as he did in 1933.)
       Carnap's relationships with women feature fairly prominently throughout this volume, notably then also with Ina, whom he married in 1933. As the editors note, he was, however, not a very dedicated father, and the children rate surprisingly little mention.
       As in the first volume of the diaries, the apparatus surrounding Carnap's entries is very helpful, from the thorough Introduction to the listings of university-courses Carnap attended and then taught. The selection of accompanying photographs is extensive -- forty-eight of them -- and, of course, the reading-list is fascinating all by itself.
       Though more accessible -- more readable, as it were, -- than the earlier diaries, Tagebücher Band 2: 1920–1935 too remains more secondary reading, supporting material for those looking into the next layer, whether regarding Carnap's work (or that of the Vienna Circle) or his biography. There are rewards for those who simply work their way through it, too -- but it is a great deal of material, and quite a mix of it too. Beyond that, too, it is also simply an impressive work of scholarship and publishing.

- M.A.Orthofer, 17 November 2022

- Return to top of the page -


Tagebücher Band 2: 1920–1935: Rudolf Carnap: Other books by Rudolf Carnap under review: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       Philosopher Rudolf Carnap lived 1891 to 1970.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2022 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links