Project (2018)

The Rise of the New Mandarins: The Story of the Geistkreis from Vienna to the New-World, 1920–1980

This project traces the story of the Viennese Geistkreis. An intellectual circle of (mainly law) students, which was gathered together by two friends—J. Herbert Fürth and Friedrich A. Hayek—who were asked by their teacher to leave his own intellectual circle. Together they created a group that met regularly for eighteen years, between the two world wars, and discussed different topics: from opera to Zionism; from philosophy to economics. In 1938, many of the group members had to flee Austria, and found themselves, temporarily or permanently, in the USA and the UK, where many of them became famous and influential intellectuals. In my project, I am trying to recover the group’s meetings and the intellectual technology of the Kreis, or circle, as well as look for the different replacements the circle members chose in their exile. In addition, I would like to suggest that the Geistkreis can be used as an example for a different narrative of the history of German-speaking philosophy in the early twentieth century, which can move away from the Geistkreis centered narrative in order to see how different questions, sensitivities, and also institutional prestige and public roles have migrated from philosophy and metaphysics to the social sciences and, especially, to economics and psychology.