Karl Popper

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Karl Raimund Popper was born July 28, 1902 in Vienna, and died on September 17, 1994. He was considered by many the premier philosopher of science in the twentieth century. His first major work, Logik der Forschung (The Logic of Research), published in 1934, criticized the then-popular schools of logical positivism and favored an approach to science based on criticism rather than verification. This work gained much attention and led to Popper being invited to lecture in England, which would later become his home. He would later develop these ideas into a philosophy he called critical rationalism, a refinement of Immanuel Kant's critical philosophy which held that the task of philosophers is not to verify or justify propositions, but to conjecture and criticize.

The rise of Nazism, and particularly the German annexation of Austria in 1938, prompted Popper to also work on political and social philosophy, where he criticized popular social theories of the day in favor of a more scientific approach. This led him to denounce authoritarian politics in such works as The Open Society and its Enemies.

His scientific work was influenced by his study of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, which he used to exemplify the difference between a truly scientific theory and the pseudo-scientific theories of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. In Popper's view, the difference was that theories such as Einstein's could be readily falsified by simple experiments. This criterion of falsifiability, and the practice of using experiments not to verify but to criticize scientific theories, are the cornerstones of true science in his view, in contrast to the common belief at the time (first proposed by Francis Bacon) that science was based on inductive reasoning, and experimental verification. His work The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959, an updated translation of Logik der Forschung) is a classic in the field.

Popper won many awards and honors in his field, including the Lippincott Award of the American Political Science Association, the Sonning Prize, and fellowships in the Royal Society, British Academy, London School of Economics, Kings College London, and Darwin College Cambridge. Austria awarded him the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold. Queen Elizabeth II knighted Popper in 1965, and invested him with the Insignia of a Companion of Honour in 1982.

Works by Popper:

  • Logik der Forschung, 1934
  • The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945
  • The Poverty of Historicism, 1961
  • Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 1963
  • The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 1959
  • Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach, 1972
  • Unended Quest; An Intellectual Autobiography, 1976
  • The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism, 1977
  • The Open Universe: An Argument for Indeterminism, 1982
  • Realism and the Aim of Science, 1982
  • The Myth of the Framework: In Defence of Science and Rationality, 1994
  • Knowledge and the Mind-Body Problem: In Defence of Interactionism, 1994

Other works and collections:

  • Critical Rationalism: A Re-Statement and Defence by David Miller, 1994
  • Popper Selections (Text by Popper, selected and edited by David Miller)
  • All Life Is Problem Solving (Text by Popper, translation by Patrick Camiller), 1999

External sources:


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