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1. The Logic of Scientific Discovery
2. Unended Quest: An Intellectual
3. Conjectures and Refutations: The
4. Popper Selections
5. Philosophy and the Real World:
6. The Open Society and Its Enemies
7. The Open Society and itsEnemies:
8. The Poverty of Historicism (Routledge
9. Lesson of this Century : With
10. The Self and Its Brain: An Argument
11. Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary
12. Popper: The Great Philosophers
13. The Myth of the Framework: In
14. Karl Popper - The Formative Years,
15. Popper's Open Society After Fifty
16. The Political Thought of Karl
17. The Ethical Nature Of Karl Popper's
18. Realism and the Aim of Science:
19. In Search of a Better World: Lectures
20. All Life is Problem Solving

1. The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Routledge Classics)
by Karl Popper
Paperback: 544 Pages (2002-03-29)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$13.48
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Asin: 0415278449
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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When first published in 1959, this book revolutionized contemporary thinking about science and knowledge. It remains the one of the most widely read books about science to come out of the twentieth century. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

4-0 out of 5 stars good brain exercise
Points to consider when reading this book:

First, it is a book about logic and not about science. It was written nearly 80 years ago in response to the questions raised when the mechanistic Newtonian universe was seemingly turned upside down by the introduction of quantum mechanics, and in particular this is a response to the propagation of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. The question it addresses is: of what does our scientific knowledge logically consist? Note the key word, "logically."

Popper basically makes two arguments. One is that there is no inductive logic leading to scientific hypotheses. Again, note the word "logic." This does not mean that in formulating hypotheses scientists do not reason backwards from experience. Of course they do. We all know the famous examples of Newton's apple and Einstein's clock tower. What Popper means to point out is that there are no formal logical rules that govern such reasoning. In other words, there is nothing inherent in the apple that must of necessity lead to the laws of gravity, and nothing inherent in the clock tower that must of necessity lead to the theory of relativity. So why call it inductive logic? Better, argues Popper, to call it "psychologism." In other words, we don't really know what was going on in Newton's or Einstein's mind, but we do know that it was not formal logic.

His second argument is that scientific hypotheses can not be proved to be logically true. Again, note the word "logically." Logically, all we can do is falsify them, and that the wider the field of falsification is, the better they can be "corroborated." (Assuming, of course, that they are in fact not falsified). And that it is this "corroboration" that is the closest we can get to proof. In other words, a hypothesis can never be proved, only disproved, and that in the strictly logical sense, a hypothesis can never make a prediction about a singular occurrence, (much as we can not say that a six will necessarily show up on our first six rolls of the dice). Again, this does not mean that in the real world we do not or can not make scientific predictions. Indeed, if we did not, we would have no computers, no satellites, no automobiles, not much of anything really. It's just that in an infinite world, with an infinite number of occurrences, there is no way to logically - there's that magic word again - prove that in at least one case the scientific theories we use to underpin such technology will not fail.

Of course, Popper is a much deeper thinker than I am, and his arguments more profound, but that's the essence of it the way I see it, and so I guess it's up to you as to whether you are willing to read several hundred pages of this type of thinking. I was. If nothing else, it's good exercise for the brain.

Note: I just wanted to add that if you find yourself getting lost as you plow through this text -- I did myself more times than I care to admit -- don't give up but keep plodding ahead. Eventually you'll come back to familiar ground. And if all else fails, Popper does a very nice job of summing everything up in the final chapters.

2-0 out of 5 stars Obtuse and confusing
I've been hearing about Popper and his epistemology of science for a long time, so I finally decided to read his masterwork. I am sorry to say but this has been a great disappointment. I am a practicing scientist who has a great appreciation for philosophy and epistemology, and consider myself generally favorably inclined to these kinds of books and topics. I was also hoping to gain a deeper understanding of my own discipline and in general how are the kinds of ideas that we come up in science structured and developed. I reflect a lot on those issues, especially when I feel like I am stuck with research and start to wonder about the deeper meaning of science as a human enterprise. Ideally, I would also like to read a book that can provide me with some sort of actionable insights into how to come up with new theories or new ways of looking at the world. Unfortunately, this book has not satisfied me on any of those levels. I found it to be obtuse without being profound. Popper tends to introduce a lot of technical superstructure that would supposedly shed some light on the way that scientific discoveries work. From the very beginning it was very hard for me to see the motivation for this technical superstructure (most of which was modeled on formal logic and early axiomatic probability theories). I was hoping, however, that as I read along the motivation for those technical tools would eventually become clear. In my opinion, that never happened. I feel that Popper has an uncanny ability to complicate and confuse even the simplest of scientific concepts. In the end I walked away from this book not knowing even what it main points were. I am afraid that other scientists would probably have even less of an appreciation for this work. It might have some value to pure philosophers, but on that account I am not competent to make judgment.

5-0 out of 5 stars As recommended by F. A. Hayek
It was this work that the great economist F. A. Hayek had his students, one-by-one, promise to him they would read in order to acquire the requisite apprehension of the philosophy of science.It was only this way he felt they would have the ability to grasp the philosophy of social sciences.

Popper has loftier conceptions of the limitations of philosophy than most other modern philosophers.He believes philosophy should provide the rationale and touchstone for science.In this respect he is a throwback to the classical philosophers. He avoids the Cartesian statement with its implication of solipsism and thereby is able to ask the question of fundamental importance to modern science:what constitutes the proof of a theory?

The principle of causality is excluded from the sphere of science by Popper.He puts in its place an exhortation that we continue to search for a logical and casual scheme for the universe.He allows it to be said of a scientific theory only that it has not been proven false - yet. There is no ultimate truth that we can obtain, only theories that are less likely to be false.

Popper's style is quite smooth and readable. The book includes a letter to Popper from Albert Einstein which is reproduced in Einstein's own handwriting.

One should read this book if only to formulate clearly his objection to it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
A scientist's must read.Very informative and thought provoking.It is a bit of a difficult read, but definitely helps in analyzing and creating scientific papers and studies.

5-0 out of 5 stars Puts Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" to shame!
This is an amazing book which has taught me how to think better and more creatively as a scientist. There is a reason Popper has been remembered for his seemingly counterintuitive ideas, e.g., his ideas of falsification and rejection of induction. He is challenging but well worth the read. Popper's book is light-years better than Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which, despite its hype, says nothing new. ... Read more

2. Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography (Routledge Classics)
by Karl Popper
Paperback: 328 Pages (2002-08-02)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$12.90
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Asin: 0415285909
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A brilliant account of the life of one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century, Popper explains the central ideas in his work, making this ideal reading for anyone coming to his life and work for the first time. ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars Good Philosophy of Science read
This is a good bood about Popper, who was an important figure in the philosophy of science twists and turns.

5-0 out of 5 stars ...and What a Quest it Was!!
Routledge Classics has done us all - fans of clear thinking, clear writing and great literature - a real service by re-releasing Karl Popper's intellectual biography "An Unended Quest". In additiion to offering informative accounts of how he came about his greatest theories, he gives us entertaining life stories as well.

As we would expect from Popper, this book is set up similar to his problem solving methodology: (P1)- (TT)-(EE)-(P2). For those unfamiliar, this stands for problem 1, tentative theory, error elimination, problem 2 - and this is how Popper, at least, according to his biography, led his life. A problem would arise, he'd think about it enough to offer a best conjecture, go about watching its results (recieving criticism from others as well as himself, setting aside a refuted theory if necessary) and this would invariably lead to new and more challenging problems. It is party because of this ongoing method that Popper descrbes himself as "the happiest philosopher I ever met."

The first half of the book is especially thrilling. Popper shifts from a chapter relating personal events and development with "digression" chapters relating how these personal events led to theories, ideas and problems to be solved. Of note to me, with a B.A. in music, were the chapters exploring Poppers love for 'classical' music. Especially of suprise here was that he has many of the same tastes and reasons for them as I and he discusses many of those ideas in what could be the most exciting 'digression' in the book.

The second half of the book concentrates more on ideas and lesson events. This was the period where Popper, although still looked at as unconventional, was a bit more accepted. This period saw him write "The Open Society and It's Enemies", "Poverty of Historicism", and "Conjectures and Refutations". As most of this is about explaining his ideas, not the events therefrom, those familiar with Popper's writings may get a bit bored here. Still, with prose as crystal-clear and exciting as Popper's, nobody - from the novice to the professional philosopher - will want to miss a paragraph! ... Read more

3. Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (Routledge Classics)
by Karl Popper
Paperback: 608 Pages (2002-08-09)
list price: US$20.95 -- used & new: US$12.91
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Asin: 0415285941
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This classic remains one of Karl Popper's most wide-ranging and popular works, notable not only for its acute insight into the way scientific knowledge grows, but also for applying those insights to politics and to history. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars A luminous beacon: Karl Popper's non-authoritarian system of knowledge
From the late 1960's to the mid 1970's I was a young person grappling with the question of what constituted truth.On the one hand, the conservative religious outlook of my rural upbringing was clearly ill-equipped to address the modern world.On the other hand, the Marxist views espoused by many of my peers were ridiculous.This book, however, and other books written by Karl Popper, cut though both of these views like so much paper.This book goes way beyond the high school notion of the scientific method.It exposes the intellectual poverty of approaches like astrology, Marxism, and Freudian Psychology, which offer an explanation for anything--but shrink from really putting themselves out there and daring to make a prediction whose failure will expose their shortcomings.Painful as it was at the time for me to realize that Christianity also fell into the same category as these other untestable conjectures, it showed me the way to a world view that respected no authority other than ideas that could be rigorously tested.

4-0 out of 5 stars A must read
Any college level degree in any discipline is undeserved unless the student has understood the thesis of this book. It is long, sometimes difficult, and not always on the mark, but it is a must read to understand the nature of scientific knowledge. The gems are disperesed throughout, so one must be patient in discovering them.
The philosophy of science has been placed on a firm footing, and all pretenses to the notion that Science can discover Truth have been destroyed.

5-0 out of 5 stars My conjecture on this book
Written with atypically clear prose and full of wit and insight.Sir Popper is truly one of the 20th century's greatest minds.

5-0 out of 5 stars Conjectures and Refutations
This is Popper at his mature full authoritive best. This work connects his early classic on Open Society with the works of contemporary philosiphers as well as with the Greeks. Popper makes the connection with modern science and it's foundations from the ancients. Anyone how has failed to avail themselves of Poppers insights into knowing and learning is the poorer for it.

5-0 out of 5 stars How do we know what we know? We don't, we only guess...
We guess. We make up a story that explains the phenomena we observe. Why is there night and day? Because the sun rises from the east and sets itself down in the west. Aha! Let's check that. Let's go east. After a while we realize that we're living on a sphere and so we know our story is wrong. The sun does not rise up and set. So what does it do? We're on a ball and the sun is above and it moves around us! Great! Problem solved. But wait! Let's check that. The stars also move. Let's plot their course, and then... and so on and so forth.

For Popper, this is how we've built up our picture of the world. We make bold conjectures to explain what we see see and then we check, or rather we establish a failure test. If the test is true, then our guess is false. But if we only test to see if a guess is false, rather than to try and prove that it's true, then how do we know our guess is true? Popper answers that we do not and cannot ever know that. Knowledge lies beyond our grasp, we can only seek knowledge without ever hoping to attain it.

This is the central theme of Conjectures and Refutations, which itself is a comprehensive overview of Popper's epistemological thought. The book is divided in two parts titled, you guessed it, I-Conjectures and II-Refutations.

Part I, Conjectures, comprises the first ten chapters. Popper begins with an overview of his thesis, then explores the nature of the problems that face people who think about the world and who act in it (chapter 2), he presents three other views of what we mean by knowledge (ch. 3), he describes tradition and the history of thought (chapters 4 to 6) and then turns to a critique of Kant, and of the effect that Newton's astonishingly successful theory of gravity, unrefuted for over 200 years, had on the development of western science (chapter 7). Popper then closes part I with discussions on what the difference is between science and metaphysics, on why mathematics works so well in describing the world, and finally on the nature of scientific knowledge, i.e. what do we mean by "knowledge".

In part II, Refutations, Popper does not present anything, he destroys existing theories which he feels are wrong. He returns to metaphysics and because it deals in existential statements that are irrefutable (e.g. you can't prove the Devil's existence or non-existence) he seeks to separate its pursuits from that of science. Science deals only in refutable statements.

Then Popper attacks other theories and problems. He gives a succinct summary of his attack on historicism, his name for the belief that History follows laws (e.g. Marxism) and that historians should be able to predict the future course of mankind.

In short, Conjectures and Refutations is a complete introduction to Popper's thinking. It sketches out all his thoughts on the social sciences and describes in fair detail his thinking on the development of science. He ends on a positive note. It may seem depressing that we can never obtain true knowledge, but we can certainly find sufficiently rich rewards in the pursuit of it. ... Read more

4. Popper Selections
by Sir Karl Raimund Popper
Paperback: 480 Pages (1985-02-01)
list price: US$37.50 -- used & new: US$23.32
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Asin: 0691020310
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A sampling of the philosophical writings of Karl Popper includes discussions of rationalism, knowledge, human freedom, and the scientific method. ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection of Popper's work, especially for the laymen
This book presents a great selection of Popper's writings, a real a crash course on the thinking of one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century. The book also presents his work regarding social and political philosophy. As almost any text dealing with philosophy, a calm and slow reading is absolutely required to fully grasp Popper's ideas, especially if you are a layman like me.I mean, this is not the kind of page-turner you can read entirely during a flight. This collection allows you to learn about Popper's legacy without the burden of reading his whole work, which I guess is almost reserved for scholars and students of philosophy.

I particularly enjoyed his ideas regarding the philosophy of science and scientific progress, specifically his critical rationalism and the concept of falsifiability (meaning that a hypothesis must be falsifiable and that a proposition or theory cannot be called scientific if it does not admit the possibility of being shown false). I highly recommend this book for those with a serious interest in the evolution of science and the scientific method. A worthy follow up to Sir Karl's views on science would be Thomas S. Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" (1962). Tough many ideas between these two philosophers of science are similar, Kuhn, in his book "The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change" (1977), presents an interesting discussion in Chapter 11 (Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research) about the disagreements between his views and Popper's regarding scientific development.

By the way, Popper's ideas come very handy and this book is a must-read for those with a genuine interest in the trustworthiness of science behind the current "Consensus Theory" explaining the causes of Global Warming. You can bet that in a few years the way most climate scientists are handling simulation modeling, making predictions with an immature science, with selective interpretation of weather data will become a textbook case of politicized science, together with complete disregard for the most basic principles of the scientific method, including the fact that no criticism is allowed. As Popper said:

"If we are uncritical we shall always find what we want: we shall look for, and find, confirmations, and we shall look away from, and not see, whatever might be dangerous to our pet theories. In this way it is only too easy to obtain what appears to be overwhelming evidence in favor of a theory which, if approached critically, would have been refuted". The Poverty of Historicism (1957).

