Centenary of the great scientist, philosopher, humanist and educator Mario Bunge
It is a great pleasure to share with you the presentation of the book Mario Bunge: A Centenary Festschrift –edited by Michael R. Matthews– that, as its name indicates, is the celebration of the 100 years of the joyful, prolific and combative life of the illustrious philosopher and scientist Mario Augusto Bunge on 21 September 2019. It involves outstanding specialists coming from sixteen countries.
I discovered Mario Bunge in 1965, when I was eighteen years old. I had finished my high school studies at the brothers of “La Salle” school and I was preparing for entrance into the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. Since then, I have followed and pursued him in a long, joyful, insightful and fruitful travel in the knowledge and know-how domains in order to learn to live a good life.
Mario Bunge is a universal Argentinian-Canadian scientist, philosopher, humanist and educator, curious, open-minded, critical, creative, courageous, lucid, insightful, rigorous and systemic to whom nothing human is alien. At the age of 100, he continues to make his life his masterpiece, and he impels us to push the limits of our ignorance and courage in order to live a good life. In words of Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics: εὐδαιμονία (eudaimonía), that is to say, flourishing.
When I was preparing this presentation I found very rich assessments of Mario Bunge and his work from distinguished scientists and philosophers all over the world. One of them is of Andreas Pickel, who emphasizes that: “The sweep and depth of Bunge’s philosophy not only exposes the failures of modern political philosophy and political theory, but gives us the tools to confront today’s oppression, exploitation, and inequality with a critical, realist, and systemic approach.”
As Bunge says, objective truth “never comes alone: it is always flanked by work and love”. Hence the close relationship among knowledge, know-how and the values that characterize humanism.
For Bunge, science cannot be done in a philosophical vacuum. For him, “science only flourishes in a philosophical matrix” composed of a materialist ontology, a realist theory of knowledge, a humanistic ethics –particularly in the case of the social sciences– an a scientism approach –the scientific method is the best way to get closer to truth.
This is the perspective that frames his original magnum opus Treatise on Basic Philosophy, a work published in eight volumes between 1974 and 1989. The Spanish translation started to be published only in 2008… and it is still incomplete. The Treatise is a cyclopean effort to build a system that embraces all fields of contemporary philosophy, with a special focus on problems generated by scientific and technological knowledge. It is one of the most ambitious undertakings attempted during the last centuries.
As Bunge puts it in the “General Preface” of this work: “The treatise encompasses what the author takes to be the nucleus of contemporary philosophy, namely semantics (theories of meaning and truth), epistemology (theories of knowledge), metaphysics (general theories of the world), and ethics (theories of value and of right action). To what he adds something fundamental for him: “The philosophy expounded in the Treatise is systematic and, to some extent, also exact and scientific”.
The number of publications produced by Mario Bunge in physics, philosophy, psychology, social sciences –economics, sociology, linguistics, politology– and foundations of biology is astonishing, as you will be able to see when using the link that will allow you to have access to the bibliography that appears in the last chapter of the book, produced by Marc Silberstein: 150 books (including translations to different languages), and 540 chapters of books and articles.
I consider that his life and work will appeal to those who dare to become human beings to grow more and more free, responsible, autonomous, effective, efficient, loving and lovely thanks to knowledge and know-how to live a good life.
This is why in the turbulent world without compass in which we are living in the twenty first century Mario Bunge poses the need to build an authentic socialism that is an integral democracy: environmental, biological, economic, cultural and political.
In light of all this, I agree with what Laurent Jodoin asserts on Mario Bunge: “He is undoubtedly one of the greatest sciences philosophers of the twentieth century. And he has everything needed to be in the present century”.
As a complement of the work I am presenting, I include two sections.
The first one consists of the prolific and extraordinary life course narrated by Mario Bunge in his book originally published in Spanish in 2014: Between Two Worlds. Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist. The book was presented the 1 October 2014 in Buenos Aires (Argentina) by a panel around Mario Bunge, in which I had the privilege to participate. In this section I present also the translations of the book published in English and French in 2016. As Michael R. Matthews says: “This 500-page Memoirs is a delightful and informative read, not just about the life of Bunge, but about much of twentieth century philosophy of science”
The second section is made up of studies published on Mario Bunge’s work. These books cover the period from 1982 to 2019. They have been written by prominent specialists in the most diverse fields.
I close this message wishing Mario Bunge, who celebrates his first 100 springs, to continue to flourishing on and on, and us with him, sharing his flourishing.