[lit-ideas] Re: Rationality: Popper vs. Grice

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
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  • Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2015 09:04:38 -0500

In a message dated 2/9/2015 1:47:43 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx makes the crucial question (and other meta-linguistic ones, 
>"Why be rational?"
Perhaps Grice would consider that question too crucially. So that's why (or 
 that is because, as Geary prefers) he (Grice) distinguishes between 
'rational'  from 'reasonable' ('the price of those shoes ain't reasonable' 
sense;  'ain't rational' doesn't). It's best to start with the verb,
"to reason"
And surely if we are engaged in the game of reason, we might just as play  
it well ("If a thing is worth doing it, it is worth doing it right"). There 
is  an adjective for good reasoning, 'valid'. But 'reasoning' (like 
'cabbage', Grice  says) is one of those words that are value-oriented. They 
their own value  on its face. There is no such thing as 'bad reasoning'. Bad 
reasoning is just no  reasoning.
So rather than 'why be rational?', the philosopher aims at providing  
criteria for 'good' reasoning, where reasoning applies. Surely it doesn't apply 
when Rodin is making his sculptures (but it applies when Buonarroti is 
making  his sculptures -- odd that).

"Well, actually I thought that Popper of the Open Society had a point  
there. Various parts of the rationalist system can be defended in rational 
 but the system as a whole cannot be defended in its own terms without  
In what follows, Omar distinguishes between what Russell called an  
object-language (wrongly) and a meta-language (a barbarism: a hybrid of a Greek 
and a Latin root).
"We can (perhaps) explain to someone that such and such opinion or action  
is rational and its opposite irrational but finally there comes a point when 
we  are asked asked: "Why be rational ?" At this point, it is difficult to 
see how  the question be answered except by saying "Because it is rational 
to be rational  " which is circular"
Grice considers this in his Bootstrap principle: how to pull yourself by  
your own bootstraps. It ain't necessarily circular. Rather it involves an  
object-language, "x is rational" and a meta-language", "it is rational that x 
is  rational". Granted, Grice's Bootstrap principle enjoins that no item or 
object  in the object-language be introduced unless we have ways to describe 
it in the  meta-language ('to save a problem for the morrow', he adds).
"or else by invoking a personal or cultural commitment to rationalism which 
 is in itself not rational."
Granted, Grice, echoing Kant, called himself 'enough of a rationalist'.  
There are degrees of rationalism. One can be rationalist when enjoying a  
painting by Mondrian but not by Matisse, say. Similarly, to ask for a rational  
price of shoes, when what one needs is that the price is merely reasonable 
is to  be over-Kantian.
Omar concludes:
"If the later Popper found a solution to this conundrum I would like to  
know what it was."
Apparenly, it was Bartley, or Bartley III, as I prefer -- I love this very  
aristocratic way that Americans have of keeping things that the French 
ended  with the French Revolution -- cfr. Louis XIV -- who led Popper out of 
 conundum. Bartley was famous for getting into trouble especially with 
followers  of Witters, and it's good to learn in this occasion he led someone 
OUT of  trouble. 
William Warren Bartley, III, was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.
Bartley was brought up in a Protestant home. 
His mother said, "I would have brought him up in a Protestant CHURCH, but  
his father, W. W. Bartley II, protested. I was told my husband's mother had 
also  thought of bringing W. W. Bartley II in a Protestant Church, but W. W. 
Bartley,  I (as he then wasn't) had protested, too. It ran in the family."
W. W. Bartley, III, went to Harvard, graduating with a degree in  
philosophy -- which was considered 'classy' (the combo Harvard + philosophy). 
While at Harvard, W. W. Bartley, III was the editor at "The  Harvard 
Crimson", as he should (The "Harvard Crimson" didn't have an editor  then, and 
W. Bartley, III, thought it reasonable to assume the position). 
Later, the 'crossed the pond', as he put it, and met Sir Karl Popper at a  
famous pub in London.
As it happened, Sir Karl (as he was known to his friends) was then advising 
 students, and so W. W. Bartley, III, wrote his PhD essay on "The Limits of 
 Rationality: A Critical Study of Some Logical Problems of Contemporary  
Pragmatism and Related Movements".
He later said, "I know: it's a long title -- but I thought "The Limits of  
rationality" was too short, on the other hand". "Popper was unsure that 
'related  movements' was adequate. ""Movement" best applies to W1, as when I 
move my arm,  but that's not what you have in mind, in W2, is it, 'the third'?" 
(Popper kept  referring to W. W. Bartley, III as 'the third' implicating he 
knew W. W.  Bartley, I, and W. W. Bartley, II).
Bits of "The Limits of Rationality, etc." were subsequently published in  
his book, "The Retreat to Commitment".
Bartley would occasionally lecture in logic in London -- or "at London", as 
 he said in his letters to his family in the USA.
Later, he held positions at the Warburg Institute, which is very  posh.
Even later, he was appointed a post at the University of California, where  
Grice taught. But while Grice taught at UC/Berkeley, W. W. Bartley, III, 
taught  at UC/San Diego (Diego was a mediaeval saint, and W. W. Bartley, III, 
as a  Protestant, was sceptical about a university having a campus on a 
saint's  shrine). 
That was perhaps the reason he moved to University of Pittsburgh, founde by 
 Pitts, a Protestant (the 'Burgh' is decorative). 
W. W. Bartley, III, still later joined the California State  University, 
Hayward faculty as a Professor of Philosophy, where he received the  
distinction of “Outstanding Professor” of the entire California State 
It should be noted that the California State University is NOT where Grice  
taught. Grice taught at the University of California. 
The Hayward faculty is named after Hayward. 
Even later, W. W. Bartley became a Research Fellow ("that fellow  doing 
research there," as his mates called him, informally) at the Hoover  
Institution, named after Hoover.

