The Grice Club


The Grice Club

The club for all those whose members have no (other) club.

Is Grice the greatest philosopher that ever lived?

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Grice Under Discussion


Language Under Discussion has just published its first issue at The focus article for this issue is "Small Model Languages as Tools for Reflection", by Paul Richard Rastall (see table of contents below).

Language Under Discussion issues remain open for one year so that readers may send in discussion notes in response to the focus article the issue features. Notes accepted for publication after peer review will be published in the same issue, and the author of the focus article will close the issue with a response to the published notes. All articles published in Language Under Discussion are also open to comments by registered readers. We encourage you to take part in the discussion!

Best wishes, and a happy new year,

Esther Pascual, Marla Perkins and Sergeiy Sandler,

Table of contents:

Language Under Discussion
Vol 1, No 1 (2013)
Table of Contents

Editorial: Let the discussion begin (i-ii)
        Esther Pascual, Marla Perkins,  Sergeiy Sandler

Focus Article
Small Model Languages as Tools for Reflection (1-23)
        Paul Richard Rastall

Language Under Diuscussion

Monday, December 30, 2013

Grice and Geach on 'and'/'but' as throwing a different light onto the sense of "p & q" -- "Reason and Argument" (Geach following Frege's parlance)


Grice and Geach and Strawson on "Tom and Mary had a baby" and "Tom and Mary got married"


Geach, Reason and argument

If a dog is a father and yours, it does not follow it is your dog; but if a dog is a spaniel and it's yours, it does follow it is your spaniel.


Geach, Reason and argument.

Grice and Geach on "... as sure as God made little apples"


In "Reason and Argument".

Grice and Geach on "as sure as eggs are eggs"


Reason and Argument

Littlewood and the number of eggs: a Cambridge folk-tale


Retold by Geach, Reason and argument:

SCHOOL TEACHER: Suppose y is the number of eggs.
ABSURD PUPIL: But Sir, please sir, suppose y ISN'T the number of eggs?

And Logic said, "I cannot tell you what I know; I can only tell you what _you_ know" -- C. S. Lewis, "The Pilgrim's Regress" -- cited by Geach in the excellent "Reason and Argument"


So YOU say!


A reference to Wells's character, Toddy Beamish in "The man who worked miracles" (or rather, "who COULD work miracles"). Excellent!

Excellent references by Geach to J. C. Wilson and Prichard -- "Oxford philosophers" -- on certainty in "Reason and Argument"


Geach on Japan


The Japan astronomer who thought, ONLY WHILE IN JAPAN, that the sun was a divinity.

Geach's reference to Saccheri, the mathematician in "Reason and Argument": non-Euclidean geometries


Grice and Geach on Wells on Time Travel


"Inconsistent, but imaginative" -- Geach, in "Reason and Argument".

When is it unreasonable to ask for a reason?


Geach's question in "Discussion topics" to "Reason and Argument".

Interesting reference by Geach to a poem by Thomas Hardy on the 'rationality of belief', without so many words


In "Reason and Argument".

Grice on The Necessity of Atheism


Never wrote a word about it, but Geach mentions Shelley did, with interesting consequences. Shelley thought to convert all Oxford dons. Instead, he was sent down.

Geach's reference to Ward ("Ideal" Ward) in "Reason and Argument": both Balliol-associated


The Grice Song Book


Geach sings about Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein
Shalom Lappin, of King's College, London, recalls that in 1974 Peter Thomas Geach (if not Herbert Paul Grice) came to the Philosophy Department at Tel Aviv University, where Lappin was a young lecturer.

After Geach's talk, there was a reception at the home of the Chair of the Department.

During the reception, Geach expressed the desire to sing a song that he had composed in German about Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, the debate over definite descriptions, and other matters philosophical.

I recorded the song on a cassette tape, which became part of my collection, and it accompanied me on my wanderings.

It disappeared in our house here for many years until my wife came upon it unexpectedly in a drawer, this past weekend.

Some additional rummaging turned up an old tape deck with stereo speakers, long unused.

Unfortunately the tape had split, but several days of analogue engineering and a transplant to a blank cassette (amazingly, still available at Mapplin, right here on The Strand) managed to restore it.

Lappin has now produced an mp3 file of the recording.

The sound quality is not great, but Geach's lyrics are clear, and he is in fine voice.


Lappin writes with more information/

Mark Textor points out that Geach's song is apparently based on a poem by Heine.

He has translated the song, sustaining the analogy with the poem.
We include Textor's translation of Geach, a published translation of the Heine poem, and the German original of the poem (all generously provided by Textor), below.

We thank Textor for his insights and his translation.

This would seem to open up new lines of research in Geach scholarship.

Anyone interested in pursuing them (or changing their thesis topic accordingly) should contact Textor.

We  am merely the sound engineer here."

Geach’s Philosophical Take on the ‘Lorelei’


I know not if there is a reason

why I am so sad at heart

for Frege explains in so many pages that there is a Sinn
but fear weighs heavy when nightfalls

and nothing nothings the No

the peak of the mountain is sparkling

in the furthest Aussersein

the round square twinkles

the King of France is sitting up there

& combing his only hair

with a one tooth comb

& sings a song as well

Which has an enthralling silent melody
In his little boat, Frege hears it with much woe
He does not see the contradictions, he only gazes up the mountain
I believe that the waves will devour Frege and his ship
And this by his song's sheer power

Herr Wittgenstein has done.



By Heinrich Heine

Translated by A.Z. Foreman

I know not if there is a reason

Why I am so sad at heart.

A legend of bygone ages

Haunts me and will not depart.

The air is cool under nightfall.

The calm Rhine courses its way.

The peak of the mountain is sparkling

With evening's final ray.

The fairest of maidens is sitting

Unwittingly wondrous up there,

Her golden jewels are shining,

She's combing her golden hair.

The comb she holds is golden,

She sings a song as well

Whose melody binds an enthralling

And overpowering spell.

In his little boat, the boatman

Is seized with a savage woe,

He'd rather look up at the mountain

Than down at the rocks below.

I think that the waves will devour

The boatman and boat as one;

And this by her song's sheer power

Fair Lorelei has done.

The Original:

Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,

Daß ich so traurig bin;

Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten,

Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.

Die Luft ist kühl, und es dunkelt,

Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;

Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt

In Abendsonnenschein.

Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet

Dort oben wunderbar,

Ihr goldenes Geschmeide blitzet,

Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar.

Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme

Und singt ein Lied dabei;

Das hat eine wundersame,

Gewaltige Melodei.

Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe

Ergreift es mit wildem Weh;

Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe,

Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh'.

Ich glaube, die Wellen verschlingen

Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn;

Und das hat mit ihrem Singen

Die Lorelei getan.

 Geach's text is a parody of Heine's poem.

In fact, Geach is singing his words to the most familiar setting of that poem -- by Friedrich Silcher (1789-1860).

While Geach is indeed in fine voice, one can find on YouTube a recording of Silcher's original by the incomparable Richard Tauber.

Herbert Paul Grice and Peter Thomas Geach -- Two Programmes for Syntax


Geach’s rich paper ‘A Program for Syntax’ introduced many ideas into the arena of categorial grammar, not all of which have been given the attention they warrant in the thirty years since its first publication.

On the other hand, Grice was working on what he called System Q, that Myro re-titled System G, and which is now called System GHP: a highly powerful version of System G.

Rather surprisingly, one of our findings is that Geach's essay not only does not contain a statement of what has widely come to be known as “Geach’s Rule”, but in fact presents considerations which are inimical to the adoption of the rule in question.

With regard to at least some amongst the numerous other points extracted here from Geach’s discussion, we shall not be able to reach so definitive a conclusion, and content ourselves with giving the issues an airing.

Or not.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Grice's Non-Conformism, Geach's Catholicism -- Hullo Geach -- Good hols -- Does God exist this term?


The philosopher Peter Geach has died.

And so has Paul Grice.

Geach taught for many years at the Universities of Birmingham and Leeds, and also as a Visiting Professor at the University of Warsaw.

He wrote many influential books and articles, several of which are noted by the philosopher John Haldane.

In 1941 Geach married Elizabeth Anscombe, and together they had seven children.

There is a famous photograph of Geach and Anscombe, taken in 1990.

Along with Anscombe and Michael Dummett (who died in 2011), Geach was one of the very most important Catholic philosophers of the twentieth century.

Geach was born in Lower Chelsea, London in 1916.

He was raised mostly by his father, who had been trained in philosophy but had never been able to secure a prestigious teaching position, and saw in his son a worthy pupil.

Geach's telling, his father had the habit of changing his religious beliefs several times a year—always quite suddenly, and always with strong arguments for the change.

As a young man, Geach would follow his father through these transitions, and he recalls being teased by a school friend on returning from college:

"Hullo, Geach! Good hols?

Does God exist this term?"

Under his father's tutelage, one of Geach's earliest philosophical influences was the metaphysician J.M.E. McTaggart, who infamously argues in his 1908 essay The Unreality of Time for, well, the unreality of time.

Geach's initial resistance to McTaggart's views gave way to what he calls "the irresistible force of reasoning," and he became for some time a firm adherent to McTaggart's system, his views "honed to a sharp edge by controversy."

After enrolling as a student at Balliol, Geach's intellectual combatants came to include increasing numbers of Catholics.

He tells the rest:

"I was certainly cleverer than they were, but they had the immeasurable advantage that they were right — an advantage that they did not throw away by resorting to the bad philosophy and apologetics then sometimes taught in Catholic schools."

"One day my defences quite suddenly collapsed."

"I knew that if I were to remain an honest man I must seek instruction in the Catholic Religion."

"I was received into the Catholic Church on May 31, 1938."

I suspect that only someone who had seen his father undergo dozens of conversions could have changed his own views so suddenly.

This time, however, it took.

As the above excerpts reveal (they are all from Geach's "Philosophical Autobiography," published in Peter Geach: Philosophical Encounters, ed. Harry A. Lewis), in addition to being an extraordinary philosopher Geach was an exquisitely talented writer.

He could also be very funny, even in addressing technical philosophical topics.

For example, there is a crucial passage in his well-known book Mental Acts where it will gradually dawn on the careful reader that Geach has adopted the prose style of Thomas Aquinas and is mirroring several Thomistic distinctions.

He reveals in the following paragraph that this is no accident, as the passage follows almost phrase-for-phrase an article from the Summa Theologiae.

The depth and scope of Geach's learning is evident in every page of his writing, where he draws freely on his knowledge of philosophical history in discussing complex issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind and language.

Along with Aquinas and McTaggart (whose system he presents in his 1982 book Truth, Love, and Immortality), Geach's main philosophical heroes were Aristotle, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Gottlob Frege, if not Grice (born 1913, and whom he would know fom his Balliol years -- note that Geach was quoting extensively from Strawson, then, who rightly credits his tutor "Mr. H. P. Grice").

Remarkably to me, in his autobiography Geach also has a lot of positive things to say about Thomas Hobbes.

Like any good Thomist, and unlike many poor ones, Geach did not work backwards from predetermined conclusions, but always let the reasons lead him, confident that truth would prevail.

Here his how Geach describes his philosophical process in his autobiography, contrasting it with the "more adventurous" strategy of his wife Anscombe:

My mind works differently.

The shocking theses I have defended in the philosophy of logic were reached not in bold leaps but by slow steps, with each step mentally tested against a multitude of examples and objections before the next step was taken.

Both of us, I hope, have avoided two vices: frivolous change of mind, and adherence to past sayings in the desire to have been right rather than be right.

This difference in philosophical style also made Geach a very different sort of writer than Anscombe.

Whereas her writings lack the kind of evident structure that today's philosophers mostly take for granted, Geach is more obviously orderly in his presentation.

But they shared a conviction that good philosophy requires close attention to the workings of language—an insight that in his autobiography Geach credits to Aquinas.

"While studying Aquinas I could not help noticing that he is linguistically very self-conscious, in a way that McTaggart is not.

Again and again there is a careful discussion of logico-grammatical points, like the roles of nouns, adjectives, verbs, and particles.

He uses the best contemporary work of logicians (sophistae), but when their work will not serve his ends he devises tools of his own to analyse the language of his theological arguments.

Like Aquinas, Geach did not think the tools of logical analysis were applicable only to "abstract" topics like the nature of time or the semantics of singular terms.

He also wrote, in the very same style, about love, hope, the soul, the efficacy of prayer, and whether we survive our deaths.

He was an immensely important thinker, and his writings will remain influential for many years to come.

May he rest in peace.

Defender of Catholicism in anti-Catholic academe, lover of logic in weakly rational Catholicism, we owe him.  Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may the perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.

Amen, amen.

I once heard Geach speak in Maynooth, where he denounced the idea that Jesus did not know he was God. "If he didn't know, how can we?" was his question.

I suggested that it might be one of the truths that the Holy Spirit taught the infant church.

The question still nags, however.

