Summary and Commentary on Bartley's paper "A Popperian Harvest"
In Pursuit of Truth, ed Paul Levinson, Humanities Press, 1982
This collection of papers celebrated Popper's 80th birthday.
The road to publication was not smooth due to some comments by Bartley regarding the competence of a named British academic. Under threat of legal action the British Harvester Press edition was withdrawn and the US edition was revised.
Bartley's paper starts with some reflections on Popper as "a difficult man" and the way he conducted his famous seminar with zero tolerance of slackness and refusal to admit errors.
At the end of the paper is a summary statement of "the Popperian harvest". As yet only a fraction of the crop has been collected and if it was up to the philosophy profession at large no more would be done and Popper would be relegated to the historical record as an eccentric positivist and skeptic. So for the purpose of this commentary the end of the paper is brought to the front. The whole of the paper including the notes can be read in a slow-loading PDF file here.
V. The Popperian Harvest
26. In this section I should like to state very briefly, without elaboration, the main achievements of the Popperian work and perspective.
1.) Popper solved the problem of induction, in all its classic manifestations.
(2.) His solution to the problem of induction proved to be exemplary, in the first sense that Thomas Kuhn gives to the term "paradigmatic. Exactly comparable approaches, using the same strategies and ideas, could immediately be applied to all the main problems of epistemology and methodology: the is/ought problem; the problem of other minds, of the external world, of the uniformity of nature, of the existence of the past, of the existence of matter, of the existence of physical space, and of time independent of perception. This is no arbitrary listing of episternological problems. These are the problems treated by Bertrand Russell in his classic work The Problems of Philosophy (1912), and by A. J. Ayer in his The Problem of Knowledge (1956) and The Central Questions of Philosophy (1973). They are Hume's epistemological problems.
(3.) Thereby classical epistemology - and also most of meta-ethics - is rendered obsolete. All classical epistemology can be shown to depend on a mistaken fusion of justification and criticism.
(4.) In place of classical epistemology, a new evolutionary epistemology, at once descriptive and normative (or methodological), is introduced. This epistemology is embedded in a metaphysical outlook rooted both in biology and in physics and in a characteristic morality and posting of goals oriented to the advancement of human self-knowledge and knowledge of the universe.
This approach specifies the metaphysical, philosophical, and scientific presuppositions of the open society; and it argues that these presuppositions in fact obtain in our universe - the open universe in which something comes from nothing. This aspect of the Popperian perspective is paradigmatic in Kuhn's second main sense: it identifies a constellation of views and values: a viewpoint about one's own self-nature and the nature of consciousness, about the nature of society and of the universe in which one lives.
(5.) Popper's solution to the problem of induction proved to be exemplary not only for epistemology, but also for a variety of other subject matters. Thus Gombrich applied it to the theory of learning and to the history of art; Campbell applied it to biology and evolutionary theory; and Watkins applied it to ethics. Tyrrell Burgess and H. J. Perkinson have more recently applied it to educational theory - which of course is appropriate in that educational theory is one of the chief sources of the entire Popperian perspective.
(6.) Although exemplary and paradigm-shifting from the very start, Popper's approach originally contained no explanation of its own power, no identification of the source of its originality. I provided such an explanation and identification and thereby generalized the approach, in the course of my own resolution of the problems of skepticism and presuppositions. The source of the power of the Popperian approach lay in its implicit unfusing of justification and criticism. Involved here is not merely a paradigm shift in either of Kuhn's main senses, but something farther reaching that I call a "metacontextual shift."
(7.) A need for the rewriting of the history of science is immediately created - a problem-oriented historical program conforming to principles of evolution and learning theory rather than to the principles, presuppositions, and style of inductivism. Joseph Agassi charted the outlines of such a program in his Towards an Historiography of Science (1963). A need for rewriting and restructuring the history of philosophy is created. Seen anew from the perspective of a separation between justification and criticism, the chief crises and turning points of the history of philosophy
Back to the beginning of the paper.