5-0 out of 5 stars Science's and Society's Philosopher
Warning: I am highly biased, as Karl Popper is one of my most influential "mentors." As time passes, his wisdom increases, and his value as an original thinker becomes more, not less, vivid -- even if many of his "controversial" ideas in the Thirties are now considered normative.

Popper's collected essays, derived from class lectures, offers a broad introduction to the work of this seminal philosophy. These essays cover scientism, the scientific method, the scientific attitude, nominalism, historicism, democracy, falsification principle, evolutionary thought and applications, rationality, epistemology, and more.

While heralded as the scientists' philosopher of science, Popper's thought is not so provincial. His brevity and clarity of analysis are brought to bear on many subjects, practical and theoretical. His perspicacity and directness leave no room for ambiguity. The one philosophical topic not addressed in this representative volume is ethics.

Popper's central theme, of course, is science and how the scientific attitude and method fundamentally change our modern perceptions. While no longer controversial, indeed his thought has become commonsense, he, alone of the Vienna Circle, survived intact decades later. Because of the clarity, incisiveness, and rectitude of his claims, I purposefully return to him every five or so years to get "grounded" again.

One doesn't experience "eurkea" with Popper, one simply becomes reacquainted with basic knowledge and a few first principles. Perhaps a few "tweaks" occur, but Popper is more of an anchor than a revolutionary. Even his "defense" of science comes with numerous caveats. Given the topsy-turvy intellegensia stirring up the pot with new "-isms," it's useful to have a "home" to come back to. Because his commonsense prevails, his controversial stances several decades ago, while not quite platitudes now, are "defaults" that have withstood the strongest assaults. I cannot think of another major thinker who has withstood time and challenges better.

A couple of examples of Popper's gems: Democracy is not the best form of government; rather, it is the best form for excising bad government (this novel insight, a Popper first, is repeated by many subsequent political theorists, e.g., Ian Shapiro, Michael Walzer, John Rawls, etc.). An "open society" is more important, but this preeminent value requires the "background" of democracy. Central planning by governments should be confined to the margins, tinkering with changes that can be reversed before bad policy and unintended consequences become ensconced. If useful, then begin the reach. His skepticism does not permit purchase of any ideology. All historicisms are fortune-telling religious dogma, erroneously believing the past predicts the future, or that "inevitability" resides with the forces of History. Humans exist in an "open" environment, while science's predictability requires a "closed" environment; ergo, all "human sciences" are at best informed or educated guesses. Their ability to predict is next to nil.

Again, these Popperean gems may no longer be earth-shaking insights, but they once were, and the repitition of these claims is welcome against the ever-advancing onslaught of new "-isms." Popper's innately skeptical stances are a constant reminder that our fantasies can become our nightmares. This is most evident with science, where Popper insists that all knowledge, even scientific knowledge, is "tentative" at best. It's not just its verification, but ultimately its falsification, that requires this tentative stance. And, just because "science can," does not mean "science should:" Technology must "be harnassed."

An encounter with Popper leaves one speechless. Contentious by nature, I try to find loopholes in his claims; Popper does not leave many, if any. I'm still puzzled by his appeal to nominalism, but I cannot fault his logic. His thought experiment with tripartite worlds (not "universes") of the empirical, the conscious, and their overlap, is one of the best examples of Occam's Razor. But above all, Popper is as accessible as he is grounded. His clarity, brevity, and incisiveness are not common to philosophers, and thus, all the more welcome. He may not change your life, but he will provide a needed grounding for further venture!

4-0 out of 5 stars Book in great condition!
This book came to me quickly and efficiently.Its contents were in terrific condition and I feel that Amazon.com did a great job at satisfying my expectations.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Tradition of Critical Discussion + more..
Brilliant, clearly written, and wonderfully brief essays that span the life works of Karl Popper, organized into four parts: Theory of Knowledge, Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, and Social Philosophy.

Perhaps best known for his 'Open Society and Its Enemies' (written during WWII while in New Zealand), Popper is clearly an advocate of open and free debate in all academic disciplines.Against solving irrelevant 'puzzles of language' - a habit of philosophers and Ludwig Wittgenstein in particular (Read book on this: 'Wittgenstein's Poker') - Popper is most concerned with solving real world 'problems' that impact human life.'Our ignorance is sobering and boundless' he suggests but, together, through open-ness we can move toward finding ever-adjusting solutions for a better world.

Like other survivors of WWII (e.g. Isaiah Berlin), Popper is especially concerned with those who advocate 100% solutions to society's woes.One of our clearest advocates of the lessons of the Ancient Greeks, Popper tells us: The 'tradition of critical discussion' was the secret of the ancients.This tradition leads us to the realization that our attempts to find 'truth' are never final; and that criticism and critical discussion are our only means of getting nearer to the truth.

For those interested in: 1) Clear-headed discussions on science and philosophy, and 2) Hearing from a strong advocate of freedom and the 'western tradition' read this book.And bring a pencil.

5-0 out of 5 stars Critical Rationalism
Popper's favorite philosophers are the pre-Socratics. He celebrates them for their willingness to entertain/invite/encourage alternative points of view.The pre-Socratics sought to explain the universe ( a goal modern philososphy/science has lost sight of) but no one theory was viewed as absolute, rather each theory was viewed as a proposition that could then be honed/improved/altered by further argument/inquiry. This spirit of inquiry begins to vanish around the time of Plato and Aristotle for their teachings begin to be passed down not as theories that can be improved upon (modified or dismissed) but as knowledge. For Popper reverence for "great men" and "great ideas" only stands in the way of pluralism and progress.

Poppers method is to identify the mistakes made by the "great men"and therefore clear the way for further inquiry.Of all the western philosphers Plato receives the most attention.Popper finds much to admire in Plato but also much that needs amending. In an essay on "subjective" and "objective" knowledge Popper evolves his idea of a third "world" of knowledge. This autonomous third world of knowledge isreminiscent of Plato's theory of ideal forms with one essential difference.For Popper all knowledge is man made and so his third world of knowledge contains not ideals(in Popper's world ideals do not exist) but "problem situations" -- the state of a discussion or the state of a critical argument at the present time and these "states" make up the "objective contents of thought".

In the world according to Popper thought ( in the philosophic and scientific realms) evolves because a variety of thinkers make a variety of creative propositions that are then examined and found to be true or false. Popper calls this method "critical rationalism".

In each of these essays Popper addresses a key philosophic issue and discusses it with his signature grace, eloquence and humor.His contribution to social theory seems especially significant and on this topic he is especially eloquent.Being no great believer in the great man theory of history and knowing full well that all of mans ideas as well as social theories are riddled with mistakes Popper thinks the best way to advance socially is in a piecemeal fashion. This limits the harm any one man or theory or institution can do. For Popper society like philosophy and knowledge is the result of an ever renewed inquiry.

This is clearsighted and jargon free writing and these are model essays! ... Read more

5. Philosophy and the Real World: An Introduction to Karl Popper
by Bryan Magee
Paperback: 132 Pages (1985-07)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$14.86
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Asin: 0875484360
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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5-0 out of 5 stars Clear Introduction to Popper
This book provides a very short introduction to the ideas of Karl Popper; it was endorsed by Popper as an accurate reflection of his views. I became interested in this introduction after reading Magee's Confessions of a Philosopher: A Personal Journey Through Western Philosophy from Plato to Popper. The details in that book that interested me most related to Popper's philosophy of science along with his defense of a free society; these ideas are discussed in slightly more depth in this book.

The discussion regarding the proper role of scientific method as envisioned by Popper and contrasted with the traditional role is one that I found to be of particular interest and would recommend to any others who are involved or interested in scientific pursuits. Popper believed that scientific laws can never be proven (verified), but that they can be refuted (falsified) such that the best scientific theories are those that are highly falsifiable (hence, highly testable). From this standpoint, growth in scientific knowledge comes through finding instances where our existing theories are not applicable; therefore, in some sense, it is more admirable for a scientist to prove a theory wrong than it is to show that it holds for a certain condition. Popper claimed, "The wrong view of science betrays itself in craving to be right." Magee comments that such an outlook is liberating even outside the sciences since it promotes the idea that "...shortcomings are to be actively sought out, not concealed or passed over...critical comment from others, far from being resented, is an invaluable aid to be insisted on and welcomed."

As far as the political ideas of Popper are concerned, he thought that free and open societies were the ideal for purely practical reasons--quite apart from moral considerations. Popper argued that societies which encouraged the free exchange of ideas and criticisms were more efficient at improving themselves than were those societies that restricted the flow of information and ideas. As Magee summarizes, "...not only do authorities which forbid critical examination of their policies condemn themselves to making many of the mistakes in a more expensive form...[they] condemn themselves to pressing on with mistakes for some time after these have begun to produce injurious consequences. The whole approach, characteristic of highly authoritarian structures, is anti-rational."Popper saw the guiding principles for these open societies as being to "minimize avoidable suffering" and "maximize the freedom of individuals to live as they wish."

I found this book to be very enjoyable and easy to read. Magee is an excellent writer and illustrates concepts very clearly for the layperson. This book has increased my interest in Popper and I look forward to reading some of him first-hand. I would recommend this book for those interested in Popper, philosophy of science or political philosophy.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fine Overview
This is a lucid and concise overview of the philosophy of Karl Popper.Magee covers Popper's philosophy of science, philosophy of history, epistemology, and political philosophy in a series of well written chapters that also provide a reasonable amount of background information.The themes are Popper's emphasis on the provisional nature of knowledge, the important of vigorous criticism and falsification, constant questioning, and the importance of intellectual diversity.Magee is particularly concerned with demonstrating the underlying unity of Popper's thought and does a good job of connecting Popper's epistemology with his political philosophy.Magee's enthusiasm for Popper is obvious, perhaps to the extent of being a little uncritical.There are certainly precedents for Popper's fallibalist epistemology which Magee doesn't mention.Based on Magee's account, I don't think that Popper has really overcome the induction problem or that his evolutionism really rebuts empiricism.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magisterial introduction.
Bryan Magee summarizes in this small book superbly the work of Karl Popper: the elimination of the induction problem, the falsification criterion as a demarcation between science and non-science, the characterization of marxism as well as the Enlightment (the perfectibility of man) as historicisms, the responsibility of the individual.
The best possible introduction to the work of one of the most important philosophers of all times.

5-0 out of 5 stars unended tribute.
Karl Popper was the celebrated author of a good number of philosophy of science books. Reading this book by B Magee on Pooper one can follow very complex and far reching concepts of the man with ease. The clearity inwhich Mr Magee explores the key ideas on history, science andmethapisicsof him decerves praise. The books could have beena tiresome account ofPopper theories and abstract conceps butinsted is an engaging narrativeof ideas and their crucial inportance in the history of scientificdiscovery and the relation to history it self. Karl Pooper decerves to beread more and Brian Magee has given us to oportunity to know why. Mageeknew Popper well (Confessions of a philosopher), and not only he loved him,but respect him most for his thoughts and inteligence. After reading thisintroduction ofPopper ideas one can not help doing the same for both ofthem. ... Read more

6. The Open Society and Its Enemies (Routledge Classics) (Vol 2)
by Karl Popper
Hardcover: 480 Pages (2006-01-26)
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Asin: 0415290635
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Written in political exile during the Second World War and first published in 1945, Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. Hailed by Bertrand Russell as a 'vigorous and profound defence of democracy', its now legendary attack on the philosophies of Plato, Hegel and Marx exposed the dangers inherent in centrally planned political systems. Popper's highly accessible style, his erudite and lucid explanations of the thought of great philosophers and the recent resurgence of totalitarian regimes around the world are just three of the reasons for the enduring popularity of The Open Society and Its Enemies, and for why it demands to be read both today and in years to come. This is the second of two volumes of The Open Society and Its Enemies. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great read.
In this volume, Popper argues against what he calls the prophesies of historicism, and in particular the historicist prophesies of Marx.Of course, Marx didn't view his model of the progression of society as a prophesy but rather as a science grounded in observation.But Popper argues extensively that Marx's historicism cannot be a science.However, one argument that Popper does *not* resort to is that history has proved that Marx's socialism was inferior - simply because that would be resorting to an historicist argument!

One key argument Popper puts forth against Marx is that his model of the progression of society failed to predict that there were more options open to society than just unrestrained capitalism and socialism - that is, Marx's model failed to predict the interventionism (or social engineering) that derailed the drive toward socialism in the western world.Or perhaps it was not so much that Marx failed to predict interventionism, but rather that he simply denied its possibility. That is, Marx was certain that no amount of rational action could ever untrack the revolution from unrestrained capitalism to socialism - socialism was, quite simply, the fate of human society.

And therein lies Popper's distaste for historicism.He sees historicism not as harmless but as dangerous.It is dangerous precisely because it leads people to discard rational thought and action in favor of submission to fate and destiny.

Throughout, Popper advocates democracy.In his view, democracy is the most desirable of the political systems invented by humankind primarily because it lends itself to reform - to peaceful revolution. Another criticism he has of Marx is that Marx always left open the possibility that the socialist revolution would be violent if necessary, even if it required a violent overthrow of a democracy.In Popper's estimation, this would be begging for totalitarianism (if you were to violently oust the democratically elected representatives, who would you replace them with?!).In Popper's opinion, violent revolution should only ever be considered in cases where peaceful reform is not an option (i.e., in anything but a democracy).

In wrapping up, Popper waxes philosophic with respect to reason.In doing so, he proposes an interesting definition of rationality: for Popper, rationality is a social process in which individuals participate to achieve consensus.In science, this consensus is on theory; in politics, this consensus is on action.This is in stark contrast to other notions of rationality, such as the Platonic notion that rationality is a personal achievement.Popper argues that the Platonic notion of rationality leads to elitism and aristocratic/caste thinking - it leads one to ask totalitarian questions such as "who should have the power?"; whereas he argues that his notion of rationality leads to egalitarianism, to hearing one another's views and arguments, to respect for one another as individuals - it leads us all to ask democratic questions such as "how should power be controlled?"

Add to this the readability and understandability of Popper's prose, and it's a philosophical page-turner if there ever was one.

5-0 out of 5 stars A famous book
This is a well known classic written more than 60 years ago that even our commonplace and leftist noise dominated cultural environment could not silence, therefore it needs no recommendation. Without any professional gobble-dy-gook, in a language and with a argumentation immediately comprehensible to anybody, as well as with the uninhibited boldness of a child, Popper unveils two idols, two big enemies of freedom: Plato and Marx, and puts them where they belong.

