Professor Adolf Grünbaum Chairman November 26, 1985 Center for Philosophy of Science, 2510 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pa. 15260/USA Dear Adolf:
Thank you very much for yours of the 15th and the enclosed review of your book by Allan Hobson. You once more draw attention to the warmth of the reception of your book from different quarters. I am glad for you. I am impressed. I have no personal objections to join the chorus of its admirers; I have, however, some rational objections, and will be glad if you could dispel them. To that end please allow me to comment in detail on your letter.
Yes, everyone knows what the methods of controlled studies are that are used to test casual hypotheses, as you say in your opening sentence of that letter. Everybody knows what a test is, too. Everybody, likewise, knows what control is. Yet philosophers write lengthy studies to explain them, and then they disagree with each other, from which fact it is hard not to conclude that not everybody sufficiently knows these things. For example, you yourself wrote something regarding controlled experiments, with which I happen to disagree - but I will not take this up here-and-now, since in your book on Freud you say nothing about it. Rather, let me ask you, please: do you agree that proper tests are attempts to refute?
If you say no, then I say, you do not sufficiently know what is a test and, a fortiori, you do not sufficiently know what are the methods of controlled studies that are used to test causal hypotheses. If you say yes, however, then I would say that youdisplay a lack of modicum of good will [forgive my using your idiom while not following your style of underlining words] towards Karl Popper.
You say of Bacon and of Mill that they pioneered the modern methods of controlled inquiry for testing casual hypotheses. This makes me wonder whether we mean the same thing. Quite apart from Bacon's explicit opposition to the method (proposed by Leonardo, incidently) of varying the circumstances of an experiment, quite apart from the fact that Mill was echoing Herschel who was much more explicit on causality in this context, to think of Mill as a forerunner of any serious proponent of any theory of testing may be to indicate a view of testing that I would like to see expounded in some detail before I comment further.
So, with all the good will and all the imagination I can amass, I do not know what you mean by the label of neo-Baconianism. More importantly, I conducted a market study and found that some of your admirers who sing the praises of your book do not know either. I mentioned one of them in a previous letter; I now report a repeat observation: I found no reader of your book who would say they know what this expression means, when I asked them point blank. You owe it to some of your readers, therefore, to explain your terminology. I am amazed that you should appeal to good will as a substitute for performing a task that is obviously yours to execute as best you can.
You say, to move to your second paragraph, that my depiction of your critique of Popper is a travesty. I say your depiction on Popper is a travesty. You say you have popular acclaim on your side and it supports your claim, and you yourself also say Popper has popular acclaim on his side and you consider it to be an epidemic. I can and do explain this popular acclaim he and you have gained in a friendlier way than you do.
Still, this is not to deny that I have misread you: one does not act, says Bacon, as one's own witness, judge and jury. And he was just lovely when he said that. And so I am glad to learn that you have written for Behavioral and Brain Sciences sixty typeset pages of a reply to Popper: it is needed. I do hope that in this reply you take the medicine you prescribe me and show Popper a modicum of good will. If you do, then I request a copy at your convenience, and promise to read it with good will and, if it is not too late, I will alter my review as necessary as a result of being corrected. Many thanks in advance.
I worked very hard trying to understand your book. Possibly I have travestied it, and when corrected I will gladly admit error. As even your admirers censure you for being so hard to comprehend, I cannot see you avoiding some responsibility for my difficulties, though you may plead mitigating circumstances, of course.
I make the same conjecture concerning your contribution to Free Inquiry, which you now also mention, and any other contribution you may make. If your contribution does show good will to Popper, then I do request a copy of it as well. Many thanks in advance.
Moving to your third paragraph, I am happy for you that you claim to have made a contribution in your critique of Freud's use of free association as supporting his causal hypotheses and that you are gratified by public recognition of your claim. Do forgive my not joining this recognition: I do not know what is support and what is causal, unless you mean by support failed refutations and by the causal the deductive nomological. If you do, then I say Freud had no deductive nomological hypotheses to attempt to refute and no attempts to refute. And so I do not know what is the subject matter of Freud's contention that you criticize and claim to have made a contribution thereby. If you mean by support something else, I wish you would tell your readers what it means; and the same goes for the causal.
