Karl Popper Is Arguably One Of The Essay

Length: 7 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy Type: Essay Paper: #29453729 Related Topics: Karl Marx, Marxist Criticism, Psychoanalytic Theory, Positivism
Excerpt from Essay :

Karl Popper is arguably one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century because of his role as one of the pioneers of philosophy of science. Popper was a political and social philosopher of significant stature, a dedicated campaigner and strong defender of the Open Society, and a committed rival of all types of conventionalism, skepticism and relativism in human affairs and science (Thorton, n.d.). He considered one of the greatest philosophers of his time because of his remarkable extent of intellectual influence that contributed to his recognition by individuals within and outside the field of philosophy. In his early years, Popper displayed a wide range of interests including music and an inquiring mind that was characterized by examining the psychotherapeutic theories of Fred and Adler, participating in lectures by Einstein, and becoming a Marxist. The main motivation for Popper's scientific inquiry and discovery was the search for truth in which he sought to determine how truth can be ascribed to the claims made by politics, science, and religion.

The Life and Times of Karl popper:

Karl Raimund Popper was born in Vienna, Austria on 28th July 1902 at a time that Austria could claim to be the cultural focal point of the western world. Popper was brought up in an environment that was later described as distinctly bookish by his parents of Jewish origin. While his father was a lawyer by profession, he was strongly interested in philosophy and in the classics through which he transferred an interest in political and social issues to his son. On the other hand, Popper acquired a strong interest in music from his mother to an extent he contemplated taking it as a career and eventually selected history music as a second subject for his doctorate degree examination. Moreover, his passion for music became one of the inspirational forces in the development of his thought.

Following his unhappiness with the standards of teaching at the local school he attended and sickness that kept him at home for several months, Popper left to attend University of Vienna in 1918. Since he did not formally enroll at the University through taking matriculation examination for further four years, the most significant formative year of Popper's intellectual life was 1919. This is primarily because he became heavily involved in left-wing politics, became a Marxist for some time, and joined the Association of Socialist School Students. Nonetheless, he soon completely abandoned being a Marxist because he was quickly disillusioned with its inflexible character. During this period, Popper also discovered Freud and Adler's psychoanalytic theories, briefly served as a voluntary social worker with deprived children, and attended Einstein's lecture in Vienna regarding relativity theory.

The philosopher took time to settle on a career because of his seemingly melancholic personality and worked as a trainee carpenter for some time, graduated with a primary school teaching diploma in 1925, and took a doctorate degree in philosophy in 1928. In 1930, Karl Popper married Josephine Anna Henninger, who played a major in his welfare by providing necessary support and devotion while serving as his amanuensis until her death in 1985 (Thorton, n.d.). Popper taught philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand from 1937 throughout World War II despite of the tense relationship he had with his departmental head. His wife has a challenging time adapting to life away from Vienna, Austria because of Popper's complete harshness to his work ethic, which was not only exhausting but also made her increasingly unhappy. Despite his contributions to the field of philosophy, Popper was criticized in his later years because of his prescriptive approach to science and his focus on the logic of falsification. In addition to being knighted in 1965 and retiring from University of London in 1969, he remained active as a lecturer, writer, and broadcaster until he died in 1994.

Key Concepts and Analyses that Comprised Popper's Theories:

During mid-20th Century, Karl Popper developed the philosophy of critical rationalism based on the naturalistic concept that the society has developed through a procedure of solving problems through...


Popper believed that natural and social sciences have emerged from such problem solving and developed through subjecting probable theories to thorough testing and criticism. In the development of his philosophy, Popper mainly focused on differentiating between science and other activities, which is known as the demarcation problem. Consequently, he did not think that it was possible to approach any philosophical issue or problem through analysis of language or meaning.

The second major concept that informed Popper's critical rationalism philosophy is the search for truth, which was his strongest motivation for scientific discovery. As part of his work, the philosopher focused on determining how people ascribe truth to claims presented in politics, religion, and science (Williams, 2012). This process involved using a skeptical approach or falsification as the differentiating attribute of science. In this case, Popper believed that universal theories can only be falsified since they are never verified or affirmed through any positive probability. He demonstrated how this perspective solved the demarcation problem and problem of induction. Popper also demonstrated how the approach provided a fruitful perspective for viewing scientific activities generally.

The third major concepts for Popper's theories were the themes of human ignorance and the need for critical evaluation of ideas (Ormerod, 2009, p.441). Through these themes, Popper campaigned for the creation of an 'open society', which was based on providing freedom for individuals affected by policies to not only raise their criticisms but also have the ability to regularly and peacefully change their leaders. Based on these prominent features of his social and political philosophy, Popper attacked those who maintained the right to enforce their blueprints on others through perceived knowledge of the course of history or historicism.

Popper's Contribution to the Field of Philosophy:

Popper's main contributions to the field of philosophy occurred in the philosophy of science and in political and social philosophy. In philosophy of science, Popper addressed falsification through which he asserted that we cannot claim any law, theory, or proposition as true unless it is tested through falsification or is falsified. He also addressed explanation in which much dialogue or conversation in the philosophy of science is geared towards understanding how scientific explanation of various events operates or works differently as compared to humanistic accounts. The overall picture of his philosophy of science involved taking a stand against an empiricist perspective of science (Williams, 2012). Popper endeavored to demonstrate how scientific theories develop through his rejection of verificationism and eventual promotion of falsificationism. He implied that any contradictory event to a theory, proposition, or law is adequate to falsify it despite of the number of positive examples that seem to support it.

The philosopher's contributions to social and political philosophy were through a consideration of the nature of the social sciences that focus on describing and explaining them systematically, especially history. This contributed to his belief that the main task of social sciences is to make forecasts regarding human social and political development. Secondly he believed that after the forecasts have been made, the task of politics is to relieve the pains of future social and political development. This provided the basis for Popper to advocate for an open society that is characterized with conducive to problem solving, aggressive theorizing followed by tolerant criticism, and genuine possibilities of change despite criticism.

While in New Zealand, Karl Popper wrote his principal political expanse that was known as The Open Society and Its Enemies, which was a two-volume work that criticized Plato and Marx (Williams, 2012). This led to one of his contributions in the field of philosophy by making epistemology to be directly linked to his work. There are views that Popper's work provided the foundation for totalitarian thought, views that are baseless when examined from a scientific perspective. The direct link of epistemology to Popper's work is attributed to the fact that he criticized historicist analyses through which the society develops based on fixed and predictable political legislations. Furthermore, the philosopher claimed that these analyses formed the basis for ancient and contemporary totalitarianism.

Influence of Culture and Time Period on Popper's Ideas:

Karl Reimund Popper is one of the greatest philosophers who belong to the generation of expatriate scholars in Central Europe that insightfully influenced thoughts in the English-speaking nations in the 20th Century. Popper's work and eventual significant contributions to the field of philosophy were influenced by culture of his time and the time period. One of the significant influences on Popper's ideas was his upbringing. Popper grew up in an environment and atmosphere that was decidedly bookish because of the careers and passions of his parents. His upbringing was part of the culture that contributed to his ideas since he developed a deep interest in social and political issues based on the influence he received from his father who had a keen interest in philosophy and in the classics. In addition, the passion for music that was inculcated…

Sources Used in Documents:


Chaffee, J. (2012). The philosopher's way: thinking critically about profound ideas (4th ed.).

London, Greater London: Pearson.

Ormerod, R.J. (2009). The History and Ideas of Critical Rationalism: The Philosophy of Karl

Popper and Its Implications for OR. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 2009(60), 441-460.

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