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    Popperism is a philosophy of science who is best known for his work on falsifiability. It argued that scientific theories should be capable of being tested and falsified, and that this was the criterion for distinguishing science from non-science. Popper's ideas have had a significant impact on the philosophy of science and continue to be discussed and debated today.

    History[edit | edit source]

    Karl Popper was born on July 28th, 1902 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, and became one of the most influential philosophers of science of the 20th century. After leaving school at the age of 16, he attended lectures in mathematics, physics, philosophy, psychology and the history of music as a guest student at the University of Vienna. He completed his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Vienna in 1928.

    Popper is best known for his work on falsifiability as a criterion for separating science from non-science which he presented in his book "The Logic of Scientific Discovery" published in 1934. Popper argued that scientific theories should be capable of being tested and falsified, meaning that they should be capable of being proven false through empirical evidence. His critical rationalism proposed that scientific theories could only be tested and not proven true.

    Popper's work has had a significant impact on the philosophy of science and has been widely debated and discussed. In addition to his work on falsifiability, he also made significant contributions to the philosophy of mind, politics, and social science. Popper passed away on September 17th, 1994, in London, leaving a notable legacy in the field of philosophy.

    Philosophical Beliefs[edit | edit source]

    Falsifiability[edit | edit source]

    Popper introduced the concept of "critical rationalism," rejecting the idea that basic statements are infallible. Instead, he argued they are descriptions within a theoretical framework. He opposed classical empiricism and the idea that scientific theories could be confirmed through direct observation. According to Popper, scientific theories are abstract and can only be tested indirectly through their implications. He emphasized the importance of falsifiability, suggesting that a theory should be considered scientific only if it can be potentially proven false.

    Popper explained scientific progress as an evolutionary process where competing theories are subjected to rigorous attempts at falsification. Theories that better withstand refutation are not necessarily truer but more applicable to the given problem. This process of error elimination mirrors natural selection in biological evolution. Popper also critiqued the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, advocating for a realist approach similar to Albert Einstein's perspective. His concept of falsifiability shares similarities with Charles Peirce's fallibilism.

    Falsification[edit | edit source]

    Popper proposed a solution to the philosophical problem of induction by emphasizing falsifiability. He argued that while we can't prove the sun will rise each day, we can formulate a theory that it will. If the sun fails to rise on any given day, the theory is falsified and must be replaced. Until then, there's no need to reject the assumption that the theory is true. Popper believed in preferring the simplest, most easily falsifiable theory, rather than assuming the most likely true theory, as positivism suggested. He agreed with Hume that there's no logical justification for assuming the sun will rise tomorrow just because it always has in the past.

    Rationality[edit | edit source]

    Popper believed that rationality extends beyond just scientific theories. He argued that criticism, which involves finding and resolving contradictions in knowledge without resorting to ad-hoc measures, can be applied to all areas of inquiry, including metaphysics and ethics. His student, W.W. Bartley III, took this idea further, suggesting that everything can be subject to rational criticism.

    Popper rejected the notion of justificationism in traditional philosophy, which seeks to justify assumptions. Instead, he advocated for testing and scrutinizing theories to eliminate errors. He didn't believe in the need for positive reasons or justifications, emphasizing the importance of eliminating errors rather than claiming certainty or justification for theories.

    Arithmetics[edit | edit source]

    Popper's principle of falsifiability faces challenges when considering the epistemological status of mathematics. It's hard to see how basic arithmetic statements like "2 + 2 = 4" could ever be proven false. If they can't be falsified, they're not considered scientific. But if they're not scientific, it's unclear how they can provide useful information about the real world.

    Popper proposed a solution by distinguishing between two senses of mathematical statements. In pure mathematics, "2 + 2 = 4" is logically true and can't be disproven. However, in applied mathematics, where it describes real-world situations like adding apples, it can be falsified. For instance, if you put two apples in a container and then add two more but don't get four apples, the theory is proven false. But if you do get four apples, it shows that mathematical principles apply to real-world scenarios.

    Truth[edit | edit source]

    In 1934, Popper highlighted the pursuit of truth as a key driver of scientific discovery. He expressed skepticism about the idea of truth as correspondence but found hope in Alfred Tarski's semantic theory of truth from 1933. Tarski's theory addressed criticisms of truth as correspondence and seemed to support metaphysical realism and the idea of seeking truth.

    Tarski's theory suggests that the truth of a sentence is determined by its correspondence to facts, with both the sentence and its truth conditions considered in a metalanguage. Popper interpreted Tarski's theory as replacing "is true" with "corresponds to the facts." He introduced the notion of verisimilitude, or "truthlikeness," which quantitatively measures how close a scientific theory is to the truth based on the truth and falsity implied by its assertions.

    Popper's Three Worlds[edit | edit source]

    Popper viewed knowledge as objective, meaning it's objectively true and exists independently of individual minds. He divided this into three worlds: World One, the physical world; World Two, the world of thoughts and perceptions; and World Three, human knowledge expressed in various forms like books and art. Popper argued that World Three, like a trail made by animals, exists independently and evolves over time. He believed that the influence of human knowledge on individual minds is as significant as direct experiences. However, some philosophers, like Daniel Dennett, have criticized Popper's Three World idea, partly because it resembles mind-body dualism.

    Origin and Evolution of Life[edit | edit source]

    The debate over creation versus evolution in the United States often revolves around whether creationist ideas qualify as science and whether evolution itself is a legitimate scientific concept. Both sides, and even courts in their rulings, often refer to Popper's criterion of falsifiability. Popper himself addressed these issues, stating that Darwinism, while not directly testable, offers valuable insights into scientific research, particularly in understanding adaptation. However, he also criticized theism for claiming to explain adaptation, seeing it as an admission of failure to provide a complete explanation.