Efraim Israel

4-0 out of 5 stars I'm perplexed
Popper rakes Plato over the coals and dismisses Hegel as a charlatan. Then he treats Marx with kid gloves. What gives? The saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions is all too true and Popper upholds this view when he talks about unintended consequences. If you look at Marx's political action you also discover that he was opposed to the Anarchists, the libertarian branch of socialism. I just can't make heads or tails of the different approach that Popper takes to these various purveyors of totalitarianism. Maybe Popper is only dealing with Marx the thinker, not Marx the politican. I'm much more concerned with the evil after effects of Marxist doctrine. Still today dictators use Marx as an excuse for their bestiality.

On a different issue, Popper argues that a theory can never be proven, only falsified and that we use the theory until we find a better one to replace it. In Chapter 24, The Revolt Against Reason, Popper argues against the idea of society being superior to individual humans. For Popper society is just the sum of its parts (with no surplus value). When Popper argues with members of society, it is only a one-on-one dialog. Modern science has a very different view. For the Science of Complexity, the sum of the competing actions of the members of society creates a moving "fitness landscape" that in turn influences the outcome of these actions. In this view, society is more than the sum of its parts and it does influence members as a collective more than as a one-on-one dialog as Popper has it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Worth it for the discussion of Marxism
Popper's criticism of Marxist thought is the real payoff of the two volumes of this work.He writes with a passion that is at times overwrought - especially when teeing off against Plato and Hegel.Whether his criticism of their views is on the mark is incidental to the attack on Marx, and I leave it to the scholars of each to debate the merits of his critique.What Popper brings to the table is a clear exposition of his ideas.He makes a solid case for "social engineering" (an accurate but unfortunate term) as both a description of the past century and a prescription for addressing the problems with economic and social systems.This is a valuable and challenging book which will reward the reader willing to think through Popper's analysis.

5-0 out of 5 stars Philosophy of History: Prove untruth, not truth
To Popper, science is a process of "conjectures and refutations"-- advancing bold conjectures about the state of the world and then trying to refute them. "Even in the study of history, objectivity should be sought in the institutions and traditions of a discipline. It is only through the give and take of open criticism and the ongoing interplay of many different kinds of biases that anything approaching objectivity will emerge." Thus, "truth" is seen as a hypothesis--you can't prove truth, you can only prove untruth. This is because one cannot know everything, therefore, nothing can be proved to be true.
Open societies, in Popper's definition, with their ideals of freedom and reason, of men who may create their own future, are opposed to the regimes of authoritarianism and totalitarianism.Hegel and Marx are the main focus of the book. Aristotle built his theory on Plato; Hegel on Aristotle; Marx on Hegel. Popper is concerned with their philosophies of history. A philosophy of history is an attempt to interpret systematically the historical process by a principle that unifies the results of research and points to an "ultimate meaning" behind the process. It involves systematic reflection on scientifically derived data about the past. All the parts are unified to form a whole with "ultimate meaning."
It was thus not Marx's historicist method which led him to success, but instead the "methods of institutional analysis." In many democratic, capitalist countries production has been so great that theworkers have a higher standard of living than Marx ever envisaged. He also had an unrealistic view of human nature--that because man is born good, changing his environment will bring happiness. But this view ignores the universality of human imperfection, and the sacredness of personality that is lost in the communist state.

Yet, Popper claims that Marx has done Christianity a great service by pointing out the humanitarian demands of Christ. Popper made many generalizations about Christianity without describing the basic tenets that have made Christianity "the strongest opponent of Communism." Popper does not view Christianity as being a "substitute from dreams and wish--fulfillment; it should resemble neither the holding of a ticket in a lottery, nor the holding of a policy in an insurance company." Popper opposes a "leap in the dark" of faith, whether by Marxists probing the beginning of evolution, or by those experiencing a personal relationship with God. Faith is necessary, but it is to be based on a rational understanding of the difference between belief and fact, and the appropriate place for both.
... Read more

7. The Open Society and itsEnemies: The Spell of Plato (Routledge Classics) (Vol 1)
by Karl Popper
Hardcover: 432 Pages (2002-07-11)
list price: US$120.00 -- used & new: US$96.00
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Asin: 0415290627
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Written in political exile during the Second World War and first published in 1945, Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. Hailed by Bertrand Russell as a 'vigorous and profound defence of democracy', its now legendary attack on the philosophies of Plato, Hegel and Marx exposed the dangers inherent in centrally planned political systems. Popper's highly accessible style, his erudite and lucid explanations of the thought of great philosophers and the recent resurgence of totalitarian regimes around the world are just three of the reasons for the enduring popularity ofThe Open Society and Its Enemies, and for why it demands to be read both today and in years to come.
This is the first of two volumes of The Open Society and Its Enemies. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (37)

5-0 out of 5 stars Now More than Ever
There are spots in many of The Great Books that make me want to slap the author around a little, but that's OK -- it shows I'm thinking. Such as: just what is this man's problem with Aristotle? It isn't his fault that he was born before William of Occam, was it? Besides, Popper couldn't have read "The Politics" with the care he should have, or he'd have noticed that Aristotle specifically says that the worst possible form of government is a theocracy run by an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy. Guess who he was referring to. So if Plato really was the first totaltarian theorist, it's also the case that Aristotle's line of thought eventually resulted in the American constitution. Madison knew his Aristotle better than Popper did; but I'll just write this all off to Popper's pulling a classroom outrage to see if his students are awake.

So why is this books still so necessary? 1) Popper's defence of free speech and democratic process gets right in your face. Briefly: the history of science is mostly the history of peple being wrong, and since democratic process is the political equivalent to scientific method, we need democracy, not because "the people's will" is usually right, but for the reverse reason: because it's often wrong. I can't see how this can be answered. Popper shows you can be an intellectual elitist and a radic-lib populist at once. 2) Once you've "gotten" Popper, you can smell an ideologue a mile away; and just as important, you can easily grasp WHY Arendt's way of defining her terms in the monumental,and equally necesary, "Ideology and Terror" are the only appropriate way to do it. And you don't even have to slog your way through Arendt's Wagnerian prose; she was even more erudite than Popper, but she never got over being German. 3) Popper's book is a reproach to, and an antidote to, the Rousseauvian mish-mash of sentiments that liberalism seems to have become with the advent of PC. Consequently, such people as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq have taken up the Popper standard, and are carrying it into the current battle-of the-books against what Salman Rushdie calls, and rightly, "The New Totalitarianism." Just check my review of John Esposito's recent cow-pie and you'll see why.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Thank you so much for the speedy delivery of this book - it was in excellent condition upon receipt.

5-0 out of 5 stars Karl Popper and the Cap and Trade Bill
I have just read volume one of Karl Popper's Open Society and Its Enemies and have been raving about it all over the Internet.I have heard parts of it repeated in watered down ways, and that is a testimony to the power of his work, that so many quote or refer to it without knowing that they are doing so, because they have heard his ideas second or third hand.

I am a philosophical libertarian and Popper was not.I would call him a Progressive in the Herbert Croly sense.I think his belief that small scale experimentation might work is a good one, though, and is very, very distant from today's "progressives" who never saw a large scale program that they could not support or a philosopher king whom they could not worship, most recently President Barack Hussein Obama.

The recent cap and trade law exemplifies the huge distance between Popper's picture of gradual experimentation and social engineering with the radical, single sweep mentality of today's left-wing "progressives".The cap and trade bill would implement radical, strict regulations on housing, for instance, without any information about what the true effects of such regulations would be on the economy. A central czar, the cap and trade administrator, presumably a demigod in the eyes of the Democratic Party with knowledge of the Pythagorean global warming number, would be empowered to dictate a federal housing code.Any interest in deliberation, debate or local control would be squashed by the federal authorities. Like good Platonists, when the Democrats have recently been confronted with e-mails that document that the global warming research at the Anglia Research Center on which most of the arguments for cap and trade are based has been falsified, they shrug their shoulders and do not care. Like Plato's guardian class, the American media and academic establishment do not care if they are advocating lies.They just go ahead and advocate them, and count on the blind obedience of their Democratic minions and their willingness to goose step behind them.

The analogies between Plato and today's Democratic proposals do not stop there. Plato was the first to use propagandistic lying to claim that he was an altruist when in fact he was a collectivist. Popper outlines the distinction and the immense harm to history that Plato caused by confusing altruism and collectivism.It took Adolf Hitler and Alexander Solzhenitsyn to wake us libertarians up.American "progressives", including Popper's famous student, George Soros, remain committed to the use of lying and propaganda in the defense of the confusion of collectivism and altruism. This confusion remains an important soporific tool in maintaining the sleep of collectivist Democrats, who had done immense harm to America in the name of altruism, but are nothing more than selfish collectivists, beginning with the self-interested movements of unions and government employees. Thus, authoritarian, centrally imposed laws like cap and trade are marketed as the product of "deliberation" by today's Democratic Party totalitarians.

4-0 out of 5 stars brilliant analysis
Karl Popper had two different views of the social science. The first view is the historicism view, which included the theory of Heraclitus and Platon. Heraclitus said that everything is in a state of flux and he believed in the law of fate. Platon believed in Heraclitus too. He wanted to stop the declining process by establishing the perfect state. The perfect state is the best in the line of different states. The poisoning of the perfect state shows the process of decline. In which Popper explained the theory of Platon. His forms and ideas are explaining the process. If you want to retain the perfect state, you must establish a pure race. Every form of individuality must be controlled that a degeneration of the perfect state is impossible.
The open society was his second view of social science. His social technique is different from the view of Platon. It is a status quo orientated view. He thinks that every person is his owe fate and that the process of history is not predetermined from a different point in the past. He wants to create a social system which serves the people and gives them the freedom for a liberal state. He showed the differences between the closed society and the open society. The enemy of the open society is the totalitarianism. He showed it in an excellent way.

5-0 out of 5 stars Plato Digest
To explain my point of view I want to make it clear that I'm not a scholar, much less a Greek scholar. As a fairly well read person I have heard snippets and sound bites about Plato, Athens, Sparta and other Greek cities and personalities. I have to thank Nassim Nicholas Taleb for getting me interested in Karl Popper.

I have yet to read volume 2 but volume 1 has been a wonderful introduction to Plato and Socrates in digest form complete with critical commentary. I'm eager to see Hegel and Marx deconstructed.

I'm curious what Popper might have to say about present day America with its Patriot Act, War On Drugs, IRS, DEA and other repressive state agencies. Has it ceased to be an Open Society? ... Read more

8. The Poverty of Historicism (Routledge Classics)
by Karl Popper
Paperback: 176 Pages (2002-03-29)
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Asin: 0415278465
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Hailed on publication in 1957 as "probably the only book published this year that will outlive the century," this is a brilliant of the idea that there are fixed laws in history and that human beings are able to predict them. ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
For Popper's fans, this is a great reading. It's a classic, and the philosopher of science makes his point about historicism.
Excellent choice!

5-0 out of 5 stars It is impossible to know and control what people think (B. Spinoza)
In this book, Karl Popper explains his vision on the course of history, on historical determinism, and on the theories of Descartes, Poincaré and Duhem.

The course of history
For K. Popper, evolution in history is never dominated by theories, although they may exert some influence, at the same time many other less rational or even completely irrational factors are at work.

Historicism (Engels, Marx, Spencer, J.S. Mill, K. Mannheim)
Historicism is that part of social sciences which considers historical predictions as its main objective. It pretends that this goal can be achieved if we discover the 'laws' or 'trends' that underlie historical developments.
Karl Popper rejects this approach for the following reasons: the course of human history depends heavily on the increase of human knowledge. We can not rationally or scientifically predict this increase. So, we can not determine the future course of history. Developing a theoretical history which is the equivalent of theoretical physics, is impossible.

Descartes, Poincaré, Duhem, essentialism
For Descartes, the principles and premises of deductive systems must be certain ('clear and distinct'). For K. Popper, these principles are only provisory, are only hypotheses. Popper does not agree either with Poincaré and Duhem, for which some systems may not be subjected to empirical tests. A world of universals (essentialism) doesn't exist, only a world of real objects (nominalism).

Popper's proposition of piecemeal adjustments (not revolutions) in the social sphere has been heavily criticized. One critic even asked how a HIV plague can be attacked by piecemeal interventions. But, in fact, the HIV plague was attacked in a piecemeal manner; first by individual drugs, then by cocktails.

This defense of indeterminism is a must for all historians and for all Popper fans.

The best introduction to Popper's philosophy is Bryan Magee's `Philosophy and the Real World. An Introduction to Karl Popper'.

5-0 out of 5 stars Non expert summary of the book
1. Historicism is a term that was invented by Karl Popper. He did it on purpose to prevent confusion with any other existing term.
2. The book is about methodology of social science but of course most of the conclusions are about the nature of social science.
3. He seeks to refute the two core arguments that are advanced to show that social science is not like science.
4. The anti naturalist doctrine says social science is not like science because unlike in science we cannot really follow the hypothesis>experiment>conclusion> refinement of hypothesis cycle. Various reasons are offered for this such as being unable to experiment, complexity of social science (includes biology, psychology etc.), novelty (every situation is unique because of the `uncertainty principle') and the fact that social experiments is not worth doing in a piecemeal fashion because their generalisability is very less.
5. The naturalist doctrine on the other hand looks at social science as being similar to astronomy (global laws which explain everything about the universe and cannot be disobeyed or overturned no matter what we do) and says that laws of social science can be found. These laws are not accurate in the short term but work very well in the long term across periods of history and in fact are necessary to be able to make out the transition between different periods of stages of history as the deeper content of each of these stages cannot be known with accuracy. Also these laws can be solely understood by studying the history that is records of past events. These laws are called Holism by Popper and he shows that even in the anti naturalist doctrine holism is popular because it is used as a constant between the various stages of history (which in the short term cannot be analysed and predicted).
6. The holism is central to historicism and leads to a position where in the short term we cannot do anything about social sciences in the manner of being able to rationally change and predict the consequences but in the long term we have to ensure that we are in tune with the tide of history as revealed by laws such which have roots in Plato's republic and the Marx's march of the proletariat etc. The only proactive thing we can do is to hasten the transition of various stages or change our values and beliefs to be in tune(Marx ...reduce the birthing pangs in contrast to his call to action of changing history rather than interpret it).
7. So what will work according to Popper :
a. In terms of experiments he suggests piecemeal engineering that is based on the scientific method. He says that scientific experiments may look on the surface easier to setup and control as compared to social experiments but this is because we are usually comparing a limited scope experiment to one on a large scale. If the scientific experiment was on the large scale as is expected in a social context it would be just as difficult.
b. Also large scale social experiments such as centralised planning are actually not helpful in understating cause and effect because it is very hard to learn from very large failures .Specifically with respect to planning they cannot centralise knowledge and control all kinds of relationships. To get around this they use propaganda and fear which defeats the purpose of seeing whether planning works to better the society as it stood before the start of the "experiment".
c. In a large scale social change recognise that often one can only offer interpretations based on various point of views(e.g. capitalist) and the starting conditions ( equivalent to initial conditions)as opposed try to come up with a set of unchanging laws that this large scale event seems to justify (e.g. Russian Revolution.
d. He rejects the holism argument and march of history as he says that there are no laws of social science that can be gleaned by studying many separate events. There is just a trend and a trend has to be explained by multiple laws. The mistake of historicism is to see trends as laws.
e. So even if these multiple laws were there they would not be that relevant because other than in fields such as theoretical physics ( law of gravity) the laws themselves act as background to solving a practical problem rather than being the cause of the practical problem (e.g. prediction of earthquakes in a place is not going to be found out by applying the law of gravity although any hypothesis must be consistent with gravity).
f. So to solve these practical problems we can take the piecemealengineering approach by formulating the hypothesis as negative statements ( e.g. progress in science cannot occur in a totalitarian regime). These can then be tested using the experimental approach.
g. We should take a technological view of social science (build a building to guard against a storm)as opposed to a theoretical view ( explain the occurrence of storms in a location over 30 years).
h. The poverty of historicist is a poverty of imagination as it says that there cannot be a scientific approach to social science but at the same time there are absolute and unchanging laws - called essentialism on the lines of Plato's Republic (that only a few people understand ) which TODAY (this generation, this period in history where the historicist is)are operatingfar quicker than ever before because of the "pace of progress".

