Abstract
Stephen Edelston Toulmin, philosopher and historian of science, pioneer in the logical analysis of substantive argumentation, was educated in physics and philosophy at Cambridge, where he studied with Paul Dirac, John Wisdom and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Cambridge, Issac Newton’s university, remained his philosophical home: he always was very critical of the way that philosophy was done at The Other Place, as Oxford is known there. The only philosopher whom he really revered there was John Austin – although it is necessary hastily to add that he deeply respected Gilbert Ryle and Isaiah Berlin. Like the latter, he considered himself a “public intellectual”. As such he was delighted to be invited to become a contributor to Encounter and later, from the mid-1960s a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. He was fascinated by Wittgenstein, attending as many of his classes as he could, but had no interest in becoming close to him. Both the idea of discipleship and Wittgenstein’s dominating personally were uncongenial to him. Like Wittgenstein and Berlin he was never at home among professional philosophers . On occasion his relationships with philosophers could be stormy indeed as was the case with Sir Karl Popper and Nelson Goodman. He prided himself on being an amateur and was only mildly disturbed when “experts” chided him as a bungler. His deepest belief was that professional philosophers do not determine what the real problems of philosophy are; rather those problems arise out of conundrums in human life. That meant for him engaging in intense dialogues, with physicists, psychologists, psychoanalysts, medical doctors, lawyers, musician artists and, of course, historians of science
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DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-1751-0_16
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