Karl Popper on Knowledge & Certainty
Karl Popper discusses some of his views about knowledge and certainty in an interview with Anthony Quinton from 1988. This is from a series called Uncertain Truth. You can find the whole thing on Youtube… Karl Popper was an Austro-British philosopher who is widely regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science in the 20th century. His ideas about science and politics robustly challenged the accepted ideas of the day. He strongly resisted the prevailing empiricist view that scientific theories could be proved true, suggesting instead that theories can at best only survive our attempts to falsify them. Popper wrote: “The more we learn about the world and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our ignorance”. He rejected the classical inductivist view of scientific method in favor of empirical falsification, suggesting that we do not start with observation and then go on to generalize to form theories, but rather we start with hypotheses that we try to falsify. This criterion of falsifiability was taken by him to be the mark of genuine science. It originated from his recognition that the problem of induction cannot possibly be overcome. He went on to apply his ideas to politics, defending liberal democracy and social criticism which allowed for what he referred to as an Open Society.
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