Bartley and Popper had a great admiration for each other.
In other words, their admiration was mutual or reciprocal. 
This was partly because of their common stand against  justificationism.
There were few justificationists living in London then, which perhaps  
helped. ("All justificationists seem to have moved to Oxford -- or worse,  
Cambridge). (Geary is a justificationist). 
However, at the International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science at  
Bedford College, University of London, W. W. Bartley, III and his PhD thesis  
advisor -- aka Sir Karlk -- came into conflict with each other. 
Bartley had presented a paper, "Theories of Demarcation Between Science and 
 Metaphysics," in which he accused Popper of displaying a positivist 
attitude in  his early works and proposed that Popper's demarcation criterion 
not as  important as Popper thought it was. 
"I should have written, "as Popper THEN thought it was. It is amusing that  
all our fight was because I forgot to qualify Popper's thought."
Popper took this as a personal attack, as it wasn't. "I wasn't referring to 
 Popper the man, just Popper the philosopher". Popper replied in an open 
letter,  "By the same token, you might just as well distinguish between Margot 
Fonteyn  the woman and Margot Fonteyn the ballerina -- Nonsense!". 
Bartley took Sir Karl's reply as indicating that Popper was ignoring his  
"To be precise, I took his reply as indicating that he had read my  
criticism but found it _stoopid" (transcript of talk -- W. W. Bartley uses the  
American pronunciation of 'stupid', /stupid/, not /stjupid/. Perhaps there is 
an  implicature there.
Their friendship was not restored until much later, after the publication  
of The Philosophy of Karl Popper (edited by Paul Schillpp) in the "Library 
of  Living Philosophers" (As Schillpp commented, "Surely we don't need a 
Library of  Dead Philosophers"). 
W. W. Bartley, III, abruptly changed the tone of his remarks about Popper's 
 criterion of demarcation, making it less aggressive. 
"I added a few 'pleases' and 'thankyous' for good measure. I even included  
the occasional Germanism, to please his Austrian pride: 'ach', 'noch'"). 
However, despite the restored friendship, W. W. Bartley, III's view -- pace 
 McEvoy -- was never accepted by Popper, who criticised it even after 
Bartley's  death.
Popper said, "I knew he didn't then have a chance to respond", implicating, 
 'falsify my view'. 