5-0 out of 5 stars He sees a fundamental truth of the human situation
Popper's argument hereand his general view are somewhat surprisingly in synch with that of American Pragmatic philosophy. Elements of surprise, of creative newness are what for Pragmatists make the human future, history itself as a whole fundamentally unpredictable. Popper argues in this work that total theories such as Marxism which claim to contain within themselves the true course and outcome of history, are by their very nature, mistaken. A total predictability of history is impossible in part because the prediction itself effects the actors, but also because of unseen, and unforeseeable elements which come with our always imperfect knowledge. The position taken here by Popper is in consonance with his own defense of the Open Society, and human freedom- other major elements of his thought.
Popper sees here a fundamental truth of the human situation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazon reader
Do you have a deep down, hard to enunciate, disquiet with the level of debate in the broad area of social theory and "social engineering"? Do you feel that many of the claims and pronouncements made by social theorists (of any political disposition) are unjustified, but do not really know why you feel that way? If so, this book is a useful starting point for an examination of the problem.

In it, Popper develops the argument that "Historicism" (the term has more than one meaning in different contexts) as he defines it is a flawed approach, and that it is not a justifiable base for the sweeping claims of the historicist. To Popper, historicism is the concept that, by examination of history, we are able to define the rules that govern social change and hence are able to predict those changes. His initial impetus to look into this area was a critical evaluation of Marx - see his essay "How I became a philosopher without really trying" published in "All life is problem solving".

In its simplest form, Popper's argument is the observation that observation of the past does not allow one to accurately predict the future. This may seem to be a fairly obvious statement, but it is worth keeping in mind as he develops the various arguments that make up the case for and against historicism.

Popper's philosophy is often overlooked, perhaps because he attempts to limit himself to goals that he can reasonably achieve. He is a very prominent figure in the philosophy of science, and much of his epistemology relates to the methodology of the empirical sciences, and hence to direct observation, and the relationship of observation to development and testing of theories. Perhaps because he is not too ambitious, his philosophy is less "sexy". It is, however, eminently reasonable, and avoids many of the great stumbling blocks of traditional Western philosophy - for example, the problem of induction and infinite regress.

This book is non-technical, and is accessible to those with little formal philosophical training. It addresses the dominant paradigm in social engineering, and suggests why we may be unhappy with that paradigm. ... Read more

9. Lesson of this Century : With Two Talks on Freedom and the Democratic State
by Karl Popper
Paperback: 112 Pages (2000-05)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$20.00
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Asin: 0415129591
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In these compelling interviews given shortly before his death in 1994, Karl Popper warns us against the increasing violence and egoism that threaten our democratic society. Believing that the philosopher has a duty to intervene in politics, he utters a clear call for all of us to rise to the challenge of finding solutions to our environmental problems, preventing the violence engendered by our society, and preserving our democratic system while paving the way for global peace. Now in paperback, The Lesson of This Century reveals the brilliance of Popper's thought on a range of twentieth century topics as he reminds us that our actions are of great consequence in shaping the future of the world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Freedom
In these interviews with Giancarlo Bosetti, Karl Popper gives us a rare appreciation of current political events, like the Cuba crisis of 1962, Gorbachev's Russia, the fall of the Marxist regimes in Eastern Europe or the Balkan problem (ethnic identity as a State doctrine).

His main purpose is individual liberty (freedom of opposition, democracy). The other side of the French Revolution coin, equality, endangers freedom; and if freedom is lost, there will not be equality among the unfree.

This is not to say that there should be absolute freedom. Human beings, and certainly the intellectuals, have moral obligations.
But his hope in intellectual honesty has been bitterly betrayed. The intellectuals invented the most terrible harm: mass exterminations in the name of an idea, a doctrine or a theory.

For Popper, the main problems in the modern world are the search for peace, demographic responsibility (stop the demographic explosion) and good education. At this level, his plea for media censorship is at least controversial. But for him, a message of non-violence is a moral must towards our children.

This book should be read as an example of how one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century proposes solutions for world problems within his philosophical framework and that of other important predecessors like Kant and Mill.
Not to be missed. ... Read more

10. The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism
by Karl Popper, John C. Eccles
Paperback: 616 Pages (1984-03-29)
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Asin: 0415058988
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Distinguished philosopher Sir Karl Popper and Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Sir John Eccles argue the case for a highly distinctive view of the relation of mind and body. ... Read more

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John Eccles (1903-1997) was an Australian neurophysiologist who shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the synapse.Karl Popper (1902-1994) was an Austro-British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics, and one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century.

They state in the Preface to this 1977 book, "The problem of the relation between our bodies and our minds, and especially of the link between brain structures and processes on the one hand and mental dispositions and events on the other is an exceedingly difficult one. Without pretending to be able to foresee future developments, both authors of this book think it improbable that the problem will ever be solved, in the sense that we shall really understand this relation. We think that no more can be expected than to hope to make a little progress here or there. We have written this book in the hope that we have been able to do so."They go on to state, "it may be well to mention at once one important difference between the authors: a difference in religious belief. One of us (Eccles) is a believer in God [he was Catholic] and the supernatural, while the other (Popper) may be described as an agnostic."

Here are some representative quotations from the book:

KP: "The most reasonable view seems to be that consciousness is an emergent property of animals arising under the pressure of natural selection (and therefore only after the evolution of a mechanism of reproduction)."
KP: "We know that, but we do not know HOW, mind and body interact; ... Nor do we know how mental events interact, unless we believe in a theory of mental events and their interaction which is almost certainly false: in associationism."
JE: "One of us---at 18 years old---had a sudden overwhelming experience. He wrote no account of it, but his life was changed because it aroused his intense interest in the brain-mind problem. As a consequence he has spent his life in the neural sciences with some continuing involvement in philosophy."
JE: "It can be claimed that the strong dualist-interactionist hypothesis that has been here developed has the recommendation of its great explanatory power. It gives in principle at least explanations of the whole range of problems relating to brain-mind interaction. It also aids in the understanding of some aspects of memory and illusion and creative imagination... But most importantly it restores to the human person the senses of wonder, of mystery and of value."
KP: "(A)s fas as parallelism CAN be achieved, we should try to get parallelism between mind and matter; only it breaks down somewhere, and interaction has to come in. Of course, we should at first operate with a kind of minimum interaction."
JE: "So I am constrained to believe that there is what we might call a supernatural origin of my unique self-conscious mind or my unique selfhood or soul; and that gives rise of course to a whole new set of problems... By this idea of a supernatural creation I escape from the incredible improbability that the uniqueness of my own self is genetically determined. There is the experienced self that requires this hypothesis of an independent origin of the self or soul, which is then associated with a brain, that becomes my brain. That is how the self comes to act as a self-conscious mind, working with the brain in all the ways that we have been discussing, receiving and giving to it and doing a marvellous integrating and driving and controlling job on the neural machinery of the brain."

5-0 out of 5 stars A classic and actual book in the mind-body problem
Popper does not need any presentation, nor any apologetics. I just pretend to say a few words about this impressive book under the prism of the current mind-body philosophy.

I asked to my professor of mind-body philosophy if I could study Popper, and he told me "no, no, he is too complicated with his 3 worlds theory". Instead, he wanted me to study Kim Jaegwon, the hey day mind-body philosopher. I did it, but Kim represents a very narrow philosophy, in my opinion. Finally, I went to Popper, and I feel like home. I tell you why. Excellent and plain prose, focusing on the central problems from the very beginning, and impressive understanding of vast regions of knowledge, Popper does not hesitate in emitting a judgment about a certain theory, a humanistic thought.

His opponents will say that is a personal book, somehow oldie, overcome by recent books. But I don't agree. You will find in Popper a sound critic of: materialism as the deafault position in mind-body philosophy; a very interesting critic to the identity theory; interesting thought and critics about philosophical reduction; why does not help to equate minds to computers; how we are to understand correctly perception; etc. All this critics are still very pertinent to current mind-body philosophy. Popper is all the time offering arguments: I don't like that argument because of that; I like it because of that; that's my argument in defence of my position, etc. (Compare it with the ugly and difficult prose of Kim, for instance, where you are to find arguments camouflaged in a vegetation of long dissertations on history and ontology, whatever this words my be.)

On the other hand, Popper offers also his positive solution, a very interesting one which, I believed, needs to be considered carefully and with sympathy.

5-0 out of 5 stars About the origin of the free will
Eccles and Popper are not alone in their strugle against established scienctific thinking, mostly based on the axioms of a materialistic aporach to reality. Dietrich Henrich is one of the most underrated philosophers of our times and needs to be mentioned here on the side of the two.
I say so because he has the capacity to explain the issues of the most prominent German philosophers, especially in that case where some of their most imminent statements were ignored today by sheer false interpretation on the bases of wrong set axioms.
Henrich is a purporter and adviser to understand the will as subject, not as a willful" object, as many materialists do. There are still a lot of them among brain- researchers who think according to the Credo of evolutionists.
This is in contrary of what brain-researcher and Nobel prize winner John Eccles and Philosopher Karl Popper stated in union. For them the brains was nothing more than a piano on which the piano player Spirit played. Even Eccles had experiments which should prove, if not that there must be something like the non-material entity, that there must be the nonsense of a molecular-limited personality.
Man is not a mere gathering of molecules, instead in first line an acting personality. The molecules serve at last this purpose and lack self-purpose. The same goes for the brains. It is nothing more than an organ. It is not what makes man.
Meanwhile there are many such experiments with the same result. The brains is capable of much, but not everything. For Popper, Eccles and Henrich it has been clear that the Thinking, if it wants to conceive itself as originating from material, contradicts its own existence. Worse than that these commitments in thinking lead to chaos, from which it stems thanks to evolution.
But by far not all brain-researcher share this opinion. For Popper, Henrich and Eccles and presumably most normal thinkers it is difficult to understand how one can cling to theories when the facts contradict. That is also true for interpretation of data from experiments. For example in one test the probates had to press the keys of a computer keybord at their own will. They were free to choose whatever key they liked.
It could be expected that in case of a pure materialistic procedure of the sense registration and sense processing it would at first start with an activity of the brains because of the activating of the will to press a certain key. Next would follow the pressing of the key and the feedback of the senses hat the pressing was done, accompanied by the activity of the brains to process the information.
Astonishingly it has to be stated, that only after the pressing of the keys, or better after the decision of the will of the probate to press the key, there was any brains activity.
Everybody would take this as hint, that the will of man is not at all at home in the brains, but in a spirit that can not be found or proved in a material world with material means. Already the popular scientist Hoimar v. Dithfurt noticed that there is no reasonable denying of a non- material spirit.
Yet it would not have fallen from heaven but has so to say developed out of the material world. It is strange that the evolution purporters try a reinterpretation of the data. They do take for granted, that the will of man must be in the brains. So if after the pressing of the keybord activity in the brain is measurable it means simply that the human will is not free! This a dangerous misapprehension on which Henrich wants to hint. Science seems not to be able on certain (?) fields to think clearly, because she is hanging at their wrong axioms and apparently not getting free.
If man had no free will, instead everything is materially predetermined, he would have no more responsibility for his works. Can we hear out of this the old lie of the serpent which propagated the same consequences for human wrong behaviour? "Not at all you will be called to account!" Hitler and Stalin were no human monsters and Osama Bin Laden is not. They acted due to accidents by natural laws in the reach of molecules. We cannot help those who believe that!

3-0 out of 5 stars Is this Good Science?
This book presents a very odd spectacle -- grown philosophers discussing a dualist theory of mind/brain interaction that is strikingly similar to L Ron Hubbard's theory of Thetan/meat interaction. It's especially appalling that Eccles drew the mind/brain line at precisely the point where the neuroscience of the day ended: we can find cells for feature recognition, so that's in the brain; we can't find cells for 3D object recognition, so that's in the mind. You would think that Popper's theories of what makes good science would reject this kind of thinking. Is the Mind of this book even falsifiable?

On the other hand, Eccles' section two is a well-written and unusually readable summary of brain research.

2-0 out of 5 stars Overall disapointing and very open-ended.
This is a book in three parts. The first, is on the self; written by philosopher of science Karl Popper. The second is on the brain; written by neurologist John Eccles. The third part is transcript of dialogues between the two. But here's the thing. They are both body/mind interactionists, or shall we say, dualists living in a world of materialism.

First, my obligitory disclosure. Eccles section is slow going if you are not well familiar with brain science, so my review focuses on section one and three. (I tried to read Eccles section, but it proved too much.)

Popper starts off by distinguishing three 'worlds' (not literal, but metaphorical) of things. World 1 is the world of physical matter; world 2 is the world of subjective thought; and world 3 is that of objective thought (thought translated into language, creative product or something else 'apart' from your subject. He then tackles what he regards as mistaken philosophies in the traditions of materialism and paralellism. As the book was written in 1977, most of the views he tackles - like the behaviorist assertion that mind doesn't really exist but as impulses - no one really believes anymore. As a result, much of this is not very exciting.

