Karl Popper

Topics: Scientific method, Karl Popper, Falsifiability Pages: 5 (1605 words) Published: December 17, 2012
Karl Popper is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century. First this essay will focus on examining his legacy on the social sciences while addressing what others think about his contribution to social sciences. Finally, the focus will be on his theories of demarcation and falsifiability. Karl Popper was not only a remarkable political and social philosopher but also an opponent of skepticism. He considered himself to be a 'critical rationalist' and an advocate of the 'open society' while criticizing totalitarianism. His philosophical work is highly regarded for its intellectual influence and the practical impact it had on the work of world scientist. Karl Popper was born on 28 July 1902 in Vienna in a family interested in political and social issues but also in music. These helped shape his thoughts regarding critical and dogmatic thinking, the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity and his hostility towards historicism. While at university he got involved in left wing politics and became interested in the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Adler and even Marx for a short period. He became friends with some of the ‘scientifically-minded’ intellectuals of the Wiener Kreis, a circle interested in bringing together the sciences by eliminating metaphysics. Popper was a strong critic of logical positivism and its focus on the theory of meaning in philosophy and expressed his beliefs in his first book Logik der Forschung (1934). During the Second World War he left his home country and became a philosophy teacher at the University of Canterbury,New Zeeland. In 1946 he moved to England to teach scientific method and logic at the University of London. His reputation as a philosopher of science increased and he published a number of books such as Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963) and The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959) which is now regarded as a masterpiece in the field. There were 3 main influences that helped shape Popper's theories. His interest in Marxism lead to an extensive knowledge of class war, economics and history. Also, he was shocked when the democratic parties failed to oppose fascism and Marxism welcomed it in his home country Austria. In his books The Poverty of Historicism (1944) and The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) he strongly defended democratic liberalism as a political and social philosophy and criticized the principal philosophical presuppositions which were the root of Totalitarism. And last, he was greatly impressed by the difference between the revolution ignited by Einstein's theory of relativity and the so called 'scientific' theories of Adler and Freud. According to Popper, there was a primary difference between them: while Einstein's theory was 'hazardous' in the sense that it made it possible for highly improbable consequences to be deduced from it and would falsify the whole theory if they proved to be false, nothing could falsify psychoanalytic theories. He felt that these psychoanalytical theories are more about myths and less about true science, that what appears to be the main source of strengths when it comes to psychoanalysis, the principal basis for its claim to scientific status is actually a serious weakness as it implies that it is not truly predictive. According to their nature, these theories have negative implications because they are insufficiently precise which makes them immunized from experiential falsification. 'Popper has influenced social thinking directly with 2 books in particular. The open society and its enemies(1945) reviews the history of political thought , condemns those , like Plato, Hegel and Marx who have sought to entrench the power of the state and commends the openness to critical inquiry enshrined in a tolerant, liberal society. The poverty of historicism (1960) denies Marxist and Hegelian claims that there are laws of history and dialectical...
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