Mario Bunge

Mario Augusto Bunge (/ˈbuŋɡɛ/; Spanish: [ˈbuŋxe]; born September 21, 1919) is an Argentine philosopher, philosopher of science and physicist who is mainly active in Canada.

Mario Augusto Bunge
BornSeptember 21, 1919 (age 99)
EducationNational University of La Plata (Ph.D., 1952)
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
Scientific realism
Critical rationalism[1]
Main interests
Philosophy of science
Philosophy of physics
Notable ideas
Systemics, sociotechnology


Early years

Bunge was born on September 21, 1919 in Buenos Aires (Argentina). His mother, Marie Herminie Müser, was a German nurse who left Germany just before the beginning of World War I. His father, Augusto Bunge, also of some German descent, was an Argentinian physician and socialist legislator. Mario, who was the couple's only child, was raised without any religious education, and enjoyed a happy and stimulating childhood in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.[4]

Wife and children

Bunge has four children: Carlos F. and Mario A. J. (with ex-wife Julia), and Eric R. and Silvia A., with his wife of over 60 years, the Argentinian mathematician Marta Cavallo. Mario and Marta live in Montreal.

Studies and career

Bunge began his studies at the National University of La Plata, graduating with a Ph.D. in physico-mathematical sciences in 1952. He was professor of theoretical physics and philosophy, 1956–1966, first at La Plata then at University of Buenos Aires. He was, until his recent retirement at age 90, the Frothingham Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at McGill University in Montreal, where he had been since 1966.[5][6]

Bunge's students include Roger Angel, David Blitz, Mike Dillinger, Andrés Kálnay, Jean-Pierre Marquis, Dan A. Seni, Héctor Vucetich, and Miguel A. Quintanilla.


Bunge is a prolific intellectual, having written more than 400 papers and 80 books, notably his monumental Treatise on Basic Philosophy in 8 volumes (1974–1989), a comprehensive and rigorous study of those philosophical aspects Bunge takes to be the core of modern philosophy: semantics, ontology, epistemology, philosophy of science and ethics.[6] Here, Bunge develops a comprehensive scientific outlook which he then applies to the various natural and social sciences.

His thinking embodies global systemism, emergentism, rationalism, scientific realism, materialism and consequentialism. Bunge has repeatedly and explicitly denied being a logical positivist, and has written on metaphysics. An inspection of his work allows one to identify a variety of scientists and philosophers who have influenced his thought in one way or another. Among those thinkers, Bunge has explicitly acknowledged the direct influence of his own father, the Argentine physician Augusto Bunge, the Czech physicist Guido Beck,the Argentine mathematician Alberto González Domínguez, the Argentine mathematician, physicist and computer scientist Manuel Sadosky, the Italian sociologist and psychologist Gino Germani, the American sociologist Robert King Merton, and the French-Polish epistemologist Émile Meyerson.[7]

In the political arena, Bunge has defined himself as a "left-wing liberal" and democratic socialist, in the tradition of John Stuart Mill and José Ingenieros. He is also a supporter of the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which advocates for democratic reform in the United Nations, and the creation of a more accountable international political system.[8]

Popularly, he is known for his remarks considering psychoanalysis as an example of pseudoscience.[9] He has also freely criticized the ideas of well known scientists and philosophers such as Karl Popper, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, and Daniel Dennett.[10]

In his review of Between Two Worlds: Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist, James Alcock sees in Bunge "a man of exceedingly high confidence who has lived his life guided by strong principles about truth, science, and justice" and one who is "[impatient] with muddy thinking".[10]


Mario Bunge has been distinguished with twenty one honorary doctorates and four honorary professorships by universities from both the Americas and Europe. Bunge is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1984–) and of the Royal Society of Canada (1992–). In 1982 he was awarded the Premio Príncipe de Asturias (Prince of Asturias Award), in 2009 the Guggenheim Fellowship,[6][11] and in 2014 the Ludwig von Bertalanffy Award in Complexity Thinking.[12]

Publications (selection)