I. A Difficult Man
"Late one afternoon in the early winter of 1960, 1 was sitting with Karl Popper in the waiting room of his doctor's office on Harley Street in London. Popper loved to spend time with his students. To cram in conversation with us, he used his spare moments to the full. So we would tag along with him everywhere - to the doctor's and dentist's offices, back and forth to the train station, on walks, in taxis or on the underground-talking philosophy incessantly. That afternoon we had been talking heatedly about the pre-Socratics. There was a lull in the conversation, and I could see Popper's brows darken as an extraneous thought flickered across his awareness. He turned to me: 'Bill, people say that I am a difficult man. Am I a difficult man?' The reply bolted out of me unhesitatingly: 'Karl, only a difficult man would ask a question like that!' "
2. "I first heard what a difficult man Karl Popper was from my teachers at Harvard College. When, in the spring of 1958, 1 told them that! would go to London to study with Popper, they strongly discouraged me, warning me that I would regret it. Later, when they learned that I did not regret it, they became very angry with me."
On his first meeting with Popper.
"We did not discuss the weather or life in London. He began the interview by telling me that he disagreed utterly with the philosophical views ofmy teachers at Harvard; and he summed up these differences succinctly. He then decreed, in his thick Viennese accent, and cnstructing his sentences in the German manner, that I wrote very badly (I had been asked to submit an essay and had turned in one for which I had been awarded a prize) and that I would need to learn to write better before I could expect to make any progress in philosophy. He went on to explain exactly what was wrong with my essay: it was pretentious and in places was unclear, masking confusion, uncertainty, or ignorance with a brilliant, or at least eye-catching, style. I was, he told me, more interested in the effect I was producing than in reaching toward the truth."
In his seminars he taught us:
• You must have a problem, not a topic.
• Do not try to be original. Find a problem that excites you. Work on it and take what you get.
• You must want to communicate to your reader; you must be clear, never use big words or anything needlessly complicated. ("Write it for Tirzah," he would say-referring to Agassi's eight-year-old daughter.) Do not use logical symbols or mathematical formulae, for instance, if you can possibly avoid it. Know logic, but do not parade it.
• It is immoral to be pretentious, or to try to impress the reader or listener with your knovledge. For you are ignorant. Although we may differ in the little things we know, in our infinite ignorance we
are all equal.
• Do not be attached to your ideas. You must expose yourself put yourself to risk. Do not be cautious in your ideas. Ideas are not scarce: there are more where they came from. Let your ideas come forth: any idea is better than no idea. But once the idea is stated, you must try not to defend it, not to believe it, but to criticize it and to learn from discovering its defects. Ideas are only conjectures. What is important is not the defense of any particular conjecture but the growth of knowledge.
• So be scrupulous in admitting your mistakes: you cannot learn from them if you never admit that you make them.
II. His Contribution to the Philosophy of Science
"There is a widespread impression - created in part by a superficial reading of Popper's own writings - that the process of scientific revolution is very simple: that a fact is found that conflicts with a theory; and that the theory is at once dropped and a search undertaken for a new theory. By extension, this view may be applied to philosophy: that when an argument on which a philosophy rests is refuted, that philosophy is immediately dropped and gives way to a new philosephy - or at least to the search for a new philosophy....Yet if we look at the reception of Popper's own revolutionary new ideas, we find that no such process has taken place."
Bartley's point is that Popper's philosophical ideas have been widely acknowledged by the scientific elite, and many others of great achievement, but they are dismissed or ignored by the bulk of the professional philosophical community.
He suggested that this has come about partly as a result of the professionalisation of the philosophy of science. Professionalisation is a two-edged sword, it can act to promote the development of a field by concentrating the efforts of people scattered around the world, by developing the infrastructure of journals and conferences, by pushing for resources and recognition. At the same time it generates incentives to engage in activities that promote professional advancement that may not coincide with the activities required for critical and imaginative work.
