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Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian novelist, playwright and former presidential candidate, spoke before an audience of 400 in Logan Hall Friday, encouraging the audience to join him in "the quest for truth and the battle for freedom." Vargas Llosa said the problem of trying to better society cannot be approached as a whole, but must be addressed one problem at a time. "The piece-meal approach is the only way to bring about social reform," Vargas Llosa said. "The true reformist works for the continuous improvement of parts as there is no way of knowing or controlling the whole of society." Reform only comes with freedom, he added. Vargas Llosa's lecture, entitled "Karl Popper Today," addressed how Karl Popper, a philosopher, scientist, and social theorist, dealt with truth, history, language and social change. Vargas Llosa said that he promotes an "open society," which "emerged with the birth of the critical spirit and the development of rational analysis." Vargas Llosa said that an open society is one that questions social dogma. He said that he is opposed to political utopianism and is in favor of Popper's vision of a society that tries to solve its problems separately. He also said that a free market system and religious and political tolerance are key parts of an open society. Vargas Llosa spoke extensively about the importance of questioning knowledge and established truths. "The mechanism of knowledge becomes jammed," Vargas Llosa said, if truth is not "exposed to tests of trial and error." Referring constantly to Popperian philosophy, Vargas Llosa stated that history is "animated chaos," and warned of the dangers of many historians who "give the appearance of order by setting arbitrary schemes . . . which are caricatures of real history." "Today's world events show the unpredictability of history," Vargas added. "The future is capable of anything . . .[and] can't be forecast." Vargas Llosa warned against making predictions based on patterns of history. The former Peruvian presidential candidate said that the world is unpredictable and chaotic, but nevertheless historians try to show that the past has order to it. Wharton junior Oswaldo Sandoval, who was in Peru while Vargas Llosa was running for president, said he felt Vargas's campaign was in line with the philosophy outlined in his speech. "Vargas Llosa is a great novelist and would have been a great president," Sandoval said. "I'm proud that he's a Peruvian." College freshman Alfonso Daniels said that Vargas Llosa "presented an honest campaign that warned the people of hardships that would come." Jason Soslow, a College senior, said he found Vargas Llosa to be "pretty contiguous with a long line of philosophers and other rational, progressive, social reformers, and capitalists." Vargas Llosa spoke for over an hour Friday, and afterward he met with students and faculty at a reception at the Faculty Club.

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