  • 1959. Causality; the place of the causal principle in modern science. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • 1960. La ciencia, su método y su filosofía. Buenos Aires: Eudeba. (In French: La science, sa méthode et sa philosophie. Paris: Vigdor, 2001, ISBN 2-910243-90-7.)
  • 1962. Intuition and Science. Prentice-Hall. (In French: Intuition et raison. Paris: Vigdor, 2001, ISBN 2-910243-89-3.)
  • 1967. Scientific Research. Strategy and Philosophy. Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag. Reprinted as Philosophy of Science (1998).
  • 1967. Foundations of Physics. Berlin-Heidelberg-New York: Springer-Verlag (1967), Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 67-11999
  • 1973. Philosophy of Physics. Dordrecht: Reidel.
  • 1980. The Mind-Body Problem. Oxford: Pergamon.
  • 1983. "Demarcating Science from Pseudoscience," Fundamenta Scientiae 3: 369-388.
  • 1984. "What is Pseudoscience?" The Skeptical Inquirer. Volume 9: 36-46.
  • 1987. "Why Parapsychology Cannot Become a Science," Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10: 576-577.
  • 1988. Ciencia y desarrollo. Buenos Aires: Siglo Veinte.
  • 1974–89. Treatise on Basic Philosophy:[13] 8 volumes in 9 parts:
    • I: Semantics I: Sense and Reference. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1974.
    • II: Semantics II: Interpretation and Truth. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1974.
    • III: Ontology I: The Furniture of the World. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1977.
    • IV: Ontology II: A World of Systems. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1979.
    • V: Epistemology and Methodology I: Exploring the World. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1983.
    • VI: Epistemology and Methodology II: Understanding the World. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1983.
    • VII: Epistemology and Methodology III: Philosophy of Science and Technology: Part I. Formal and Physical Sciences. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1985. Part II. Life Science, Social Science and Technology. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1985.
    • VIII: Ethics: the Good and the Right. Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1989.
  • 1996. Finding Philosophy in Social Science. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • 1997. Foundations of Biophilosophy (with Martin Mahner). New York: Springer.
  • 1998. Dictionary of Philosophy. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.
  • 1998. Philosophy of Science, 2 Vols. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
  • 1998. Social Science under Debate: A Philosophical Perspective. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • 1999. The Sociology-Philosophy Connection. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
  • 2001: Scientific Realism: Selected Essays of Mario Bunge. Edited by Martin Mahner. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.
  • 2001. Philosophy in Crisis. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.
  • 2002. Philosophy of Psychology (with Rubén Ardila). New York: Springer.
  • 2003. Emergence and Convergence: Qualitative Novelty and the Unity of Knowledge. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • 2004: Über die Natur der Dinge. Materialismus und Wissenschaft (with Martin Mahner). Stuttgart: S. Hirzel Verlag.
  • 2006. Chasing Reality: Strife over Realism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • 2009. Political Philosophy. Fact, Fiction, and Vision. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
  • 2010: Matter and Mind: A Philosophical Inquiry. New York: Springer.
  • 2012: Evaluating Philosophies. New York: Springer.
  • 2012: "Does Quantum Physics Refute Realism, Materialism and Determinism?", Science & Education 21(10): 1601-1610.
  • 2013: Medical Philosophy: Conceptual Issues in Medicine. New Jersey: World Scientific Publishing Company.
  • 2016: Between Two Worlds: Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist. New York: Springer.
  • 2017: Doing Science: In the Light of Philosophy. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Company.
  • 2018: From a Scientific Point of View: Reasoning and Evidence Beat Improvisation across Fields. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars.

