Mails exchanged between Prof. Tachibana and Prof. Agassi
On the Kyoto Prize Workshop


November 17, 1992

Dear Prof. Joseph Agassi,

When I was sending you an electronic mail, I was involved in trouble. I had to stop sending may mail. I am sorry for that. I am not sure whether may mail reaches you or not. Then I will write to you again.

I could not talk with Popper because he was surrounded by too many people.
I wanted to ask him a question' On page 235 in his book, Realism and the Aim of Science, Popper uses the words 'may' or 'might'. Thus he distinguishes one case from another. That is, a case that supports the theory and another case that does not support the theory. Questions: 1. What are the circumstances which differentiate one from another? In the case of "may" support and the case of "may not" support. 2. How and why can a black cormorant support the theory that all swans are white? After all, it is only an instance of the theory!

Will you reply my questions in his stead?

There was held a Kyoto Prize Workshop "Philosophy of Open Society", on November 12, from 1:20 to 6:00. The following is my report.
Popper gave a commemorate lecture, titled, "The Origin of Western Culture and Its Literary and Scientific Roots". He focuses on Greek publishing and book market. It will be published soon.
Besides there were four lectures.
1. Kei Takeuchi: Enemies of Open Society within. This title seemed to be interesting.
2. Keiichiro Kamino: On Popper's Critical Rationalism. He was a former pupil in London from 1963 to 64.
3. Kobun Takashima: Popper's Philosophy as a Theory of the Growth of Knowledge.
4. Makoto Kogawara: Open Society and Critical Rationalism.

1. Takeuchi said that egoistic individualism, not methodological individualism, is an enemy within the open society. Popper raised his hand and said that he had already written that there are some enemies within the open society in his book. He asked a question: Is your paper a friendly criticism or a hostile criticism in friendly disguise? Takeuchi tried to dodge the question and spoke long sentences. Popper stopped him and asked: Answer yes or no. Takeuchi answered that my paper is not a criticism at all.
I was impressed Popper's energy and his confidence in his theory. But I felt that his way of arguing is not in the spirit of critical rationalism. I think Takeuchi's paper raises a problem how is it possible to build an open society by fighting the enemies within, though I think his analysis of individualism has some flaws. I also think the social, political situation now is considerably changed from the time when Popper's book was written. Therefore, new problems, which Popper did not expect at that time, have been produced. I think that Takeuchi wanted to explain it. It seems to me that it is unimportant whether criticism is friendly or hostile. For me learning is important. Popper aims at winning the debate. I think that in discussions it is unimportant to win or to lose. Their conversation is regrettable.

2. Kamino defends Popper's critical rationalism. Kamino pointed out that Bartley's questioning of Popper's critical rationalism is right but his solution is refuted by Watkins and Post. He tried to defend Popper's critical rationalism by his way which I could not understand. Popper said that Kamino's paper was extremely good. Popper added that he should have emphasized critical rationalism is not a theory nor a thesis but an attitude. And hie said that he is not a fideist, because fideism is a philosophical position that the truth or falsity of statements is nothing but a faith, and he is against this fideism. I feel Popper's emphasis on attitude is in a sense right but the emphasis on attitude too much may produce a problem of objectivity.

3. Takashima said that Popper's falsificationism raised a question: how can we recognize progress between the two theories both of which are incompatible and false? Popper did not solve this question by means of his theory of verisimilitude and of corroboration. His evolutionary theory is not successful. He made a pessimistic conclusion that scientific activity may be a Sisyphus. Popper commented: You are very skeptic but I have an idea of metaphysical realism, though metaphysical realism cannot save skepticism completely.

4. Kogawara used the word "fideistic tendency". Popper asked him whether he writes in his book, The Open Society, that there is a limitation in criticism. Kogawara replied "No".
Incidentally, Popper told us the story between Popper and Bartley. He was quite excited. His assertion are as follows:

1. Why did Popper try to make their discussion private, not public? In order not to make their enemies strong.
2. Popper corrected sentences in his book, but Bartley was not content with his corrections.
3. Bartley did say that Popper's demarcation problem is unimportant. He thought it is important and Kant also thought so. Bartley did not say Popper's criterion is false. Therefore, it was not a criticism, then their discussions were not worthwhile making public.
4. He stressed that recently they were good friends until Bartley's unfortunate sudden death.
5. Popper said Bartley's comprehensively critical rationalism is an attitude and moral, therefore it must be concrete and practical. I think Popper admits that critical rationalism is different from comprehensively critical rationalism.

I am looking forward to your reply.

Sincerely yours,
Kiichi Tachibana


Reply from Prof. Agassi


November 27, 1992

Dear Kiichi Tachibana:

Thank you for your interesting letter. I thin 'may' and 'might' can be taken as synonymous unless there is an objection to this that should be taken into account. I will not answer your question on support as I said too much about the inductivist theory of support, of Whewell's, Popper's and mine.

Yes, Popper's energy and directness and force are lovely and his impatience is intolerant and regrettable.
I think Popper says in his monumental The Open Society that one must try to fight democratically and when one has to fight with force one may do so but after admitting some measure of defeat.

The new problems not discussed in Popper's book come from his monism and today's pluralism. When it was realized that monism contributed to Auschwitz, pluralism came in. Popper never said, I was once a monist and now a pluralist. I therefore think he cannot make a new contribution beyond his Open Society.

Bartley's solution is not refuted by Watkins. Nor by Post. If he ill refuted, I am the one who did it, and my argument (on the Tu Quoque) was never noticed.

Popper's Open Society Chapter 24 is a fideist rationalist, like Max Weber. You say he now says it is an attitude. The Open Society does not say so. Attitude occur there in Chapter 25, not 24. I do not know what sentence Bartley made Popper correct in the Open Society. Do you?

The question, how do we recognize progress? is good. Many years ago I wrote on this question and my essay will come out soon, at last.

Popper's assertion that criticism should not be made openly is, as you say regrettable. It makes him leave the stage where criticism takes place, as criticism only counts if and when it is public.
Popper was forgiven by Bartley, mainly for practical reasons, not for moral ones. I see them as enemies to the last in truce, but in belligerence, not in peace, certainly not in friendship.
Bartley never said Popper's demarcation is false; I said that. Bartley never said the problem is unimportant; he said, Popper made it less important by showing that behind it stands the problem of rationality. This is very valiant and friendly, not hostile: yet Popper said and still says it is hostile.
Popper is right saying Bartley's rationalism is too abstract. So is Popper. This is my critique of both in the essay I already mentioned.

Greeting to you and Makoto Kogawara and thanks for the information.

Yours sincerely,
Joseph Agassi
Professor in Philosophy


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Kiichi Tachibana
tachiba@quartet.ipc.akita-u.ac.jp
Joseph Agassi
agass@post.tau.ac.il