"Professional philosophy of science was born in Austria and Germany, and is, as I write this, being vigorously revived in those countries. It has become so prominent, and so influential, in the English-speaking countries during the last four decades, that it is easily forgotten that in the l930s philosophy of science, as an independent discipline or profession, barely existed. There were, of course, classically important English-language works in the field-such as those ofMill and Whewell - and all the main problems of the subject were part of the philosophical curriculum. There were also some philosophers who did philosophy of science professionally; but the greater part of these were newly arrived, of Austrian or German origin, émigrés to the English-speaking countries from the prewar positivist centers of Vienna, Prague, and Berlin. During the preceding six decades, most of the best-known philosophical treatments of issues in the sciences, in English, were not even written by professional philosophers. Among these authors, W. K. Clifford was a mathematician; Karl Pearson, a biologist and statistician; John Maynard Keynes, a polymath, an insurance executive, an economist; Joseph Needham, a biologist; Sir Arthur Eddington and Sir James Jeans were physicists, as was P. W. Bridgman. Charles Sanders Peirce could not keep an academic post, and spent most of his career working for the United States Coastal and Geodesic Survey. It would be easy to find exceptions to this list - C. D. Broad and Bertrand Russell most conspicuously - but the point has been made. This situation began to change in the I930s, as a result of the crusading positivism of the Vienna Circle, and of the emigration of its members to England and America."
Actually Russell hardly counts as an exception, he spent a lot of time outside the university world making ends meet as a writer.
It apparent that the logical positivists, later known as the logical empiricists, established themselves so effectively in North America that Popper has been practically forgotten there. They even modified the language to talk about "disconfirmation" instead of "refutation" to avoid reference to Popper's views on testing!
The main concerns were demarcation and the problem of induction,and the program of the logical empiricists made no ground on either front.
"The difficulties of induction and the "paradoxes" of confirmation and probability theory took their toll here too. The proposed criteria of demarcation simply did not work - and were prevented from working by the problem of induction. Scientific laws turned out to be improbable, unverifiable, and meaningless. Whereas some metaphysical statements were both probable and verifiable. In sum, in failing to solve these two problems, professional philosophers of science demonstrated their inability to give a coherent account of the relationship obtaining between scientific theories and evidenciary observational reports. Worse, any such account seemed in principle unattainable."
Two strident motifs of intellectual life
The cultural significance of the problems in epistemology and the philosophy of science are rarely noted, but Bartley took up this theme.
"One aspect of the demarcation problem deserves emphasis. It is interesting that the problem was expressed as one of demarcating science from nonscience. A characterization of science is obviously important in general cultural terms. Two of the most strident motifs in our intellectual life are the effort of science and nonscience to come to grips with each other, and the effort of science to find out just what it is that makes it scientific. Many fields - religion, philosophy, history, social science, psychoanalysis, psychology, sociology - characterize themselves, understand themselves, by contrast to and in comparison with "the sciences." An understanding of the nature of
science is hence - literally - a prerequisite of self - knowledge for other disciplines. Since the most widely accepted notions of science - based on the unworkable positivist demarcation - are incorrect and even incoherent; and since most discussions in other disciplines, including philosophy, are nonetheless framed in terms of the supposition that the positivist account of science is correctfor science, most disciplines are now mischaracterized by their own proponents - and are, as it were, methodologically "neurotic" as a result.
For example Ludwig von Mises thought that positivism worked in the natural sciences and so felt obliged to formulate a different methodology for the human sciences.
"It was into this crisis situation that the revolutionary ideas of Karl Popper were broadcast in January 1959, with the publication of The Logic of Scientific Discovery. In it Popper was able, simply and straightforwardly, to resolve many of the outstanding issues in the philosophy of science. I mean this literally. In what Popper would call World 3 - the world of abstract argumentation - the problem of induction is solved, and the verificationism and inductivism that lay behind it are refuted."
III. His Reception by the Profession: Con Lamento
"In the preceding part, I have indicated briefly the nature of the crisis in philosophy and philosophy of science, and of Popper's resolution of it. How then has his work been received? Has his resolution been accepted and incorporated into the framework of professional philosophy? Not at all. Between 1934 and 1959, two separate professional ideologies had become entrenched in the philosophy departments of the English-speaking universities. One of these was professional philosophy of science, the outgrowth of the crusades of logical positivism; the second, curiously encompassing the first, was the cult of ordinary language and of the later Wittgenstein. Institutionally and professionally, these still dominate. They have captured graduate departments ofphilosophy and characterize, even define, "professional philosophy." By the 1950s, logical positivism had, on the whole, been modified by and incorporated into the general framework of the philosophy of' the later Wittgenstein (see Part IV, below)."