See also


  1. ^ "Karl Popper and Critical Rationalism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  2. ^ Mario Bunge, Between Two Worlds: Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist, Springer, 2016, p. 113.
  3. ^ Bunge relates that he "taught [himself] philosophy between 1936 and 1956" while he was a regular physics student (between 1938 and 1944), studying nuclear physics under Guido Beck (see: Mario Bunge, "Philosophy of Science and Technology: A Personal Report", Contemporary Philosophy, Volume 8: Philosophy of Latin America, pp. 245-272, edited by Guttorm Fløistad Kluwer).
  4. ^ Memorias. Entre dos mundos. Barcelona: Gedisa
  5. ^ Spitzberg, Daniel. "Mario Bunge: Philosophy in flux". McGill Reporter. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  6. ^ a b c "Mario A. Bunge". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  7. ^ Bunge, M. (2016) Between Two Worlds, Berlín-Heidelberg-Nueva York: Springer.
  8. ^ "Overview: Professors". Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  9. ^ RealClearScience - "Is Psychoanalysis Science or Pseudoscience?" Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  10. ^ a b Alcock, James (2017). "The Scientist and the Philosopher". Skeptical Inquirer. 41 (2): 58–61.
  11. ^ "- BIOGRAPHY - Mario Bunge, PhD, FRSC". University of Ottawa. Archived from the original on 15 February 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Bunge's Treatise on Basic Philosophy stands as his major achievement. It encompasses a quadrivium which he considers "the nucleus of contemporary philosophy", namely, semantics (theories of meaning and truth), ontology (general theories of the world), epistemology (theories of knowledge), and ethics (theories of value and right action). For approximately two decades, Bunge engaged in writing his magnum opus in order to investigate and synthesize contemporary philosophy in a single grand system that is compatible with the advancement of modern human knowledge both scientifically and philosophically. A - Treatise on Basic Philosophy: Semantics (I & II), Ontology (III-IV), Epistemology and Methodology (V-VII) Axiology and Ethics (VIII). All of these 8 volumes in 9 parts are currently in print, available under the Springer-Verlag imprint.

Further reading

  • VV.AA. (2003). Congreso-homenaxe internacional a Mario Bunge. Mos (Galicia), Grupo Aletheia. [Includes articles in Spanish by M. Bunge (Inverse problems), J. Aracil (MB and systems theory), A. Barceló (Philosophy and economics: three Bungen notions), I, Morgado (Brain, mind and philosophy), J. Mosterín (Biographical sketch of MB), M. A. Quintanilla (Instrumental rationality) y Héctor Vucetich (Quantum mechanics and realism), and in English by M. Mahner (M. Bunge's philosophy of biology)].
  • Agassi, Joseph and Robert S. Cohen (eds.) (1982). Scientific Philosophy Today: Essays in Honor of Mario Bunge. Dordrecht, D. Reidel.
  • Denis, Andy (2003). Methodology and policy prescription in economic thought: a response to Mario Bunge.
  • Denegri, Guillermo and Gladys E. Martínez (2000). Tópicos actuales en filosofía de la ciencia. Homenaje a Mario Bunge en su 80º aniversario. Mar del Plata, Editorial Martín.
  • Marone, Luis and Rafael González del Solar (2000). <<Homenaje a Mario Bunge, o por qué las preguntas en Ecología deberían comenzar con "por qué".>> In Denegri, Guillermo and Gladys E. Martínez (2000). Tópicos actuales en filosofía de la ciencia. Homenaje a Mario Bunge en su 80º aniversario. Mar del Plata, Editorial Martín. pp. 153–178.
  • Serroni-Copello, Raúl (1989). Encuentros con Mario Bunge. Asociación de Investigaciones en Psicología.
  • Vacher, Laurent-Michel (1993). Entretiens avec Mario Bunge. Montreal, Liber.
  • Wan, Poe Yu-ze (2011). Reframing the Social: Emergentist Systemism and Social Theory. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing.
  • Weingartner, Paul and Georg J. W. Dorn (eds.). 1990. Studies on Mario Bunge's Treatise. Amsterdam-Atlanta, GA, Rodopi.

External links

1919 in philosophy

1919 in philosophy

2001 in philosophy

2001 in philosophy

Berlin Circle

The Berlin Circle (German: die Berliner Gruppe) was a group that maintained logical empiricist views about philosophy.

Black box

In science, computing, and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs (or transfer characteristics), without any knowledge of its internal workings. Its implementation is "opaque" (black). Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, or the human brain.

To analyse something modeled as an open system, with a typical "black box approach", only the behavior of the stimulus/response will be accounted for, to infer the (unknown) box. The usual representation of this black box system is a data flow diagram centered in the box.

The opposite of a black box is a system where the inner components or logic are available for inspection, which is most commonly referred to as a white box (sometimes also known as a "clear box" or a "glass box").

Constructive empiricism

In philosophy, constructive empiricism (also empiricist structuralism) is a form of empiricism.

Critical rationalism

Critical rationalism is an epistemological philosophy advanced by Karl Popper. Popper wrote about critical rationalism in his works: The Logic of Scientific Discovery, The Open Society and its Enemies, Conjectures and Refutations, The Myth of the Framework, and Unended Quest. Ernest Gellner is another notable proponent of this approach.

