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On 25 October 1946, in a crowded room in Cambridge, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper came face to face for the first and only time. The meeting did not go well.
Their loud and aggressive confrontation became the stuff of instant legend. Almost immediately, rumours spread around the world that the two great philosophers had come to blows, armed with red-hot pokers. But precisely what happened in those ten minutes remains the stuff of intense disagreement.
Twenty years on, when Popper wrote up his account of the incident, he portrayed himself as the victor. But everyone present seems to have remembered events differently. What really went on in that room? And what does the violence of this brief exchange tell us about these two men, modern philosophy, and the difference between problems and puzzles?
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David Edmonds is an award-winning journalists with the BBC. He's the bestselling authors of Bobby Fischer Goes to War and Wittgenstein’s Poker.From Publishers Weekly:
In October 1946, philosopher Karl Popper arrived at Cambridge to lecture at a seminar hosted by his legendary colleague Ludwig Wittgenstein. It did not go well: the men began arguing, and eventually, Wittgenstein began waving a fire poker toward Popper. It lasted scarcely 10 minutes, yet the debate has turned into perhaps modern philosophy's most contentious encounter, largely because none of the eyewitnesses could agree on what happened. Did Wittgenstein physically threaten Popper with the poker? Did Popper lie about it afterward? BBC journalists Edmonds and Eidinow use the controversy as a springboard to probe the whys and whats of these two great thinkers, weaving biography, journalism and philosophy to produce one of the year's most entertaining and intellectually rich books. The authors show that the debate was a clash at several levels. First, of personalities: each was "bullying, aggressive, intolerant and self-absorbed"; in other words, accustomed to winning and unlikely to back down. Second, of class: Wittgenstein was an Austrian aristocrat, Popper was bourgeoisie (each fled Vienna to escape Hitler). And third, of ideas: Wittgenstein believed that philosophy boiled down to nothing more than a series of linguistic puzzles, while Popper thought philosophy involved real problems that immediately affected the world at large. Clearly, the stakes were high for both men in that lecture hall especially because their common mentor, the aging icon Bertrand Russell, was also in attendance. The debate thus took on the character of a succession for the throne. Tightly constructed and extraordinarily well written, this is a marvelous blend of lay and academic scholarship. It has every chance of becoming a classic of its kind. (Nov.)Forecast: Smart, general readers will gobble up this latest addition to narrative nonfiction. It will surely find a place for itself among The Professor and the Madman and An Eternal Golden Braid.
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Book Description Faber & Faber, 2001. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11057120547X
Book Description Faber & Faber, 2001. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M057120547X
Book Description Faber & Faber, 2001. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX057120547X