Geach and Anscombe were overheard by a philosopher friend of mine as they went up the stairs after a meeting with French philosophers - Anscombe was saying to Geach:

"Of course, they don't really see what counts as an argument."

Like so many Catholic apologists, Geach could be feisty in debate, and is said to have either struck or poured beer over an antagonist in a pub discussion.

Mary Geach clarifies this:

"The story about pouring beer stems
from a false accusation made by a mad man
who had been flicking beer at people in a pub,
and on whose head a girl, annoyed by this, had poured beer herself."

"The lunatic assumed, wrongly, that it was Geach who had done this, and pursued him down the hill to the university."

 Peter Geach said to the lunatic:

'I am keeping my hands in my pockets', and when he got to the glass doors of the university quickly used his keys to get in and then shut the door.

The madman walked through the glass of the door, smashing it, upon which the porters sent for the police, to whom he repeated his accusation before a gathering crowd of students who took his side.

The poor fellow was taken away, since the charge against him was NOT that of attacking my father, but of damage to the property of the university.

The lunatic's disturbed state was expained after he committed suicide a week later.

His girl had had their baby aborted.

He had NOT been in discussion with Geach about this or anything else.

Geach is in my prayers.

In my studies I have enjoyed reading the work of the Geachcombes immensely.

One of my professors who knew them always had wonderful things to say about them. May the rest in peace.

In a chapter entitled "What Do We Think With" in his book God and the Soul, Peter Geach argued to the non-material character of the soul. 

But a paragraph near the beginning of the chapter I think is simply mistaken.

He wrote:

The doctrine of acts of understanding is quite wrongly attributed to the medieval scholastics.

Though in ordinary Latin 'intelligere" means "understand," medieval Latin is often a standard rendering of Aristotle's Greek, and "intelligere" is Aristotle's "noiein" which is Greek for "to think of" not for "to understand."

First, my classical Greek dictionaries all give, as the first meaning of noiein "to perceive by the mind, to apprehend, to understand" , whereas "to consider, to think" is given as the second meaning.

Second, the medieval scholastics had available the verb cogitare for "to think or think about", and at least Aquinas could speak of cogitatio or ratiocinatio as a process that ends with intellectio, "understanding, and "conceptio," the expression of the content of an act of understanding. This did not inspire confidence in Geach as an interpreter of Aquinas. 

And I've been unable to understand why he should have thought it legitimate to speak of acts of thinking but not of acts of understanding.

I can't help wonder whether the Geaches are writing reminiscences of the golden age of analytic philosophy. 

It would be fascinating to see tthe analytic giants from your perspectives as children.

Mary Geach wrote:

In this year's longest night my father died
before the dawning of the darkest day
our youngest sister praying by his side
fair fruit of his love's generosity
who got us all good-heartedly all seven
and taught us to love truth that was his lord
whose courtier he asked to be in heaven
and was his soldier bore the spirit's sword
struck blow on blow for truth abd could divide
distinguish by the cunning that they brought
truth spirit and truth's long-prevailing word
by their relations in that each in each
loves with a love reflected in man's speech

Some should offer apologies for perpetuating that rumour, and one is very happy to see it scotched, and shall duly correct it if I ever encounter it again.

Not sure what the discussion of "acts of understanding" is about. Aristotle's noein had a big influence considered as an intuitive intelligizing that Augustine calls intellectus (see what he says on purity of heart in De sermone Domine in monte); the nosse sui or notitia sui in De trinitate IX is close to this noein, as transmitted via Plotinus. The active intellect of Aquinas also has a noetic character of this sort.

But of course the medievals had a huge grasp of logical intelligizing and of  the abstractive power of the agent intellect and of various practices of cogitation and judgment. So it is hard to say that any kind of act of understanding was unknown to them.

Perhaps Geach was making some sort of Wittgensteinian point about the non-existence of mental acts and was saying that the medievals had a more vibrant and integrated grasp of intellectual activity so that they did not need to posit such philosophical esoterica as "mental acts"?

Not sure what the discussion of "acts of understanding" is about. Aristotle's noein had a big influence considered as an intuitive intelligizing that Augustine calls intellectus (see what he says on purity of heart in De sermone Domine in monte); the nosse sui or notitia sui in De trinitate IX is close to this noein, as transmitted via Plotinus. The active intellect of Aquinas also has a noetic character of this sort.
But of course the medievals had a huge grasp of logical intelligizing and of  the abstractive power of the agent intellect and of various practices of cogitation and judgment. So it is hard to say that any kind of act of understanding was unknown to them.

Perhaps Geach was making some sort of Wittgensteinian point about the non-existence of mental acts and was saying that the medievals had a more vibrant and integrated grasp of intellectual activity so that they did not need to posit such philosophical esoterica as "mental acts"?
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What a beautiful tribute to your parents -- philosophers mirroring deepest theological truths!
Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Sorry about double posting, due to a strange message asking me to prove I am not a zombie -- must be the influence of philosophy.

And I've been unable to understand why he should have thought it legitimate to speak of acts of thinking but not of acts of understanding

I can't speak for Geach -- or on the question of translation -- but this particular point seems right to me. It makes good sense to speak of thoughts as consciously occurrent, and as progressing from beginning to end over a certain period of time (or maybe happening at an instant). (E.g. I think to myself: I wonder if there can be acts of understanding.) But understanding isn't like this: it doesn't have a conscious character in the same way as thought (though of course one may be consciously aware of what one understands), and even if understanding is temporally located, it doesn't unfold through time in the way that thoughts do, but simply begins and ends. Still, understanding may be a kind of act (or activity) -- but not in the sense that word has in everyday English.

P J McGrath made that objection to Lonergan's "Insight" -- he said that insight in Lonergan's sense could not be a mental act --- perhaps rooting out some "psychologism" in Lonergan (see Corcoran, ed. Looking at Lonergan's Method).

If I can be conscious of thinking, e.g., when I am trying to understand something, why cannot I be conscious of the act in which I get the point I've been trying to understand, a "Eureka!" moment?  Don't people today speak about "Aha! moments"? I don't think they occur unconsciously.
Or perhaps the problem is in what is meant by consciousness?

I never saw any problem with mental acts either, but I am not sure I understand what the problem is supposed to be.

If I can be conscious of thinking, e.g., when I am trying to understand something, why cannot I be conscious of the act in which I get the point I've been trying to understand, a "Eureka!" moment?  Don't people today speak about "Aha! moments"? I don't think they occur unconsciously.
I agree with this, but it shows only that there can be an act (in the everyday sense) of coming to understand, or of understanding's "dawning". But understanding itself persists beyond this initial moment, and has a very different character from it.

Well, yes, of course, understanding can persist after the dawning moment and, linked with other insights, can become part of the furniture of one's mind--which perhaps is what is meant by "habitual knowledge," which is not constantly before one's conscious mind, but can be drawn on as needed.  But Geach seemed to have set himself against acts of understanding themselves. I may be mistaken, but I don't get the impression he was talking about habitual knowledge.
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We are pretty deep into the woods here, but my thought on Geach's behalf is that in denying that there are acts of understanding he needn't deny that there are acts of coming to understand -- or, perhaps better, acts of conscious realization or "seeing how it fits together" that are closely associated with understanding but are not constitutive of it, standing to it instead as judgment stands to belief or a felt pang of yearning stands to desire.

About the ambiguity of "consciousness" -- consciousness has, of course, been a hot topic for generations now.  What I find surprising is that in spite of all the fine Aristotelian analyses of the elements of mental act, neither Aristotle nor his medieval followers had isolated out from the complexity of mental acts the clear, simple element of "awareness".  The medievals used the Latin word "conscientia" ambiguously to mean "thinking with others", "thinking about the morality of an act" ("consciene" in today's sense) including vaguely "being aware of".  They  just didn't have a word for the basic awareness that is common to all conscious acts.  As I see it, it was only with the work of G. E. Moore, the early analytic philosopher that the distinction between the *consciousness of-* an object and its *object* was finally made clear.

As I understand the history of the concept,  it was only with Descartes' "cogito" that the simple note of "being aware" began to be focused on. So far as I know, Locke was the first Anglophone to focus on awareness, and he started using the term "consciousness" without any connotation of "conscience".or "thinking with others". Husserl, of course,  was enormously interested in intentionality, but intentionalityis only a *characteristic* of awareness.  I don't know how far he got into isolating awareness as such.  (Does anybody here know?)
Finally, with Moore's making crystal clear the distinction between "consciousness of" and "a patch of blue", philosophy had an available distinction between "consciousness of" and "object of consciousness"  But it took over 2000 years to get there!  Today, of course, the word's meaning has been complicated by the realization that there are mental actions that are in some sense of the word "un-conscious" yet in some sense conscious at the same time -- "unconscious acts of consciousness" seems, obviously, an oxymoron, but we do seem to have them.

But this does not in any way solve the problem of whether there are acts of understanding, since we can ask of someone whether he understands a matter though he is  asleep. Of such a man,we can say that he undertands e.g. a mathematical fact. So whatever else it may be, understanding is not consciousness,in the sense of being a Cartesian cogitatio.

Surely Augustine grasped the reality of consciousness -- or awareness -- even more than Descartes; he broods on it quite a lot in De trinitate IX-X for example.

Husserl isolated the consciousness of time (Zeitbewusstein) insofar as this is possible.

And again, who was Husserl's primary predecessor in that? St Augustine! (Confesiones IX)

Both Augustine and Aquinas have the concept of a "notitia sui" (knowledge of oneself) that is not reflective, scientific "cognitio sui" (knowledge of oneself).  One could look at Aquinas' several treatments of the self-knowledge of the soul.  And both men seem to have had a keen sense of the mind's self-presence.

Mary Geach writes:

"But this does not in any way solve the problem of whether there are acts of understanding, since we can ask of someone whether he understands a matter though he is  asleep."

"Of such a man,we can say that he undertands e.g. a mathematical fact."

"So whatever else it may be, understanding is not consciousness,in the sense of being a Cartesian cogitatio."

If a person understands a mathematical fact while asleep, it can only be in the sense of habitual understanding.  I do not believe one can say that a sleeping man is understanding a mathematical fact. 

I do not identify understanding and consciousness, but I do claim that acts of understanding are conscious acts (so are sensing, inquiring, reflecting, judging, deliberating, deciding, etc.)  .
I would say that Descartes' appeal to the Cogito is to a conscious event that supplies the evidence for the inference: If A, then B. But A. Therefore B.

Mary Geach:

"Does one who habitually understands have a habit of perorming acts of understanding?"

"If he understands the use of the word 'of', say, does an act of understanding take place every time he uses the word?"

--- This reminds me of Grice's recollection of overhearing a tutorial by his tutor, Hardie,

"And what is the meaning, I pray, of 'of'?"

"Depends on what you mean by 'of'"

"What do you mean, 'of'?"

I'd probably say that it means that an understanding of the use of the word is now so habitual, that is, so implanted in his general knowledge of how to use the English language that he does not advert to it. He may advert to it when someone, perhaps a foreigner, misues the word, and he must explain the English usage. In which case, the habitual understanding becomes actual.
What do you think it means to say that someone understands the use of the word 'of'"?

'I would say that he had the ability to use it correctly.I don't think that there is some bit of 'awareness' that he adverts to when he does so.

I agree and thought I had said so above.  I would also say that one has the ability by understanding how the word is used.

I am in Venice, which is even more depopulated that when I was here in 2004 -- its thousands of bad restaurants are run by Chinese etc -- and at night it is dead, dead, dead -- so this leaves me leisure to reflect on what feats of consciousness underlie one's understanding of the world "of".

It's a rather tricky example since one learned the use of this word so early in childhood.

A better example might be, how did I come to understand the difference between objective and subjective genitive. I certainly had headaches trying to understand it at various times in my life. Indeed I am experiencing such a headache at this very moment.

Let's see: "the king's daughter" is subjective genitive, I suppose -- she belongs to the subject who is the king.
Now what can an objective genitive be?
I'm stumped.

How about "mastery of English" -- it's not mastery that belongs to English as a subject but mastery of English as an object. Oh, something isglimmering in my mnd. Not quite an "Aha!" of insight but certainly a sense of performing an act of apparent understanding.
Let me secure the insight now, and never let it go,so that I will never again experience the headache I referred to.
"Vision of Dante" can mean a vision Dante had, as a subject, or a vision one has of Dante, as an object.
Was this not an act of understanding?

About consciousness:  Even the concept of "self-knowledge" includes a complicating factor -- that of "self".  In other words, "conscious of self" is not a grasp of pure awareness.  (But this gets us into the contemporary problem of the meaning, if any, of "I".)
Once the object (awareness) is isolated out, my next question is:  are there different *kinds* of awareness, or do experiences differ only by oject, by complexity  or by some other differentia?  (There are many ways of classifying experiences, but I suspect that there is only one sort of awareness.)
I also suspect that the Buddhists have something to teach us about all this.  Pioneer phenomenologists.

