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Bartley - Racionalidade, Criticismo e Lógica

Bartley - Racionalidade, Criticismo e Lógica

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[The following is a rough and ready reading copy of a very important paper. If youcan find parts of this document that seem out of order, please contact me at dio @gol.com. I'll check the original to see if you've come across an error or not. Footnoteshave not been put into superscript, and are not included *yet* at the end of the paper.Happy reading.]CRITICAL STUDYTHE PHILOSOPHY OF KARL POPPER Part III. Rationality, Criticism, and LogicW.W. Bartley, IIIThe Philosophy of Karl Popper, edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp, Two Volumes, OpenCourt, Library of Living Philosophers, La Salle, 1974. 1323 pp., $30.00.The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions which surroundhim. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt surroundingconditions to himself . . . All progress depends on the unreasonableman.George Bernard Shaw
This is the third in a five-part critical study of the work of Sir Karl Popper, based on a review of the Schilpp volume in his honour. The first study dealt with biology, evolution theory, evolutionary epistemology, and Popper's doctrine of the"Three Worlds." 1 The second treated Popper's interpretation of quantum mechanics, probability theory, entropy, time, indeterminism, consciousness, and the body-mind problem. 2This third instalment deals with rationality, criticism, and logic. Throughout,my goal is to contribute to creating a "body of informed and serious criticism" of Popper's thought. I aim to sketch the general problem situation within which Popper'sthought has to be evaluated, and to indicate the current state of discussion of his
theories. 4 In the present paper, I shall build a connected argument relating torationality, criticism, and logic -- introducing Popper's views, and those of thecontributors to the Schilpp volume, where they are relevant.
II.The Rational Way of Life
Although much of his written work relates to problems of rationality, Popper'smost direct treatment of rationality dates to the mid nineteen-forties, and is foundchiefly in Chapters 22 and 24 of The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) and inseveral essays, "Utopia and Violence" (1948), "Towards a Rational Theory of Tradition" (1949), and "Humanism and Reason" (1951), reprinted in Conjectures andRefutations.Rationality remerged as an important theme of Popper's work, and of theentire Popper school, in 1959-63, partly as a result of a running dialogue betweenPopper and myself. Out of this discussion, a number of books and papers werewritten almost immediately. There were for instance my own The Retreat toCommitment (1962) and "Rationality versus the Theory of Rationality" (1964) 5.Popper added an addendum on "Facts, Standards and Truth: A Further Criticism of Relativism" to the fourth (1962) and subsequent re-editions of The Open Society. Atthe same time, he made important revisions in his discussion of rationality in Chapter 24 of The Open Society, and added a new opening section on rationality to hisunpublished Postscript. He also treated the matter in his Preface to Conjectures andRefutations (1962), and in his essay, "Truth, Rationality, and the Growth of ScientificKnowledge" (1962). lmre Lakatos applied these ideas in his "Infinite Regress andFoundations of Mathematics" (1962), as did J.W.N. Watkins in his "NegativeUtilitarianism" (1963). Inspired by our discussion, Hans Albert, in Germany, began along series of publications on rationality, culminating in his Traktat uber kritischeVernunft (1968). 6 From all this writing a large literature has grown.The entire discussion touches issues of fundamental importance –- moreimportant than those broached in the first two instalments of this series. Biology andquantum mechanics are two areas where Popper's ideas are applied. Theory of rationality, on the other hand, develops the fundamental ideas themselves. Nonetheless, rationality remains a comparatively little explored area of Popper's work - at least where the English-language readership is concerned -- despite its importance2
to his philosophy, which is, as a whole, often called "critical rationalism." Like physics and biology, the theory of rationality is largely neglected in the Schilppvolume, although one paper in it, A.E. Musgrave's "The Objectivism of Popper'sEpistemology," reports some of the discussion of rationality to which I have justreferred.Many years ago, Popper himself used to complain about disregard of theissues of rationality. As an example, he would cite the work of an American philosopher who had made an extended study of different "paths of life" without evenmentioning the rational way of life. Popper sees the rational way of life as consistingin (1) the quest for knowledge and truth, for "emancipation through knowledge," and"spiritual freedom";8 (2) the critical attitude that -- recognizing that any particular expression of the truth is fallible, limited, not final -- seeks undogmatically to subjectall attitudes, ideas, institutions, traditions, so-called knowledge and so-called spiritualfreedom, to critical examination and appraisal. 9 As Popper puts it: "Rationalists arethose people who are ready to challenge and to criticize everything, including . . .their own tradition."10 (3) The rational way of life thus also involves the willingnessto learn from others. Emphasizing how much we depend on others for knowledge,and the social character of language and reasonableness, Popper writes that "We mustrecognize everybody with whom we communicate as a potential source of argumentand of reasonable information," and take the attitude that "I may be wrong and youmay be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." Thus is established the"rational unity of mankind." In a minor departure from Kant, the other person isrecognized as an end in himself in that he is a source of criticism and correction.Such talk may seem uncontroversial -- even insipid or needlessly hortatory. Itsinterest emerges as it is shown that virtually every traditional and contemporarywestern philosophy combines doctrines, assumptions, and practices that militateagainst such a way of life. For a brief preliminary example, take J. Bronowski'sstatement in
 A Sense of the Future
(p. 4): "To listen to everyone, to silence no one;
tohonour and promote those who are right 
; these have given science its power in our world and its humanity." The phrase I have italicized conflicts sharply with Popper'sapproach, and with his understanding of rationality.
III. Four Problems of Rationality

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