Mario Bunge's card-boxes and a card-pilferer
Mario Bunge (1919–2020) was an Argentine-Canadian philosopher and physicist. Here are some excerpts from his book Between Two Worlds: Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist (Springer-Verlag, 2016) about his use of card-boxes and about the alleged exploits of a card-pilferer. One guesses from these glimpses that Bunge's card-system was not as developed as Luhmann's, which is no discredit to Bunge's achievements.
"My next task was to prepare my course. Since none of the textbooks known to me was satisfactory, I resorted to the maieutic method that Plato had attributed to Socrates. My lectures consisted essentially in questions that I distributed beforehand to the students, and an abstract of the research that they had prompted. I wrote each question on a 6 × 8 card. I had adopted this procedure a few years earlier for my own work, so I did not start from scratch. Eventually I filled several hundreds of such cards, classed them by subject, and placed them in boxes. When a box filled up, it was time to write an article or a book chapter. The boxes complemented my hanging-files cabinet, containing sketches of papers, some of them aborted, as well as some letters." (p. 129)
"I always typed a few hours a day on a heavy and noisy IBM typewriter. Before converting to the Apple faith, I wrote down every interesting idea or possibly useful datum on 5 × 8 cards that I kept in card-boxes. But I used them only sparingly to write papers of books, for they were just random collections. Once an unknown American scholar phoned me to announce that he was about to commit suicide because he had failed to craft a general theory of ideas out of thousands of cards that he had filled in the course of a decade. He had been a casualty of dataism, the idea that knowledge of anything is just a collection of bits of knowledge." (pp. 273–274)
"Another doctoral student who wished to work on technophilosophy was José Félix, a friendly Basque engineer whom I engaged as a house sitter while my family and I spent the long summer of 1985 in Mallorca. He seized this opportunity to photocopy all my unpublished essays and filing cabinet cards. The external examiner, who was familiar with my work, flunked José Félix's dissertation, alleging that it had been lifted from my publications." (p. 387)
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