a comma, for effect

Today’s confession: commas intrigue me. And today I am particularly struck by the role of the comma inside the brackets in the following excerpt from this article by Chomsky (1964):

“This point of view takes a theory to be, essentially, nothing more than a summary of data. In contrast, it has been repeatedly pointed out (most forcefully, by Karl Popper) that the prevailing attitude in the sciences is to regard data as of interest primarily insofar as it has bearing on the choice among alternative theories, and to search for data, however exotic, that will be crucial in this sense.”

On first reading it seems that he does not mean that of all the instances of pointing out which have occurred, the pointing out done by Popper has been the most forceful – rather, I think he means that Popper has done the repeated pointing out, and he has done it in such a very forceful way that it can only be described by this superlative. But I could be wrong.

(By the by, the construction “has bearing” sounds slightly odd to me – I’d have preferred “has a bearing,” but again, maybe it’s just me.)

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