Both his section and the final section of dialogue between Eccles and Popper are very slow going in that Popper, in particular, rehashes his views on mind/brain interaction, the 3 worlds of thought and other previously published scientific views without explaining them or their relevance to his dualism as well as he could have. In the end, I was left wondering a.) is what Popper and Eccles wrote here all that interesting?; and b.) is it at all contreversial? In the end, I answered "no" to the first question - after all, even those of us who profess materialism are, in daily life, practicing dualists. To the second question, I answer "yes". Much of what Popper has to say is going to strike the reader as contreversial. I just don't think it - particularly his 'three worlds' theory - will strike her as relevant or accurate. ... Read more

11. Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach
by Karl R. Popper
Paperback: 390 Pages (1972-11-09)
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Asin: 0198750242
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The essays in this volume represent an approach to human knowledge that has had a profound influence on many recent thinkers.Popper breaks with a traditional commonsense theory of knowledge that can be traced back to Aristotle. A realist and fallibilist, he argues closely and in simple language that scientific knowledge, once stated in human language, is no longer part of ourselves but a separate entity that grows through critical selection. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

3-0 out of 5 stars Book Review
Bought this book with lot of enthusiasm. Once I started reading it, half way through, was disappointed by the mindless repetitiveness of the writer. In my opinion, it is just a waste of time to read this book and doesn't offer much value to the reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truth is simply correspondence with the facts
In these important essays, Karl Popper discusses Hume's problem (induction), Tarski's philosophical achievements, Wittgenstein's language problem, his three worlds and all sorts of `isms'.

Hume's problem
Hume noted that, however great the number of repetitions, man cannot justify the reasoning that an experience will lead again to the same outcome (no induction). But, why do reasonable people believe it?Out of `custom or habit', without which man would hardly survive.
Popper's solution for the problem is `deduction'. People function within a theoretical framework and should continue to do so as long as the framework has not been falsified or improved.

Alfred Tarski
Tarski's philosophical importance is immense.
He demonstrated that truth is simply correspondence with the facts.
Moreover, he showed that any language contains descriptions of facts and a meta-language which contains statements about these facts. He solved, thereby, the liar's paradox.

For Wittgenstein, a proposition is a picture of reality. More, it is impossible to discuss the relationship between language and reality, because language cannot be discussed by language.
As Ray Monk explained in his brilliant book about Wittgenstein, language was not the centre of Wittgenstein's preoccupations, but ethics. Language was only a useful tool in order to speak clearly about ethical problems.

Three Worlds
For Karl Popper, our universe is composed by three worlds: the physical world, the world of our mental experiences and an objective world (our actual knowledge written down in books, on hard disks, on visual displays ...)
But, as W. Van Orman Quine astutely remarked: why do we need world 2? It is the same as world 1. Popper rejected categorically physicalism.

Popper lambastes rightly the megalomania of many philosophers who cover their `incompetence' in obscure, would-be highbrow sentences and abstractions.
All philosophic texts should be written in simple, lucid and easily comprehensible language, as used in these texts.

This book is a must read for all those interested in the (philosophical) world we live in.

5-0 out of 5 stars The promised land of world 3
Popper displays here his so called "third philosophy", that goes around the world 1, world 2 and world 3. This is not a very popular topic in Popper scholarship, in part because it is his late philosophy and it is not constructed under a systematic manner as the other two were (The Logic of Scientific Discovery and The Open Society).

Still, much than a mature and finished philosophy is a programmatic start up. You will find isolated papers, conferences that Popper offered in his last years, more or less happily ensembled by the editor. But there is much more in the rear that it would seem at a first glance. The impact on deep consideration of the influences between the different worlds and, especially, between the world 3 and the other two, is something that still has not been done.

Only 9 years ago, for instance, the Peruvian guru De Soto published an interesting book, The Mistery of the Capital, where he stresses that poverty is mainly caused not because poors in the world do not have assets; but instead because these assets are not "visible" to the international markets because they do not have appropriate titles of property universally accepted. In popperian terminology: because their assets only exist in the world 1 and world 2, but not in world 3.

World 3 is still a promised land to be discovered. Poppers work is an adequate beginning if you want to change the situation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Paradigm Shift in Major Key -- Not for Beginners
This collection of short essays by a Jew in refuge from Hitler's Nazism is among the most influential works this Gentile has ever read. I wonder why it is not equally valued by the Zionists?

Popper's principal theories are summarized in this excellent compendium, save his political and pseudo-scientific discourses. Popper is eminently accessible, one of the most lucid and articulate philosophers since Aristotle, superseding even Hume and Russell. But for all his accessibility, he is still a major challenge, not because he's difficult to read, but because he's turned Marx, Freud, historicism, psychologism, sociology, etc., and the pseudo-sciences on their heads.

Yet, for his radical insights, he still remains controversial -- largely because he accepts "Hume's Problem of Induction" for what it truly is: A major problem for those disciplines dependent on it. Not unlike Darwin, whom Popper fully embraces and models many of his insights, seeing the world through Popper's lens is both liberating -- and difficult for many individuals who are steeped in essentialism and mythology. Popper is unopposed to those individuals, he simply operates on a much more rigorous plane of intelligibility.

This work would NOT be the work to start Popper with, although it is clear and concise in every respect. I recommend David Miller's "Popper Selections" for several reasons. First, the "chunks" in Miller's edition are much smaller and easier to digest than these compendious writings. Second, Miller's edition is broader is scope and function and gives the reader a broader sense of how revolutionary and yet radical Popper is. Third, Miller's work introduces these same subjects in smaller portions so that the dazzling mind of Popper is fully on display.

Once that task is accomplished, this book refines, elaborates, and develops more concretely the epistemological concerns which are the bedrock of all Popper's works, and why he represents such critical risks to the metaphysicians practicing their voodoo.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
Many reviewers have already put down a lot of information and advice on this book which I agree with and endorse. Karl Popper = brilliant philosopher of science, and his epistemology is pretty provocative. This book is about that epistemology.

I just wanted to point out, though, that Popper did not originate the idea of "Three Worlds" as most of the reviewers here seem to assert. He picked it up from Frege and ran with it. If you want the astounding arguments and proofs for the existence of said "Three Worlds," read "On Sense and Reference" and "Thought" by Frege--you can probably find both articles for free, online. If not, pick up virtually any anthology of analytic philosophy--they should be in there. ... Read more

12. Popper: The Great Philosophers (The Great Philosophers Series)
by F. Raphael
Paperback: 64 Pages (1999-07)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$6.95
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Asin: 0415923913
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Philosophy is one of the most intimidating and difficult of disciplines, as any of its students can attest. This book is an important entry in a distinctive new series from Routledge: The Great Philosophers. Breaking down obstacles to understanding the ideas of history's greatest thinkers, these brief, accessible, and affordable volumes offer essential introductions to the great philosophers of the Western tradition from Plato to Wittgenstein.In just 64 pages, each author, a specialist on his subject, places the philosopher and his ideas into historical perspective. Each volume explains, in simple terms, the basic concepts, enriching the narrative through the effective use of biographical detail. And instead of attempting to explain the philosopher's entire intellectual history, which can be daunting, this series takes one central theme in each philosopher's work, using it to unfold the philosopher's thoughts. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars fine distinctions
I love this book with the kind of feelings I get when I am not a highly medicated individual. I forgot to take my hypertension pill the day I got this book. Living in Saint Paul, Minnesota, under constant pressure to be disguised as a normal person, I usually forget how easy it is to hop on a bus over to Minneapolis, where the University of Minnesota pretends to be a major university. Not every bookstore in that area is limited to literature that is considered suitable for students to study at the highest levels of philosophical discourse. The copy of POPPER I found was published by Routledge (1999) with a credit to the 1997 Orion House edition and had a subtitle: Historicism and Its Poverty. This is an area of Karl Popper's thought that I find extremely interesting, the book was small and cheap, and I was not as concerned about understanding Karl Popper as much as a great philosopher as I was interested in the thoughts of someone who had witnessed stupendous times and tried to analyze them at a level of abstraction that might be useful in the present situation.

In a topic called HISTORICISM AND SOCIETY, there is a sufficient quotation from page 23 of THE POVERTY OF HISTORICISM which is sufficient to show the nature of Karl Popper's thinking:

the method of historical understanding does not only fit in with the ideas of holism. It also agrees very well with the historicist's emphasis on novelty; for novelty cannot be causally or rationally explained, but only intuitively grasped.

Rhetoric consists of the manipulation of worlds, and descriptions of situations carry the kind of weight which is implied by any understanding of Plato. The negative nature of Popper's understanding of Plato is clear, as is my negative view of the current situation when I call it the monetary mulch of America.

5-0 out of 5 stars fine distinctions
I forgot to take my hypertension pill the day I got this book. Living in Saint Paul, Minnesota, under constant pressure to be disguised as a normal person, I usually forget how easy it is to hop on a bus over to Minneapolis, where the University of Minnesota pretends to be a major university. Not every bookstore in that area is limited to literature that is considered suitable for students to study at the highest levels of philosophical discourse. The copy of POPPER I found was published by Routledge (1999) with a credit to the 1997 Orion House edition and had a subtitle: Historicism and Its Poverty. This is an area of Karl Popper's thought that I find extremely interesting, the book was small and cheap, and I was not as concerned about understanding Karl Popper as much as a great philosopher as I was interested in the thoughts of someone who had witnessed stupendous times and tried to analyze them at a level of abstraction that might be useful in the present situation.

In a topic called HISTORICISM AND SOCIETY, there is a sufficient quotation from page 23 of THE POVERTY OF HISTORICISM which is sufficient to show the nature of Karl Popper's thinking:

the method of historical understanding does not only fit in with the ideas of holism. It also agrees very well with the historicist's emphasis on novelty; for novelty cannot be causally or rationally explained, but only intuitively grasped.

Rhetoric consists of the manipulation of worlds, and descriptions of situations carry the kind of weight which is implied by any understanding of Plato. The negative nature of Popper's understanding of Plato is clear, as is my negative view of the current situation when I call it the monetary mulch of America.

4-0 out of 5 stars A partial but intriguing look at another side of Popper...
The name Karl Popper is almost tantamount to "Philosophy of Science." Popper's famous theory of falsification influenced numerous 20th century philosophers of science, including Paul Feyerabend and Imre Lakatos. Articles summarizing his long acclaimed career usually begin with and comprise 75% or more of pure Philosophy of Science. Newcomers to his thought may think Sir Karl did nothing else. Those same people will be thrown like bricks from mules by this little essay-disguised-as-a-book entitled simply, in stylistic conformance with Routledge's "Great Philosopher" series, "Popper."

First, this little essay does discuss Popper's contributions to the Philosophy of Science. No tract on the man could ignore them. But the subtitle of the work, "Historicism and its Poverty," should provide a clue as to the author's focus. As such, Popper's philosophy of science remains relegated largely to the book's first 14 pages. The author, a novelist who read philosophy at Cambridge (and whose Wikipedia page, as of this writing, neglects to mention this book), weaves it in with biographical details. So, those looking for a detailed introduction to Popper's philosophy of science will not find it here. A possible clue as to why appears on page 15: "Recently, there has been a reaction - for example, on the part of Lewis Wolpert and David Papineau - against the idea that we need, or can sustain, a philosophy of science along Popperian lines. Whether or not this challenge is justified, I cannot judge." This may suggest that philosophy of science isn't the author's forte. Hence the focus elsewhere. In any case, the book then launches into a detailed examination of Popper's refutation of what he called "historicism" as outlined in "The Open Society and its Enemies" and "The Poverty of Historicism." The discussion remains an interesting one throughout, regardless of the de-emphasis on philosophy of science.

Popper took umbrage with social theories that paraded behind imaginary auspices of science. He accused communism and fascism (ancestors of Plato's "essentialism") of doing so, while claiming that their political theories and actions represent "the destiny" of humanity. These "systems" do not constitute science due to their protectors' insistence that they remain unfalsifiable (here philosophy of science sneaks in). In other words, communism and fascism don't allow objective criticism to seep into their ideologies. They thus put themselves above criticism while condemning critics as political heretics or misguided fools. According to Popper, nothing considered a science can allow such myopia. Worse still, the ideologues of these quasi-scientific systems claimed possession of predictive and prophetic power over world events. Such prophesies were treated as laws, and Popper agonized over the intelligentsia's dismissal of Hitler as a mere phase on the road to communist rule. That event alone shows the potential damage of literal unshakable ideology and shortsighted reliance on theory. Popper strongly refuted any attributions of "crystal ball" or clairvoyant powers to science. In the end, he thought that democracy and science, practiced "correctly," could help "correct," but not provide a panacea, to the world's political problems.

"What can and cannot be done," the book's final section, criticizes Popper's stance. The author argues that Popper's reliance on democracy and science may itself be an ideological stance similar to the ones he accused the "quasi-scientific" systems of holding. After all, he argues, democracy and science are not neutral. He also mentions the ever increasing and ominous dominance of global corporations that may affect democracy's effectiveness as "rule by the people." Ultimately, the essay depicts Popper as a skeptic and "an indeterminist who is determined to accept no argument that our fate is not only fixed, but also predictable." Like Popper's conception, this book moves in unpredictable ways. It shows a side not often seen. And though many will see it as an incomplete depiction of one of the twentieth century's most distinguished philosophers of science, it remains an intriguing read nonetheless.

2-0 out of 5 stars NOT the book to start with; reductionistic and misleading!
I've not read any others in the "great philosophers" series but I have read a few of the "x in 90 minutes" and " on x" series (very similar in that they run about 70 pages each and are meant to serve as brief layperson's overviews). From what I know of this type of book, this one is quite badley done.

As a long time fan of Popper, I sympathize with how Mr. Raphael must have felt in attempting this project. Karl Raimond Popper was a thinker whose ideas lead him from and to many topics. From ontological speculation (realism) to epistemology (critical rationalism) to the progress of science (conjecture and refutation) to ethics (a very bizarre and unfortunately not so discript pragmatic liberal humanism) to politics (democracy with again, not so discript piecemeal engineering). If you read his autobiography "An Unended Quest", he even has a philosophy of music!

For all that, Mr. Raphael could have done 10 times better than he did. Out of all the ideas above, Mr. Raphael talks about only conjecture and refutation (in 10 intro pages that compares in attitude to a kid being forced to eat her brussel sprouts).

The next 49 pages are spent discussing Popper's views on the impossibility of historical prophecy. Not that these views arent important but in light of Popper's humongous contribution to the philosophies of science and epistemology (and the non-contriversial nature, at least in todays world, of Popper's anti-historicism) focusing, by in large, the whole book on it is putting pages to bad use.