We now come to the crowning paragraph of your last letter. You find my obsessive need to put down your book and my aggressiveness hard to understandexcept psychologically. And your psychological explanation, that I am obsessive and aggressive because I could not respond to a challenge of yours, may indeed be true. You are a professor of psychiatry and I cannot say much in defense of my obsession and aggression except by piling up more of the same. Moreover, your diagnosis and your etiology are both backed by the fact that they echo the diagnosis and etiology I received from Karl Popper. Yet I feel a bit squeezed that the same diagnosis and etiology is offered when I attack Popper, and also when I attack you for having no good will towards Popper. Woe to me. Also, may I ask, what was your challenge to me? I remember none. You have once told me, and now you repeat yourself, that you have challenged what I wrote about Hempel. So let me repeat my denial and my correction. You once censured me - not challenged, but censured - for my having ascribed to Hempel a certain criticism of Kuhn. In response, I told you that this was my near quotation, a mere paraphrase at most, of an observation I heard Hempel make in Tel-Aviv. And I added that even if I was in error, this gave you the right to dissent and to criticize, not to censure. You responded with a conditional apology which I could not accept. I still await your apology. Whether it comes or not I cannot say, but that you have challenged me is not the case. I challenge you.
Ah, now you add my formal complaint against your Presidential Address to my list of sins. Your use of the epithets "antediluvian" and "stone-age" in your Presidential Address was an exaggeration and out of place there (I do not object to your use of them in the book). I know you agree with me, and regret you did not express your agreement in time for me to withdraw my complaint. Now my complaint is on record and I do not know what we can do about it. To say, as you now do, that here I exhibited a lack of a modicum of good will towards a colleague, may be to say the truth, but to remember that the colleague was calling other colleagues names in a Presidential Address is not to say that I am the only one exhibiting this defect.
Very truly yours, Joe
P.S. Thanks for the remark on M. We all wish him a successful operation and good health.
P.P.S. Allow me to make one comment on Allan Hobson's review in The Sciences, Nov/Dec 1985, which you have kindly sent me. It is clear that this review is a travesty on your book, since its peak point. Its final paragraph, concerns your alleged "award of tentative scientific status to psychoanalysis". I ask you again, do you prefer a friendly misreading to a not-friendly but proper reading?
Final Postscript Thanks for your additional note and the Eysenck review. Yes, this does convince me, with ease, that Eysenck's position is different from Popper's. You are right about that. Also, may I add my position is. And I even agree with Eysenck that some superstitions are empirically refutable and refuted and hence that Popper is in error though my concept of refutation is of the Whewell-Popper style and so much more stringent that Eysenck's. But this matters little. I think Eysenck does not say what is Bacon's criterion of scientificity, to use your idiom, yet he writes, at the end of his third paragraph, as if he does. I have no quarrel with him, but cannot accept his review as an exoneration of you or as a release of you from my challenge to you to do your duty and explain what you mean by neo-Baconianism. I confess I was favorably impressed both by his concise summary of your five points and by his praise of your book. I was even more impressed by his ascription to Freud of a "careful argument" (second line afterpoint 5) which, he says, he cannot summarize. It may be that here my puzzle is solved: if you convince even Eysenck that Freud argued carefully, than you have quite a forceful pen: "an intellectual delight to read" he calls your book, which is more than some of your ardent supporters will claim! Since Eysenck refers to Farrell, I wonder why he does not say Farrell already spoke of Freud's (alleged) refutation of his own catharsis theory, especially since he says of him merely that he has failed. Ah, well.
I hope you respond to my present letter even though I know how busy you are. I enclose another copy - still further corrected - of my review of your book to show you how friendly to you my final ending is.