Then there is Rom 5:5:  "The love of God is poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  Is this "of God" an objective or a subjective genitive?

thI think that both "understand" and "habitual" are ambiguous.  To speak Aristotelianese, memory is the habitual presence of knowledge in the mind, and as such it is not fully actualized.  It is only when the knowledge becomes fully actualized (i.e., present in awareness) that we are said to "know" in the full sense of "know" or "understand". 
Note:  Aristotle didn't have a clear concept of "awareness" either, so far as I know.  It was for him, as for the others, implicit in their analyses but not analysed out, sort of like water to fish.

Yes, in theology whole worlds turn on subj or obj genitives. "the faith of Christ" is a notorious case. But when Luther interprets the "righteousness of God" as not the righteousness that God has but the righteousness that God works in us, for our justification, or, extending this, "the love of God" not as the love that God has but the love he works in us, for our sanctification, the shift isnot from subjective to objective gentive but rather within the subjective genitive, a quality God has becoming an action God does. The objective genitive of "our love of God" is not in Paul but maybe in I John (and in active verbal form in the Shema repeated in the Gospels). It played a huge role in Western spirituality.

Consider:  While awareness is ordinarily distinct from its object, it can also be aware of itself.  In other words, there is (1)  being aware of an obect which is other than the awareness of itself, and there is (2) being awareness being aware of itself.  But also there is (3) a generalized concept of awareness formed on the basis of (2
Ordinarily we aren't thinking that we are thinking as we do it, but sometimes we are acutely aware of thinking (2).  And we can generalize about both -- as when Descartes said, "I think, therefore, I am".   (Will he never cease to fascinate?)  This generalization is (3).  (Can we also think about thinking about thinking?  That's too rich for me :-)
It also seems to me that consciouness-of is not the same thing as attention/focusing/adverting.  The latter seems to be a very complex act.  Hopefully the neuroscientists with tell us something new about it -- it seems they're looking for a specific part of the brain which has focusing as its function.

I'd like to retract that last statement about Descartes' "I think" being a generalization.  It is a generalization in an Ockahmist, nominalist sort of way, but not in any Aristotelian sense.

I think consciousness is a concomitant awareness. When I see something, I am aware not only of the object seen but of my seeing it. Consciousness is the latter.  It is what permits us to advert to previous experiences when, for example, we are asked to explain the difference between "joy" and "happiness." The words point to different experiences, and we are able to understand these differences by recalling our experience, that is, consciousness, the two emotions. 
If I were to ask my students, "Have you ever had an "aha! moment?", and one were to say, "Yes," she would be able to point to a moment of subjective experience, with the focus not so much on what was understood but on the experience of having understood it, perhaps after a long or difficult struggle to understand.

The Buddhists have huge discussions about svasamvedana, reflexive awareness, and the Madhaymakas regard the idea with their usual skepticism.
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Permalink Joseph S. O Leary December 29, 2013 - 2:41am
Madhyamakas I mean.

JAK --  I agree that when one remembers joy and happiness one is also aware of having been aware of those two objects  -- but that is because joy and happiness are intrinsically conscious events, that is, there is no joy nor happiness without their being (1) awareness of the feelings and (2) awareness that  they are our own.  (Enter the awareness of the self?)  Hence the double awareness.
But what about being aware of things that aren't subjective?  Let's say you look at the Thanksgiving buffet table and it's full of different dishes.  Will you be aware of being aware of them?  And to complicate things, will you be aware of the dishes individually as you glance at the table?  Would you know right off that there were both Brussell sprouts and spinach on the table?  And would you be conscious/aware of being conscious/aware of the sprouts and spinach too?
(I just think that even ordinary perceptions are extremely complex, not to mention the complexity of remembering and reasoning processes.)

It wasn't until I learned about grammatical cases in Latin that I understood the difference between "who" and "whom."

 I had never heard of cases before, and I remember quite clearly the moment of insight that enabled me to use the language correctly.

Ann:  It's not simply joy and happiness that are "conscious events." So are looking at a Thanksgiving buffet, distinguishing among the variety of dishes, and discovering that there are both Brussel sprouts and spinach.  How could one do any of these while asleep or in a coma?  They're all conscious events. (By consciousness I don't mean an explicitly reflective act, nor an introspective one.  One can attempt introspection, if one wants, and try to analyze consciousness, but what you have done then is to turn one's consciousness into an object, but that effort, of course, is itself a conscious event. You can't catch up to yourself, as it were.  That's why I wouldn't speak of consciousness as an awareness of being aware.

How could you diagramme sentences without telling who from whom? 

I think by "consciousness" you mean what I would use "full awareness" for, i.e., awareness-of an object and awareness of awareness-of that object.  I suspect that there are *degrees* of consciousness (which, if you were Locke, would mess up your theory of the self, but you aren't :)
I don't think that the second awareness-of has exactly the same character as the first.  To be aware-of an object is clearly and intentional act, as Husserll makes clear, but the awareness of self in the second awareness doesn't seem to me to have the character of intentionality, of direction outside of itself.  It's not an esse ad, to use Aristotelianese in a non-Aristotelian way.  Perhaps intentionality also could be defined to include reflexivity, but  when I am conscious of my own consciousness it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.  (Like this argument? :-)

I just noticed that Aristotle's definition of "relation" as  "esse ad" (i.e., "being-towards) might be what is cloudying my thinking about intentionality.   "Awareness of" does not seem to signify any *towards* another thing, so talking about both "awareness of" and "being towards" as equivalent would not be consistent.  The problem is:  how to eliminate the metaphorical character of the word "ad".  Or is the question more than just a semantic one?

I agree, Ann, that awareness of self as seeing is different from awareness of an object as seen. The latter is sensation or perception; the former is consciousness.

Herbert Paul Grice and Peter Thomas Geach -- Oxford philosophers


Under his father's tutelage, one of Geach's earliest philosophical influences was the metaphysician J.M.E. McTaggart, who infamously argues in his 1908 book The Unreality of Time for, well, the unreality of time.

This title is not a book but  an article that appeared in the journal Mind (17.68: 457–474), in 1908.

McTaggart presents a full dress version of the famous argument in his 1927 magnum opus, The Nature of Existence, in Chapter XXXIII, located in volume II.

McTaggart's  argument for the unreality of time is one of the great arguments in the history of metaphysics, an argument  as important and influential as the Eleatic Zeno's arguments against motion, St. Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God and F. H. Bradley's argument against relations in his 1893 Appearance and Reality, Book I, Chapter III. 

All four arguments have the interesting property of being rejected as unsound by almost all philosophers, philosophers who nonetheless differ wildly among themselves as to where the arguments go wrong.

 Careful study of these arguments is an excellent introduction to the problems of metaphysics. 

In particular, the analytic philosophy of time in the 20th century  would not be unfairly described as a very long and very detailed series of footnotes to McTaggart's great argument.

Along with Aquinas and McTaggart (whose system he presents in his 1982 book Truth, Love, and Immortality), Geach's main philosophical heroes were Aristotle, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Gottlob Frege." 

My copy of Truth, Love and Immortality shows the University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles) as the publisher and the publication year as 1979.

 The frontispiece features an unsourced quotation from McTaggart:

The longer I live, the more I am convinced of the reality of three things -- truth, love and immortality.



Origins of Analytic Philosophy: Kant and Frege - Traduci questa pagina
Delbert Reed - 2010 - ‎Philosophy
At Oxford in the 1950s Austin's work in 'ordinary language philosophy', as well as the work of philosophers such as Peter Geach, Paul Grice and P. F. Strawson, ...



Origins of Analytic Philosophy: Kant and Frege - Traduci questa pagina
Delbert Reed - 2010 - ‎Philosophy
At Oxford in the 1950s Austin's work in 'ordinary language philosophy', as well as the work of philosophers such as Peter Geach, Paul Grice and P. F. Strawson, ...

Herbert Paul Grice and Peter Thomas Geach on the soul


This collection of nine papers, "God and the soul", brings together many of Geach's thoughts on such wide topics as resurrection, deductive proof of the existence of God, God's role in ethics, materialism, and the relation of time and prayer. T
he first three papers are concerned with the survival of death and what form such a survival might take.
This includes Geach's argument against materialism in "What Do We Think With?"
Two further papers are concerned with arguments about existence, and the remaining papers concern natural theology.

Grice's Ignorance



Are there implicatures connected with ignorance?

Grice discusses Strawson's treatment of 'or':

"My wife is in the kitchen OR in the garden".

Implicature: Heaven knows where.

In "On The Sources Of Knowledge and IGNORANCE", Sir Karl Raimund Popper, as he delivered the Annual Philosophical Lecture read before the British Academy on January 20th, 1960, dealt more or less with the same topic. More less than more.

Oddly, Grice's Annual Philosophical Lecture at Cumberland House (as some like to refer to this) came out slightly later, in 1971.

Popper's essay was first published in the Proceedings of the British Academy, 46, 1960, and separately by Oxford University Press, 1961.

Ditto with Grice: 1971 and 1971.

Some running commentary

Popper starts his lecture with three epigraphs:

Benedetto di Spinoza says:

"It follows, therefore, that truth manifests itself."

John Locke writes:

"Every man carries about him a touchstone to distinguish truth from appearances."

David Home writes:

"It is impossible for us to think of any thing, which we have not antecedently felt, either by ourexternal or internal senses."

Popper starts: "The title of this lecture is likely, I fear, to offend some critical ears."

Titles, in general, should be ignored. Alice was well aware of this:

The name of the song is called 'Haddocks' Eyes.''

'Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel interested.

'No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed. 'That's what the name
is called. The name really is 'The Aged, Aged Man.''

'Then I ought to have said 'That's what the song is called'?' Alice corrected herself.

'No you oughtn't: that's another thing. The song is called 'Ways and Means' but that's only
what it's called, you know!'

'Well, what is the song then?' said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.

'I was coming to that,' the Knight said. 'The song really is 'A-sitting On a Gate': and the
tune's my own invention.'

As Gardner notes ("The Annotated Alice"), "A-Sitting On a Gate" is not yet _the song_ but another of its titles.

Popper continues:

"For although ‘Sources of Knowledge’ is in order, and ‘Sources of Error’ would have been in order too, the phrase ‘Sources of Ignorance’ is another matter."

"‘Ignorance is something negative: it is the absence of knowledge. But how on earth can the absence of anything have sources?"

Descartes and Spinoza went even further, and asserted that not only ignorance but also error is 'something negative'-a 'privation' of knowledge, and even of the proper use of our freedom.


Descartes' Principles
Part r, 33-42.

The Third and Fourth Meditations.


Ethics, Part II, propos. 35 and schol.
Principles of Descartes' Philosophy, Part r, propos. 15 and schol.

Nevertheless, Descartes and Spinoza speak (e.g. Ethics, Part II, propos. 41) also of the cause of falsity or error, as does Aristotle in "Metaphysica" 1046a30-35.

See also:

Metaphysics, 1008b35; 1009a6; 1 052al
Topica 147b29
Analytica Posteriora, 79b23; and Grice's favourite Aristotle: Categoriae, l2a26-l3a35.

Popper confesses:

"This question [that something negative may have a source] was put to me by a "friend" when I confided to him the title I had chosen for this [distinguished] lecture."

"Hard pressed for a reply I found myself improvising a rationalization, and explaining to my friend that the curious linguistic effect of the title was actually intended."

I told him that I hoped to direct attention, through the phrasing of this title, to a number of unrecorded philosophical doc­trines and among them (apart from the doctrine that truth is manifest) especially to the conspiracy theory of ignorance which interprets ignorance not as a mere lack of knowledge but as the work of some sinister power, the source of impure and evil influences which pervert and poison our minds and instill in us the habit of resistance to knowledge.

I am not quite sure whether this explanation allayed my friend’s misgivings, but it did silence him.

Your case is different since you are silenced by the rules of the present transactions.

So I can only hope that I have allayed your misgivings sufficiently, for the time being, to allow me to begin my story at the other end-with the sources of knowledge rather than with the sources of ignorance.

However, I shall presently come back to the sources of ignorance, and also to the conspiracy theory of these sources.

The problem which I wish to examine afresh in this lecture, and which I hope not only to examine but to solve, may perhaps be described as an aspect of the old quarrel between the British and the Continental schools of philosophy-the quarrel between the classical empiricism of Bacon, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Mill, and the classical rationalism or intellectualism of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz.

In this quarrel the British school insisted that the ultimate source of all knowledge was observation, while the Continental school insisted that it was the intellectual intuition of clear and distinct ideas.

Most of these issues are still very much alive.

Not only has empiri­cism, still the ruling doctrine in England, conquered the United States, but it is now widely accepted even on the European Continent as the true theory of scientific knowledge.

Cartesian intellectualism, alas, has been only too often distorted into one or another of the various forms of modern irrationalism.