On top of things, W. W. Bartley, III, took the time to publish a very  
controversial biography of Witters (Austin: Some like Witters, but Moore's MY  
man"). ("I thought a bio of Moore would sell less").
Many perceived W. W. Bartley, III's book as a posthumous "attack" on  
Wittgenstein, with the emphasis on 'attack' rather than 'posthumous' (Witters  
was indeed dead by then). 
In a second edition of the biography (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1985, 
 pp. 159–97), W. W. Bartley, III, answered the objections of critics.
The biography inspired Jarman, where he makes a point about the connections 
 between Witters's philosophy and his private life (that W. W. Bartley, 
III,  denied -- but then 'never saw the film.').
W. W. Bartley, III, also wrote a biography of Werner Erhard, the founder of 
 est. It tells everything about Werner Erhard, from his birth to his days  
of fame, with the bits in between. 
W. W. Bartley, III, was graduate of Erhard Seminars Training.
Werner Erhard refers to W. W. Bartley, III, in the book as "My friend  
Bill", which is odd, as W. W. Bartley went by the more aristocratic, "W. W.  
Bartley, III", and hardly "Bill". 
Still, W. W. Bartley, III, served on the advisory board of Est, an  
educational company.
W. W. Bartley, III, edited the book by Oxonian C. L. Dodgson (best known  
for "Alice in Wonderland"), Symbolic Logic, including the second volume, 
which  Carroll had never published.
"Alice never liked it," Dodgson says in his Private Journal. ("What's the  
good of a book without drawings?"). What pained Dodgson is that the second  
volume of Symbolic Logic "does have drawings -- if, if I myself might say 
so,  rather boring ones"). 
W. W. Bartley, III, extends Popperian epistemology in his book The Retreat  
to Commitment, in which he describes Pancritical rationalism (PCR), a  
development of critical rationalism and panrationalism. 
PCR attempts to work around the problem of ultimate commitment or infinite  
regress by decoupling criticism and justification.
A pancritical rationalist holds all positions open to criticism, including  
PCR, and never resorts to authority for justification.
Cfr. Margaret Thatcher.
Parts of Popper's Realism and the Aim of Science, a book that W.  W. 
Bartley, III, edited, and the Addendum to the fourth edition of The Open  
and Its Enemies contain passages that are commonly interpreted as  Popper's 
acceptance of Bartley's views. 
These were in fact written by W. W. Bartley, III, himself, but this is  
Alan Ebenstein, a biographer of F. A. Hayek, criticized W. W. Bartley, III, 
 for the extent of the changes he made as the editor of The Fatal Conceit.
("It was as if someone annotating Grice's "Logic and Conversation" were to  
retitle the thing, "Conversation and Logic", he said to "The Financial  
Bruce Cadwell suggests that the book in its published form may actually  
have been written by W. W. Bartley, III. 
Bartley lived in Oakland, that Grice often visited -- the city, because it  
has a good Italian restaurant. Grice once found a stray cat in Oakland, 
which he  called "Oakland" (He already had one called Sausalito and one called 
Bartley published "Unfathomed Knowledge, Unmeasured Wealth: On Universities 
 and the Wealth of Nations", a rather obscure book.
Other works he was preparing included writing a biography, and editing the  
collected works, of Friedrich Hayek. 
The latter was being completed after W. W. Bartley, III's death.
Also "unfinished" was a biography of Popper. 
Both biographies were in an advanced stage at the time of W. W. Bartley,  
III's death.
Bibliography: The Retreat to Commitment.
Morality and Religion.
Lewis Carroll's Symbolic Logic.
Ludwig Wittgenstein e Karl Popper: maestri di scuola elementare.
Come demarcare la scienza della metafisica.
Werner Erhard, The Transformation of a Man: The Founding of est.
The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, (editor, with F. A.  Hayek)
Rehearsing a revolution – Karl Popper: A Life.
Unfathomed Knowledge, Unmeasured Wealth.
Notes: M.  Artigas: The Ethical Nature of Karl Popper's Theory of  
Knowledge, "About Bartley and the Institute". The Bartley Institute; David  
Bartley. Critical Rationalism; Gerard Radnitzky: William W. Bartley III  
Popper Letters, Karl R. Popper: On the Sources of Knowledge and of Ignorance.  
Proceedings of the British Academyreprinted in Conjectures and Refutations;  
Kiichi Tachibana: Mails exchanged between Prof. Tachibana and Prof. Agassi 
On  the Kyoto Prize Workshop. Popper Letters William Warren Bartley III,  
Wittgenstein, Philadelphia, Lippincott, Madigan, Timothy J. "The Uses and 
Abuses  of Philosophical Biographies". Philosophy Now  Philosophy Now. 
Ankerberg,  John and John Weldon Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs: The New Age 
Movement.  Eugene OR: Harvest House Publishers. Gardner, Martin The Universe in 
Handkerchief: Lewis Carroll's Mathematical Recreations, Games, Puzzles, and 
Word  Plays. New York: Springer. Wettersten, John R. "Karl Popper and 
Critical  Rationalism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. ^ Rowbottom, 
P.  (Popper's Critical Rationalism: A Philosophical Investigation. New York: 
 Routledge. .
Alan Ebenstein: Investigation: The Fatal Deceit. Liberty 19:3.  Karl 
Popper, a Centenary Assessment Vol. 1: Life and Times, and Values in a  World 
Facts. Stephen Kresge: On the Passing of W. W. Bartley III. Popper  Letters. 
Obituary: “William W. Bartley 3d, Research Fellow, 55”, New York Times.  
Caldwell, Bruce J. "Review of "Friedrich Hayek: A Biography"". The Independent 
 Review. Independent Institute. Why simply as Bartley. Bartley discussing 
The  Burghers of Calais with Popper, on Stanford campus Categories: 
California State  University, East Bay faculty, Critical rationalists. 
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