What caused me, though, to give the book 2 stars (I may have given it 4 otherwise) is that the book is marketed as an introduction to the ideas of Popper for those who've either never heard of him or never read of him. Had this book been marketed as an intro specifically to his anti-historicism, it would have been much easier to swallow. As it is, the reader taking this as an apropos introduction will be infinitely misled.

Fortunately there are better introductions. Bryan Magee's "Philosophy in the Real World: An introduction to Karl Popper" is, with maybe 40 more pages than this volume, a much better, more accurate, and proportional volume written by someone who knew Popper as a teacher and friend. For the student who has more time, Geoffrey Stokes "Popper: Philosophy, Politics and the Scientific Method" is a book that examines, first, Popper's political philosophy and works backwards to reveal how his philosophy of science gets him there. The best introduction, however, is going to be Popper's own "In Search of a Better World".

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction but not complete.
This small book deals only with the political and not the scientific part of Popper's work, thus mainly with 'The open society and its enemies' and 'The poverty of historicism'.
It is an excellent introduction for this part of Popper's work.
The author clearly explains that improvement or self-correction through freedom of speech (criticism) is only possible in democracies and not in dictatorial (fascist) or pseudo-scientific (marxist) systems of government.
For me, he correctly recognizes the possible limits of Popper's proposition of 'piecemeal engineering' of political, social or environmental problems: "Is piecemeal engineering grand enough to deal with global pollution, genocidal oppression of minorities and pandemics such as AIDS?"
He also sees clearly the actual dangers for democracies: "How are major corporations, with transnational funds and managements, to be controlled by democratic authorities whose writs run only to their frontiers?"
Also some interesting facts (rare) about Popper's personal life.
A very worth-while read. ... Read more

13. The Myth of the Framework: In Defence of Science and Rationality
by Karl Popper
Paperback: 248 Pages (1996-01-25)
list price: US$43.95 -- used & new: US$33.00
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Asin: 0415135559
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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'...[Popper's] championship of rational thought and his effective exposure of confusion and fanaticism in this region, and their often terrible consequences are a genuine asset of Western culture.' o| Sir Isaiah Berlin Sir Karl Popper has made some of the most important contributions to the twentieth-century discussion of science and rationality. The Myth of the Framework is acollection of some of Popper's most important materials on this subject. He offers his own critical rationalism, which he regards both as a theory of knowledge and as an attitude towards human life, human morals and democracy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Go Get'em, Karl!
Karl Popper (1902--1994) established a formidable reputation as a philosopher of science. His most famous principle is that a scientific theory must be capable of falsification on the basis of empirical observation. One cannot ever prove a theory is true (induction is defeasible), but a single aberrant observation can prove a theory false, Popper claimed. The world is full of people who deny Popper's insight for one reason or another. For instance, a logician might say, if theory p is falsified by observation o, then theory (not p) is verified by the single observation o. A defender of Popper might say that if p is a theory, then (not p) is not a theory at all, because theories must be expressed by universal quantification, or covering laws, or what have you. Similarly, a historian of science might claim that a single observation never led scientists to chuck a prized theory unless there was available and alternative theory that explained everything the old theory did, plus the new observation.

All this is very interesting to the philosopher, but for with limited tolerance for hair-splitting, Popper holds quite a different significance. Popper was the avowed and indefatigable enemy of Freudian psychology, Hegelian/Marxian philosophy and political theory, and other highly emotive and value-laden ideologies that appealed to True Believers but had no serious roots in the scientific method. If he were alive today, he would be launching his attacks on post-modernism, creationism, and other such drivel that has taken away the rationality of so many smart people in recent years. So, I Love Popper! I'm sure you will love Popper, too, unless you are among decorticate folk who believe that some ideas are just too precious to be subjected to empirical testing.

"I may be wrong and you may be right," says Popper, "and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (p. xii) Actually, if you really understand this assertion and can defend it, you don't really need this book. This says it all.

Popper's falsification approach is actually very well defended in the first essay in this little book of essays. Popper argues that science has a Darwinian dynamic. A scientific theory can reproduce itself from mind to mind and generation to generation, but anomalies in the theory reduce its "fitness" and random mutations in the theory (theoretical paradigm shifts and emendations) sometimes produce a less anomalous offspring which then replaces the earlier theory, and hence is akin to biological adaptation. It follows that scientific progress requires both close attention to the facts and the willingness of scientists to entertain "heretical" views.

"One of the components of modern irrationalism is relativism (the doctrine that truth is relative to our intellectual background, which is supposed to determine somehow the framework within which we are able to think)" says Popper in the second essay (p. 33). Relativism will always be attractive to many people because it affirms a radical tolerance of the views of others. However, in science relativism is a poison, because it leads people to leave off struggling over truth, and hence it renders scientific progress impossible. Popper fully understands that different intellectual frameworks make discursive interaction difficult, just as he understands that there are few bald "facts" that exist independent from a theoretical framework to interpret these facts. However, he notes by observing the history of science that inter-framework discourse and struggle has been constant and fruitful. "I am very ready to admit that a discussion among participants who do not share a common framework may be difficult [but]... a discussion between vastly different frameworks can be extremely fruitful." (p. 35)

Among the topics covered in these essays is Popper's perspective on the famous "positivism debate" between such rationalists as Karl Popper and the Frankfurt School of critical philosophy, which included Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Jürgen Habermas in the 1960's. Popper actually takes a "sociology of knowledge" approach to the critical theorists, observing that the Germans public is impressed by big words and complex-sounding arguments, even if they are trivial in content or make no sense at all. Popper treats Adorno as a peddler of platitudes and Horkheimer as a minor cultural critic. Moreover, he argues that the critical school's treatment of culture is arrogant and elitist, prejudice rather than insight. He says the same of Habermas, although I think Habermas has developed quite important ideas in recent decades. I think Popper's assessment of "critical theory" is right on the mark, and it is developed in this book in a highly cogent and entertaining manner. By the way, the idea that Popper is a positivist is quite ludicrous---consider, for instance, his strong critique of Francis Bacon's scientific methodology, which is also sketched in one of the book's essays.

5-0 out of 5 stars Critical reason is the only alternative to violence
Besides clearly explaining Popper's well-known positions on the distinction between scientific and non-scientific propositions, testing possibilities for falsifications of theories or piecemeal adaptations of social systems, this book constitutes the burial of the Frankfurter Schule (Adorno, Habermas, Horkheimer).
By the way, non-scientific propositions are not meaningless (e.g., music, literature, myths).
Science probably began with myths, superstitions and prejudices.

K.R. Popper rejects the myth of the framework, `the doctrine of the impossibility of mutual understanding between different cultures, generations or historical periods, even within science, even within physics.'
Critical reasoning and open discussions (`without killing any authors or burning books') should always be allowed and be the bacon of all our theories about and solutions of practical and theoretical problems. `Man has achieved the possibility of being critical of his own tentative trials, of his own theories.'

Frankfurter Schule
Popper torpedoes the Critical Theory of the Frankfurter Schule as follows: `Horkheimer rejects, without argument and in defiance of historical facts, the possibility of reforming our so-called `social system'. This amounts to saying: let the present generations suffer and perish - for all we can do is to expose the ugliness of the world we live in, and to heap insults on our oppressors, the bourgeoisie.'
He also lambastes the supreme influence of Hegelianism on German philosophy (`a tradition destructive of intelligence and critical thought'). He sides here with Marx who remarked that `in its mystifying form dialectics became the ruling German fashion.'

This book is a must read for all those interested in philosophy and, of course, for all 'critical' Popper fans.

4-0 out of 5 stars Science Terminable and Interminable
One of the things I marvel at from time to time is the nearly complete lack of interest in the status of science in the world. I am, of course, referring to the vast majority of my fellow citizens. I doubt that the politicians share this agnosticism as to science's place, purpose, nature, technique and subject matter, the uses of science are too well known for that; but the subject does not seem to cause much wonder amongst the people. The modern world, after all, is a technological construct, and one would have thought that a consideration of, for instance, the epistemological underpinnings of science or the status of its' theories, would be de rigueur in a world whose very existence is based on the importance of science for the technological creation, maintenance and perpetuation of that world. No? Turn off the world's fuel and electricity supply for a month and see how many survive.

Indeed, in speaking with people one finds an unlikely, perhaps I should say alarming, tendency to consider science (and its' theories) with a quasi religious respect that simply is not due the subject. A tendency to speak as if science were in the business of discovering Platonic Truths, perhaps even revealing Nature Herself, which, of course, would obviously leave no room for criticism. One educated person once told me criticism was for politics and art; science, however, is objective. - That while literary criticism is endless (and often pointless), science discovers natural laws. But he speaks as if the great strides in science haven't been made by overthrowing earlier scientific theories. Think of the twentieth centuries replacement of Newton by Einstein, of classical mechanics by Quantum Mechanics.

This process of the replacement of one scientific 'truth' by another is ongoing and possibly endless. For all we know, at any point in history, we may be in the process of overturning yet another scientific theory. Allow me an anecdotal case in point. A few years back some observations, impossible from earth based telescopes, were made by the Hubble space telescope which showed a distant galaxy going in exactly the opposite direction that we would have expected it to go. That prediction was made on the basis of an interpretation of the the Big Bang Theory and the observable matter large enough to gravitationally effect the galaxy in question. (The Big Bang Theory basically predicts that all galaxies will be moving away from all other galaxies unless some locally large structures, nebulae or galaxies, have enough gravitational attraction to pull it in another direction). When pressed for an explanation of the discrepancy between the theoretically based prediction and the recent observation, the poor scientist that was interpreting this observation said that their must be a completely unknown type of unobservable matter attracting this galaxy in this unanticipated direction. In other words, save the theory at any cost, even if it requires a miracle!

As we can see, a combination of observation and theory led to the prediction, but observation alone isn't enough to overturn it. What this scientist, and some of my fellow citizens, have forgotten is that a theory is neither a fact nor a truth, it is only a working hypothesis. They treat theories as facts, and observable facts as details that either confirm present theory, or anomalies that sooner or later will be explained, or perhaps I should say, explained away. The philosopher that best explains, in my opinion, how we should treat theory is Karl Popper.His great insight is the importance of falsification to the theoretical process, and the counter-intuitive insight of the relative unimportance of 'true' theories.

Let me explain. Or, even better, let him explain. He says, in The Myth of The Framework, "All scientific knowledge is hypothetical or conjectural." Note this: It is not a Platonic Truth, a fact of nature, or a revelation of God.Therefore we can doubt a scientific theory without falling into grievous sin. He goes on to say, "The growth of knowledge, and especially scientific knowledge, consists in learning from our mistakes." If theories weren't falsifiable we would still believe the world flat. He tells us, "This fact should encourage you to try to refute your own [and others theories]." Of course, I should add that he doesn't mean that any objection to a scientific theory is good. He is defending objections and refutations that are scientific - flat-worlders and luddites will not find an ally here.

What of the vaunted scientific objectivity we have heard so much of? Again, Popper: "It is not the objectivity or the detachment of the individual scientist but of science itself [...] which makes for objectivity." What Popper is telling us is that it is the scientific method, not individual scientists or currently accepted theories, in which sciences great claims to objectivity reside. And he means that methodic objectivity is not mere experimentation, it is testing to falsify, that is to fail, theories.

The only way to discover the unknown is by seeking to overturn the known. That is why Popper says, "Authoritarianism in science [is] linked with [...] proving or verifying theories. [While] the critical approach is [...] trying to refute, or to falsify its conjectures." In other words, science is a critical, and therefore interminable project; it is an endless task. It is how we interact with our changing world. There is no piety, utterly no piety at all, in Popper's view of science; and this is the scientific attitude that I think we all should strive to emulate.

5-0 out of 5 stars modernizing Postmodernism ...
This is the last book by the great philosopher Karl R. Popper (1902-1944) ,it saw light after a short time of his death ,and it is still printed till this very day.
this book represents the image Popper embraced as a cultural message and his fertile ,ever-innovating philosophy which had many aspects touching our life as intellectuals.
Under the title (Myth of the framework) Karl explores any possibility of a discussion between civilisations ,and he explains that the union or even clash between them is vital and necessary for history's wheel.

Its is very true ,alas this essential interaction can be tragical if it was led by the hands of those of blind faiths and prejudistic beliefs .... if it was presented withing sealed ( frameworks) ... and the critical spirit is there no more ...

Popper - with trowels of critique - bashes every embodiment of bigoted frameworks ,even if it was disguised under the veil of postmodernism , and he dedicates this last breath of his to one final battle in determining factors of development in science ,knowledge ,and humanity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Popper is essential reading
Excellent, stimulating essays with some surprising and appealing ideas. Also some repetition and some dull essays. A very good book indeed.Popper was a maverick; his ideas will enrich your thinking even if you don't agree with them altogether. ... Read more

14. Karl Popper - The Formative Years, 1902-1945: Politics and Philosophy in Interwar Vienna
by Malachi Haim Hacohen
Paperback: 626 Pages (2002-03-04)
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This intellectual biography recovers the legacy of Karl Popper (1902-1994), the progressive, cosmopolitan, Viennese socialist who combated fascism, revolutionized the philosophy of science, and envisioned the Open Society. Malachi Hacohen draws a compelling portrait of the philosopher, the assimilated Jewish intelligentsia, and the vanished culture of Red Vienna, which was decimated by Nazism. Seeking to rescue Popper from his postwar conservative and anticommunist reputation, Hacohen restores his works to their original Central European contexts and, at the same time, shows that they have urgent messages for contemporary politics and philosophy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good
I read this book after Caldwell's excellent "Hayek's Challenge".I don't normally read biographies, but that was so good I hunted around for related material (and found this).

Unfortunately, this suffers in comparison.Caldwell is much better at signposting and structuring the argument.In contrast, Hacohen jumps around, often covering the same period in different contexts.And his hand is too heavy - the authorial opinions are often forced (or even plain odd - what on earth does he have against Popper's wife?).

Still, his intentions are generally honourable (not always; there's a blind spot as far as Zionism goes) and the final chapter, which places Popper's thought within the current(ish) left-wing context, is interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hope and vision
Prof. Hacohen gives us an eminent look at the personal, political and scientific antecedents of Karl Popper's main scientific and political publications.
His book is also an excellent and concise economical and social panorama of Austria in the first half of the 20th century.

It is a realistic portrait of Popper as an individual: irascible and arrogant, an eternal dissenter, intellectual loner, not without a certain persecution mania.
It shows clearly how Popper's main philosophical contributions, 'testing and falsification', came into being, as well as his political defense of 'The Open society'. It is all the more surprising how great the difficulties were to publish his books, although they constituted a crucial and fundamental philosophical breakthrough.