In the Popper tries to show of the two schools of empiricism and rationalism that their differences are much smaller than their simi­larities, and that both are mistaken.

I hold that they are mistaken although I am myself an empiricist and a rationalist of sorts.

But I believe that, though observation and reason have each an important role to play, these roles hardly resemble those which their classical defenders attributed to them.

More especially, Popper tries to show that neither observation nor reason can be described as a source of know­ledge, in the sense in which they have been claimed to be sources of knowledge, down to the present day.

Popper's problem belongs to the theory of knowledge, or to epistemology, reputed to be the most abstract and remote and altogether irrelevant region of pure philosophy.

Hume, for example, one of the greatest thinkers in the field, predicted that, because of the remoteness and abstractness and practical irrelevance of some of his results, none of his readers would believe in them for more than an hour.

Kant’s attitude was different.

He thought that the problem

‘What can I know?’

-- as opposed to

'What can I ignore?'

-- was one of the three most important questions a man could ask.

Lord Russell, in spite of being closer to Hume in philosophic temperament, seems to side in this matter with Kant. And I think Russell is right when he attributes to epistemology practical con­sequences for science, ethics, and even politics. For he says that episemological relativism, or the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth, and epistemological pragmatism, or the idea that truth is the same as usefulness, are closely linked with authoritarian and totalitarian ideas.

Cf. Russell, Let The People Think.

Lord Russell’s views are of course disputed.

Some recent philosophers have developed a doctrine of the essential impotence and practical irrelevance of all genuine philosophy, and thus, one can assume, of epistemology.

Philosophy, they say, cannot by its very nature have any significant consequences, and so it can influence neither science nor politics.

But I think that ideas are dangerous and powerful things, and that even philosophers have sometimes produced ideas.

Indeed, I do not doubt that this new doctrine of the impotence of all philosophy is amply refuted by the facts.

The situation is really very simple.

The belief of a liberal-the belief in the possibility of a rule of law, of equal justice, of fundamental rights, and a free society can easily survive the recognition that judges are not omniscient and may make mistakes about facts and that, in practice, absolute justice is never fully realized in any particular legal case.

But the belief in the possibility of a rule of law, of justice, and of freedom, can hardly survive the acceptance of an epistemology which teaches that there are no objective facts; not merely in this particular case, but in any other case; and that the judge cannot have made a factual mistake because he can no more be wrong about the facts than he can be right.

The great movement of liberation which started in the Renaissance and led through the many vicissitudes of the reformation and the religious and revolutionary wars to the free societies in which the English ­speaking peoples are privileged to live, this movement was inspired throughout by an unparalleled epistemological optimism: by a most optimistic view of man’s power to discern truth and to acquire knowledge.

At the heart of this new optimistic view of the possibility of know­ledge lies the doctrine that truth is manifest.

Truth may perhaps be veiled.

But it may reveal itself.

See my mottoes: Spinoza, of God, Man, and Human Happiness, ch. 15.

Parallel passages are:

Ethics, ii, scholium to propos. 4-3:

'Indeed, as light manifests itself and darkness, so with truth: it is its own standard, and that of falsity.' De intel!. em., 35, 36; letter 76
[74-J, end of para. 5 [7]);

Condo Underst., 3.

Cp. also Romans, i, 19, and see ch. 17, below.

And if it does not reveal itself, it may be revealed by us.

Removing the veil may not be easy.

But once the naked truth stands revealed before our eyes, we have the power to see it, to distinguish it from falsehood, and to know that it is truth.

The birth of modern science and modern technology was inspired by this optimistic epistemology whose main spokesmen were Bacon and Descartes.

They taught that there was no need for any man to appeal to authority in matters of truth because each man carried the sources of knowledge in himself; either in his power of sense ­perception which he may use for the careful observation of nature, or in his power of intellectual intuition which he may use to distinguish truth from falsehood by refusing to accept any idea which is not clearly and distinctly perceived by the intellect.

Man can know: thus he can be free.

This is the formula which explains the link between epistemological optimism and the ideas of liberalism.

This link is paralleled by the opposite link. Disbelief in the power of human reason, in man’s power to discern the truth, is almost invariably linked with distrust of man.

Thus epistemological pessimism is linked, historically, with a doctrine of human depravity, and it tends to lead to the demand for the establishment of powerful traditions and the entrenchment of a powerful authority which would save man from his folly and his wickedness.

There is a striking sketch of this theory of authoritarianism, and a picture of the burden carried by those in authority, in the story of The Grand Inquisitor in Dostoievsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

The contrast between epistemological pessimism and optimism may be said to be fundamentally the same as that between epistemological traditionalism and rationalism.

Popper uses the latter term in its wider sense in which it is opposed to irrationalism, and in which it covers not only Cartesian intellectualism but empiricism also.

For we can inter­pret traditionalism as the belief that, in the absence of an objective and discernible truth, we are faced with the choice between accepting the authority of tradition, and chaos; while rationalism has, of course, always claimed the right of reason and of empirical science to criticize, and to reject, any tradition, and any authority, as being based on sheer unreason or prejudice or accident.

It is a disturbing fact that even an abstract study like pure epistemology is not as pure as one might think (and as Aristotle believed) but that its ideas may, to a large extent, be motivated and unconsciously inspired by political hopes and by Utopian dreams.

This should be a warning to the epistemologist.

What can he do about it?

As an epistemologist I have only one interest-to find out the truth about the problems of epistemology, whether or not this truth fits in with my political ideas.

But am I not liable to be influenced, unconsciously, by my political hopes and beliefs?

It so happens that I am not only an empiricist and a rationalist of sorts but also a liberal (in the English sense of this term).

But just because I am a liberal, I feel that few things are more important for a liberal than to submit the various theories of liberalism to a searching critical examination.

While I was engaged in a critical examination of this kind I dis­covered the part played by certain epistemological theories in the development of liberal ideas; and especially by the various forms of epistemological optimism.

And I found that, as an epistemologist, I had to reject these epistemological theories as untenable.

This experience of mine may illustrate the point that our dreams and our hopes need not necessarily control our results, and that, in searching for the truth, it may be our best plan to start by criticizing our most cherished beliefs.

This may seem to some a perverse plan.

But it will not seem so to those who want to find the truth and are not afraid of it.

In examining the optimistic epistemology inherent in certain ideas of liberalism, I found a cluster of doctrines which, although often accepted implicitly, have not, to my knowledge, been explicitly discussed or even noticed by philosophers or historians.

The most fundamental of them is one which I have already mentioned-the doctrine that truth is mani­fest.

The strangest of them is the conspiracy theory of ignorance, which is a curious outgrowth from the doctrine of manifest truth.

By the doctrine that truth is manifest I mean, you will recall, the optimistic view that truth, if put before us naked, is always recogniz­able as truth.

Thus truth, if it does not reveal itself, has only to be unveiled, or dis-covered.

Once this is done, there is no need for further argument.

We have been given eyes to see the truth, and the natural light of reason to see it by.

This doctrine is at the heart of the teaching of both Descartes and Bacon.

Descartes based his optimistic epistemology on the important theory of the veracitas dei.

What we clearly and distinctly see to be true must indeed be true; for otherwise God would be deceiving us.

Thus the truthfulness of God must make truth manifest.

In Bacon we have a similar doctrine.

It might be described as the doctrine of the veracitas naturae, the truthfulness of Nature.

Nature is an open book.

He who reads it with a pure mind cannot misread it.

Only if his mind is poisoned by prejudice can he fall into error.

This last remark shows that the doctrine that truth is manifest creates the need to explain falsehood.

Knowledge, the possession of truth, need not be explained.

But how can we ever fall into error if truth is manifest?

The answer is: through our own sinful refusal to see the manifest truth, or because our minds harbour prejudices inculcated by education and tradition, or other evil influences which have perverted our originally pure and innocent minds.

Popper writes, rather circularly:

"IGNORANCE may be the work of powers conspiring to keep us in IGNORANCE, to poison our minds by filling them with falsehood, and to blind our eyes so that they cannot see the manifest truth."

Such prejudices and such powers, then, are sources of IGNORANCE.

The conspiracy theory of IGNORANCE is fairly well known in its Marxian form as the conspiracy of a capitalist press that perverts and suppresses truth and fills the workers’ minds with false ideologies.

Prominent among these, of course, are the doctrines of religion. It is surprising to find how unoriginal this Marxist theory is.

The wicked and fraudulent priest who keeps the people in ignorance was a stock figure of the eighteenth century and, I am afraid, one of the inspir­ations of liberalism.

It can be traced back to the protestant belief in the conspiracy of the Roman Church, and also to the beliefs of those dissenters who held similar views about the Established Church.

Elsewhere, Popper traces the pre-history of this belief back to Plato’s uncle Critias; see chapter 8, section ii, of my Open Society.

This curious belief in a conspiracy is the almost inevitable con­sequence of the optimistic belief that truth, and therefore goodness, must prevail if only truth is given a fair chance.

Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?’


Compare the French proverb, La verite triomphe toujours.

So when Milton’s Truth was put to the worse, the necessary inference was that the encounter had not been free and open.

If the manifest truth does not prevail, it must have been maliciously sup­pressed.

One can see that an attitude of tolerance which is based upon an optimistic faith in the victory of truth may easily be shaken.

See ]. W N. Watkins on Milton in The Listener, Und January 1959.

For it is liable to turn into a conspiracy theory which would be hard to reconcile with an attitude of tolerance.

I do not assert that there was never a grain of truth in this conspiracy theory.

But in the main it was a myth, just as the theory of manifest truth from which it grew was a myth.

For the simple truth is that truth is often hard to come by, and that once found it may easily be lost again.

Erroneous beliefs may have an astonishing power to survive, for thousands of years, in defiance of experience, without the aid of any conspiracy.

The history of science, and especially of medicine, could furnish us with a number of good examples.

One example is, indeed, the general conspiracy theory itself I mean the erroneous view that whenever something evil hap­pens it must be due to the evil will of an evil power.

Various forms of this view have survived down to our own day.

Thus the optimistic epistemology of Bacon and of Descartes cannot be true.

Yet perhaps the strangest thing in this story is that this false epistemology was the major inspiration of an intellectual and moral revolution without parallel in history.

It encourages men to think for themselves. It gave them hope that through knowledge they might free themselves and others from servitude and misery.

It made modern science possible. It became the basis of the fight against censorship and the suppression of free thought.

It became the basis of the non­conformist conscience, of individualism, and of a new sense of man’s dignity; of a demand for universal education, and of a new dream of a free society.

It made men feel responsible for themselves and for others, and eager to improve not only their own condition but also that of their fellow men.

It is a case of a bad idea inspiring many good ones.

This false epistemology, however, has also led to disastrous con­sequences.

The theory that truth is manifest; that it is there for every­one to see, if only he wants to see it -- this theory is the basis of almost every kind of fanaticism.

For only the most depraved wickedness can refuse to see the manifest truth; only those who have reason to fear truth conspire to suppress it.

Yet the theory that truth is manifest not only breeds fanatics -- men possessed by the conviction that all those who do not see the manifest truth must be possessed by the Devil -- but it may also lead, though perhaps less directly than does a pessimistic epistemology, to authori­tarianism.

This is so, simply, because truth is not manifest, as a rule.

The allegedly manifest truth is therefore in constant need, not only of interpretation and affirmation, but also of re- interpretation and re­affirmation.

An authority is required to pronounce upon, and lay down, almost from day to day, what is to be the manifest truth, and it may learn to do so arbitrarily and cynically.

And many disappointed epistemologists will turn away from their own former optimism and erect a resplendent authoritarian theory on the basis of a pessimistic epistemology.

It seems to me that the greatest epistemologist of all, PLATONE, exemplifies this tragic development.

PLATONE plays a decisive part in the pre-history of Descartes’ doctrine of the veracitas dei -- the doctrine that our intellectual intuition does not deceive us because God is truthful and will not deceive us; or in other words, the doctrine that our intellect is a source of knowledge because God is a source of knowledge.

This doctrine has a long history which can easily be traced back at least to OMERO and ESIODO.

To us, the habit of referring to one’s sources would seem natural in a scholar or an historian, and it is perhaps a little surprising to find that this habit stems from the poets.

But it does.

The Greek poets refer to the sources of their knowledge.

The sources are divine.

They are the Muses.

The Greek bards, Gilbert Murray observes in "The Rise of the Greek Epic", always owe, not only what we should call their inspiration, but their actual knowledge of facts to the Muses.

The Muses are present and know all things.

Hesiod always explains that he is dependent on the Muses for his knowledge.

Other sources of knowledge are indeed recognized.

But most often he consults the Muses.

So does Homer for such subjects as the Catalogue of the Greek army.

As this quotation shows, the poets were in the habit of claiming not only divine sources of inspiration, but also divine sources of knowledge-divine guarantors of the truth of their stories.

Precisely the same two claims were raised by the philosophers Eraclito and Parmenide.