Bartely examined the "bizarre" situation where the scientific, literary, and learned communities of Europe acclaim Popper while his own profession disowns him. As Popper said "three generations of professional philosophers know nothing of my work".
Bartley used an ecological or biological approach to assess the requirments for a line of thought to survive and grow.
"With the decline in standards of education, in university and cultural budgets, in the graduate schools, in the standards of literacy throughout the western world, and in the book publishing industry, those who inhabit the world of ideas face an ecological crisis - a crisis whose resolution demands a sharp confrontation with and a deep rethinking of the entire question of community. Separated as it is from the wider culture, the "intellectual community" threatens to dissolve into a loosely federated band of "disciplinary" craftsmen - federated less by a common tradition or shared values as by the need to exert concerted pressure to gain financial support."
"Like any econiche, a community is characterized by the possibilities or potentialities that are open to it - whether as yet discovered or not. Its future survival will depend on whether, and the way in which, it exploits these potentialities. But professional groups often function not to open up possibilities but to close them out. Here a narrow conception of culture and community operates, in which these are characterized by current presuppositions and practices, rather than by as yet undiscovered potentialities. "
"Does the situation matter? What are the chances of the survival of the Popperian approach? To answer this question, one must bear in mind that all evolution, intellectual and otherwise, occurs in three distinct and indispensable phases or rhythms. To consider the question of the survival and propagation of a Popperian approach to philosophy, one must fix which econiche (or community) one is discussing, and must look at how it is doing on each of these three levels within the relevant econiche."
These three phases or rhythms are:
I. Unjustified variations on existing forms (sometimes called "random variation'').
2. Systematic elimination and selection.
3. Retention: duplication, transmission, and preservation of selected variations.
"On the first level, that of unjustified variation, Popper and the group around him are doing splendidly,... On the second level, systematic elimination and selection, the position of the Popperians is ambiguous. They are under attack not only from the professionals, but from one another: within the group there has been self-destructive internal dissent...On the third level, that of retention - propagation, transmission, duplication - the Popperians are, as we have already seen, doing poorly within the professional econiche."
"If the professional econiche were all there were, they would be doomed to extinction; for as D. L. Krantz has written: "Ideas without recruits become like Bishop Berkeley's unheard fallen tree." Within the profession, Popperians have been minimally effective in duplicating themselves, transmitting their approach and tradition, propagating. They hold no positions of influence; even in their own departments they are "marginal men";" they. are widely dispersed and have no regular meetings and no oflcial journals; they are not awarded research grants; their publications are sometimes
blackballed; there is no bibliography of their publications, and these publications are scattered among many dilIerent journals throughout the world; many of their findings are not being utilized and developed; they have no graduate school from which to generate new professional philosophers of their own persuasion"
"Thus, if one were to restrict one's attention to the profession, it would be difficult to be optimistic about the survival of the Popperian approach. For in the professional econiche that is conventionally thought to provide the route for the study, development, application, dissemination of ideas - that. is, the system of graduate education - the gates are guarded and secured by an ideologically hostile professionalism."
"If one looks at the question of transmission more broadly, however, the situation looks different. The philosophical profession, as it is at present constituted, seems - at least to me - to be an evolutionary dead end: like the arthropods whose brains are built around their gullets. Many professionals -
especially in philosophy, but also to a certain extent in physics, medicine, and psychology - are the products of isolation and inbreeding, and the departments that they inhabit provide econiches unfavorable for the evolution or propagation of revolutionary new ideas. Such ideas - and civilization-emerge through contact and communication, not through specialization in isolation. On this latter ground, the Popperians have been more adaptive, and have outflanked the profession. Like Popper himself, they address the wider community (although their plentiful academic publications also attest to their professional competence). Unlike the professional philosophers, most Popperians live intellectually in several diverse cultural groups: the professions and the wider scientific and literary culture; also unlike the professional philosophers, they live much more internationally, and are less confined to their national professional associations. Thus their apparent weakness may in fact be a great strength."
