Photo gallery from Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason

Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994). Lakatos's close friend and most astute critic. Feyerabend's Against Method (1974), written as a "long and very personal letter to Imre," had worldwide impact. The book's second half was to have been a rejoinder written by Lakatos, which was made impossible by his death.




Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996). Author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), among the most influential English-language philosophy books of the century. Trained as a physicist, Kuhn made empirical history a central feature for the philosophy of science debates of the 1960s and 1970s. A 1965 conference on Kuhn at Bedford College became Criticism and Growth of Knowledge (1970), edited by Lakatos and Alan Musgrave.


Karl Popper (1902-1994). Author of the 1934 The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Logik der Forschung) and Lakatos's mentor at the London School of Economics, Popper came to bitterly resent Lakatos's criticism and transformation of his ideas. An early critic of positivism, Popper was a halfway house to the historicist thinking of Kuhn, Feyerabend, and Lakatos. Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies (1943) cast Plato, Hegel, and Marx as philosophical sources for totalitarianism.


Georg Lukacs (1885-1971). Leading Marxist philosopher of the twentieth century whom Lakatos knew in Hungary, not always on friendly terms. All of Lakatos's principal Hegelian techniques are prominent in Lukacs work. In his History and Class Consciousness (1923), Lukacs correctly conjectured the existence of a major latent Hegelian architectonic in Marx's work. While wrong on key details, Lukacs was largely vindicated hy the discovery of Marx's unpublished manuscripts in the 1930s. Lakatos's covert Hegelianism in Anglo-American philosophy has striking and ironic resonances. Lukacs is shown here on the right at the 1956 Petofi Circle debates. At left is journalist and politician Arpad Szakasits. Erich Lessing photo.



Student guards at the Austria-Hungary border, November 1956 looking out for Soviet soldiers and "false refugees."

Imre Lakatos 1954




Jozsef Revai (1898-1959). Brilliant and dangerous ideological henchman for Rakosi whom Lukacs courageously engaged in major public debates. Lakatos's arrest in 1950 and his subsequent years in the Recsk labor camp may have resulted from a plan to denounce Revai as insufficiently Stalinist. Responsible for widespread censorship and agitation-propaganda initiatives before 1956, including Lakatos's subversions at the Eotvos College.


Janos Kadar (1912-1989). A sometime Stalinist also tortured and imprisoned on Rakosi's orders. Kadar disappeared in the last days of the 1956 revolution, returning as Hungary's Soviet puppet until the fall of the Berlin Wall. A symbol of the compromises, betrayals and self-deceptions permeating Hungarian life in the 1950s, Kadar apparently committed suicide in 1989 upon the reburial of Imre Nagy and the emergence of democratic Hungary.



From Georg Konrad's novel The Loser:
"You could walk down the street with a flag before this day, too, but only on national holidays, passing by a reviewing stand and cheering the party leaders. It's a natural wonder: within a matter of hours, the populace became a people. . . . Let's tear off the straightjacket of fear, let's speak the truth for a change. Until now we used the lingo of the powerful to lie to one another, now we exchange words as though we were making love, and will not have our sentences approved by the censor enthroned in our heads. We are walking Utopias, on a piece of paper we write down what we like and post it on the first tree. A whole system of rhetoric has crumbled; language has rebelled, everyone is a writer, the whole city a bulletin board. The whip can go on cracking, but the horse refuses to pull the cart."


Imre Nagy, Premier during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Lakatos hung a picture of Nagy in his office at the LSE. Following a secret trial involving himself and several others, Nagy was buried in an unmarked plot outside Budapest until 1989.



Budapest 1956
Erich Lessing photo









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