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- William Warren Bartley III
- Open Court Pub Co
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Subtitle: On Universities and the Wealth of Nations
William Warren Bartley was one of the most original and productive of the students inspired by Popper. He died in 1990 at the tragically early age of 55 but still managed to establish himself as a brilliant scholar, editor and biographer. His most significant contribution was to develop Karl Popper’s ideas on knowledge and belief to give new life to the rationalist tradition.
This work opens with a development of the notion of Unfathomed Knowledge, which Bartley makes clear by using it to explain such recent scientific advances as the development of drugs for the treatment of AIDS, and by showing its implications for such far-flung fields as the Marxist theory of alienation, the sociology of knowledge, patent law, and morality. Unlike other critics of higher education such as Allan Bloom, Bartley is not concerned primarily with the transmission of tradition. Rather, he contends that the university is gravely hampered in its prime goal of contributing to the growth of knowledge. Claiming that “epistemology (ie the study of the growth of knowledge) is a branch of economics (ie the study of the growth of wealth)”, Bartley charges that Western universities find themselves in a grave intellectual depression induced by the economic principles around which they are organized. Bartley describes how outdated assumptions and institutions virtually force some of the most idealistic and high-minded of men into protectionist “intellectual cartels”, which inhibit innovation and lead to immoral, uncritical, and untruthful behaviour on the part of their members.