"The Popperians are then marginal men in the sociological sense. Although marginality can freeze people with anxiety and resentment, it can also - when successfully managed - be the source of creativity. The marginality of the Popperians has provided them with the opportunity, in negotiating among conflicting communities, values, and ideologies - as well as the incentive - to develop objectivity and perspective, as well as that creativity that consists in rendering what is given problematic."
"In terms of survival, what matters to the Popperians is, first, that they communicate to the public and disseminate their ideas thereby. Here there is evidence of their success in dealing with their marginality. Second, they must create a nurturing intellectual environment for themselves. Here there is the evidence of their having failed to deal fully with their marginality."
"But does it matter whether the Popperian approach to philosophy survives? No: not, at all. That is, unless it is correct."
The remainder of the paper is Bartley's account of the way the Wittgensteinian school of thought became so dominant in the profession. It is not essential reading because even this short form of the paper is too long for a quick read by busy people. But it is important for those of us who are concerned to correct the situation where Popper is routinely trashed by academics who have not read his work well enough to get a grip on it.
IV. The Intellectual Position of His Opponents:
The Wittgensteinian Problematic
23. There are many reasons for this deep divide between Popperian philosophy and that of the philosophical profession. Some are historical, psychological, sociological, and personal. But there is also an intellectual obstacle. In this part, I would like to reconstruct what Popper would call "the logic of the situation"-in terms of what I shall call the "Wittgensteinian problenlatic"-the very different route that the bulk of the philosophical profession has taken in response to the crisis that I outlined in Part II of this essay. It is easy to see this opposition as simply hostile, and to ignore the problematic that forces the position. By becoming clearer about this, we can identify where vigorous rational argument would be most relevantly and effectively applied-to the extent that the opposition is amenable to it.
In examining philosophical viewpoints, one has to attend carefully to at least three separate aspects: (a) their tenets and the problems they claim to have solved; (b) their problematic; and (c) their research programs.' These different aspects may not be equally well known or equally influential. Thus a philosopher's influence may come chiefly from the problems he or she has solved, whereas the influence of another philosopher-who may indeed not even have solved any problem-may come chiefly from the research program that he or she has sponsored.
The thrust of Popperian philosophy is clearly theory and problem oriented. Thus I can, in a preliminary way, define Popper's position in the history of thought, and indicate my own relationship to him, in a sentence: with his theory of falsifiability, Popper solved the problem of induction and made an ingenious, but somewhat defective, solution of the problem of demarcation; moreover, by generalizing and somewhat correcting Popper's theory of criticism, one can solve the problems of skepticism, fideism, and rationality." All this renders traditional epistemology-and much of the rest of traditional philosophy-obsolete.
Popper's problematic, the nexus of background, influences, and problems that he exploited in building his philosophical outlook, cannot so readily be summarized, depending as it. does on a historical account. But it is readily available, in his own work and in that of others.
With Wittgenstein, the situation is different. It is not easy to identify any philosophical problem that he can be said to have solved, or any new philosophical theory that he propounded. Ifone turns to the work olthe young Wittgenstein, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (192 1), one must qualify this judgment a bit, for in that work Wittgenstein did attempt to dispense with Russell's theory of types through arguing that to know the sense of a symbol definitely and completely is to know all its possible combinations; and that one thus need not in addition state its range of applicability. This view impressed Russell, and was, as Russell put it in his Preface to the Tractatus in 1922, "not at any point obviously wrong." It vas, however, refuted by the work oIChurch and Gödel in the l93Os.
Wittgenstein's influence stems, rather, chiefly from the research program inspired by his later philosophy. I shall discuss this below.
It is, however, the relatively unappreciated Wiugensteinian problematic that I want to discuss first; for this is rarely articulated. And here Popper and Wittgenstein clash most dramatically. By reconstructing the logic of the situation that leads people into Wittgensteinian philosophy in the first place, •and then traps them there, we may better appreciate what the key issues must be. For Popper's significance here lies in having undermined the agreed problematic that sustains Wittgensteinian thinking.
In my view, one problem-and only one problem-lies at the root of the Wittgensteinian problematic and at the root ofthe split between Wittgensteinians and Popperians. This is the old problem of induction. If the problem of induction remains insoluble, then philosophy may take the path the professionals have staked out. If Popper has, as he claims, solved the problem olinduction, then professional Wittgensteinian philosophy is a mistake, and continued work in that vein is wasted.
