Ohad Reiss Sorokin
Ohad Reiss-Sorokin is a doctoral candidate in the History of Science Program at Princeton University. Ohad is interested in the history of 20th-century German philosophy, especially as it coincides with the history of economics and psychology. More broadly, Ohad’s interests concerns the production and organization of knowledge in the humanities and the human science. He has also worked on Alfred Binet’s concept of intelligence, and the coming together and breaking apart of history and philosophy of science in Princeton University in the 1960s and 1970s. Before coming to Princeton, Ohad graduated from the Interdisciplinary Program for Outstanding Students and earned an M.A. in philosophy at Tel-Aviv University, focusing on the production processes of philosophical knowledge.
Ohad’s dissertation project traces the story of the Viennese “Geistkreis,” an intellectual circle of (mainly law) students, who met regularly for eighteen years, between the two world wars. Their discussions covered everything from opera to the “Woman-Question,” and from philosophy to economics. In 1938 many of the members fled Austria to find themselves, temporarily or permanently, in the USA and the UK. Several became famous and influential economists, sociologists, philosophers, and art historians in their new home. Using memoirs, letters, notebooks, and a variety of published sources, Ohad aims to reconstruct the group’s meetings, and the intellectual-technologies used and developed in the Kreis (‘circle’). The dissertation will follow its protagonists from Vienna to the United States, exposing the long after-life of the circle culture in the different environments of the new world. Ohad suggests that by looking at the Geistkreis we can narrate the history of German-speaking philosophy in the early 20th century anew. By de-centering the Vienna-Circle we can see how different questions, sensibilities, as well as institutional prestige and public role migrated from philosophy and metaphysics to the social sciences and, in particular, economics and psychology.