Mario Bunge

Argentine-Canadian philosopher (1919-2020)

Mario Augusto Bunge (September 25, 1919February 25, 2020) was an Argentine-Canadian philosopher of science and author of the Treatise on Basic Philosophy (8 volumes, 1974–1989). He earned a doctorate in physics at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina (1952) and was the Frothingham Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at McGill University, Canada, until his retirement in 2011.

Mario Bunge, 2007.




  • The motto of science is not just Pauca but rather Plurima ex paucissimis — the most out of the least.
    • Mario Bunge, The myth of simplicity, 1963, p, 82; Cited in: C.C. Gaither, ‎Alma E Cavazos-Gaither (2000), Scientifically Speaking: A Dictionary of Quotations, p. 187
  • A definitely undesirable rationale sustaining the cult of simplicity is of a metaphysical nature: namely, the wish to attain the ultimate atoms of experience and/or reality ... this drive, which feeds metaphysical fundamentalism, is dangerous because it leads to postulating the final simplicity of some form of experience or some kind of substance thereby barring any inquiry into their structure.
    • Mario Bunge, The myth of simplicity, 1963, p, 86-87; As cited in: Colin E. Gunton (1993), The One, the Three and the Many, p. 44
  • Logical positivism was progressive compared with the classical positivism of Ptolemy, Hume, d'Alembert, Compte, John Stuart Mill, and Ernst Mach. It was even more so by comparison with its contemporary rivals—neo-Thomisism, neo-Kantianism, intuitionism, dialectical materialism, phenomenology, and existentialism. However, neo-positivism failed dismally to give a faithful account of science, whether natural or social. It failed because it remained anchored to sense-data and to a phenomenalist metaphysics, overrated the power of induction and underrated that of hypothesis, and denounced realism and materialism as metaphysical nonsense. Although it has never been practiced consistently in the advanced natural sciences and has been criticized by many philosophers, notably Popper (1959 [1935], 1963), logical positivism remains the tacit philosophy of many scientists. Regrettably, the anti-positivism fashionable in the metatheory of social science is often nothing but an excuse for sloppiness and wild speculation.
    • Mario Bunge (1996). Finding Philosophy in Social Science. Yale University Press. p. 317.


  • We all would to know more and, at the same time, to receive less information. In fact, the problem of a worker in today's knowledge industry is not the scarcity of information but its excess. The same holds for professionals: just think of a physician or an executive, constantly bombarded by information that is at best irrelevant. In order to learn anything we need time. And to make time we must use information filters allowing us to ignore most of the information aimed at us. We must ignore much to learn a little.
    • Mario Bunge, Philosophy in Crisis: The Need for Reconstruction, 2001, p. 20.
  • If one aims to judge political movements, their deeds are far more important than their speeches, which are often masking rather than revealing.
    • Emergence and Convergence (2003), p. 424.
  • When in the sciences or techniques one states that a certain problem is unsolvable, a rigorous demonstration of such unsolvability is required. And when a scientist submits an article to publication, the least that its referees demand is that it be intelligible. Why? Because rational beings long for understanding and because only clear statements are susceptible to be put to examination to verify whether they are true or false. In the Humanities it is the same, or it should be, but it is not always so. Nietzsche reproached John Stuart Mill's clarity. Henri Bergson, although an intuitionist himself, wrote clearly and declared that "clarity is the philosopher's courtesy". Obscurity is rude, because it assumes the interlocutor is incapable of understanding and dialoguing.
    • "Xenius, Platón y Manolito," newspaper essay (in Spanish) in La Nación, July 9, 2008.
  • Bunge: In September I will be 90 years old.
    Reporter: You look very youthful.
    Bunge: That's because I avoid alcohol, tobacco, and postmodernism.
    • "La desigualdad provoca enfermedad," interview to elPerió (in Spanish), July 29, 2009.


  • The fact that a great many scientists signed Faustian pacts with the war devil throughout the twentieth century has given science a bad name, and has discouraged many able youngsters from pursuing a scientific career.
    • Matter and Mind (2010), p. 259.
  • In academia much bogus knowledge is tolerated in the name of academic freedom – which is like allowing for the sale of contaminated food in the name of free enterprise. I submit that such tolerance is suicidal: that the serious students must be protected against the “anything goes” crowd.
    • Matter and Mind (2010), p. 264.
  • At all times pseudoprofound aphorisms have been more popular than rigorous arguments.
    • Evaluating Philosophies (2012), p. xiv.
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