ERACLITO, it seems, sees himself as a prophet who talks with raving mouth possessed by the god’-by Zeus, the source of all wisdom

DK [3. Diels-Kranz, Fmgmente der Vorsokratiker.],3 B 92, 32; cf. 93, 41,64,50).

And Parmenide, one could almost say, forms the missing link be­tween Homer or Hesiod on the one side and Descartes on the other.

His guiding star and inspiration is the goddess Dike, described by Eraclito as the guardian of truth.

Parmenides describes her as the guardian and keeper of the keys of truth, and as the source of all his knowledge.

But Parmenides and Descartes have more in com­mon than the doctrine of divine veracity.

For example, Parmenides is told by his divine guarantor of truth that in order to distinguish be­tween truth and falsehood, he must rely upon the intellect alone, to the exclusion of the senses of sight, hearing, and taste.

Cf. Heraclitus, B 54, 123; 88 and 126 hint at unobservable changes yielding observable opposites.)

And even the principle of his physical theory which, like Descartes, he founds upon his intellectualist theory of knowledge, is the same as that adopted by Descartes.

This is the impossibility of a void, the necessary fullness of the world.

In PLATONE's "Ione", a sharp distinction is made between divine inspiration-the divine frenzy of the poet-and the divine sources or origins of true knowledge.

The topic is further developed in the "Fedro", especially from 25ge on; and in 275b-c Plato even insists, as Harold Cherniss pointed out to me, on the distinction between ques­tions of origin and of truth.

Plato grants that the poets are inspired, but he denies to them any divine authority for their alleged knowledge of facts.

Nevertheless, the doctrine of the divine source of our know­ledge plays a decisive part in Plato’s famous theory of anamnesis which in some measure grants to each man the possession of divine sources of knowledge.

The knowledge considered in this theory is know­ledge of the essence or nature of a thing rather than of a particular historical fact.

According to Platone's "Menone", there is nothing which our immortal soul does not know, prior to our birth.

For as all natures are kindred and akin, our soul must be akin to all natures.

Accordingly it knows them all: it knows all things. (On kinship and knowledge see also Fedone, 79d; Republica, 611 d; Laws, 899d.)

In being born we forget; but we may recover our memory and our knowledge, though only partially: only if we see the truth again shall we recognize it.

All knowledge is therefore recognition, recalling or remembering the essence or true nature that we once knew (Phaedo, 72e ff.; 75e.)

Plato's theory implies that our soul is in a divine state of omniscience as long as it dwells, and participates, in a divine world of ideas or essences or natures, prior to being born.

The birth of a man is his fall from grace.

It is his fall from a natural or divine state of knowledge; and it is thus the origin and cause of his ignorance.

Here may be the seed of the idea that ignorance is sin, or at least related to sin; cpo Phaedo, 7 6d.)

It is clear that there is a close link between this theory of anamnesis and the doctrine of the divine origin or source of our knowledge.

At the same time, there is also a close link between the theory of anamnesis and the doctrine of manifest truth: if, even in our depraved state of forget­fulness, we see the truth, we cannot but recognize it as the truth.

So, as the result of anamnesis, truth is restored to the status of that which is not forgotten and not concealed ("alethes"): it is that which is manifest.

Socrates demonstrates this in a beautiful passage of the Menone by help­ing an uneducated young slave to ‘recall’ the proof of a special case of the theorem of Pythagoras.

Here indeed is an optimistic epistemology, and the root of Cartesianism.

It seems that, in the Menone, Plato was conscious of the highly optimistic character of his theory, for he describes it as a doctrine which makes men eager to learn, to search, and to discover.

Yet disappointment must have come to Plato.

For in the Republica (and also in the "Fedro") we find the beginnings of a pessimistic epistemology. In the famous story of the prisoners in the cave (5 14 ff.) he shows that the world of our experience is only a shadow, a reflection, of the real world.

And he shows that even if one of the prisoners should escape from the cave and face the real world, he would have almost insuperable difficulties in seeing and understand­ing it-to say nothing of his difficulties in trying to make those understand who stayed behind.

The difficulties in the way of an understanding of the real world are all but super-human, and only the very few, if anybody at all, can attain to the divine state of under­standing the real world-the divine state of true knowledge, of episteme.

This is a pessimistic theory with regard to almost all men, though not with regard to all.

For it teaches that truth may be attained by a few-the elect.

With regard to these it is, one might say, more wildly optimistic than even the doctrine that truth is manifest.

The authori­tarian and traditionalist consequences of this pessimistic theory are fully elaborated in the Laws.

Thus we find in Plato the first transition from an optimistic to a pessimistic epistemology.

 Each of these forms a basis for one of two diametrically opposed philosophies of the state and of society: on the one hand an anti-traditionalist, anti-authoritarian, revolutionary and Utopian rationalism of the Cartesian kind, and on the other hand an authoritarian traditionalism.

This development may well be connected with the fact that the idea of an epistemological fall of man can be interpreted not only in the sense of the optimistic doctrine of anamnesis, but also in a pessimistic sense.

In this latter interpretation, the fall of man condemns all mortals­or almost all-to ignorance.

One can discern in the story of the cave (and perhaps also in the story of the fall of the city, when the Muses and their divine teaching are neglected; see Republic, 546d) an echo of an interesting older form of this idea. I have in mind Par­menides’ doctrine that the opinions of mortals are delusions, and the result of a misguided convention.

This may stem from Xenophanes’ doctrine that all human knowledge is guesswork, and that his own theories are, at best, merely similar to the truth!)[4. Xenophanes' fragment here alluded to is DK. B 35, quoted here in ch. 5, section xii, below.

For the idea of truthlikeness---of a doctrine that partly corresponds to the facts (and so may be 'taken for real', as Parmenides has it here)---see especially pp. 320 f, below, where verisimilitude is contrasted with probability, and the Addenda 3, 4, 6, and 7.

The misguided conven­tion is a linguistic one.

It consists in giving names to what is non-existent.

The idea of an epistemological fall of man can perhaps be found, as Karl Reinhardt suggested, in those words of the goddess that mark the transition from the way of truth to the way of delusive opinion.

See Karl Reinhardt, Parmenides, 2nd ed., p. 26; see also pp. 5-11 for the text of Parmenides, DK, B I: 31-32, which are the first two lines here quoted.

My third line is Parmenides, DK, B 8: 60, cf Xenophanes, B 35.

Popper's fourth line is Parmenides, DK, B 8: 61.

"But you also shall learn how it was that delusive opinion,
Bound to be taken for real, was forcing its way through all things.

Now of this world thus arranged to seem wholly like truth I shall tell
Then you will be nevermore led astray by the notions of mortals.

Thus though the fall affects all men, the truth may be revealed to the elect by an act of grace-even the truth about the unreal world of the delusions, opinions, conventional notions and decisions, of mortals: the unreal world of appearance, destined to be accepted, and to be approved of, as real.

It is interesting to contrast this pessimistic view of the necessity of error with the optimism of Descartes, or of Spinoza who scorns (letter 76[74], paragraph 5[7]) those ‘who dream of an impure spirit inspiring us with false ideas which are similar to true ones (veris similes)’: see also ch. 10, section xiv, and Mdendum 6, below.

The revelation received by Parmenides, and his conviction that a few may reach certainty about both the unchanging world of eternal reality and the unreal and changing world of verisimilitude and deception, were two of the main inspirations of plato’s philosophy.

It was a theme to which he was for ever returning, oscillating between hope, despair, and resignation.

Yet what interests us here is Plato’s optimistic epistemology, the the­ory of anamnesis in the Meno.

It contains, I believe, not only the germs of Descartes’ intellectualism, but also the germs of Aristotle’s and especially of Bacon’s theories of induction.

For Meno’s slave is helped by Socrates’ judicious questions to remember or recapture’the forgotten knowledge which his soul possessed in its pre-natal state of omniscience.

It is, I belieye, this famous Socratic method, called in the Theaetetus the art of midwifery or maieutic, to which Aristotle alluded when he said (Metaphysics, 1 078b 17-33; see also 98 7b 1) that Socrates was the inventor of the method of induction.

Aristotle, and also Bacon, I wish to suggest, meant by ‘induction’ not so much the inferring of universal laws from particular observed instances as a method by which we are guided to the point whence we can intuit or perceive the essence or the true nature of a thing.

Aristotle meant by "epagoge" at least two different things which he some­times links together.

One is a method by which we are led to intuit the general principle (Anal. Pro 67a 22 f., on anamnesis in the Meno; An. Post., 71a 7).

The other (Topics 105a 13, 156a 4; 157a 34; Anal. Posteriam 78a 35; 81b 5 ff.) is a method of adducing (particular) evidence-positive evidence rather than critical evidence or counter-examples.

The first method seems to me the older one, and the one which can be better connected with Socrates and his maieutic method of criticism and counter-examples.

The second method seems to originate in the attempt to systematize induction logically or, as Aristotle (Anal. Priam, 68b 15 ff.) puts it, to construct a valid 'syllogism which springs out of induction'.

This, to be valid, must of course be a syllogism of perfect or complete induction (com­plete enumeration of instances); and ordinary induction in the sense of the second method here mentioned is just a weakened (and invalid) form of this valid syllogism.

Cp. my Open Society, note 33 to ch. 11.)]

But this, as we have seen, is precisely the aim of Socrates’ maieutic.

Its aim is to help or lead us to anamnesis; and anamnesis is the power of seeing the true nature or essence of a thing, the nature or essence with which we were acquainted before birth, before our fall from grace.

Thus the aims of the two, maieutic and induction, are the same.

Incidentally, Aristotle taught that the result of an induction -- the intuition of the essence ­-- was to be expressed by a DEFINITION of that essence.

Now let us look more closely at the two procedures.

The maieutic art of Socrates consists, essentially, in asking questions designed to destroy prejudices.

False beliefs which are often traditional or fashionable beliefs.

False answers, given in the spirit of ignorant cocksureness. Socrates himself does not pretend to know.

His attitude is described by Aristotle in the words,

‘Socrates raised questions but gave no answers.

For he confessed that he DID NOT KNOW' (he ignored)

Socrates ignores.
Socrates ignores whether.

Sophist. El., 183b7; cpo Theaetetus, IS0c-d, IS7c, 16Ib.)

Thus Socrates’ maieutic is not an art that aims at teaching any belief, but one that aims at purging or cleansing (cf. the allusion to the Amphidromia in Theaetetus 160e; cpo Phaedo 67b, 69b/ c) the soul of its false beliefs, its seeming knowledge, its prejudices.

 It achieves this by teaching us to doubt our own convictions.

Fundamentally the same procedure is part of Bacon’s induction.

The framework of Bacon’s theory of induction is this.

Bacon  distinguishes in the "Norum Organum between a true method and a false method.

Bacon's name for the true method is ‘interpretatio naturae’, ordinarily translated by the phrase ‘interpretation of nature’, and his name for the false method, ‘anticipatio mentis’, by ‘anticipation of the mind’.

Obvious as these translations may seem, they are misleading.

What Bacon means by ‘interpretatio naturae’ Popper suggests is the reading of, or better still, the spelling out of, the book of Nature.

Galileo, in a famous passage of his "II saggiatore", section 6, of which Mario Bunge has kindly reminded me, speaks of ‘that great book which lies before our eyes -- I mean the universe’.

Cf. Descartes’ Discourse, section 1.

The term ‘interpretatio’ has in modern English a decidedly subjec­tivistic or relativistic tinge.

When we speak of Rudolf Serkin’s interpretation of the Emperor Concerto, we implicate that there are different interpretations, but that this one is Serkin’s.

We do not of course wish to implicate that Serkin’s is not the best, the truest, the nearest to Beethoven’s intentions.

But although we may be unable to imagine that there is a better one, by using the term ‘interpretation’ we imply that there are other interpretations or readings, leaving the question open whether some of these other readings may, or may not, be equally true.

I have here used the word ‘reading’ as a synonym for ‘interpret­ation’, not only because the two meanings are so similar but also because ‘reading’ and ‘to read’ have suffered a modification analogous to that of ‘interpretation’ and ‘to interpret’; except that in the case of ‘reading’ both meanings are still in full use.

In the phrase:

i. I have read John’s letter.

 we have the ordinary, non-subjectivist meaning.

But ‘I read this passage of John’s letter quite differently’ or perhaps ‘My reading of this passage is very different’ may illustrate a later, a subjectivistic or relativistic, meaning of the word ‘reading’.

I assert that the meaning of ‘interpret’ (though not in the sense of ‘translate’) has changed in exactly the same way, except that the ori­ginal meaning -- perhaps ‘reading aloud for those who cannot read themselves’-has been practically lost.

Today, even the phrase

The judge must interpret the law.

means that he has a certain latitude in interpreting it.

While in Bacon’s time it would have meant that the judge had the duty to read the law as it stood, and to expound it and to apply it in the one and only right way.

