Moriz Hoernes und seine ‘Schule’ bis ins 21. Jahrhundert

Electronic versions

Description

In the late 19th century, neopositivism was the dominant epistemology. Promoted by successful and prominent scientists, their views about 'how to execute proper scientific inquiries' influenced the ‘founding fathers’ of Germanophone archaeology; perhaps most obviously so the first Austrian professor and founder of the ‘Viennese School’ of prehistory, Moriz Hoernes. Yet, the ‘early adopters’ in prehistory stripped positivism of much of its (epistemo-) logical foundations and instead transformed it into a method; into what became ‘the method’ of most of Germanophone prehistory ever since. What remained of the epistemology became the ‘prehistoric faith’: that any (prehistory-related) scientific inquiry necessarily proceeds from observation to ‘indisputable knowledge’; that ‘correct’ observations, turned into ‘proper’ definitions by classificatory descriptions, form the (Aristotelian) primary premises from which we proceed using inductive reasoning; the requirement of ‘completeness’ of observations before any ‘methodically sound’ explanation may even only be attempted, let alone can be successful; and the perceived need for scholars to present themselves and be seen as detached, ‘objective’ observers. Once within the discipline, this ‘method’ has been passed on almost entirely uncritically and with hardly any theoretical reflection as the main, the essential ‘skill of the craft’; taught by example, and learnt by repetitive imitation. It has become an ‘indisputable truism’, a part of the archaeological habitus; something that simply is part of normal (or rather ‘normalised’) archaeologists behaviour. Both how it is done, and how it is taught, has (apparently) become so ‘obvious’ that any attempt at questioning it has become almost impossible: one is met, at best, with the blank stare of utter incomprehension, or at the worst accused of having failed to understand the most basic fundamentals of how prehistory ought to be studied.
31 May 2014

Event (Conference)

TitleAlexander Conze-Tagung
Period30/05/1431/05/14
Web address (URL)
LocationArchiv der Universität Wien
CityVienna
CountryAustria
Degree of recognitionInternational event

Event (Conference)

TitleAlexander Conze-Tagung
Date30/05/1431/05/14
Website
LocationArchiv der Universität Wien
CityVienna
CountryAustria
Degree of recognitionInternational event

Keywords

  • Archaeology, Epistemology, Positivism, Austria, Prehistory

Research outputs (1)

View all

Prof. activities and awards (1)

View all