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The Scientist and the Philosopher

Between Two Worlds: Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist. By Mario Bunge. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, 2016. ISBN 978-3-319-39250-2. 496 pp., $129.

To review the 500-page memoirs of a ninety-seven-year-old, internationally renowned philosopher-scientist is at once an inspiring and challenging task. One cannot help but be inspired by the story of a young boy with an inquiring mind who escapes the intellectual shackles of the fascist society in which he is reared to become a highly respected intellectual on the world stage. And it is challenging to try to do justice to a life spanning nearly a century and comprising both fascinating twists and turns and an astonishingly productive academic career.

With regard to the latter, not only has Mario Bunge published hundreds of professional papers, but he has also written more than eighty books, including such heavy hitters as Foundations of Physics (1967), Philosophy of Science (1998, in two volumes), Medical Philosophy (2013), Philosophy of Psychology (1987), Causality in Modern Science (2008), and his magnum opus, an eight-volume Treatise on Basic Philosophy (series completed in 1989). He has been awarded sixteen honorary degrees as well as several honorary professorships, and his scholarly contributions have been recognized by fellowships in the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a long-time fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. And although nearly a centenarian, he continues to write and to lecture internationally.

I begin with full disclosure: I have long been an admirer of Mario Bunge and his work. More than that, he has had a significant effect on my own academic career, being directly responsible for my first book, a critical analysis of parapsychology. He not only encouraged me (indeed ordered me!) to write it, but he also facilitated its publication in 1981. However, since that time we have only rarely had the opportunity to interact, just enough to shake hands two or three times at conferences over the years.

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