Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers
is a 2001 book by BBC
journalists David Edmonds
and John Eidinow
about events in the history of philosophy
involving Sir Karl Popper
and Ludwig Wittgenstein
, leading to a confrontation at the University of Cambridge
in 1946. It was a bestseller and received positive reviews.
On 25 October 1946
, Popper (then at the London School of Economics
), was invited to present a paper entitled "Are There Philosophical Problems?" at a meeting of the Cambridge Moral Science Club
, which was chaired by Wittgenstein. The two started arguing vehemently over whether there existed substantial problems in philosophy, or merely linguistic puzzles--the position taken by Wittgenstein. In Popper's, and the popular account, Wittgenstein used a fireplace poker to emphasize his points, gesturing with it as the argument
grew more heated. When challenged by Wittgenstein to state an example of a moral rule, Popper replied "Not to threaten visiting lecturers with pokers", upon which Wittgenstein threw down the poker and stormed out. Wittgenstein's Poker
collects and characterizes the accounts of the argument, as well as establishing the context of the careers of Popper, Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell
(present at the meeting).
- 2001. ISBN 0-06-621244-8. Ecco, Harper Collins, New York.
- 2002. ISBN 0-06-093664-9. Paperback. Ecco, Harper Collins, New York.