Sunday, May 10, 2009

94 Karl Popper

There are two ways of reasoning: induction and deduction. Amzing we have only these two options, but it is a fact and I cant think of another. When I say reasoning I mean that there is a logical relation between statements, which again means that we first have to accept the rules of logic.

Induction means that we collect samples, do observations etc and then come to a conclusion: All A are B. That is ofcourse never true, probable, ok, but never true for how can you tell that you have seen all As?

But on the other hand....the conclusion isnt stupid. On the contrary, for we say something we never knew before and now we say that we know that all A are B IN other words...induction leads to new knowledge.

On the other hand we have deduction. Actually a pretty dull way of reasoning: All A are B, I am an A, so I am a B too. Yes, I already knew that for a long time, with this deduction you arent telling me anything new. Deduction never leads to new knowledge, for what is in the conclusion already has to be in the premises.

This, you could say, is the epistemological landscape that Karl Popper lived in. And it was dominated by the logical positivists around 1935. What it was all about, was the demarcation between science and pseudo-science in general and metaphysics in particular.

The logical positivists had taken this problem to be one of distinguishing between meaningfull and meaningless discource and had proposed to solve it by making empirical verifiability the necessary condition of a sentence's meaningfulness or scientific status.

Popper didnt agree with the distinction between meaningfull and meaningless, nor with the verificaiton principle. His view has always been that it is the important task to distinguish empirical science from other bodies of assertions that might be confused with it.

And there is a lot of pseudo-science, according to Popper: metaphysics, astrology and phrenology, but also Freudian psycho-analysis or Marxist theory of history. But this distinction is not a distiction between sense and nonsense.

Pseudo science or "myth" as he sometimes calls it, can be both inspire and develop into propper science; indeed, the general progress of human knowledge can be considered as a conversion of myth into science by its subjection to critical examination.

So our next step is to answer the question: when becomes a knowledge claim science? A crucial difficulty for the verifiability theory of meaning was Hume's thesis that inductive generalization was logically invalid. We already know why.

What then? Popper maintains, first, that scientific theories are not, in fact, arrived at by any sort of inductive process. The formation of a hypothesis is a creative exercise of the imagination; it is not a passive reaction to observed regularities.

There is no such thing as pure observation, for observation is always selective and takes place under the guidance of some anticipatory theory. Second, even if induction were the way in which hypotheses were arrived at, it would still be wholly incapable of justifying them.

For Popper the growth of knowledge begins with the imaginative proposal of hypotheses, a matter of individual and unpredictable insight that cannot be reduced to rule. Such a hypothesis is science rather than myth if it excludes some observable possibilities.

In other words, my hypothesis excluded the possibility of observation X. So what is my objective: to show that observation X yet is possible. And when I succeed I have proven that my hypothesis isnt scientific knowledge.

Some hypotheses are more falsifiable than others; they exclude more and thus have a greater chance of being refuted. "All heavenly bodies move in ellipses" is more falsifiable than "AII planets move in ellipses," since everything that refutes the second statement refutes the first but much that refutes the first does not refute the second.

If a hypothesis survives continuing and serious attempts to falsify it, then it has "proved its mettle" and can be provisionally accepted. But it can never be established conclusively. And here begins the trouble with Popper's approach.

The survival of attempted refutations corroborates a theory, but we never get certainty and another thing: Popper tried to disqualify induction as the main process of getting to knowledge, but here we see that induction sneaks in again.

There is apparently an inductive inference embedded in Popper's doctrine—the inference from the fact that a theory has thus far escaped refutation to the conclusion that it will continue to do so.

What is the status then of unrefuted hyptheses. This is what Popper says in his book "The Logic of Scientific Discovery" (1935) : "Science is not a system of certain, or well-established, statements.... Our science is not knowledge (episteme): it can never claim to have attained truth, or even a substitute for it, such as probability.... We do not know: we can only guess."

In Popper's opinion knowledge has no foundations or infallible sources, either in reason or the senses. He sees the rationalist and empiricist epistemologies of the modern age as united in a determinatin to replace one sort of authority - a sacred text or institution - with another - a human mental capacity.