    Popper later clarified that when he referred to Darwinism, he meant the modern synthesis of Darwin's theory with other genetic concepts. He acknowledged the theory's power but also its limitations and the challenges of testing it due to the complexity of biological systems. Despite some viewing natural selection as tautological, Popper argued that it was a valuable metaphysical research program that raises important questions and guides scientific inquiry.

    Popper went beyond the creation-evolution debate, developing his own theories about evolution, which he called the "spearhead model." He proposed that living organisms have goals and actively pursue them, influencing their own evolution. This contrasts with the idea of a passive organism subject to external forces. Popper also encouraged research into abiogenesis, supporting alternative hypotheses to traditional ideas about the origin of life.

    While Popper initially viewed the creation-evolution controversy as a clash between scientific and metaphysical beliefs, he later found merit in the debate, acknowledging its significance and complexity.

    Free Will[edit | edit source]

    Popper and John Eccles explored the concept of free will, leaning towards an interactionist dualist theory of mind. Popper, although a dualist, didn't see the mind as a separate substance from the body but believed mental aspects were distinct from physical ones.

    In a lecture in 1965, Popper revisited the idea of quantum indeterminacy contributing to human freedom. Eccles proposed that "critically poised neurons" could be influenced by the mind in decision-making. Popper criticized the idea of quantum events affecting decisions, disagreeing with the notion that the only alternative to determinism is sheer chance.

    He argued for a combination of randomness and control to explain freedom, rejecting the idea of a binary choice between chance and necessity. In his 1977 book with Eccles, he formulated a two-stage model for free will, comparing it to genetic mutations and natural selection. This model suggests that a range of possibilities arises probabilistically in the brain, with selective processes eliminating unacceptable options.

    Religion and God[edit | edit source]

    In a 1969 interview that was kept secret until after his death, Popper shared his thoughts on God. He admitted uncertainty about God's existence and criticized certain forms of atheism as arrogant and ignorant. He believed agnosticism, acknowledging our lack of knowledge and searching for answers, was acceptable. Popper felt gratitude for life, aligning with some religious concepts, but hesitated to speak about God for fear of misrepresenting the divine.

    He was critical of organized religion, cautioning against the misuse of God's name and highlighting the dangers of religious conflicts fueled by fanaticism. Popper saw religious myths as untrue, including those from different cultures. Despite his personal views, he advocated respect for sincere religious beliefs.

    Political Beliefs[edit | edit source]

    In his works "The Open Society and Its Enemies" and "The Poverty of Historicism," Popper critiqued historicism and defended the idea of an "Open Society." He saw historicism as the belief that history unfolds predictably according to fixed laws toward a certain end, which he linked to authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Popper argued against historicism, stating that human history is influenced by unpredictable factors and that no society can predict its future knowledge. This rejection of historical determinism led him to distance himself from Marxism, which he associated with authoritarian tactics.

    Popper's disillusionment with socialism stemmed from witnessing the consequences of Communist-led riots in 1919, where his friends were killed in pursuit of Marxist ideals. He initially supported socialism but later abandoned it, believing it compromised individual freedom. Popper came to view both right-wing and Soviet-style communism as forms of totalitarianism, aligning himself with the defense of liberal democracy.

    In 1947, Popper helped found the Mont Pelerin Society, although he had reservations about its focus on free-market ideology. He advocated for a broader consideration of humanitarian values and suggested inviting socialists to participate, which was not fully embraced by the group.

    The Paradox of Tolerance[edit | edit source]

    Popper supported tolerance but cautioned against unlimited tolerance. He argued that if we tolerate those who are intolerant without limit, it will lead to the demise of tolerance itself. Popper suggested that while we shouldn't always silence intolerant views, we should be ready to defend a tolerant society against them. If necessary, intolerant movements should be suppressed, even by force, to protect tolerance. Popper believed that inciting intolerance should be treated as a crime, similar to inciting violence or slavery.

    The "Conspiracy Theory of Society"[edit | edit source]

    Popper criticized the idea of the "conspiracy theory of society," which claims that powerful individuals or groups deliberately cause all societal problems. He argued against this view by highlighting that outcomes often differ from what was intended. While Popper's views on conspiracy theories are widely accepted, some argue that his argument only applies to extreme conspiracy theories, not to all conspiracy theories.

    Personality[edit | edit source]

    He's very eager and combative

    How to Draw[edit | edit source]

    Relationships[edit | edit source]

    Friends[edit | edit source]

    • Hayekism - You influenced my views on freedom and free markets
    • Lockeanism - I am in favor of a minimal state and individualism
    • Humeanism - You influenced my ideas of falsifiability and casuability

    Frenemies[edit | edit source]


    The Open Society's Enemies[edit | edit source]

    • Marxism - Argument invalid, opinion discarded.
    • Hegelianism - You are totalitarian! Why does the master and the slave exist?
    • Platonism - Argument invalid, opinion discarded.
    • Mysticism - Argument invalid, opinion discarded.
    • Creationism - Argument invalid, opinion discarded.
    • Anti-Positivism - Argument invalid, opinion discarded.
    • Utopianism - Argument invalid, opinion discarded.
    • Wittgensteinism - Screw you Wittgenstein, stop shoving that poker to me!

    Further Information[edit | edit source]

    Wikipedia[edit | edit source]

    Literature[edit | edit source]

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