Exact Thinking in DeMented Times (Hardcover)

The Vienna Circle and the Epic Quest for the Foundations of Science

By Karl Sigmund, Douglas Hofstadter (Preface by)

Basic Books, 9780465096954, 480pp.

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

December 2017 Indie Next List

“When the heirs of physicists and philosophers Ernst Mach and Ludwig Boltzmann came together in Vienna, little did they realize that their intellectual enterprise would figure so greatly in the annals of history and science. Over the years, the group, corralled by Moritz Schlick and Hans Hahn, grew to include such names as Kurt Godel, Karl Popper, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Sigmund provides a vivid account of the personalities involved in these debates on the philosophy of science and whether philosophy belongs in science, and breathes new life and energy into this important time period. In this extremely readable and accessible volume, Sigmund's familiarity with the Vienna Circle makes for fascinating observations about the people who made this part of science history possible.”
— Raul Chapa, Book People Bookstore, Austin, TX
View the List


A dazzling group biography of the early twentieth-century thinkers who transformed the way the world thought about math and science
Inspired by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and Bertrand Russell and David Hilbert's pursuit of the fundamental rules of mathematics, some of the most brilliant minds of the generation came together in post-World War I Vienna to present the latest theories in mathematics, science, and philosophy and to build a strong foundation for scientific investigation. Composed of such luminaries as Kurt Godel and Rudolf Carnap, and stimulated by the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper, the Vienna Circle left an indelible mark on science.
Exact Thinking in Demented Times tells the often outrageous, sometimes tragic, and never boring stories of the men who transformed scientific thought. A revealing work of history, this landmark book pays tribute to those who dared to reinvent knowledge from the ground up.

About the Author

Karl Sigmund is a professor of mathematics at the University of Vienna. One of the pioneers of evolutionary game theory, he lives in Vienna.