In other words, the problem is not merely one of fashion. I do not want to follow Bertrand Russell when he wrote of his own displacement by the Wittgensteinians: "It is not an altogether pleasant experience to find oneself regarded as antiquated after having been, for a time, in the fashion. It. is difficult to accept this experience gracefully."" Bertrand Russell's experience both caters to and lies outside the Wittgensteinian problematic. For Russell could not solve, and did not claim to have solved, the problem of induction, even though he was preoccupied with it throughout his life and found its solution of overriding importance." Wittgensteinian philosophy, on the other hand, begins with the conviction-the correct conviction-that the problem is insoluble in Russellian terms, and proceeds from there: from its viewpoint, Russell's work is antiquated.
In the following, therefore, I propose to offer a historical reconstruction of' the problem situation that leads to the development of contemporary professional philosophy; and to show how this development hinges on the assumption that the problem of induction cannot be solved. The entire matter looks very different indeed from a perspective, such as the Popperian one, within which the problem of induction has been solved.
I shall proceed in this way because most professionals come in-and settle in-in the middle of the story, as it were, and never have the opportunity to look at the development from a perspective in which it is anything but necessary or desirable.
(1) To generate our problem situation, we need, as a start, a scientific imperialism of the sort available in logical positivism. I refer of course to the claim that all legitimate utterances are to be judged in terms of the canons and criteria of science, conformity to which is assumed as a hallmark of progress and intellectual advance.
The positivist idea that sense observation is the foundation of all knowledge works together with elementary logic to create a universal theory of criticism and explanation of error. Thus, if pure sense observation is the one and only true source of knowledge, and ifsuch reports of sense observation serve as the only premises in argument, their truth will be transmitted to the conclusion of that argument. On this account, any legitimate (i.e., properly sourced or justified) theory would be one derived logically from, and justified in terms of, such premises, and an unacceptable theory would be one that cannot be so derived. Error stems from the acceptance of a theory (or pseudo-statement) that cannot be derived logically from sense observation reports.
(2.) Next, we need to generate an epistemological crisis. It is noticed - and it is about time that it was noticed! - that many perfectly legitimate scientific claims cannot be justified in the way demanded. As explained earlier, every universal law of nature is too strong to function as the conclusion of a valid argument whose only premises are sense observation reports. There is no way logically to reach from a finite set of such reports as premises to a universal law of nature as conclusion. And the problem is of course larger: not only are scientific laws not derivable from sense observation reports; various principle supposed to be indispensable to science - including principles of induction, verification, and causality - also cannot be derived from sense observation reports. In short, the principle of criticism that was advanced simply does not work. And it appears that the relationship between evidence and conclusion must be illogical. Illogic is at the heart of science.
(3.) The next, crucial, step in our developing problem situation is to attempt to resolve the crisis. It is asserted, often as if triumphantly, and even as if profoundly, that the relationship between evidence and conclusion is not ill-logical, only non-logical. There are two kinds of inference: there is deduction which defines logic; and there is induction, which defines science. Induction is indeed not deductive; but there is no need for it to be so. "Everything is what it is and not another thing." A pseudo-problem was artificially created by the unwarranted imperialistic assumption that the canons of science have to conform to the canons of logic; whereas, in fact, induction is not a faulty sort of deduction. Rather, induction is ultimate, defining science - just as deduction is ultimate, defining logic. As Wittgenstein put it: "Here grounds are not propositions which logically imply what is believed For the question here is not one of an approximation to logical inference. . . . That is an inference; but not one belonging to logic." Thus the problem of induction is "dissolved" by learning not to apply the standards of logic to inductive inference.
The philosopher should then, so it is contended, not judge between deduction and induction, not judge induction by deductive standards. Rather, his or her job is to describe and attempt to make clearer the standards and principles of deductive and of inductive reasoning, as they are embedded in actual practice.
(4.) A question is now raised. Why not extend the whole process a step further? For there exist other disciplines and "forms of life" that are neither logical nor scientific. There are, for instance, history and jurisprudence and religion and politics. In the past, such disciplines have frequently been criticized, even by their own practitioners, by rerence to logical and scientific standards. Yet if logic cannot be permitted to judge science, can science be permitted to judge other disciplines?