Epistemological idealism

Epistemological idealism is a subjectivist position in epistemology that holds that what one knows about an object exists only in one's mind. It is opposed to epistemological realism.

Formal science

Formal sciences are formal language disciplines concerned with formal systems, such as logic, mathematics, statistics, theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, information theory, game theory, systems theory, decision theory, and theoretical linguistics. Whereas the natural sciences and social sciences seek to characterize physical systems and social systems, respectively, using empirical methods, the formal sciences are language tools concerned with characterizing abstract structures described by symbolic systems. The formal sciences aid the natural and social sciences by providing information about the structures the latter use to describe the world, and what inferences may be made about them.

Fundación Italia

The Fundación Italia is a cultural institution from Rosario, Argentina. It was created in 1985 to "promote arts, science and technique", by people who boast a "cultural bond with Italy". Although most of the people that work in the organization are Italian Argentines, the institution's activities are far from being restricted to Italian culture, being orientated to widen Rosario's cultural life.

The Fundacion Italia has sponsored successful musical interpretations in Rosario, such as Requiem, by Giuseppe Verdi, Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini and Napoli in Concerto, a Neapolitan music compilation.

In 2007 begun a seminary of classic literature, the first one being Homer, that will be followed by Virgil in 2008 and Dante Alighieri in 2009.

The institution has invited some of the most prominent personalities of the country to give lectures about the situation of Argentina and its future. Among the countless politicians, economists, historians, intellectuals and lawyers are the following:

Tomáš Abrahám, philosopher and sociologist.

Giorgio Alberti, licensed in Politics and Sociology.

Jorge Asis, journalist.

Hermes Binner, governor of the province of Santa Fe.

Silvia Bleichmar, psychoanalyst.

Miguel Angel Broda, economist.

Mario Bunge, physician, mathematician and philosopher.

Domingo Cavallo, former Minister of Economy.

Eduardo Duhalde, former president of Argentina.

Jose Luis Espert, economist.

Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera, former president of Uruguay.

Ricardo Lagos, former president of Chile.

Miguel Lifschitz, mayor of Rosario.

Félix Luna, historian.

Pacho O'Donnell, historian.

Alfonso Prat Gay, former president of the Argentine Central Bank.

Cristiano Ratazzi, president of Fiat in Argentina.

Carlos Alberto Reutemann, former governor of the province of Santa Fe

Felipe Rovera, former president of General Motors in Argentina.

Alejandro Rozitchner, writer and philosopher.

Beatriz Sarlo, writer.

Fernando Solanas, Argentine filmmaker.

Eugenio Raul Zaffaroni, minister of the Supreme Court in Argentina.

List of Canadian philosophers

This page lists philosophers from Canada.

Leslie Armour, Research Professor of Philosophy at Dominican University College, and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa

Vernon J. Bourke (1907-1988), Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University

James Robert Brown, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto

Mario Bunge, Frothingham Professor of Logics and Metaphysics at McGill University

David Castle, Professor and Chair of Innovations in the Life Sciences at the University of Edinburgh

Patricia Churchland, UC President's Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Paul Churchland, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego

Murray Clarke, Professor of Philosophy at Concordia University

Sharyn Clough, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University

Charles Norris Cochrane (1889-1945)

Lorraine Code, Professor Emerita of Philosophy at York University

G.A. Cohen (1941-2009), Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford

Vianney Décarie (1917-2009), Order of Canada, National Order of Quebec

John N. Deck (1921-1979), Professor of Philosophy at the University of Windsor

Ronald de Sousa, Emeritus Professor at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Toronto

James Doull (1918-2001), Professor at Dalhousie University

David Gauthier, Professor Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh

George Grant (1918-1988), Order of Canada

Dan Goldstick, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto

Thomas Anderson Gouge (1910-1999)

Ian Hacking, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, Order of Canada

Cressida Heyes, Professor of Philosophy and Canada Research Chair at the University of Alberta.