Interpretatio juris (or legis) means either this or else the expounding of the law to the layman.

Cp. Bacon, De Augmentis VI, xlvi; and 1.

 Manley, The Interpreter: … Obscure Words and Terms used in the Lawes of this Realm, 1672.

 It leaves the legal interpreter no latitude.

At any rate no more than would be allowed to a sworn interpreter translating a legal document.

Thus the translation ‘the interpretation of nature’ is misleading.

It should be replaced by something like ‘the (true) reading of nature’.

Analogous to ‘the true  reading of the law’.

And I suggest that ‘reading the book of Nature as it is’ or better still ‘spelling out the book of Nature’ is what Bacon meant.

The point is that the phrase should suggest the avoidance of all interpretation in the modern sense, and that it should not contain, more especially, any suggestion of an attempt to interpret what is manifest in nature in the light of non-manifest causes or of hypotheses.

For all this would be an anticipatio mentis, in Bacon’s sense.

It is a mistake to ascribe to Bacon the teaching that hypotheses-or conjectures-may result from his method of induction.

For Baconian induction results in knowledge which is certain, rather than in conjecture.)

As to the meaning of ‘anticipatio mentis’ we have only to quote Locke.

Men give themselves up to the first anticipations of their minds’
The Con­duct of the Understanding, 26).

This is, practically, a translation from Bacon; and it makes it amply clear that ‘anticipatio’ means ‘prejudice’ or even ‘super­stition’.

We can also refer to the phrase’ anticipatio deorwn’ which means harbouring nalve or primitive or superstitious views about the gods.

But to make matters still more obvious.

Prejudice’ (cp. Descartes, Princ. I, 50) derives from a legal term, and according to the Oxford English Dictionary it was Bacon who introduced the verb ‘to prejudge’ into the English language, in the sense of ‘to judge adversely in advance’-that is, in violation of the judge’s duty.

Thus the two methods are

 (1) ‘the spelling out of the open book of Nature’, leading to knowledge or episteme, and

(2) ‘the prejudice of the mind that wrongly prejudges, and perhaps misjudges, Nature’, leading to doxa, or mere guesswork, and to the misreading of the book of Nature.

This latter method, rejected by Bacon, is in fact a method of interpretation, in the modern sense of the word.

It is the method of conjecture or hypothesis (a method of which, incidentally, I happen to be a convinced advocate.

How can we prepare ourselves to read the book of Nature properly or truly?

Bacon’s answer is by purging our minds of all anticipations or conjectures or guesses or prejudices (Nov.Org. i, 68, 69 end).

There are various things to be done in order so to purge our minds.

We have to get rid of all sorts of ‘idols’, or generally held false beliefs; for these distort our observations (Nov. Org. i, 97).

But we have also, like Socrates, to look out for all sorts of counter-instances by which to destroy our prejudices concerning the kind of thing whose true essence or nature we wish to ascertain.

Like Socrates, we must, by purifying our intel­lects, prepare our souls to face the eternal light of essences or natures (cf. St Augustine, Civ. Dei, VIII, 3).

Our impure prejudices must be exorcized by the invocation of counter-instances (Nov.Org. ii, 16 ff.).

Only after our souls have been cleansed in this way may we begin the work of spelling out diligently the open book of Nature, the manifest truth.

In view of all this I suggest that Baconian and also Aristotelian  induction is the same, fundamentally, as Socratic maieutic; that is to say, the preparation of the mind by cleansing it of prejudices, in order to enable it to recognize the manifest truth, or to read the open book of Nature.

Descartes’ method of systematic doubt is also fundamentally the same: it is a method of destroying all false prejudices of the mind, in order to arrive at the unshakeable basis of self-evident truth.

We can now see more clearly how, in this optimistic epistemology, the state of knowledge is the natural or the pure state of man, the state of the innocent eye which can see the truth, while the state of ignor­ance has its source in the injury suffered by the innocent eye in man’s fall from grace; an injury which can be partially healed by a course of purification.

And we can see more clearly why this epistemology, not only in Descartes’ but also in Bacon’s form, remains essentially a religious doctrine in which the source of all knowledge is divine authority.

One might say that, encouraged by the divine ‘essences’ or divine ‘natures’ of Plato, and by the traditional Greek opposition between the truthfulness of nature and the deceitfulness of man-made convention, Bacon substitutes, in his epistemology, ‘Nature’ for ‘God’.

This may be the reason why we have to purify ourselves before we may approach the goddess Natura: when we have purified our minds, even our some­times unreliable senses (held by Plato to be hopelessly impure) will be pure.

The sources of knowledge must be kept pure, because any impurity may become a source of IGNORANCE.

In spite of the religious character of their epistemologies, Bacon’s and Descartes’ attacks upon prejudice, and upon traditional beliefs which we carelessly or recklessly harbour, are clearly anti-authoritarian and anti-traditionalist.

For they require us to shed all beliefs except those whose truth we have perceived ourselves.

And their attacks were cer­tainly intended to be attacks upon authority and tradition.

They were part of the war against authority which it was the fashion of the time to wage, the war against the authority of Aristotle and the tradition of the schools.

Men do not need such authorities if they can perceive the truth themselves.

But I do not think that Bacon and Descartes succeeded in freeing their epistemologies from authority; not so much because they appealed to religious authority-to Nature or to God-but for an even deeper reason.

In spite of their individualistic tendencies, they did not dare to appeal to our critical judgment-to your judgment, or to mine; perhaps because they felt that this might lead to subjectivism and to arbitrariness.

Yet whatever the reason may have been, they certainly were unable to give up thinking in terms of authority, much as they wanted to do so.

They could only replace one authority-that of Aristotle and the Bible-by another.

Each of them appealed to a new authority; the one to the authority of the senses, and the other to the authority of the intellect.

This means that they failed to solve the great problem.

How can we admit that our knowledge is a human-an all too human-affair, without at the same time implying that it is all individual whim and arbitrariness?

Yet this problem had been seen and solved long before.

First, it appears, by Xenophanes, and then by Democritus, and by Socrates (the Socrates of the Apology rather than of the Meno).

The solution lies in the realization that all of us may and often do err, singly and collectively, but that this very idea of error and human fallibility involves another one-the idea of objective truth: the standard which we may fall short of.

Thus the doctrine of fallibility should not be regarded as part of a pessimistic epistemology.

This doctrine implies that we may seek for truth, for objective truth, though more often than not we may miss it by a wide margin.

And it implies that if we respect truth, we must search for it by persistently searching for our errors: by indefatigable rational criticism, and self-criticism.

Erasmo of Rotterdam attempted to revive this Socratic doctrine, ­the important though unobtrusive doctrine,

Know thyself, and thus admit to thyself how little thou knowest.

Yet Erasmo's doctrine was swept away by the belief that truth is manifest, and by the new self-assurance exemplified and taught in different ways by Luther and Calvin, by Bacon and Descartes.

It is important to realize, in this connection, the difference between Cartesian doubt and the doubt of Socrates, or Erasmo, or Montaigne.

While Socrates doubts human knowledge or wisdom, and remains firm in his rejection of any pretension to knowledge or wisdom, Des­cartes doubts everything-but only to end up with the possession of absolutely certain knowledge.

Descartes finds that his universal doubt would lead him to doubt the truthfulness of God, which is absurd.

Having proved that universal doubt is absurd, he concludes that we can know securely, that we can be wise-by distinguishing, in the natural light of reason, between clear and distinct ideas whose source is God, and all other ideas whose source is our own impure imagination.

Cartesian doubt, we see, is merely a maieutic instrument for establishing a cri­terion of truth and, with it, a way to secure knowledge and wisdom.

Yet for the Socrates of the Apology, wisdom consisted in the awareness of our limitations; in knowing how little we know, everyone of us.

It was this doctrine of an essential human fallibility which Nicola di Cusa and Erasmo of Rotterdam (who refers to Socrates) revived.

And it was this ‘humanist’ doctrine (in contradistinction to the optimistic doctrine on which Milton relied, the doctrine that truth will prevail) which Nicola and Erasmo, Montaigne and Locke and Voltaire, fol­lowed by Mill and Bertrand Russell, made the basis of the doctrine of tolerance.

‘What is tolerance?’ asks Voltaire in his Philo­sophical Dictionary.

He answers: ‘It is a necessary consequence of our humanity.

We are all fallible, and prone to error; let us then pardon each other’s follies.

This is the first principle of natural right.

More recently the doctrine of fallibility has been made the basis of a theory of political freedom; that is, freedom from coercion.

See F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty.

Bacon and Descartes set up observation and reason as new authorities, and they set them up within each individual man. But in doing so they split man into two parts, into a higher part which had authority with respect to truth-Bacon’s observations, Descartes’ intellect-and a lower part. It is this lower part which constitutes our ordinary selves, the old Adam in us. For it is always ‘we ourselves’ who are alone responsible for error, if truth is manifest.

It is we, with our prejudices, our negligence, our pigheadedness, who are to blame; it is we ourselves who are the sources of our ignorance.

Thus we are split into a human part, we ourselves, the part which is the source of our fallible opinions (doxa), of our errors, and of our ignorance; and a super-human part, such as the senses or the intellect, the· sources of real knowledge (episteme), whose authority over us is almost divine.

But this will not do.

For we know that Descartes’ physics, admirable as it was in many ways, was mistaken.

Yet it was based only upon ideas which, he thought, were clear and distinct, and which therefore should have been true.

And as to the authority of the senses as sources of knowledge, the fact that the senses are not reliable was known to the ancients even before Parmenides, for example to Xenophanes and Heraclitus; and of course to Democritus and to Plato. (Cp. pp. 222 f, below.)

It is strange that this teaching of antiquity could be almost ignored by modern empiricists, including phenomenalists and positivists; yet it is ignored in most of the problems posed by positivists and phenom­enalists, and in the solutions they offer.

The reason is this.

They believe that it is not our senses that err, but that it is always we ourselves who err in our interpretation of what is  given to us by our senses.

Our senses tell the truth, but we may err, for example, when we try to put into language–conventional, man-made, imperfect language-what they tell us.

 It is our linguistic description which is faulty because it may be tinged with prejudice.

So our man-made language was at fault.

But then it was discovered that our language too was given to us, in an important sense: that it embodied the wisdom and experience of many generations, and that it should not be blamed if we misused it.

So Ordinary Language, in Austin's parlance, too became a truthful authority that could never deceive us.

If we fall into temptation and use language in vain, then it is we who are to blame for the trouble that ensues.

For language is a jealous bod and will not hold him guiltless that taketh his words in vain, but will throw him into darkness and confusion.

By blaming us, and our language or misuse of language, it is possible to uphold the divine authority of the senses and even of Language.

But it is possible only at the cost of widening the gap between this authority and ourselves.

Between the pure sources from which we can obtain an authoritative knowledge of the truthful god­dess Nature, and our impure and guilty selves: between God and man.

As indicated before, this idea of the truthfulness of Nature which can be discerned in Bacon, derives from the Greeks.

For it is part of the classical opposition between "nature" (physis) and human convention ("nomos", "thesis") which, according to Plato, is due to Pindar; which may be discerned in Parmenides; and which is identified by him, and by some Sophists (for example, by Hippias) and partly also by Plato himself, with the oppo­sition between divine truth and human error, or even falsehood.

After Bacon, and under his influence, the idea that nature is divine and truthful, and that all error or falsehood is due to the deceitfulness of our own human conventions, continued to playa major role not only in the history of philosophy, of science, and of politics, but also in that of the visual arts.

This may be seen, for example, from Constable’s most interesting theories on nature, veracity, prejudice, and convention, quoted in E. H. Gombrich’s "Art and Illusion."

It also played a role in the history of literature, and even in that of music.

Can the strange view that the truth of a statement may be decided upon by inquiring into its sources-that is to say its origin-be explained as due to some logical mistake which might be cleared up?

Or can we do no better than explain it in terms of religious beliefs, or in psycho­logical terms-referring perhaps to parental authority?

It is indeed possible to discern here a logical mistake which is connected with the close analogy between the meaning of our words, or terms, or concepts, and the truth of our statements or propositions.

It is easy to see that the meaning of our words does have some connection with their history or their origin.

A word is, logically con­sidered, a conventional sign; psychologically considered, it is a sign whose meaning is established by usage or custom or association.

Logically considered, its meaning is indeed established by an initial decision-something like a primary definition or convention, a kind of original social contract; and psychologically considered, its meaning was established when we originally learned to use it, when we first formed our linguistic habits and associations.

Thus there is a point in the complaint of the school-boy about the unnecessary artificiality of French in which pain means bread, while English, he feels, is so much more natural and straightforward in calling pain ‘pain’ and bread ‘bread’.

He may understand the conventionality of the usage perfectly well, but he gives expression to the feeling that there is no reason why the original conventions-original for him-should not be binding.

