Wittgenstein's Poker by David Edmonds
The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

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Poker's premise occasionally buckles under the authors' tendency to undersell the bristling conflict in their subjects' work in favor of less significant personal details. But when Popper and Wittgenstein come face to face for the first time...the subjective swirl of history takes on a life of its own.
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Synopsis

On October 25,1946, in a crowded room in Cambridge, England, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper came face-to-face for the first and only time. The encounter lasted just ten minutes, and did not go well.

Their loud and aggressive confrontation became the stuff of instant legend. Almost immediately, rumors spread around the world that the two great philosophers had come to blows, armed with red-hot pokers.

Twenty years later, when Popper wrote an account of the incident, he portrayed himself as the victor, provoking intense disagreement. Everyone present seems to have remembered events differently.

What really happened in those ten minutes? And what does the violence of this brief exchange tell us about these two men, modern philosophy, and the significance of language in solving our philosophical problems?

Wittgenstein's Pokeris an engaging mix of philosophy, history, biography. and literary detection. David Edmonds and John Eidinow evoke with dazzling clarity the tumult of fin-de-siÈcle Vienna, Wittgenstein's and Popper's birthplace; the tragedy of the Nazi takeover of Austria; and Cambridge University, with its eccentric set of philosophy dons, including Bertrand Russell, who acted as umpire at the meeting. At the center of the story stand the two philosophers themselves -- proud, irascible, larger-than-life -- and spoiling for a fight.

 

About David Edmonds

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David Edmonds is an award-winning journalists with the BBC. He's the bestselling authors of Bobby Fischer Goes to War and Wittgenstein’s Poker.
 
Published May 1, 2001 by Faber & Faber. 267 pages
Genres: History, Law & Philosophy, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Andy Battaglia on May 29 2002

Poker's premise occasionally buckles under the authors' tendency to undersell the bristling conflict in their subjects' work in favor of less significant personal details. But when Popper and Wittgenstein come face to face for the first time...the subjective swirl of history takes on a life of its own.

Read Full Review of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Sto... | See more reviews from AV Club

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