Ted Honderich, Grote Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic, University College London and Visiting Professor at the University of Bath

Grace Jantzen (1948-2006), Professor of Religion, Culture and Gender at Manchester University

Mark Kingwell, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto

Raymond Klibansky (1905-2005), Order of Canada, National Order of Quebec, John Frothingham Emeritus Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at McGill University, honorary fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford

Will Kymlicka, Professor of Philosophy at Queen's University

Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984), Professor of Philosophy

Lou Marinoff, Associate Professor at the City College of New York

Adèle Mercier, Professor of Philosophy at Queen's University

Adam Morton, Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta, visiting emeritus professor, UBC

Jan Narveson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Waterloo

Kai Nielsen, Adjunct Professor at Concordia University and Professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary

Jay Newman (1948-2007), Professor at the University of Guelph

Calvin Normore, Macdonald Chair of Moral Philosophy at McGill University and Professor of Philosophy at UCLA

Joseph Owens, C.Ss.R., (1908-2005) Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies

John Ralston Saul, Order of Canada

John Russon, Presidential Distinguished Professor at the University of Guelph

David Schmidtz, Professor of Philosophy and Economics at the University of Arizona

William Seager, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto Scarborough

Michel Seymour, Professor of Philosophy at Université de Montréal

Hillel Steiner, Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Manchester

L. W. Sumner, Professor Emeritus of Law and Philosophy at the University of Toronto

William Sweet, Professor of Philosophy at St. Francis Xavier University

Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus at McGill University

John Watson (1847-1939), Chair of Logic, Metaphysics, and Ethics at Queen's University

Alison Wylie, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington

List of epistemologists

This is a list of epistemologists, that is, people who theorize about the nature of knowledge, belief formation and the nature of justification.

List of philosophers of science

This is a chronological list of philosophers of science. For an alphabetical name-list, see Category:Philosophers of science.

Marta Bunge

Marta Cavallo Bunge is an Argentine-Canadian mathematician specializing in category theory, and known for her work on synthetic calculus of variations and synthetic differential topology. She is a professor emeritus at McGill University.


Pseudophilosophy (or cod philosophy) is a philosophical idea or system which does not meet an expected set of standards.

Russian Machism

Russian Machism is a political/philosophical viewpoint which emerged in Imperial Russia in the beginning of the twentieth century before the Russian Revolution. They upheld the scientific and philosophical insights of Ernst Mach to be of great interest. Many of the Russian Machists were Marxists, and indeed viewed Machism as an essential ingredient of a materialist outlook on the world.


Sociotechnology (short for "social technology") is the study of processes on the intersection of society and technology. Vojinović and Abbott define it as "the study of processes in which the social and the technical are indivisibly combined".

Sociotechnology is an important part of socio-technical design, which is defined as "designing things that participate in complex systems that have both social and technical aspects".The term has been attributed to Mario Bunge. He defines it as a grouping of social engineering and management science. He sees it thus as a form of technology, distinguished from other branches of it such as engineering, biotechnology, information technology and general technology. Its goal is to help engineer sociosystems and evaluate their performance, while making use of social science research. In short, sociotechnology can be seen as the creation, modification and maintenance of social systems.Writing on sociotechnical change, Bijker wrote: "Society is not determined by technology, nor is technology determined by society. Both emerge as two sides of the sociotechnical coin."Technology is the sum of ways in which social groups construct the material objects of their civilizations. The things made are socially constructed just as much as technically constructed. The merging of these two things, construction and insight, is sociotechnology. "For example, we typically build a bridge when there’s some expectation that people need to get from Point A to Point B, and there’s something they need to bypass along the way (e.g. a river, a canyon, another road). Failure to consider the social factors as well as the technical factors could lead to a "bridge to nowhere" – and we all know at least one person who’s had a problem with those".


In the context of systems science and systems philosophy, systemics is an initiative to study systems. It is an attempt at developing logical, mathematical, engineering and philosophical paradigms and frameworks in which physical, technological, biological, social, cognitive and metaphysical systems can be studied and modeled.The term "systemics" was coined in the 1970s by Mario Bunge and others, as an alternative paradigm for research related to general systems theory and systems science.

The Universe in a Nutshell

The Universe in a Nutshell is a 2001 book about theoretical physics by Stephen Hawking. It is generally considered a sequel and was created to update the public concerning developments since the multi-million-copy bestseller A Brief History of Time published in 1988.


A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concerned with investigating or exposing the principles of the subject.

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