Wittgenstein’s Poker is a reconstruction of events in the history of philosophy involving Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein that lead to a confrontation between them at the Cambridge Moral Sciences Club in 1946. More broadly, it’s a careful and comprehensive look into both of those great philosophers, their lives and works, and their uncertain, but definite relation.
The book is pretty well-written, I can’t deny that (the translation into Russian is also good, not that it matters very much), but I felt like it’s too voluminous at times, which is normal, I guess, considering that this is philosophy we’re talking about, but it still could have been more laconic – to my taste. It is well expiated with quality content, though: insights into both Wittgenstein’s and Popper’s lives and writings, is a great way to catch up with what these thinkers are about, without actually having to read through their works, which can be a bummer, especially when it comes to Wittgenstein. The informational side of the book feels pretty great: it has multiple references, like a proper popular research, and it seems carefully weighted in conclusions.
On the other hand, while reading it, I couldn’t help but think that all those philosophizings (meaning, life work of W. and P. both) are not worth very much in terms of real life. I myself am totally pro-Popper, he is just more rational than Wittgenstein, and therefore makes much more sense (I’d prefer the concept of falsifiability to meaningless attempts at solving superfluous puzzles any day of the week), but ultimately, they both make philosophy seem like a pointless mumbo-jumbo that is of no interest to me whatsoever. Maybe it was this book that made me realize how much I really dislike it.
Be that as it may, the book is a really good work, and it’s also a really good reason to ask yourself what you really think of philosophy, and maybe just settle this matter for the time being within the framework of your own mind.
Author: David Edmonds and John Eidinow
Original language: eng
Translator: Evgeniya Kanischeva
Published: 2001 (2004)
Reading period: May-June 2017
Cognitive quality: 4+ out of 5
Entertaining quality: 4+ out of 5
Links: (David Edmonds) | (book)