(5.) A negative answer is quickly provided. Each discipline or field or "language game" or "form of life," it is said, has its own ungrounded ultimate standards or principles or "logic," embedded in action, which need not conform to any other standards and which it is the job of the philosopher to describe. As Wittgenstein says: "As if giving grounds did not come to an end sometime. But the end is not an ungrounded presupposition; it is an ungrounded way of acting."
(6.) But this means that there is no arguing or judging among disciplines - or different activities - any more. Logic cannot judge science; or science, history; or history, religion. There is a spangled diversity. Scientific imperialism makes way for disciplinary independence - some might say anarchy.
The fragmentation of the university and of the community is given a theoretical justification; and in this theoretical justification itself resides all that remains of unity and community. Whereas the positivist or empiricist explanation of error provided a universal theory of criticism, the new explanation of error that arises here does away with such criticism: philosophical error is now thought to arise from the imposition of standards in usage in one area on other different areas. Philosophical error is no longer (as in positivism) attributed to the use of utterances that are not logically reducible to reports of sense observations. Yet the concern to eliminate philosophical error perversely remains: and its chief source - that is, the chief source of "the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language" - is to apply the rules of one activity, of one language game, to another. Language will trespass its limits, or "go on holiday," when particular sorts of expression are used outside their proper domain or range of application. Philosophical critique becomes critique not of content but of criteria application: the activity of showing how language may stray from its proper place and then bringing it back to its correct context. Taken as a whole, empiricist philosophy may itself be regarded as one grand "category mistake," that of supposing that different language games must satisfy the criteria of one supremely authoritative language game: that of science. Yet, there is nothing wrong, so it is contended, with an empiricism within its proper limits: empiricism is alI right for science: it expresses the principles behind the shared practice of the community of scientists.
(7.) In the course of this argument, the nature of philosophy has been recharacterized. Contemplating their discovery that the empiricist theory of criticism could not work, philosophers have reached the conviction that any general philosophical theory of criticism is impossible. To criticize, to evaluate, to explain, these are no longer proper philosophical aims: what remains to the philosopher is to describe the logics or grammars of various kinds of discourse and activity, the many different sorts of language games and the forms of life in which they are embedded.
A new explanation of error - and later Wittgensteinian thought certainly ranks as such - has often, in the history of philosophy, led to a program of reform whose aim is to create conditions under which such errors will no longer arise. So it is here. Wittgenstein himself never claimed that all identifiable disciplines and activities in which people engage are separate language games each with its own sets of rules. Many of his followers, however, did just this,supposing that each individual activity - law, history, science, logic, ethics, politics, religion - has its own special grammar or logic; that mixing the grammar of one of these with that of another leads to philosophical error; and that it is the newjob of the philosopher - his new research program under the Wittgensteinian dispensation - to describe in detail these separate logics or grammars. In this spirit two generations of British and American professional philosophers came to write books with titles such as The Vocabulary of Politics, The Language of Morals, The Logic of Moral Discourse, The Logic of Historical Explanation, The Language of (Literary) Criticism. The Language of Fiction, The Uses of Argument, The Logic of the Social Sciences, The Logic of the Sciences, The Province of Logic, The Language of Education, The Logic of Religious Language, Faith and Logic, Christian Discourse, The Language of Christian Belief The Logic of Colour Words, and so on ad nauseam.
Any philosopher, whether well-seasoned in his or her subject or a budding Ph.D., was thus provided with a simple "research formula" whereby a book or learned paper could be produced: "Take one of the phrases 'The Logic of. v' 'The Language of x,' or 'The Grammar of x,' substitute for x some activity or discipline such as just named; write a treatise on the topic so created.The easiness with which such programs could be carried out goes far to explain the immense success of such philosophizing - as witness to which I should mention that each of the titles cited has decorated a book or monograph actually published.
And yet, latent in all this is a new imperialism, generally unconscious, according to which disciplines or forms of life must conform as follows: true forms of life (a) must not judge one another; and (b) must not try to describe some common world in collaboration with another discipline since each form
of life creates its own world. In this new imperialism the nature of philosophy is recharacterized - and the opportunity of community is lost.