Popper rejects innate ideas but believes that we approach the world of experience with propensities - in particular, with a general expectation of regularity that is biologically explicable if not logically justifiable.

I leave it to you to investigate, how Popper applied his views on historicism in his famous "The Open Society and its Enemies" from 1945.

The Discussion

[13:23] Herman Bergson: So much on Popper for today...:-)
[13:24] Herman Bergson: Maybe a bit too much?
[13:24] Ze Novikov: smiles
[13:24] Samuel Okelly: :)
[13:25] Mickorod Renard: so where do we start?
[13:26] Vladimir Apparatchik: He seems to be scientists' favourite philosopher in that they think he has determined how they work.
[13:26] Herman Bergson: Well Maybe at the end Mickorod
[13:26] Vladimir Apparatchik: but are they the best judges?
[13:26] Herman Bergson: Yes Vladimir, but today I yet was a little disappointed
[13:27] hope63 Shepherd: why?
[13:27] Herman Bergson: Popper's main issue is to find a solution for inductive knowledge..
[13:27] Herman Bergson: By finding corroberations of your theory you only make it probable...more probable...
[13:27] Herman Bergson: but never rock solid
[13:27] Mickorod Renard: well someoes gotta do it
[13:28] Herman Bergson: So he comes up with the idea of falsification of a theory....
[13:28] Herman Bergson: but as I said....even in Popper's theory induction sneaks in
[13:28] Mickorod Renard: maybe that opens more doors
[13:29] Herman Bergson: What I liked was his view of the creative process of the growth of knowledge
[13:29] Mickorod Renard: yes I thought that was good
[13:29] Herman Bergson: this view will be elaborated by philosophers like Kuhn and Feyerabend
[13:30] Vladimir Apparatchik: that's what scientists like about it - science is a creative act, not just accumulation of data
[13:31] Herman Bergson: indeed Vladimir, and while it is generally accepted nowadays, Popper opened the door to that approach
[13:31] Herman Bergson: I think that that also meant the end of metephysics
[13:31] hope63 Shepherd: not necessarily herman..
[13:32] Herman Bergson: No , I understand, Hope....for we stil dont have the ontological answers at all
[13:32] hope63 Shepherd: but sure is reducing space for metaphysics:)
[13:32] Mickorod Renard: I see he refers to organic theory, whats that?
[13:33] Herman Bergson: Popper relates the growth of knowledge to biological propensities of the organism
[13:34] Mickorod Renard: so let it grow and see what pops up,,,rather than dismiss a theory?
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:34] Herman Bergson: Yes, Mickorod, but I have an odd feeling about that concept of 'growth'
[13:34] Menard Wemyss: what are those propensities exactly ?
[13:34] hope63 Shepherd: biological.. that would also referto genetic evolution..changes..
[13:35] Herman Bergson: it is a bit metaphorical......growth suggests a certain direction
[13:35] Herman Bergson: and on the other hand Popper states that hypotheses are just creative ideas that come up at a given moment
[13:35] Vladimir Apparatchik: didn't Popper say that Dawinism wasn't scientific because it couldn't be falsified - i never understood that
[13:36] Herman Bergson: He talks about the 'growth of knowledge', but in what sense?
[13:36] Herman Bergson: He uses a darwinian approach himself, I would say
[13:36] Samuel Okelly: what constitutes true and valid "knowledge" for popper? (if in deed such a thing exists)
[13:36] hope63 Shepherd: growth .. means change and no more i think.. think of brontosauirus:9
[13:36] Mickorod Renard: if the direction is the direction of progress and if Popper believes in progeess to a better end?
[13:37] Mickorod Renard: if so
[13:37] Herman Bergson: According to his Logik de Forschung didnt Popper belief in absolute knowledge...reread what I quoted
[13:38] Herman Bergson: Logic of Scientific Discovery
[13:38] Mickorod Renard: ok
[13:38] Herman Bergson: But be carefull with the word 'progress' Mickorod......:-)
[13:39] Mickorod Renard: yea,,we never know what way anything goes
[13:39] hope63 Shepherd: its a commic word