Although, for me, Popper is the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, some of his positions are flawed. He is a dualist (mind/body). His defence of Socrates is also much contested. The Dutch classicist G. Koolschijn pretends that Socrates was not a democrat. He was probably condemned for pleading against democracy in his teachings.
Particularly interesting is Popper's struggle with Heisenberg's Indeterminacy Principle, where he lost the battle with Heisenberg.
I also agree with the author's essential remark that 'socially disadvantaged groups do not have a fair chance of being heard, let alone prevailing, in the so-called democratic political process. Organized elites and corporate interest block, manipulate, and circumvent the channels ... a fairly egalitarian socioeconomic structure and public control of corporations are preconditions to effective democratic dialogue.' (p.543)

This book contains an excellent presentation of Wittgenstein's Tractatus and Popper's critique of it. It runs the defenders of Otto Neurath (Cartwright & Co) into the ground.

All in all, a fascinating book for those who are interested in modern philosophy and more particularly in Popper's work.

Newcomers should first read the works of Popper himself, or the excellent introduction by Bryan Magee in his small book 'Popper'.

3-0 out of 5 stars An important chapter of intellectual history
There are two standard evaluations of Popper's importance. The first sees Popper as an important figure in the philosophy of science, one whose work is now passe, but whose influence cannot be denied. The other sees Popper as one of the great geniuses of the twentieth century, a polymath who gave us new paradigms of scientific and political thinking. This second view, while still the view of the minority, is gaining support in a new millennium where Popper is enjoying something of a renaissance. This is the view that has inspired both Bryan Magee and Antony Flew to pen histories of philosophy subtitled (surely not just for the sake of alliteration) "From Plato to Popper." And this is the view that inspires Malachi Haim Hacohen to give Popper a central place in what, despite its title, is an intellectual history of inter-war Vienna.

If Popper's importance has not been properly appreciated, suggests Hacohen, that is because we try to situate him in the Anglo-American tradition that appropriated him after the Second World War and in which he became famous. Instead, Hacohen traces the genealogy of Popper's philosophy through the currents of thought in inter-war Vienna, showing how they shaped Popper and how Popper responded to them within this context. We see how his principle of falsification evolved as a response to the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle, and how his critique of historicism and promulgation of the Open Society--though published in and appropriated by a Cold War West--were in fact inspired responses to the socio-political debates of 1930's Vienna.

Hacohen's primary aim is to give us a greater understanding, and hence a greater appreciation, of Popper's achievement. But in tracing inter-war Viennese culture more broadly, he also shows the extent to which that culture's set of concerns has shaped our own intellectual outlook thanks to the diaspora of Viennese intellectuals--many of them Jewish--in the face of the Nazi threat. The Vienna Circle influenced a generation of philosophers, Hayek has become a champion for libertarians, and Gombrich has changed the way we look at art. In all of these cases, but none more so than in philosophy, these thinkers have found success in England and America by adapting ideas born out of uniquely Viennese debates to contexts that these debates never reached.

Inevitably, our reception of these ideas on foreign shores distorted their intent. For instance, we tend to understand the Vienna Circle as Ayer understood it without appreciating how the tools and methods these philosophers developed were meant to settle the debates on the nature of science that had divided an earlier generation of Viennese thinkers, the likes of Boltzmann and Mach. Like the Vienna Circle, Popper is too often read as his English-speaking contemporaries interpreted him, and Hacohen's book gives us a rich sense of the problems and debates that shaped Popper's distinctive outlook. Hacohen has labored tirelessly in the archives, and while his preference for completeness and transparency of research over readability makes it a laborious slog, both the depth, breadth, and originality of Hacohen's scholarship is exceptional. He is more at home discussing the social sciences than the natural sciences, but he is more at home in both of these fields than most of us can ever expect to be.

The problem, then, is whether Popper is the central figure of the intellectual history of inter-war Vienna, which is how Hacohen portrays him, or if he is only one of a number of bright minds to emerge from that context, and neither the brightest nor the most influential. He was a marginal figure at that time, and his contemporaries in the Vienna Circle, though respectful, seemed not as convinced as he was that he had delivered the deathblow to logical positivism. The philosophical world more generally tends to give the role of death-dealer to Quine for his 1951 paper, "Two Dogmas of Empiricism." Hacohen might reply that we inflate Quine's importance to Popper's detriment because we come to logical positivism from an Anglo-American perspective, and that in failing to appreciate its original context, we fail to appreciate that Popper had buried logical positivism by 1934. There is some merit in this argument, and perhaps if Popper had arrived in London before 1946 and if the Logic of Scientific Discovery had been published in English before 1956, things would be different. But whether a result of historical mischance or of Popper's work not being as decisive as he thought, he has failed to have an impact on English-speaking philosophy that rivals the Vienna Circle. Or Quine, for that matter.

Hacohen makes an excellent case for the tremendous, and too-often unnoticed, influence of inter-war Vienna on post-war scholarship in the English-speaking world, but he is less convincing in situating Popper as the central figure of this influence. Popper certainly developed interesting and fertile responses to the problems of his intellectual milieu, but it seems a bit of an exaggeration to claim that he solved these problems, or even that his solutions are more compelling than those of any of his contemporaries. Hacohen does not simply state his allegiance to Popper baldly; he provides arguments, but these arguments are not likely to convince those of us who are not already Popperians.

Popper has never been fully embraced by the mainstream of Anglo-American philosophy, and this may be connected with his having been shaped by a different set of concerns than his English-speaking contemporaries. With these concerns in clearer focus, he still doesn't emerge as one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century, but Hacohen's effort to give him his due does shed valuable light on an interesting period. Though his emphasis on Popper's importance may be misplaced, Hacohen's book nonetheless makes for engaging intellectual history.

5-0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive study of a great philospher
Malachi Hacohen as written a great biography that both covers the personal has well as the philosphical development of one of the 20th century's greatest minds. This is a big book in every sense of the word, big in ideas, big in scope. One of the by products of reading this book was to discover the immense impact that intellectuals from 1920's Austria and non germanic Central Europe had upon, not just philosphy, but also economic and political developments in the Anglo Saxon world. People such as Hayek, Drucker, Polyani, Tarski, Neurath, Mises and many more have had a profound effect upon the thinking of both the Right and the Left in the US and Britain. One of those books which one can honestly say the reader will be much wiser after finishing it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Battle of Britain in the world of ideas
The book has several different aspects, all of absorbing interest, including the detailed reconstruction of Popper's intellectual career and the depiction of the social and political milieu of Vienna between the wars.

Popper was the archetypal workaholic. Hacohen reports that he worked for 360 days of the year, all day, without the distraction of newspapers, radio or TV. Several times a month, even in old age, he worked all night and friends such as Bryan Magee would get an early morning call from Popper, bubbling with excitement to report on his latest ideas. Popper lived well out of London near High Wycombe and when Magee gained Popper's confidence he was invited to visit, taking the train to "Havercombe" (in Popper's heavily accented English). When I made the trip to Havercombe, Popper arranged to meet me at the station, carrying a copy of the BBC Listener, presumably to pick him out from all the other elderly gentlemen of middle-European extraction who might be thronging the platform at 2.00 on a Wednesday afternoon. In the event, he left the magazine at home and the kiosk had sold out so he had to buy The Times and fold it to the size of the Listener. Of course he was the only person in sight apart from the Station Master. Popper, then aged 70, had what his research assistant tactfully described as a "very positive" attitude to driving. Fortunately it was not far to his home and there were few other cars on the road. Safely home, our conversation laboured, and he frequently pushed a tray of choc-chip cookies towards me. Later he lamented to his assistant that I had eaten a whole weeks supply of his favorite cookies in one afternoon. These aspects of Popper are the other face of the man who some described as "the totalitarian liberal".

Hacohen has provided sufficient background to explain why Popper's ideas were so exciting for some people, and so threatening for others, though it was left to Bill Bartley in the 1960s to articulate the way that Popper had challenged the unstated and uncriticised assumption of "justificationism" which is the glue that holds together the ideas of the positivists and other "true belief" philosophers. Popper's lack of progress in the community of professional philosophers needs to be understood against the persisting background of justificationism, subjectivism and determinism which he has criticised in favour of critical rationalism, conjectural objective knowledge and non-determinism.

Hacohen has assembled a massive amount of material and a lesser talent in organization would have lost the plot among the details. Helped by a liberal quantity of headings sub-headings and his very clear exposition, he has kept his material under control and kept several balls in the air with superb aplomb. The several balls are Popper's diverse interests and the chaotic events that were going on around him in Vienna, not only among the intellectuals but also in Austrian politics.

These events forced Popper to flee to the other side of the world, to New Zealand, surely the antithesis of Vienna in most cultural, intellectual and political respects. There, his campaign for critical rationalism, objectivism and non-determinism was waged in political philosophy. His achievement in writing the two large volumes of "The Open Society and its Enemies" can be compared with the Battle of Britain, where young pilots held Hitler at bay in the skies over the English Channel. Popper daily patrolled the intellectual stratosphere, challenging Hitler's intellectual henchmen from Plato to modern times. This work would have been an amazing achievement under any circumstances, as it was it had to be done in the face of dreadful news from home (fourteen relatives died in the Holocaust), under the threat of Japanese invasion and against the resistance of his Professor who regarded his research and writing as theft to teaching time.

To conclude, this book is a wonderful piece of scholarship and its deserves to be read with close attention by anyone with a shred of interest in the ideas that have shaped the world today. With any luck Popper's ideas will help to shape the world tomorrow. I dissent from Hocohen's reading of Popper's ideas as a prop for social democracy, but anyone imbued with the spirit of critical rationalism can make up their own mind on that.

This book is actually worth six stars, so buy two copies, one for your local library. ... Read more

15. Popper's Open Society After Fifty Years
Paperback: 232 Pages (2003-04-11)
list price: US$38.95 -- used & new: US$22.95
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Asin: 0415290678
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Popper's Open Society After Fifty Years presents a coherent survey of the reception and influence of Karl Popper's masterpiece The Open Society and its Enemies over the fifty years since its publication in 1945, as well as applying some of its principles to the context of modern Eastern Europe.
This unique volume contains papers by many of Popper's contemporaries and friends, including such luminaries as Ernst Gombrich, in his paper "The Open Society and its Enemies: Remembering its Publication Fifty Years Ago." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Humanitarianism is of fundamental importance
This collection of papers presented at a Symposium held in Prague in 1995 contains also Karl Popper's last interview, where he expresses in a nutshell his vision on our world:
'Churches, philosophers and politicians have failed, but I remain an optimist.'
'Our first task is peace, our second is to see that nobody be hungry, our third is fairly full employment and our fourth is education.'
About empiricism: the decisive point is not observation but expectation. Our expectations are biologically important.'

The papers themselves are a very worth-while read.

David Miller in 'Popper and Tarski': truth = correspondance with the facts

Sandra Pralong in 'Minima Moralia' gives an in depth analysis of the collaps of communism and the aftermath: 'The legacy of communism is not a moral tabula rasa, because communism was a system that encouraged immorality as a way to survive. The new circumstances of postcommunism (liberalism) are more likely to entrench the ethic in which the ends justify the means.'

Mark A. Notturno: In the 'Scientific Institution' the regulative idea of truth has almost be replaced by the regulative idea of power.

Bryan Magee in 'What use is Popper to a practical politician?':
The Popper approach constitutes a programme for practical and rational improvement, in other words 'reform'.
It is a fact that social evils have been perpetrated in our century on a simply stupendous scale. These things could not possibly have been done by people who had adopted 'Minimum avoidable suffering.'

Andrzej Flis in 'The Church as an enemy': (In Poland) the Church can take away our jobs, can harass us, can make the life of the most average family miserable.'

Joseph Agassi: Nationalism is group egoism.

More controversial is the paper of John A. Hall, who states among other things, that the basic instincts (food, shelter, sex) are very often the product of social influence.'?

This most interesting publication is a must read for all democrats. ... Read more

16. The Political Thought of Karl Popper
by Jeremy Shearmur
Hardcover: 240 Pages (1996-12-09)
list price: US$145.00 -- used & new: US$128.07
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Shearmur draws on his years as Popper's assistant, on unpublished material in the Hoover archive, and on wider themes within Popper's philosophy to offer striking critical re-interpretations of his ethical and social theory. ... Read more

17. The Ethical Nature Of Karl Popper's Theory Of Knowledge: Including Popper's Unpublished Comments On Bartley And Critical Rationalism
by Mariano Artigas
 Paperback: 153 Pages (1999-09)
list price: US$32.95 -- used & new: US$83.92
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Asin: 3906763102
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This book invites to interpret Karl Popper under the light of his ethical attitudes. In the first part a previously unpublished text by Popper is reproduced and commented which is most relevant to acquire a new insight on Popper's philosophy and should be taken into account in any future interpretation of it. In the second part, under the light of the new insight, the ethical roots of Popper's theory of knowledge are analysed, jointly with the meaning and reach of his fallibilism. ... Read more

18. Realism and the Aim of Science: From the Postscript to The Logic of Scientific Discovery
by Karl Popper
Paperback: 464 Pages (1992-04-10)
list price: US$42.95 -- used & new: US$32.25
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Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In Realism and the Aim of Science, Karl Popper formulates and explains his non-justificationist theory of knowledge. Science--empirical science--aims at true explanatory theories, yet it can never prove, finally establish, or justify any of its theories as true, making it important for science to continue to question and criticize its theories. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars The other shoe falls - after 50 years
During the 1950s, while "Logik der Forschung" was being translated to become "The Logic of Scientific Discovery" Popper prepared almost a thousand pages of manuscript for publication as a companion volume to be called "The Postscript to The Logic of Scientific Discover: After 20 Years". The 20 years was the time from the original publication of "Logik". It eventually became almost 50 years. For various reasons publication was delayed until William W. Bartley undertook the task of editing the large manuscript. At last The Postscript appeared in three volumes (with further additions) in 1982 and 1983. Volume 1 is "Realism and the Aim of Science", volume 2 is "The Open Universe: An Argument for Indeterminism" and volume 3 is "Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics".

This is probably the least enjoyable of Popper's works, though it offers an important corrective to the widespread idea that Popper's ideas were superseded by Kuhn and Lakatos. In the first part, "The Critical Approach" Popper replies to Kuhn and Lakatos and shows that they never really offered significant criticisms (or alternatives) to the critical approach or to Popper's theory of conjectural objective knowledge. They did identify some problems with "falsification" and these were widely regarded as serious criticisms of Popper's ideas, even though he had recognized the problems some decades before and answered them. For example, Popper had always realised that falsification was only logically decisive (in a way that verification was not) because in real life observations are fallible and they need to be interpreted in the light of theories.

