on 9 August 2005
This book is very interesting. It includes Popper's first published development of his "three world" ontology, which I believe is Popper's central philosophical doctrine, in that there is an objective world created by the human mind. It includes all of his philosophical views into a tidy package ... and what a great package it is.
However, this book is a collection of essays. Unfortunately, he dedicates a lot of the book answering the critics of his earlier views, and this spoils his main thesis. It seemed that Popper could not separate himself from the long-winded intellectual disputes of his peers, which can alienate the non-specialist (like me).
Nonetheless, he is undoubtedly one of the great philosophers. Why the disciplines of psychology and sociology never discuss his ideas (and which could help solve some of their philosophical problems) is perhaps one of the great mysteries of modern times.
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 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.
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.
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.
on 5 May 2013
We find in this book the last philosophy of karl Popper, with his "Three Worlds": 1, 2 and 3 for the ideas or the theories, upon the basis of his great works: "The Logic of Scientific Discovery", the "Postscript", and "Conjectures and Refutations".
It is always a logical approach applied to all the problems that can appear in philosophy, and particularly about the theory of knowledge, and in life in general, the problematic of problem solving. He insists on the results of his first researches, with the problem of induction and the criterium of demarcation, and with the study of the growth of knowledge with bold tests and refutation (or corroboration that means to be nearer the truth but never definitely).
So he could give answers to the main philosophical problems: Hume, Kant, metaphysics and commonsense, empiricism and the Vienna Circle, Russel and Wittgenstein, the philosophy of language... Finally he defended an evolutionary theory of knowledge, through trying and error and problem solving, confident he became in the results of biology (Darwin, Lamarck, Spencer, John Eccles, Karl Lorenz...), keeping his realism in philosophy and with the theory of the truth of Tarski. He developed a plea for an objective knowledge, according to an evolutionary epistemology, corresponding to a Neo-Darwinism and a New-Synthesis.