Foulkstown Ballinure Thurles Co. Tipperary Eire
1 April 95
I seem to be peppering you with stuff, but I think you will be interested in this. In any case you’re responsible for it. Your criticism of my ‘Introduction’ when we met, sent me back to the Principia, where I discovered a proto-Wittgenstinian who wanted to found his mechanics and articulate it in terms of geometry that he describes as being ‘founded’ in practice and ‘the manual arts.’
It struck me while writing, that Popper was probably struggling toward some such notion of transmissible practices and skills that get an air of externality and objectivity from their being transmitted by a previous generation as something to be learned. But Popper ended with a Platonic looking ‘World Three’ because he wasn’t able to rid himself of that prejudice that comes down to us from the Seventeenth Century that ‘theory precedes practice’ in some absolute way. That prejudice comes from the twist that their individualist programme gives to their foundationalist needs. Practices as something shared and agreed could have no place there where the problem is seen as explaining how individuals get together in the first place.
Popper was nearly to the place where he could give house room to the notion of a dialectical development. I see that in his attempt to define ‘progress’ in terms of what has gone before rather than what is yet to come. But he was not prepared to admit any brotherhood to Hegel and Marx, and so his ‘World Three’ ends up as a mystified Platonic ‘realm’ which has some absolute, and almost transcendental externality.
Anyway, I have some confidence that you will find this piece interesting.
(The following letter crossed with the previous one.)
Thomas S. Kuhn 985 Memorial Drive, Apt. 303, Cambridge, MA 02138-5740
March 30, 1996
Tom asked me to write you a line, conscious that your recent mailing (Feb 28) is not the first he has left unanswered. He is in hospital, due for some chest surgery on Monday. This is expected to be much less drastic than the bout two-and-a-half years ago; the surgeon and physicians are now his old acquaintances, and the prospects are encouraging. Still, he will be away from his desk for a few months, and for longer than that he will have to leave many interesting things unread and letters unanswered. He sends you greetings, as do I; we know you will understand.
Health and good weather to all in your household