I enjoyed reading Irving Louis Horowitz’s critical review of Wittgenstein’s Poker [Volume 14, Number 3]. His philosophical claws are as sharp as ever. We differ only on one point: whereas Irving thinks that there were no winners in that contest, the authors and myself believe that Karl Popper had the upper hand. Not that he was an original philosopher; he was a popularizer. But when he landed in England in 1946, that country had been lain waste by Wittgenstein with the help of G. E. Moore, another bore, and E. Anscombe, the Thatcher of linguistic philosophy. Nobody read Russell’s philosophical works. The famous journal Mind was the tribune of Wittgenstein’s coterie. Nobody discussed any philosophical problems. According to Gilbert Ryle, vision could not be a process because this construal violates the grammar of the verb “to see.” J. L. Austin held that all that matters is whether an expression is felicitous.
So, against that flat and boring landscape, Popper’s words must have come as Zeus’s thunder, that had the virtue of waking up a few people, and reconciling scientists with philosophy. If one must be either for one or the other, then I side with Popper, even though I believe his refutationism is wrong and his semantics, metaphysics and ethics nonexistent. As we say in Spanish, in the land of the blind the one-eyed person is king.
Mario Bunge Foundations & Philosophy of Science McGill University
Knowledge, Technology, & Policy, Winter 2003, Vol. 15, No. 4, p. 5.