More Popperian mafia, Ian Jarvie and Alan Musgrave

Ian Jarvie studied anthropology at the London School of  Economics, drifted into Popper’s orbit and became a research assistant. He has done good work in partnership with Joe Agassi and he is one of the Popperian quiet achievers like Peter Munz, producing a steady stream of  publications  to break new ground and demonstrate the fertility of  critical rationalism. He was also a prime  mover in the journal Philosophy of the Social Sciences, an excellent journal that functions as an open house that caters for all shades of well-argued opinion.His book Concepts and Society (1972) was an exciting application of Popper’s “hot off the press” ideas on world 3 objective knowledge.

His work on Popper’s  social turn calls for a radical re-reading of Popper, alonside the non-justificationist “Bartley and Miller” reading and the metaphysical turn prompted by Joe Agassi.

His website has some important unpublished papers including a tribute to Bill Bartley and a paper on the 20 or 30 problems in sociology and politics that Popper helpfully addressed in The Open Society and its Enemies (in your face to people who think Popper was only an eccentric positivist in the philosophy of science).

Alan Musgrave took a chair in New Zealand, repeating Popper’s journey to the end of the earth, though by choice (to take a Chair at a very young age) rather than necessity (to escape the Holocaust).

In an interview for the Australian journal Metascience he provided some very illuminating insights into the atmosphere at the London School of Economics in the prime of the (doomed) Popper and Lakatos partnership. And into the duties of Popper’s research assistants.

Popper was a workaholic, of course. Every day-except Tuesdays when he came to the LSE-he worked. He wrote long-hand in huge letters, casting pages to the floor. His wife picked them up, numbered.them, and typed them.

What did I do? I opened his voluminous mail and replied to most of it. I ferreted out stuff for him. Most important, I read his manuscripts and criticised them.

Was that at his request?

Of course. Mind you, it was hard going. My first encounter was typical. He had ‘written something and invited me to `correct’ it. He warned me that he was old and sick, so I should not be too hard on him. With the temerity of youth, I said that a comma was misplaced and that `As to X’ should be `As for Y. Out came the OED, Fowler, and a host of other sources.

An hour later I was stylistically vanquished. Those for whom English is a second language know and care more about it than the English. After a day of this, the `sick old man’ drove me to the station at 10 p.m., and I promptly fell asleep on the train, exhausted.

His works.

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1 Response to More Popperian mafia, Ian Jarvie and Alan Musgrave

  1. Frank Lovell says:

    Beautiful, complete with a trail of insight! THANKS, I will be sharing this with others in the hopes that they visit here and are bitten by the CR bug!

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