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"As always, Popper's writing is extremely clear and fascinating."-Stefano Gattei, "Philosophy in Review

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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A Taste of Popper 18 Feb. 2003
By Bradley A. Swope - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Fun read, but there are many better. 20 Mar. 2003
By Kevin Currie-Knight - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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. [...]
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant and essential reading for all disciplines 14 Oct. 2009
By Bruce Caithness - Published on
Format: Paperback
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 (b.1902, d.1994) elegantly proposes that knowledge is linked to expectations. These expectations express theories of reality. Thus knowledge expresses theories of reality. We as with all living things have propensities to guess reality based on hypotheses which logically and psychologically precede observation. 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 foundation for defining a "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. It is a world of propensities.

Despite perceptual and cognitive limitations, living beings do seek truth and routinely test models against assumed 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 reaching a destination of 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 that is unfortunately commonly used by laypersons and academics alike and distorts the value of the scientific method. Indeed, including and beyond science, all our knowledge is uncertain. Scientific testing corroborates our tentative theories it does not confirm them.

Still at least in our universe, the world is roughly spherical even though many of our forefathers assumed that it was flat. The theory of 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 or truth likeness. Still, 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 source 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 second-hand and often misattributed references rather than simply addressing his ethical challenge of making method accountable. 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 discourse. 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, cynics overlook the corollary to the unprovable nature of reality namely that, precisely because we cannot prove otherwise, there is always room for surprises. Perhaps meaning cannot be demonstrated in a deterministic world i.e. it is not to be found in Schopenhauer's "World as Representation" but rather in the unexpected, the coincidental, the "World as Will". Popper stressed, unlike the logical positivists, that meaning can be found in unscientific statements. The search for truth (as a regulatory principle) hinges on inter-subjective criticism, not the shielding of our claims from refutation.

Excessive expressions of certainty are 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 should not fear that honest engagement will destroy mystery. There is much to surprise us. 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, but this does not mean that well-tested ideas should be let go lightly.

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............"

A Guide to The Logic of Scientific Discovery (The Popular Popper)
World of Propensities
... Amazom) should set up reader's group about important book like this one 5 April 2015
By Twlogos Wang - Published on
Format: Hardcover
You (mean Amazom) should set up reader's group about important book like this one. And give the kindle print edition as possible you can.
The paper edition buyer has right to as you do that. Every one will get no harm, but benefit.
Interesting read- requires extra 22 Dec. 2013
By H - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this as a gift- he seems to enjoy it but felt like there were other books that needed to be read before or as companions.
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