WILLIAM W. BARTLEY III (1934-1990)
19 April 1990
The sudden death of Professor Bartley is a great loss not only for Critical Rationalism but for the scientific community and for philosophy. For his friends and for those who had the privileges of knowing him personally it is an enormous loss. Sir Karl Popper wrote of Bartley : " I can say that he was one of the most brilliant students I ever had; perhaps the most brilliant of all." He came to the London School of Economics with a first class record from Harvard. His career at the LSE was most unusual. He impressed all as an absolutely first class man in every respect, and he was appointed to a lectureship. His Ph.D. thesis was at once(1962) published as a book by A.A.Knopf in New York and by Chatto and Windus in London. Its quality and originality were immediately recognized; it was translated into German, French and Italian. Retreat to Commitment is perhaps the solution to the problem of the limits of rationality. This theme is developed in his "nonjustificational theory or criticism" (his "pancritical rationalism" ) .
Professor Bartley held many professorships: his first appointment to a full professorship, at the University of Pittsburgh, was in 1969; Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Hayward, in 1970; he was named "Outstanding, Professor" of the entire California State University system (which includes some 300,000 students) . His last position was Senior Research Fellow at The Hoover Institution of War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University. He has lectured extensively in Austria, Germany, France, and Italy. Bartley was a seminal thinker who pursued several lines of endeavor with great studies of major figures. He discovered and reconstructed some lost work of Lewis Carroll, and wrote a brilliant study of the mind of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. His study Wittgenstein has been translated into several languages(Japanese transl. for Keiso-shobo publ. ). Also his biography of Werner Erhardt was a great success. The great enterprises: the biography of Karl Popper and that of Friedrich von Hayek, both already in an advanced stage, he, unfortunately, was not able to finish.
Bartley has had a glittering academic career replete with prizes, scholarships, and fellowships at some or the most distinguished universities in the world. He took also the job of editing the work of others seriously. Outstanding in this respect is the editing of Sir Karl Popper's major work Postscript After Twenty Five Years, to The Logic of Scientific Discovery (three volumes) /Editor-in-Chief of Hayek's COLLECTED WORKS and editing of Hayek's latest book The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, and co-editing the collection Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality and The Sociology of Knowledge, in which he also developed his ideas on the growth of knowledge and the theme of unfusing criticism from justification thereby showing that also in the foundations of logic and rationality there need be no inconsistency in a thoroughgoing critical attitude . We will miss him - yet we are all grateful to him for his guidance and wise counsel, his wisdom and his good humor.