Paper On Karl Popper And Falsification

1994 words - 8 pages

Karl Popper came of age in the aftermath of the World War I. He left school at sixteen and soon found himself captivated with Marxism and its social implications. He turned away from Marxism however when he saw the destruction caused by left-wing demonstrators in Vienna, which led to the deaths of some of the protestors. He was a man of many studies, becoming interested not only in Marxist theories, but in astronomy and psychoanalysis, working for a time with the eminent psychologist Alfred Adler. A major turning point in his life was Arthur Eddington's successful test of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. He saw how Einstein had been critical of his own theory, constan ...view middle of the document...

Each of these two cases can be explained with equal ease in Freudian and Adlerian terms. According to Freud the first man suffered from repression (say, of some component of his Oedipus complex), while the second man had achieved sublimation. According to Adler the first man suffered from feelings of inferiority (producing perhaps the need to prove to himself that he dared to commit some crime), and so did the second man (whose need was to prove to himself that he dared to rescue the child). I could not think of any human behaviour, which could not be interpreted in terms of either theory. It was precisely this fact--that they always fitted, that they were always confirmed--which in the eyes of their admirers constituted the strongest argument in favour of these theories. It began to dawn on me that this apparent strength was in fact their weakness.'These observations and interpretations, Popper came to feel, have more in common with primitive myths than with genuine science. That is to say, he saw that what is apparently the chief source of strength of psychoanalysis, and the principal basis on which its claim to scientific status is grounded, its capability to accommodate, and explain, every possible form of human behaviour, is in fact a critical weakness, for it means there are too many answers to too many questions. This forces ourselves to ask two questions, how can we ever predict behaviour and, what is a responsible and efficient scientific approach to each particular issue?Scientific approach is defined as the involvement of standards and procedures for demonstrating the empirical warrant of its findings, showing the match or fit between its statements and what is happening or has happened in the world. Scientific approaches to understanding the world can be distinguished from other approaches in two fundamental ways. Firstly, an approach that claims to be scientific irrespective of whether or not it originates in the field of natural or human science must demonstrably have empirical relevance to the world. Empirical relevance involves showing that any statements, descriptions and explanations used or derived from this approach can be verified or checked out in the world and secondly, an approach which necessitates the deliberate use of clear procedures which does not only show results were achieved but are also clear enough for other workers in the field to attempt to repeat them, that is, to check them out with the same or other materials and thereby test the results. These two criteria, empirical relevance and clear procedures are bedrock assumptions built into any scientific approach.Karl Popper argues that scientists should start with a hypothesis, or a statement that is to be tested. The statement should be precise and should state exactly what will happen in particular circumstances. On the basis of the hypothesis it should be possible to deduce predictions about future happenings. According to Popper it matters little ho...

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