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Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

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  • Posted December 14, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    The Story of a Ten -Minute Argument...

    Can a ten minute argument be a stuff for- what ¿the New Yorker¿ called<BR/>¿A terrific Book¿? Yes, if the argument is between two great philosophers of the last century.<BR/>David Edmonds and John Eidinow in their work Wittgenstein¿s Poker , brings to light in a really interesting manner the in/famous ten minute confrontation between two great philosophers ¿ Ludwig Wittgenstein<BR/>and Karl Popper .<BR/> In 1946, Wittgenstein was working as a professor of Philosophy in Cambridge University and the Chairman of Moral Science Club- a weekly discussion group for the university philosophers and philosophy students. In the same year January , Karl Popper arrives in England as he was offered the readership in Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics , London University . <BR/><BR/>The stage of confrontation is set, when Wittgenstein chaired Moral Science Club called upon Popper to present the paper ¿Are there Philosophical Problems?¿. Popper started his paper by inviting the attention of the audience to the invitation of the secretary of Moral Science Club ¿¿¿ a few opening remark, stating some puzzle¿.¿.<BR/>Popper¿s argument is that philosophical problems are not really puzzles but genuine problems . Wittgenstein interrupted and at some point took up a poker and gesticulated rather freely. Disagreement on puzzle Vs problem drew to such a level that , Popper as an example for ¿moral principle ¿ gave a situation induced example-¿one ought not threaten visiting lecturers with poker¿ . Wittgenstein left the meting the before the end of the session ¿slamming the door behind him¿, ending a ten-minute long argument. <BR/><BR/>This book is not only a real exploration into history of Philosophy of the twentieth century but also provides a historical peek into Vienna - Birth place of the two philosophical juggernauts , postwar Cambridge University, and The black days of Nazis occupation of Austria . Authors also provides a detailed analysis of the philosophical statements of Wittgenstein and Popper underlining their position in the philosophical terrain of last century and centuries to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2004

    Poke This!

    Who would think that a full-length book could be written about a ten minute argument/incident between two philosophers? And who would think that such a book would turn out to be a fascinating page turner? But that it is, with enough style, clarity and background to make the story 'matter'. Popper was arrogant and Wittgenstein loony, but their encounter, a microcosm of the biggest issue facing 20th century philosophy, was dramatic as this reconstruction boldly shows.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2002

    Entertaining and Edifying

    Dealing with technicalities and fine points mainly of interest to the world of professional academic (and specifically Western) philosophers, this book takes us back to a peculiar incident at Cambridge, England immediately after World War II, when the mystifying analytic philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein met the combative and aggressive Karl Popper, both Viennese expatriots adrift in the aftermath of the century's European convulsions. Both men were accustomed to making waves among their peers, both had reputations for innovative thought which broke new ground, and both had legions of followers and disciples. Wittgenstein, the older and more established of the two, was on his home turf (though, as always, ill at ease in the milieu he had claimed for his own) whereas Popper was something of an outsider, as he had been all his life. Popper apparently went to this philosophical tryst with the intention of overturning Wittgenstein's claim to being the gris eminence of the philosophical world and in order to replace Wittgenstein's vision with his own as the main philosophical theme around which others might rally or debate. He had, he felt, previously done just this with the so-called Vienna Circle's logical postivism which, as a philosophy, had developed under the spell of the early Wittgenstein. So Popper was looking for a reprise of his earlier success, but on a grander scale, as he matched himself up against the thinker who had been the logical positivists' idol. Wittgenstein, on the other hand, seems to have been distracted by personal issues at the time. Overall, this is a marvelous book in the background and insights it offers concerning the two combatants, and those who surrounded them. A little light on the philosophical issues, to be sure, and taking some liberties when it purports to get us into the heads of the protagonists in the events immediately leading up to and following the encounter, it also fails to offer any real revelation as to who really did what to whom. But, as others have noted elsewhere, it is fascinating to try to reconstruct the story, based on eyewitness and near-witness accounts in light of the philosophical questions these men were mainly concerned with: what can we know and how can we know it? More, it shows us the very human sides of both men. As with all of us, I suppose, they were not always entirely likable. For my part, I found the comparisons of the Wittgensteinian and Popperian viewpoints quite edifying and that, by itself, made the read worthwhile for me. If this stuff interests you, as well, then go for it. A fine book. -- SWM

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2002

    Penny Ante Poker Bluff?

    Instead of a serious concern with the content of the controversy between Wittgenstein and Popper - the purported subject - the journalist authors focus on their personalities. Some of the background information provided for this is interesting, much of it is trivial or irrelevant. Moreover, one discerns a quite unwarranted ani-Popper bias, some of it leading to quite unworthy speculation and innuendo. And while the thesis that today W. is of greater interest to philosophers than P. may be correct, Popper is of much greater current interest to social scientists than Wittgenstein. Any citation count would confirm this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2001

    Very difficult to put down

    This book is well-written and provides intimate insights into the character of the antagonists and their spectators. A must for anyone who is vaguely interested in philosophy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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