RE: Books on rationality

From: mike99 (
Date: Sat Jun 08 2002 - 20:28:11 MDT

I recommend the books of physicist-turned-philosopher Mario Bunge. He gets 2
cheers for 1) trying to create a scientific philosophy, which he terms
"scientific realism" and 2) pointing out the limitations of his own work. I
withhold a 3rd cheer because Bunge sometimes makes dubious assertions that
he defends insufficiently. In particular, his claim that computers can never
emulate the human mind, or achieve consciousness at any level, seems as
improbable to me as I'm sure it does to nearly everyone else on this list.

Bunge is particularly strong in his formulation of philosophical claims as
logical propositions, and on his warranted (in my opinion) dismissals of
most Continental philosophy (from existentialism to post-modernism). I also
found quite valuable his summary of outstanding philosophical problems that
may be amenable to resolution along the lines he sets out in his books.

Since the 1950s, Bunge has produced an enormous body of work, including a
multi-volume work titled BASIC PHILOSOPHY aimed at professional
philosophers. For the rest of us, I recommend starting with his PHILOSOPHY
IN CRISIS: THE NEED FOR RECONSTRUCTION (2001) as a good introduction to
Prof. Bunge's thinking. After that, you might try SCIENTIFIC REALISM:
SELECTED ESSAYS OF MARIO BUNGE (2001). These two books provide an excellent
overview of Bunge's life work.

Michael LaTorra

Extropy Institute:
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