Pictorial Statistics Following the Vienna Method
This text introduces a programmatic text of Otto Neurath on the educational use of the method of pictorial statistics. Neurath emphasizes the importance of a visual method to transfer scientific knowledge to popular audiences. At the same time, his Vienna Method attempts to adapt the popular educational strategy to an increasingly visual modernity. The specific educational interest of Neurath’s Vienna Method consists in political education, in transferring basic knowledge about the general structure and dominant developments of society. His program thus echoes his contemporaries’ debates on the possibilities of social realism. To understand the historical significance of Neurath the introductory text accentuates three lines of possible discussion. It points out the importance of Neurath’s visual pedagogy for the tradition of contemporary discussions around the so-called Bildwissenschaften. It also contextualizes Neurath’s visual pedagogy in the Austrian tradition of Second International Social Democracy and in the context of the philosophical debates of the Vienna circle. Against this double historical background, the text eventually tries to understand the educational achievements and political pitfalls of Neurath’s attempt to represent general societal developments visually.
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