Thanks for the exegesis, Chris.
Now that I actually have (two!) copies of the First Edition in hand, I find
that many people have been giving the book's title as librarian/reader
shorthand. Most of the people I've talked to have elided the definite article
at the beginning of the title.
My point was that in ordinary English, "Retreat to commitment" regrettably/confusingly
can sound imperative -- "Do this!" Bartley did not mean this, but I think that anyone
freshly confronting the title without the "the" would have high odds of wondering about
it. Add to this that Bartley was _some_ sort of Christian and the fun multiplies.
Chris Hibbert wrote:
> Bartley fixed a bug in Popper's system. Religious people had
> responded to Popper by claiming "Everyone has to have faith in
> something. You have faith in your Critical Rationalism, I have
> faith in the Word of God." Bartley's fix is Pan-Critical
> Rationalism. The fix is to subject the Critical Rationalism to
> criticism as well. The book has a very long section explaining
> what Bartley thinks the best attacks on PCR would be, and then
> defending it against them. At the end, he concludes that PCR is
> the most effective system he can find for getting better answers
> to questions, and that that's the best criteria he's found for
> evaluating a way of thinking.
Chris old chum: Is this based on the Second Edition, or the First?
I _really_ want to get my hands on the 2nd so I can judge how he refined
> The other question Mike brought up was where the title ("Retreat to
> Commitment") came from. The answer is that the first part of the book
> gives background for Bartley's discussion of the bug discussed above in
> Popper's epistemology. It does so by giving a history of Protestant
> (Episcopalian? I don't really remember) thought. As Mike alluded to,
> historically, this particular faith believed in questioning the
> doctrine, and discussing the implications for theology. Eventually,
> that led them into blind alleys where they couldn't justify particular
> beliefs, or where they found contradictions. According to Bartley, this
> caused them to gradually retreat from their questioning stance to being
> just another religion based on commitment to the received
Yep yep, and I think it's a possible wedge for countering Xtian fundies.
BTW, Bartley got an article into _Harper's_ in 1959 called
"I Call Myself a Protestant"; I'm trying to dig that up, it
might be fun reading.
-- My moronic mnemonic for smart behavior: "DICKS" == diplomacy, integrity, courage, kindness, skepticism.
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