So his mistake may consist merely in forgetting that there can be several equally binding original conventions. But who has not made, implicitly, the same mistake?

Most of us have caught ourselves in a feeling of surprise when we find that in France even little children speak French fluently.

Of course, we smile about our own naivety; but we do not smile about the policeman who discovers that the real name of the man called ‘Samuel Jones’ was ‘John Smith’ -- though here is, no doubt, a last vestige of the magical belief that we gain power over a man or a god or a spirit by gaining knowledge of his real name.

By pronouncing it we can summon or cite him.

Thus there is indeed a familiar as well as a logically defensible sense in which the true or proper meaning of a term is its original mean­ing (etymon).

So that if we understand it, we do so because we learned it correctly-from a true authority, from one who knew the language.

that is
may be formulated in

Words, or Assertions
which may be
and their
may be reduced, by way of
to that of
undefined concepts/primitive propositions (axioms)

The attempt to establish (rather than reduce) by these means their meaning/truth leads to infinite regress

This shows that the problem of the meaning of a word is indeed linked to the problem of the authoritative source, or the origin, of our usage.

It is different with the problem of the truth of a statement of fact, a proposition.

For anybody can make a factual mistake – even in matters on which he should be an authority, such as his own age or the colour of a thing which he has just this moment clearly and distinctly per­ceived.

And as to origins, a statement may easily have been false when it was first made, and first properly understood.

A word, on the other hand, must have had a proper meaning as soon as it was ever understood.

If we thus reflect upon the difference between the ways in which the meaning of words and the truth of statements is related to their ori­gins, we are hardly tempted to think that the question of origin can have much bearing on the question of knowledge or of truth.

There is, however, a deep analogy between meaning and truth; and there is a philosophical view -- Essentialism -- which tries to link meaning and truth so closely that the temptation to treat both in the same way becomes almost irresistible.

In order to explain this briefly, we may once more contemplate our table of Ideas, noting the relation between its two sides.

How are the two sides of this table connected?

A definition is a kind of statement or theory or proposition, and therefore one of those things which stand on the right side of our table.

This fact, incidentally, does not spoil the symmetry of our table ofIdeas; for derivations also tran­scend the kind of thing-statements, etc.-which stand on the side where the word ‘derivation’ occurs.

Just as a definition is formulated by a special kind of sequence of words rather than by a word, so a derivation is formulated by a special kind of sequence of statements rather than by a statement.)

The fact that a definition is nevertheless a  statement suggests that somehow they may form a link.

That they do this is, indeed, part of that philosophic doctrine to which I have given the name’ essentialism’.

According to essentialism, especially Aristotle’s version of it, a definition is a statement of the inherent essence or nature of a thing.

At the same time, it states the meaning of a word-of the name that designates the essence.

For example, Descartes, and also Kant, hold that the word ‘body’ designates something that is, essentially, extended.

Moreover, Aristotle and all other essentialists held that definitions are ‘principles’; that is to say, they yield primitive propositions (example: ‘All bodies are extended’) which cannot be derived from other proposi­tions, and which form the basis, or are part of the basis, of every demonstration.

They thus form the basis of every science.

Cf. my Open Society, especially notes 27 to 33 to chapter 11.

It should be noted that this particular tenet, though an important part of the essentialist creed, is free of any reference to ‘essences’.

This explains why it was accepted by some nominalistic opponents of essentialism such as Hobbes or, say, Schlick, Erkenntnislehre.

I think we have now the means at our disposal by which we can explain the logic of the view that questions of origin may decide ques­tions of factual truth.

For if origins can determine the true meaning of a term or word, then they can determine the true definition of an important idea, and therefore some at least of the basic ‘principles’ which are descriptions of the essences or natures of things and which underlie our demonstrations and consequently our scientific knowledge.

So it will then appear that there are authoritative sources of our knowledge.

Yet we must realize that essentialism is mistaken in suggesting that definitions can add to our knowledge of facts (although qua decisions about conventions they may be influenced by our knowledge of facts, and although they create instruments which may in their turn influence the formation of our theories and thereby the evolution of our knowledge of facts).

Once we see that definitions never give any factual knowledge about nature, or about the nature of things -- de natura --, we also see the break in the logical link between the problem of origin and that of factual truth which some essentialist philosophers tried to forge.

Popper then goes on to  leave all these largely historical reflections aside, and turn to the problems themselves, and to their solution.

This part of my lecture might be described as an attack on empiricism, as formulated for example in the following classical statement of Hume’s.

If I ask you why you believe any particular matter of fact you must tell me some reason.

And this reason will be some other fact, connected with it.

But as you cannot proceed after this manner, ad infini­tum, you must at last terminate in some fact, which is present to your memory or senses.

Or must allow that your belief is entirely without foundation.

Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section v, Part I; Selby­Bigge, p. 46; see also my epigraph, taken from Section vii, Part I; p. 62.

The problem of the validity of empiricism may be roughly put as follows: is observation the ultimate source of our knowledge of nature?

And if not, what are the sources of our knowledge?

These questions remain, whatever I may have said about Bacon, and even ifI should have managed to make those parts of his philosophy on which I have commented somewhat unattractive for Baconians and for other empiricists.

The problem of the source of our knowledge has recently been restated as follows.

If we make an assertion, we must justify it; but this means that we must be able to answer the following questions.

‘How do you know?

What are the sources of your assertion?’

This, the empiricist holds, amounts in its turn to the question, ‘What observations (or memories of observations) underlie your assertion?’

I find this string of questions quite unsatisfactory.

First of all, most of our assertions are not based upon observations, but upon all kinds of other sources.

i. I read it in The Times.

Or perhaps:

ii. I read it in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

is a more likely and a more definite answer to the question

‘How do you know?’ than

iii. I have observed it.

iv. I know it from an observation I made last year.

But, the empiricist will reply, how do you think that The Times or the Encyclopaedia Britannica got their information?

Surely, if you only carry on your inquiry long enough, you will end up with reports of the observa­tions of eye-witnesses (sometimes called “protocol sentences” or-by yourself-H basic statements”).

Admittedly’, the empiricist will con­tinue, ‘books are largely made from other books.

Admittedly, a histor­ian, for example, will work from documents.

But ultimately, in the last analysis, these other books, or these documents, must have been based upon observations.

Otherwise they would have to be described as poetry, or invention, or lies, but not as testimony.

It is in this sense that we empiricists assert that observation must be the ultimate source of our knowledge.’

Here we have the empiricist’s case, as it is still put by some of my positivist friends.

I shall try to show that this case is as little valid as Bacon’s; that the answer to the question of the sources of knowledge goes against the empiricist; and, finally, that this whole question of ultimate sources­sources to which one may appeal, as one might to a higher court or a higher authority-must be rejected as based upon a mistake.

First, Popper wants to show that if you actually went on questioning "The Times" and its correspondents about the sources of their knowledge, you would in fact never arrive at all those observations by eyewitnesses in the existence of which the empiricist believes.

You would find, rather, that with every single step you take, the need for further steps increases in snowball-like fashion.

Take as an example the sort of assertion for which reasonable people might simply accept as sufficient the answer

i. I read it in The Times.

Lt us say the assertion

ii. The Prime Minister has decided to return to London several days ahead of schedule.

Now assume for a moment that somebody doubts this assertion, or feels the need to investigate its truth.

What shall he do?

If he has a friend in the Prime Minister’s office, the simplest and most direct way would be to ring him up.

And if this friend corroborates the message, then that is that.

In other words, the investigator will, if possible, try to check, or to examine, the asserted fact itself, rather than trace the source of the informa­tion.

But according to the empiricist theory, the assertion

i. I have read it in The Times.

is merely a first step in a justification procedure consisting in tracing the ultimate source.

What is the next step?

There are at least two next steps.

One would be to reflect that

i. I have read it in The Times.

is also an assertion, and that we might ask

iv. What is the source of your knowledge that you read it in The Times and not, say, in a paper looking very similar to The Times?

The other is to ask The Times for the sources of its knowledge.

The answer to the first question may be:

v. But we have only The Times on order and we always get it in the morn­ing.

-- which gives rise to a host of further questions about sources which we shall not pursue.

The second question may elicit from the editor of The Times the answer:

vii. We had a telephone call from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Now according to the empiricist procedure, we should at this stage ask next:

viii. Who is the gentleman who received the telephone call?

and then get his observation report.

But we should also have to ask that gentleman:

ix. What is the source of your knowledge that the voice you heard came from an official in the Prime Minister’s office?

 and so on.


There is a simple reason why this tedious sequence of questions never comes to a satisfactory conclusion.

It is this.

Every witness must always make ample use, in his report, of his knowledge of persons, places, things, linguistic usages, social conventions, and so on.

He can­not rely merely upon his eyes or ears, especially if his report is to be of use in justifying any assertion worth justifying.

But this fact must of course always raise new questions as to the sources of those elements of his knowledge which are not immediately observational.

This is why the programme of tracing back all knowledge to its ultimate source in observation is logically impossible to carry through.

It leads to an infinite regress.

The doctrine that truth is manifest cuts off the regress.

This is interesting because it may help to explain the attractiveness of that doctrine.

Popper wishes to mention that this argument is closely related to another-that all observation involves interpretation in the light of our theoretical knowledge, [8. See Popper's Logic of Scientific Discovery, last paragraph of section 25, and new appendix.

For an anticipation by Mark Twain of Popper's Times argument, see p. 557 below. or that pure observational know­ledge, unadulterated by theory, would, if at all possible, be utterly barren and futile.

The most striking thing about the observationalist programme of asking for sources, apart from its tediousness, is its stark violation of common sense.

For if we are doubtful about an assertion, then the normal procedure is to test it, rather than to ask for its sources; and if we find independent corroboration, then we shall often accept the assertion without bothering at all about sources.

Of course there are cases in which the situation is different.

Testing an historical assertion always means going back to sources, but not, as a rule, to the reports of eyewitnesses.

Clearly, no historian will accept the evidence of documents uncriti­cally.

There are problems of genuineness, there are problems of bias, and there are also such problems as the reconstruction of earlier sources.

There are, of course, also problems such as: was the writer present when these events happened?

But this is not one of the charac­teristic problems of the historian.

He may worry about the reliability of a report, but he will rarely worry about whether or not the writer of a document was an eyewitness of the event in question, even assuming that this event was of the nature of an observable event.

A letter saying:

i. I changed my mind yesterday on this question.

may be most valuable historical evidence, even though changes of mind are unobservable -- and even though we may conjecture, in view of other evidence, that the writer was lying.

As to eyewitnesses, they are important almost exclusively in a court of law where they can be cross-examined.

As most lawyers know, eye­witnesses often err.

This has been experimentally investigated, with the most striking results.

Witnesses most anxious to describe an event as it happened are liable to make scores of mistakes, especially if some exciting things happen in a hurry; and if an event suggests some tempt­ing interpretation, then this interpretation, more often than not, is allowed to distort what has actually been seen.

Hume’s view of historical knowledge was different.

We believe’, Home writes in the Treatise (Book I, Part III, Section iv; Selby-Bigge, p. 83, that

ii. Caesar was killed in the Senate House on the ides of March.

because this fact is established on the unanimous testimony of histor­ians, who agree to assign this precise time and place to that event.

Here are certain characters and letters present either to our memory or senses; which characters we likewise remember to have been us’d as the signs of certain ideas; and these ideas were either in the minds of such as were immediately present at that action, and receiv’d the ideas directly from its existence; or they were deriv’d from the testimony of others, and that again from another testimony … ’till we arrive at those who were eye-witnesses and spectators of the event.’ See also Enquiry, Section x; Selby-Bigge, pp. 111 ff.

It seems to me that this view must lead to the infinite regress described above.

For the problem is, of course, whether ‘the unani­mous testimony of historians’ is to be accepted, or whether it is, per­haps, to be rejected as the result of their reliance on a common yet spurious source.

The appeal to ‘letters present to our memory or our senses’ cannot have any bearing on this or on any other relevant pro blem of historiography.

But what, then, are the sources of our knowledge?

The answer, I think, is this.

There are all kinds of sources of our knowledge; but none has authority.

We may say that "The Times" can be a source of knowledge, or the "Encyclopaedia Britannica".

We may say that certain papers in "The Physical Review" about a problem in physics have more authority, and are more of the character of a source, than an article about the same problem in The Times or the Encyclopaedia.

But it would be quite wrong to say that the source of the article in the Physical Review must have been wholly, or even partly, observation.

The source may well be the discovery of an inconsistency in another paper or, say, the discovery of the fact that a hypothesis proposed in another paper could be tested by such and such an experiment; all these non-observational discoveries are ‘sources’ in the sense that they all add to our knowledge.

Popper does not, of course, deny that an experiment may also add to our knowledge, and in a most important manner.

But it is not a source in any ultimate sense. It has always to be checked: as in the example of the news in The Times we do not, as a rule, question the eyewitness of an experiment, but, if we doubt the result, we may repeat the experiment, or ask somebody else to repeat it.