In the second part of the book Popper outlines his thoughts on the propensity interpretation of probability. This is his effort to overcome the defects of subjective theories of probability and the challenge of providing a theory of the probability of single events. This is an important but technical area of his work which some people find engrossing and others approach with a kind of mental block. I suggest that you ask David Miller to comment on Part II.

5-0 out of 5 stars Most impressive defense of Popper's epistemology
Popper has presented his controversial views of induction and the nature of scientific discovery in a number of essays and books, but no where does he advance some of his seemingly paradoxical views better than in"Realism and the Aim of Science."At first blush, Popper's viewsof the nature of scientific inquiry seem to defy common sense.Hebelieves, for instance, that the distinguishing mark of scientific theoriesare their falsibiability, rather than verifiability; that audacity, ratherthan caution, is the essence of science; that irrefutability is not avirtue in a theory but a vice; and that no scientific theory ever becomesmore probable when evidence is discovered in its favor but must alwaysremain infinitely improbable.What makes this book so remarkable is thebrilliant arguments Popper advances for these seemingly absurd views. Popper demonstrates why these views are necessary in order to have arational view of science, arguing that the opposite view of knowledge, theview thatregards verifiability as central to scientific inquiry, tends toblind those seeking the truth from facts which would refute their theories. Hence Popper's belief that, instead of trying to prove our theories, weshould try to falsify them instead.That way, if there are facts out therewhich would disprove them, we are much more likely to find them. ... Read more

19. In Search of a Better World: Lectures and Essays from Thirty Years
by Karl Popper
Paperback: 256 Pages (1995-12-20)
list price: US$41.95 -- used & new: US$24.00
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In Search of a Better World collects Karl Popper's meditations on the real improvements science has wrought in society, in politics and in the arts in the course of the twentieth century.

His subjects range from the beginnings of scientific speculation in classical Greece to the destructive effects of twentieth century totalitarianism,from major figures of the Enlightenment such as Kant and Voltaire to the role of science and self-criticism in the arts. The essays offer striking new insights into the mind of one of the greatest twentieth century philosophers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars The intellectuals have done the most terrible harm for thousands of years
In this rather optimistic book, Karl Popper explains his own credo, his vision on Kant, the Frankfurt School and Darwinism as well as the `new' task for the intellectuals.

His credo, his task
`I am a rationalist. I believe in truth and in human reason. I have in mind the hope that inspired Pestalozzi that knowledge may make us free.' But, `I have in mind a serious obligation of never to pose as a prophet.'

Karl Popper is rightly extremely harsh for those who should be at the forefront of human progress: `Intellectuals have done the most terrible harm for thousands of years. Mass murder in the name of an idea, a doctrine, a theory, a religion - that is all our doing, our invention.'
`If only we would stop setting man against man, much would be gained.'
IMHO: all these `theories' are a veil for the interests of those in power, who with any means (war, terrorism, censure, indoctrination, lies, corruption) (try to) defend their power base.

Kant has shown that every man is free, not because he is born free, but because he is born with the burden of responsibility for free decision.

Frankfurt School
Popper's verdict is extremely hard: `What have the neo-Dialecticians learnt? The basic thesis of Adorno and Habermas is the claim that factual knowledge and value judgments in sociology are inextricably linked.' (!)

Popper had terrible difficulties to accept Darwinism as a scientific theory, because one couldn't test it. He found a solution which he explained in `Unended Quest'.
Here, he develops his vision on Darwinism a little more.
The great American biologist G.C. Williams wrote that `natural selection, albeit stupid, is a story of unending arms races, slaughter and suffering. It is a law of nature and its immorality has to be accepted and, at least, to be thought about.'
Popper adopts a more Leibnizian view of `a world that has become more and more agreeable and more and more favourable to life, thanks to the activities of life and its search for a better world.' His view is idyllic: `the first cell is till living after billions of years and transformed out atmosphere with green plants. And it created our eyes and opened them to the blue sky and the stars.'
IMHO: This vision is extremely naïve and false. Evolution was only favourable for life of mankind, not for all other species on our planet. His optimistic viewpoint of `active selection for a better environment, active organisms constantly solving problems that improve life' should be replaced by selection through extermination and mutations by pure chance.
Mankind should give more attention to G.C. Williams's more pessimistic, but all too realistic, interpretation of the way of the world.

This book is a must read for all intellectuals and for all critical Popper fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction.
I bought this book since it was recommended as a good introduction to Popper's work and ideas. I have no pretensions to understanding philosophy beyond a few college-level courses and some of my own reading.

As a more-or-less casual reader I was particularly struck at how good Popper is at explaining his ideas. As I read further, I understood. I very much liked his ideas about the obligation of specialists and the educated to simplify and not to obfuscate. I found his consciously common sense prose had much more claim to understanding the responsibility of intellectuals than I found in (for instance) the Chomsky essay on the same theme. I'm sure that some credit for the clarity should go to the translator, Laura J. Bennett. I haven't read the original, but this was about as clean of a translation as I have found.

There was a lot to interest and inspire. The emphasis on rational criticism and the nature of knowledge made intuitive sense. I struggled harder with his issues with relativism, but found his arguments engaging and ultimately quite convincing.

I don't really feel smart enough to do anything except damn this book with faint praise, sorry.

Very much recommended. Seems to me something for nearly anyone. Any ideas where to do next with Popper, bearing in mind my (non) background?

3-0 out of 5 stars Scientist; Humanist: Critical Rationalist
The burden of being a philosopher that says something both new and counter-intuitive is that throughout one's career, you end up repeating yourself, re-clarifying your arguments to the endless number of critcs that misunderstand you. In Popper's case, the views advanced were that all knowldedge must be held as tentative and that real intellectual progress comes not from verifying true theories (which can never be 'for sure) but in falsifying and eliminating old ones (which you only need to do once). The critics misinterpreted and Popper did repeat himself time and time again.

This is one of the very few bad things about the book. Honestly, if you've read Popper before (Conjectures and Refutations, Objective Knowledge, Logic of Scientific Discovery) this book will have little, if any, to add. If you've not, this is a great introduction.

There are 3 sections: On Knowledge, On History and a section for miscellaneous essays. The first section touches on Popper's views on how we recieve, criticize, falsify and act on knowledge. The second is an expansion of the first. Here, Popper focuses on historical events hee deems important: Immanuel Kant's phiosophical formulation, the invention of the book. He also gets a tad bit into politics, where a liberal democracy is preferred.

It is the third section, though, that is the payoff. Essays ranging in diversity from "How I See Philosophy" to "What Does The West Believe In". The best essay in the book, "Toleration and Intellectual Responsibility", is a critical rationalist's look at the role of intellectuals (Popper carefully avoids snobbery here) role in perpetuating a tolerant, non-violent society. As crucial now in '03 as when he gave the lecture in '82.

To conclude, if you are new to Popper, this is a good intro (but Conjectures and Refutations or Popper Selections might still be better. If you've read those or much other Popper before, you will probably find yourself able to guess what Popper says in each essay without much problem. You can safely skip this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars An enlightened defense of tolerance and reason
This book was my first exposure to Popper's philosophy, which I have since found to be consistently convincing, enlightening, and inspiring.In the face of fashionable twentieth-century irrationalism and associatedpolitical fanaticisms, Popper stresses the importance of intellectualmodesty, rational discourse, non-violence, tolerance, and an open society. In this series of collected essays Popper makes a lucid and compelling casefor a philosophy that accepts that all of our knowledge is conjectural anduncertain, but that this, far from leading to irrationality, makes scienceand reason the best tools we have for confronting the universe thatsurrounds us.In contrast with the impenetrable, self-important nonsenseof many modern philosophers, Popper writes with a refreshing simplificityand modesty.A truly beautiful and extraordinary book. ... Read more

20. All Life is Problem Solving
by Karl Popper
Paperback: 190 Pages (2001-02-28)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$23.58
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Asin: 0415249929
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This collection illuminates Popper's process of working out key formulations in his theory of science, and indicates his view of the state of the world at the end of the Cold War and after the collapse of communism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and essential reading for all disciplines
Perhaps a good place to start in this review of "All Life Is Problem Solving" is to focus on one essay, "Towards an evolutionary theory of knowledge" written in 1989.

Karl Popper (1902-1994) elegantly proposes that knowledge is linked to expectations and these expectations express theories of reality. Thus knowledge expresses theories of reality. Reality in itself is unknowable.We as with all living things have propensities to guess reality based on hypotheses which logically and psychologically precede observation. Even a digital camera only captures light spectra that it is programmed to capture; via it we deduce the world. Encounters with evidence are the bumps that allow continual reformulation of these assumptions. This in no way implies that the universe separate from our perceptions is illusion. Indeed only fools or sophists would deny its existence, but what is the "real" world? What is the real you? What is the real anything - statistically analyzed, dissected, named, viewed under an electron microscope, blasted with x rays or gamma rays, painted by Monet? If we open any dictionary on the word "knowledge" we find all sorts of circularity and assumptions that knowledge is primarily empirically derived. Popper's association of knowledge with expectation, or guessing, is a breakthrough in clarity. Animals and plants carry what can be defined as unconscious guesses or theories, namely their genes and other molecular and physiological codes.

Despite perceptual and cognitive limitations, living beings do seek truth and routinely test models against facts. Truth should correspond with facts, but the degree of certainty of facts varies. Popper's attitude to the demarcation of science from other intellectual endeavours is that scientific enquiry should have no expectation of discovering final truth but rather it is about asking things about the universe in such a way that any answer is capable of being modified (indeed capable of being falsified) if better evidence appears. Every answer is provisional. Scientism, which positively declares truths, is not science..."scientifically proven" is a nonsense phrase. Indeed, including and beyond science, all our knowledge is uncertain.

Still at least in our universe, the world is roughly spherical even though many of our forefathers assumed that it was flat. Evolution is similarly robust even if fine details have varying certainty. Thus some assumptions seem to be less wrong than others, i.e. have higher verisimilitude. The demarcation of science and non-science hinges on phrasing any claim in such a way that it can potentially be proven wrong, not turned into an accretion of supporting premises that is unbreakable simply because it is amorphous. On this point it does not matter by which method the claim is reached e.g. inspiration might occur in a reverie, but rather how the hypothesis is expressed when presented to an audience. On a side note, I think too much criticism of Popper has been a sidetracked discussion of history and method rather than the above stress on expression and revision. This is unfortunate as it masks the value of demarcation in defending science against dogmatism. Creationism and intelligent design arguments tend to be accretions of self-supporting dogma rather than a critical and testable discourse.

However on a personal note I would suggest that a corollary of Popper's thought is not cynicism but an attitude of openness to the unexpected. In narrow conceit, many so-called "skeptics" and other dogmatists overlook the corollary to the unknowable nature of reality namely that, precisely because we cannot prove otherwise, there is always room for surprises. Perhaps objective meaning can never be demonstrated in the deterministic (causal) world i.e. it is not found in Schopenhauer's "World as Representation" but rather in the unexpected, the magical, the coincidental, the "World as Will", Carl Jung's (1875-1961) synchronicity, knowledge felt. Yes humans seek passion and energy rather than meaning for its own sake (Joseph Campbell 1904-1987) although one must add that the search for meaning is an activity that we engage in passionately.

Excessive expressions of certainty are often bred from protesting too loudly. The universe is mysterious, we do not need to invent mystery unless we want to couple spiritual sentiment to social power and we need not fear that honest engagement will destroy mystery. Even the prevailing metaphors in cosmology will have their used-by date. Any statement of belief should be capable of being modified or indeed discarded if the facts contradict it. Finally, Karl Popper distinguished between tacit knowledge and objective knowledge. We know there is a physical world (World 1), we know there is a mental world (tacit, World 2), and we know there is a world of codes and descriptions and formulae (World 3). Even when individuals die, worlds 1 and 3 still exist.

Let us give Popper the last word: "I shall now try to give you a list of interesting conclusions that we can draw, and partly have drawn (although so far unconsciously) from our trivial proposition that animals can know something............"

3-0 out of 5 stars Fun read, but there are many better.
I am a long-time Karl Popper fan. I've read all but, I believe, 4 books of his. To my knowledge, this is his shortest at 161 pages - all consisting of essays. This is also the book of his that is the least original. If you're a long-time fan, you've read these ideas before. If you are a newcomer, there are better books to start with.

For all that, the first essay, "The Logic and Evolution of Scientific Theory" is the best short summary of Popper's views on science that I've read. The second essay is also a good summary of Popper's theories of body/mind interactionism, an odd position for a modern theoriest to hold.

The second half, although quite unoriginal (I've started to realize that Popper's views on freedom, democracy, open society, etc. were better expressed by James Madison)is still quite interesting. Also, this book, I'm quite sure for the first time, gives us Popper's views towards international policy. 'Waging Wars for Peace', an excerpt from a radio interview, is pretty timely in 2003 and reminds us that there can be no thing as an absolute pacifist. Not destroying someone certain to kill only postpones. The title essay, at 6 pages, is another timely celebration of technology; timely because many on the right and left (for different reasons about different techonologies) are preaching against technologies while failing to see the many good sides.

All in all, a quick and fairly worthwhile read. The experienced reader of Popper, again, will find nothing new here. [...]

4-0 out of 5 stars A Taste of Popper
This book is a collection of 15 lectures/speeches/interviews that Popper gave at various points throughout his career (earliest 1958, latest 1994).They are organized into two sections (1) those related to natural science and (2) those related to history and politics.The first section relates to theory of science and knowledge in an evolutionary context with the process of problem solving at the core.In the second section Popper addresses problem solving more generally ("all life is problem solving") and shares his thoughts on subjects such as war, peace, communism, and interpretation of history.

This book has the weaknesses and strengths that you would expect from a work not originally intended to be published in written form.The benefits are that the chapters are fairly brief and easy to read. Also, Popper's style is nearly anti-academic as he tries almost too hard to simplify the material in order to make it understandable to all.The primary drawbacks are that the book can't be well organized and there are significant repetition and overlap in ideas.Additionally, the book doesn't provide the level of detail that one normally expects in a book by a major thinker.

This is the first book of Popper's that I've read.I became interested in his work by being briefly introduced to some of his thinking from other authors.This book did not provide enough detail to satisfy my interest in Popper, but it served to confirm to me that he is a first rate thinker and that his other works should be near the top of my reading list.I especially enjoyed the surprise of reading Popper's thoughts on Saddam Hussein and the threat of nuclear weapons - highly relevant to our situation today (early 2003).There is no doubt where Popper would stand on the current debate about Iraq.

So this is a good book to get a taste of Popper or maybe for a quick review of some of his thinking if you are already familiar with him.However, this isn't the best book for studying Popper's ideas in detail. ... Read more

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