The Poverty of Popperism -|- Educational Philosophy Theory

The Poverty of Popperism

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"There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it." (Cicero, De Divinatione.)

If it were not so serious, it would be comical. In the most pompous manner, the advocates of the most unscientific theory imaginable immediately elbowed aside all other trends and loudly proclaimed themselves to be the philosophy of science. It was the intellectual equivalent of gate-crashing a party. And, as sometimes happens, the people at the party may be too polite, or too afraid of a bunch of rowdies, to shut the door, so they just keep quiet and let them in. Of course, it always helps if someone on the inside calls out: "Oh, it’s O. K., they’re friends of mine!"

In the development of quantum mechanics, an important role was played by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. They worked together, and developed the so-called Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, which we have already commented on. There was, however, a difference in their approach. Whereas Bohr was basically a pragmatic scientist, Heisenberg was always inclined to a more philosophical approach, and, for a time, accepted the theories of logical positivism. The whole Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics is permeated with the spirit of subjective idealism as a result.

It was bad enough that this trend should claim to speak for "modern science" in the field of philosophy. But that was not enough for them. They had to teach the scientists their business as well. If they were really the philosophy of science, then all scientists must heed them! They had worked out a "scientific method" which was foolproof. Now everyone must accept it, on pain of being denounced as unscientific. And in case anyone thought they were joking, just look at the job they did on psycho-analysis!

There was only one slight problem in all this. The standards of so-called logicality set by these ladies and gentlemen have nothing whatever to do with the actual practice of science itself. Most practical scientists just shrug their shoulders, and get on with their work as if these people were not there, just like those who move into the kitchen to get away from those noisy party-crashers; which does not prevent them from continuing to make an awful lot of noise.

One of the noisiest was Sir Karl Popper, who died recently. Like Napoleon, who literally crowned himself Emperor, Popper proclaimed himself the philosopher of science, and, without waiting for the outcome of a referendum on the subject, proceeded to hold court on a world scale. In between ferocious polemics against Marx (whom he did not understand), he wrote a great deal on the method of science (which he interpreted in a completely one-sided way). It is a measure of the vacuum in modern philosophy that this kind of nonsense was taken seriously for so long.

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PartyPopper - 19 Haziran 2011 09:47

Surely , if Popper were right , then by his own theses, he could never be proven so. What is it then that makes Poppers ideas somehow exempt from his own nonsense?

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