The fundamental mistake made by the philosophical theory of the ultimate sources of our knowledge is that it does not distinguish clearly enough between questions of origin and questions of validity.

Admit­tedly’ in the case of historiography, these two questions may some­times coincide.

The question of the validity of an historical assertion may be testable only, or mainly, in the light of the origin of certain sources.

But in general the two questions are different; and in general we do not test the validity of an assertion or information by tracing its sources or its origin, but we test it, much more directly, by a critical examination of what has been asserted-of the asserted facts themselves.

Thus the empiricist’s questions ‘How do you know? What is the source of your assertion?’ are wrongly put.

They are not formulated in an inexact or slovenly manner, but they are entirely misconceived: they are questions that beg for an authoritarian answer.

The traditional systems of epistemology may be said to result from yes­ answers or no-answers to questions about the sources of our know­ledge.

They never challenge these questions, or dispute their legitimacy; the questions are taken as perfectly natural, and nobody seems to see any harm in them.

This is quite interesting, for these questions are clearly authoritarian in spirit.

They can be compared with that traditional question of political theory, ‘Who should rule?’, which begs for an auth­oritarian answer such as ‘the best’, or ‘the wisest’, or ‘the people’, or ‘the majority’. (It suggests, incidentally, such silly alternatives as ‘Who should be our rulers: the capitalists or the workers?’, analogous to ‘What is the ultimate source of knowledge: the intellect or the senses?’)

This political question is wrongly put and the answers which it elicits are paradoxical, as Popper has tried to show in chapter 7 of my Open Society.

It should be replaced by a completely different question such as ‘How can we organize our political institutions so that bad or incompetent rulers (whom we should try not to get, but whom we so easily might get all the same) cannot do too much damage?’

Only by changing our question in this way can we hope to proceed towards a reasonable theory of political institutions.

The question about the sources of our knowledge can be replaced in a similar way.

It has always been asked in the spirit of: ‘What are the best sources of our knowledge-the most reliable ones, those which will not lead us into error, and those to which we can and must turn, in case of doubt, as the last court of appeal?’

I propose to assume, instead, that no such ideal sources exist-no more than ideal rulers-and that all ‘sources’ are liable to lead us into error at times.

And I propose to replace, therefore, the question of the sources of our knowledge by the entirely different question.

How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?

The question of the sources of our knowledge like so many authori­tarian questions, is a genetic one.

It asks for the origin of our knowledge, in the belief that knowledge may legitimize itself by its pedigree.

The nobility of the racially pure knowledge, the untainted knowledge, the knowledge which derives from the highest authority, if possible from God: these are the (often unconscious) metaphysical ideas behind the question.

My modified question, how can we hope to detect error?, may be said to derive from the view that such pure, untainted and certain sources do not exist, and that questions of origin or of purity should not be confounded with questions of validity, or of truth.

This view may be said to be as old as Xenophanes.

Xenophanes knew that our knowledge is guesswork, opinion—–cloxa rather than episteme-as shown by his verses:

The gods did not reveal, from the beginning, all things to us; but in the course of time.

Through seeking we may learn, and know things better.

But as for certain truth, no man has known it.

Nor will he know it; neither of the gods,

Nor yet of all the things of which I speak.

And even if by chance he were to utter the perfect truth, he would himself not know it.

For all is but a woven web of guesses.

Yet the traditional question of the authoritative sources of knowledge is repeated even today-and very often by positivists and by other philosophers who believe themselves to be in revolt against authority.

The proper answer to the question, how can we hope to detect and eliminate error?, is:

We hope to detect and eliminate error by criticizing the theories or guesses of others and -- if we can train ourselves to do so -- by criticizing our own theories or guesses.’

The latter point is highly desirable, but not indispensable.

For if we fail to criticize our own theories, there may be others to do it for us.

This answer sums up a position which Popper proposes to call  Critical rationalism.

It is a view, an attitude, and a tradition, which we owe to the Ancient Greeks.

It is very different from the Rationalism or ‘intellectualism’ of Descartes and his school, and very different even from the epistemology of Kant.

Yet in the field of ethics, of moral knowledge, it was approached by Kant with his principle of autonomy.

This principle expresses his realization that we must not accept the com­mand of an authority, however exalted, as the basis of ethics.

For whenever we are faced with a command by an authority, it is for us to judge, critically, whether it is moral or immoral to obey.

The authority may have power to enforce its commands, and we may be powerless to resist.

But if we have the physical power of choice, then the ultimate responsibility remains with us.

It is our own critical decision whether to obey a command; whether to submit to an authority.

Kant boldly carried this idea into the field of religion.

In what­ever way tthe Deity should be made known to you, and even if He should reveal Himself to you: it is you who must judge whether you are permitted to believe in Him, and to worship Him. ‘

"Religion Within the Limits of Pure Reason".

In view of this bold statement, it seems strange that in his phil­osophy of science Kant did not adopt the same attitude of critical rationalism, of the critical search for error.

I feel certain that it was only his acceptance of the authority of Newton’s cosmology-a result of its almost unbelievable success in passing the most severe tests-which pre­vented Kant from doing so.

If this interpretation of Kant is correct, then the critical rationalism (and also the critical empiricism) which I advo­cate merely puts the finishing touch to Kant’s own critical philosophy.

And this was made possible by Einstein, who taught us that Newton’s theory may well be mistaken in spite of its overwhelming success.

So my answer to the questions

‘How do you *know*? What is the source or the basis of your assertion? What observations have led you to it?’ would be:

I do not *know*.

My assertion was merely a guess.

Never mind the source, or the sources, from which it may spring-there are many possible sources, and I may not be aware of half of them; and origins or pedigrees have in any case little bearing upon truth.

But if you are interested in the problem which I tried to solve by my tentative assertion, you may help me by criticizing it as severely as you can.

And if you can design some experimental test which you think might refute my assertion, I shall gladly, and to the best of my powers, help you to refute it.’

This answer applies, strictly speaking, only if the question is asked about some scientific assertion as distinct from an historical one.

If my conjecture was an historical one, sources (in the non-ultimate sense) will of course come into the critical discussion of its validity.

Yet fundamentally, my answer will be the same, as we have seen.

It is high time now, I think, to formulate the epistemological results of this discussion.

I will put them in the form of theses.

There are no ultimate sources of knowledge.

Every source, every suggestion, is welcome; and every source, every suggestion, is open to critical examination.

Except in history, we usually examine the facts themselves rather than the sources of our information.

The proper epistemological question is not one about sources; rather, we ask whether the assertion made is true-that is to say, whether it agrees with the facts.

That we may operate, without getting involved in antinomies, with the idea of objective truth in the sense of correspondence to the facts, has been shown by the work of Alfred Tarski.

And we try to find this out, as well as we can, by examining or testing the assertion itself, either in a direct way, or by examining or testing its consequences.

In connection with this examination, all kinds of arguments may be relevant.

A typical procedure is to examine whether our theories are consistent with our observations.

But we may also examine, for example, whether our historical sources are mutually and internally consistent.

Quantitatively and qualitatively by far the most important source of our knowledge-apart from inborn knowledge-is tradition.

Most things we know we have learnt by example, by being told, by reading books, by learning how to criticize, how to take and to accept criticism, how to respect truth.

The fact that most of the sources of our knowledge are traditional condemns anti-traditionalism as futile.

But this fact must not be held to support a traditionalist attitude.

Every bit of our traditional knowledge (and even our inborn knowledge) is open to critical examination and may be overthrown.

Nevertheless, without tradition, knowledge would be impossible.

Knowledge cannot start from nothing, from a tabula rasa, nor yet from observation.

The advance of knowledge consists, mainly, in the modification of earlier knowledge.

Although we may sometimes, for example in archaeology, advance through a chance observation, the significance of the discovery will usually depend upon its power to modify our earlier theories.

Pessimistic and optimistic epistemologies are about equally mis­taken.

The pessimistic cave story of Plato is the true one, and not his optimistic story of anamnesis (even though we should admit that all men, like all other animals, and even all plants, possess inborn knowledge).

But although the world of appearances is indeed a world of mere shadows on the walls of our cave, we all constantly reach out beyond it; and although, as Democritus said, the truth is hidden in the deep, we can probe into the deep.

There is no criterion of truth at our dis­posal, and this fact supports pessimism.

But we do possess criteria which, if we are lucky, may allow us to recognize error and falsity.

Clarity and distinctness are not criteria of truth, but such things as obscurity or confusion may indicate error.

Similarly coherence cannot establish truth, but incoherence and inconsistency do establish false­hood.

And, when they are recognized, our own errors provide the dim red lights which help us in groping our way out of the darkness of our cave.

Neither observation nor reason is an authority.

Intellectual in­tuition and imagination are most important, but they are not reliable.

They may show us things very clearly, and yet they may mislead us.

They are indispensable as the main sources of our theories; but most of our theories are false anyway.

The most important function of observa­tion and reasoning, and even of intuition and imagination, is to help us in the critical examination of those bold conjectures which are the means by which we probe into the unknown.

Although clarity is valuable in itself, exactness or precision is not: there can be no point in trying to be more precise than our problem demands.

Linguistic precision is a phantom, and problems connected with the meaning or definition of words are unimportant.

Thus our table of Ideas in spite of its symmetry, has an important and an unimportant side.

While the left-hand side (words and their mean­ings) is unimportant, the right-hand side (theories and the problems connected with their truth) is all-important.

Words are significant only as instruments for the formulation of theories, and verbal problems are tiresome.

They should be avoided at all cost.

Every solution of a problem raises new unsolved problems.

The more so the deeper the original problem and the bolder its solution.

The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our IGNORANCE.

For this, indeed, is the main source of our IGNORANCE: the fact that our knowledge can be only finite, while our IGNORANCE must necessarily be infinite.

We may get a glimpse of the vastness of our IGNORANCE when we contemplate the vastness of the heavens.

Though the mere size of the universe is not the deepest cause of our ignorance, it is one of its causes.

Ramsey writes in "Foundations of Mathematics":

Where I seem to differ from some of my friends is in attaching little importance to physical size, I don’t feel in the least humble before the vastness of the heavens.

The stars may be large but they cannot think or love.

And these are qualities which impress me far more than size does.

 I take no credit for weighing nearly seventeen stone.

Popper suspects that Ramsey’s friends would have agreed with him about the insignificance of sheer physical size.

And Popper suspects that if Ramsey's friends felt humble before the vastness of the heavens, this was because they saw in it a "symbol" of their IGNORANCE.

Popper holds that it would be worth trying to learn something about the world even if in trying to do so we should merely learn that we do not know much.

This state of learned IGNORANCE might be a help in many of our troubles.

It might be well for all of us to remember that, while differing widely in the various little bits we know, in our infinite ignorance we are all equal.

There is a last question I wish to raise.

If only we look for it we can often find a true idea, worthy of being preserved, in a philosophical theory which must be rejected as false.

Can we find an idea like this in one of the theories of the ultimate sources of our knowledge?

I believe we can; and I suggest that it is one of the two main ideas which underlie the doctrine that the source of all our knowledge is super-natural.

The first of these ideas is false, I believe, while the second is true.

The first, the false idea, is that we must justify our knowledge, or our theories, by positive reasons, that is, by reasons capable of establishing them, or at least of making them highly probable; at any rate, by better reasons than that they have so far withstood criticism.

This idea implies, I suggest, that we must appeal to some ultimate or authorita­tive source of true knowledge; which still leaves open the character of that authority-whether it is human, like observation or reason, or super-human, and therefore super-natural.

The second idea-whose vital importance has been stressed by Russell-is that no man’s authority can establish truth by decree; that we should submit to truth; that truth is above human authority.

Taken together these two ideas almost immediately yield the conclu­sion that the sources from which our knowledge derives must be super-human; a conclusion which tends to encourage self­righteousness and the use of force against those who refuse to see the divine truth.

Some who rightly reject this conclusion do not, unhappily, reject the first idea-the belief in the existence of ultimate sources of knowledge. Instead they reject the second idea-the thesis that truth is above human authority.

They thereby endanger the idea of the objectivity of knowledge, and of common standards of criticism or rationality.

What we should do, I suggest, is to give up the idea of ultimate sources of knowledge, and admit that all knowledge is human; that it is mixed with our errors, our prejudices, our dreams, and our hopes; that all we can do is to grope for truth even though it be beyond our reach.

We may admit that our groping is often inspired, but we must be on our guard against the belief, however deeply felt, that our inspiration carries any authority, divine or otherwise.

If we thus admit that there is no authority beyond the reach of criticism to be found within the whole province of our knowledge, however far it may have penetrated into the unknown, then we can retain, without danger, the idea that truth is beyond human authority.

And we must retain it.

For without this idea there can be no objective standards of inquiry; no criticism of our conjectures; no groping for the unknown; no quest for knowledge.