Popper's philosophy of science as best illustrating the methodological view espoused by General Semantics as a discipline. Stuart reviews some of the key features of Popper's philosophy and shows how major paradigm shifts in scientific beliefs over the millennia conform to the system described by Popper.
Life Karl Raimund Popper was born on 28 July in Vienna, which at that time could make some claim to be the cultural epicentre of the western world. His father was a lawyer by profession, but he also took a keen interest in the classics and in philosophy, and communicated to his son an interest in social and political issues which he was to never lose.
His mother inculcated in him such a passion for music that for a time he seriously contemplated taking it up as a career, and indeed he initially chose the history of music as a second subject for his Ph. The young Karl attended the local Realgymnasium, where he was unhappy with the standards of the Poppers views on authority of science, and, after an illness which kept him at home for a number of months, he left to attend the University of Vienna in However, he did not formally enroll at the University by taking the matriculation examination for another four years.
In that year he became heavily involved in left-wing politics, joined the Association of Socialist School Students, and became for a time a Marxist.
However, he was quickly disillusioned with the doctrinaire character of the latter, and soon abandoned it entirely. The dominance of the critical spirit in Einstein, and its total absence in Marx, Freud and Adler, struck Popper as being of fundamental importance: Popper had a rather melancholic personality and took some time to settle on a career; he trained as a cabinetmaker, obtained a primary school teaching diploma in and qualified to teach mathematics and physics in secondary school in At an early stage of their marriage they decided that they would never have children, a decision which Popper was able to look back on in later life with apparent equanimity.
In Popper took up a position teaching philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, where he was to remain for the duration of the Second World War, though he had a rather tense relationship with his head of department. The annexation of Austria in became the catalyst which prompted Popper to refocus his writings on social and political philosophy and he published The Open Society and Its Enemies, his critique of totalitarianism, in In he moved to England to teach at the London School of Economics, and became professor of logic and scientific method at the University of London in From this point on his reputation and stature as a philosopher of science and social thinker grew enormously, and he continued to write prolifically—a number of his works, particularly The Logic of Scientific Discoveryare now widely seen as pioneering classics in the field.
However, he combined a combative personality with a zeal for self-aggrandisement that did little to endear him to professional colleagues at a personal level. He was ill-at-ease in the philosophical milieu of post-war Britain which was, as he saw it, fixated with trivial linguistic concerns dictated by Wittgenstein, whom he considered to be his nemesis.
Popper was a somewhat paradoxical man, whose theoretic commitment to the primacy of rational criticism was counterpointed by hostility towards anything that amounted to less than total acceptance of his own thought, and in Britain—as had been the case in Vienna—he became increasingly an isolated figure, though his ideas continued to inspire admiration.
In later years Popper came under philosophical criticism for his prescriptive approach to science and his emphasis on the logic of falsification. This was superseded in the eyes of many by the socio-historical approach taken by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutionswho—in arguing for the incommensurability of rival scientific paradigms—reintroduced the idea that change in science is essentially dialectical and is dependent upon the establishment of consensus within communities of researchers.
Popper was knighted inand retired from the University of London inthough he remained active as a writer, broadcaster and lecturer until his death in In the first place, his teenage flirtation with Marxism left him thoroughly familiar with the Marxist view of economics, class-war, and history.
Secondly, he was appalled by the failure of the democratic parties to stem the rising tide of fascism in his native Austria in the s and s, and the effective welcome extended to it by the Marxists.
The latter acted on the ideological grounds that it constituted what they believed to be a necessary dialectical step towards the implosion of capitalism and the ultimate revolutionary victory of communism.
This was one factor which led to the much feared Anschluss, the annexation of Austria by the German Reich, the anticipation of which forced Popper into permanent exile from his native country.
The Poverty of Historicism and The Open Society and Its Enemieshis most impassioned and brilliant social works, are as a consequence a powerful defence of democratic liberalism as a social and political philosophy, and a devastating critique of the principal philosophical presuppositions underpinning all forms of totalitarianism.
These latter, Popper came to feel, have more in common with primitive myths than with genuine science.While Karl Poppers philosophy of science has only few followers among modern philosophers, it is easily the view of science with the biggest impact on practicing scientists. According to Peter Medawar, Nobel laureate and eminent physiologist, Popper was the greatest authority ever on the scientific method.
Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn’s View on Truth and Science Science is the means of pursuing knowledge about the universe. It is collection of knowledge that is built on the testable predictions. Philosophy of science is a study concerned with fundamentals, techniques and consequences of science throughout time (The philosophy of science).
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In other words, the logical problem of induction arises from (1) Hume's discovery (so well expressed by Born) that it is impossible to justify a law by observation or experiment, since it 'transcends experience'; (2) the fact that science proposes and uses laws 'everywhere and all the time'.
Popper’s Theory of Epistemology: A Perpetual Falsifiable Journey Towards Truth According to Karl Popper’s Logic of Scientific Discovery all you can do with a theory is prove it wrong.
according to Popper, falsifiability is a required characteristic for a scientific theory. Science evolves by shedding its falsified theories. Popper.