Living signs: Theory and materiality in the work of Otto Neurath
Henning, M. (2008) Living signs: Theory and materiality in the work of Otto Neurath. In: Engaging Objects, Amsterdam, 26-28 March 2008.
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Using the work of Otto Neurath, this paper considers theory as a material social practice. Some scholars see in Neurath’s work a ‘naïve’ belief in the possibility of the clear, unambiguous, transmission of facts untainted by their material support. Yet in his commitment to the ‘de-Babelizing’ project of the democratization of knowledge, Neurath experienced first-hand how information and ideas change from one medium to another, and the impact of the cultural contexts and materials in which they circulate. This paper considers his use of different technical and linguistic media as part of larger social and material practices in 1940s Britain.