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Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophersby David Edmonds
Synopses & Reviews
William Blake saw "the world in a grain of sand." David Edmonds and John Eidinow had something trickier in mind. They sought to find buried in the details of a ten minute argument the entire intellectual history of the 20th century. Proof of their success is this extraordinary book Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper, both hugely influential philosophers, met but once, to disastrous results. Though the confrontation between these Titanic minds has since taken on a mythic aura, what actually happened remains a matter of heated debate. No matter. For Edmonds and Eidinow what's important are the questions raised, for each points the way toward another fascinating investigation of 20th-century intellectual life. The purpose of philosophy, the significance of language, the nature of knowledge, the personality of genius — not to mention a concise history of the Austrian Jews and the rise of Nazism — are all explored in Edmonds's and Eidinow's witty, readable prose. Farley, Powells.com
On October 25,1946, in a crowded room in Cambridge, England, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper came face-to-face for the first and only time. The encounter lasted just ten minutes, and did not go well.
Their loud and aggressive confrontation became the stuff of instant legend. Almost immediately, rumors spread around the world that the two great philosophers had come to blows, armed with red-hot pokers.
Twenty years later, when Popper wrote an account of the incident, he portrayed himself as the victor, provoking intense disagreement. Everyone present seems to have remembered events differently.
What really happened in those ten minutes? And what does the violence of this brief exchange tell us about these two men, modern philosophy, and the significance of language in solving our philosophical problems?
Wittgenstein's Pokeris an engaging mix of philosophy, history, biography. and literary detection. David Edmonds and John Eidinow evoke with dazzling clarity the tumult of fin-de-siècle Vienna, Wittgenstein's and Popper's birthplace; the tragedy of the Nazi takeover of Austria; and Cambridge University, with its eccentric set of philosophy dons, including Bertrand Russell, who acted as umpire at the meeting. At the center of the story stand the two philosophers themselves — proud, irascible, larger-than-life — and spoiling for a fight.
On October 25, 1946, in a crowded room in Cambridge, England, 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. But precisely what happened in those ten minutes remains the subject of intense disagreement. Almost immediately rumors spread around the world that the two great philosophers had come to blows, armed with red hot pokers. What really went on in that room? And what does the violence of this brief exchange tell us about these two men, modern philosophy, post war culture, and the difference between global problems and logic puzzles? As the authors unravel these events, your students will be introduced to the major branches of 20th century philosophy, the tumult of fin-de-siÈ cle Vienna— the birthplace of Popper and Wittgenstein, the events that led to the Nazi takeover of Austria, and Cambridge University, with its eccentric set of philosophy dons, including Bertrand Russell, who acted as umpire at the infamous meeting. At the center of the story stand the two philosophers themselves-proud, irascible, larger-than-life-and ready for a heated debate.
About the Author
David Edmonds is an award-winning journalists with the BBC. This book, his first, has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
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