(8.) The essentials of our problematic have now been set down: but some important matters have not yet been mentioned. There is, for example, the way in which this whole line of thinking has been reinforced by positive reactions on the part of other disciplines. Colonized subjects may of course be expected to rejoice in the difficulties of their masters; and so it is here.
Take as an example the case of religion. Quite interestingly, one can find in much philosophy of religion of the past fifty years a development almost exactly parallel to (although largely independent of) that in professional philosophy. Traditional apologetic philosophy of religion had also been imperialistic, insisting that findings in other areas of human life at least conform to those of religion. With the great theologian Karl Barth, however, one finds the rejection of apologetic theology and the substitution for it of kerygmatic theology, wherein the job of the theologian becomes simply to describe the basic - and ultimate - presuppositions of Christianity. Consequently, it comes as no real surprise that philosophy of religion and philosophical theology have been given a new lease on life by the Wittgensteinian problematic. For the self-conception of such disciplines now matches the professional characterization of the way all disciplines and ways of life must be.
(9.) One final element in the problem situation lying behind contemporary professional philosophy should be noted. Though it is psychological and sociological in character, there is no doubting its importance. The development discussed provides what amounts to a recipe for generating a team-style department of philosophy, in which one professional does logic, another does science, and so on - where "does" means to describe the logical structure, the "grammar" of various established fields. The activity of old-fashioned positivism may even remain here: that is, formalism and the descriptive analysis of the methods and presuppositions of the natural sciences and logic. What must be sacrificed is not the activity but the judgmentalism of early positivism. There is a "live and let live" attitude - subsumed under a common paradigm wherein it is assumed that the problem of induction is a pseudo-problem, insoluble on its own terms because those terms are misconceived.
Thus it is that Ludwig Wittgenstein, for all his trials and tribulations, never had to battle for recognition - for he told the professionals what they wanted to hear. It is consoling for all those isolated from the wider culture to be reassured that it is all right to "do their thing," and - ironically, through "team work" with colleagues - to continue to destroy rather than to create community: that their usage and activity, whatever it may be, is indeed authoritative.
25. This entire chain of argumentation, and the problematic that it constitutes, depend on the first steps: the claims that sense experience is the foundation and justification of all knowledge; that there exists induction and that the problem of induction cannot be solved nor the scientific method charted while deductive logic is retained. When these claims are shown to be invalid, as Popper has done, the entire argument unravels, and a whole generation of philosophizing is intellectually undone.
Within the Popperian perspective an alternative program of criticism is put forward that develops critical methods consistent with, although not restricted to or limited to, science; methods that are positively applicable to and to be integrated with the examination of all fields to the extent at least to which they are devoted to uncovering and discovering the truth, to the extent to which such fields aim at explanations, representations, descriptions of the universe in which we live, and to the extent to which they aim at increased "fit" in Campbell's sense. The growth of science is assimilated into a critical evolutionary perspective that provides a theory of growth generally.
Hence when one considers the question of how ideas improve with regard to their fit to the environment - the question of their correspondence to reality - any question of their justification is as irrelevant as any question about whether a particular mutation is justified (or foresighted, or suitable in advance of natural selection, in the Lamarckian sense). Nor does survival justify or guarantee the survivor: a species that survives for thousands of years may nonetheless become extinct. And a theory that survives for generations may eventually be refuted - as was Newton's.
All disciplines are seen as evolutionary products that, as far as their intellectual viability is concerned, are to be subjected to critical examination - an examination that includes the critical review of their fundamental principles. There are no longer any principles that are fundamental in the sense of being beyond criticism and examination. There is no method peculiar to philosophy or to science or to logic (see epigraphs to this essay). The same general critical method is universal. Moreover, it is only now that the question can arise as to what extent the methods of the sciences are applicable in other areas.
A false understanding of the methodology of science led to a "research" program that characterizes contemporary professional philosophy; a new and correct understanding of the methodology of science leads, however, to a very different research program for philosophy and undercuts the assumptions on which the previous "research" was based. The recharacterization of science leads to a recharacterization of virtually ever) other discipline(see Section II above).