Re: MEMETICS: PCR on PCR, was Re: Pardon my rant,was Re:

From: Chris Hibbert (
Date: Tue Nov 27 2001 - 05:31:20 MST

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Further to Mike Butler's explanation on PCR. (This is from my web page
on authoritative books,

        The Retreat to Commitment By W. W. Bartley III

  Most of the philosophers who wrote about epistemology thought the
  questions they were trying to answer was "What do we know?" or
  "How do we know anything?". Karl Popper explained that the
  important question to address is closer to "How should we decide
  what to believe?" His answer was Critical Rationalism, which says
  that you subject all your (proposed) answers to criticism, and see
  which ones stand up best.

  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.

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


It is easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup, but not so easy to turn 
fish soup back into an aquarium.
-- Lech Walesa on reverting to a market economy.

Chris Hibbert

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