[13:39] Mickorod Renard: is it ! lol
[13:39] Herman Bergson: As far as I understand our present situation, I see us in a creative process of growing knowledge...or to speak with Hope63, a process of constant change
[13:40] Mickorod Renard: Herman you spoke about the growth of knowledge and I was wondering whether the growth constituted progress or not
[13:40] Herman Bergson: And Popper was the first one to describe our condition in this respect
[13:40] Herman Bergson: That is the point Mickorod...!!!
[13:41] Herman Bergson: Growth is a metaphor....I grew up from baby to adult....
[13:41] Herman Bergson: But knowledge....does it grow likewise?
[13:41] Mickorod Renard: ok
[13:41] Herman Bergson: we say we know more and more....
[13:41] Herman Bergson: but that is only true for certain areas of reality
[13:42] Vladimir Apparatchik: I think we spoke about this a couple of lectures ago, it's important to ditinguish knowledge from its use, that's where the word "progress" can get us into a muddle
[13:42] Herman Bergson: We still cant answer the fundamental philosophical questions
[13:42] Herman Bergson: Yes Vladimir,
[13:42] Herman Bergson: that is why I have a propensity to pragmatism
[13:43] Mickorod Renard: but which areas of reality do you mean ... where is there growth of knowledge?
[13:43] Herman Bergson: we know more about the material world that surrounds us
[13:44] Herman Bergson: in a pragmatic way stated..we are more able to manipulate matter now than 100 years ago
[13:45] Vladimir Apparatchik: not just that - like we said at the last lecture Einstein view of nature is progress from Newton
[13:45] Vladimir Apparatchik: Newton is a special case of a the richer Einstein theory
[13:45] Herman Bergson: yes...we are growing inour ability to control and manipulate matter
[13:46] Herman Bergson: but that is only a specific area of knowledge
[13:46] Mickorod Renard: yes,,like manipulate forrests into smoke
[13:46] Era Lucas: know how?
[13:46] Vladimir Apparatchik: knowledge v use again
[13:47] Herman Bergson: yes Mickorod....that is why I am so critical about that word 'growth'
[13:47] Mickorod Renard: grin
[13:47] Herman Bergson: And I like, just like Hope, to talk about begin with....
[13:48] Herman Bergson: As a student I always believed that Popper was THE epistemological and methodological answer ^_^
[13:48] Herman Bergson: Today.......
[13:48] Herman Bergson: well....
[13:48] Herman Bergson: To some extend I still think he gives creative answers to some epistemological questions
[13:49] Herman Bergson: but in fact he does not answer alll the philosophical questions
[13:49] Herman Bergson: on the contrary
[13:50] Herman Bergson: But you really should read about Popper's ideas
[13:50] Herman Bergson: his anthiauthorianism..
[13:50] Mickorod Renard: lol,,,whats that?
[13:51] Herman Bergson: Anti-autoritarianism....geez what a word...:-)
[13:51] Herman Bergson: He didnt like dogamtic control
[13:51] Mickorod Renard: will get me big book out
[13:51] Vladimir Apparatchik: What I like about Popper is he is such a clear writer, the Open Society and its Enenmies is wonderfully written - an antidote to obscure writing of some (most?) philosophers
[13:52] Herman Bergson: Yes true
[13:52] Herman Bergson: You all should read about that
[13:52] Mickorod Renard: thats where he critizises totalitarian regimes?
[13:52] Herman Bergson: What I like in Popper is that he opens the door to creativity
[13:53] Herman Bergson: Yes Mickorod
[13:53] Herman Bergson: In fact Popper is one of those philosophers that hold the view that the mind is free and creative
[13:54] Vladimir Apparatchik: he's actually a dualist I think
[13:54] Mickorod Renard: I like that to a point,,but i have a prob with chaos
[13:54] Herman Bergson: His ideas on ethics for instance are that judgements of value are decisions or proposals, not empirical statements
[13:55] Mickorod Renard: its funny,,I been working with chaos lately
[13:56] Herman Bergson: Well...I dont know if we can speak of chaos...
[13:56] Mickorod Renard: A bit of authority can aid progress,,,sorry 4 the word again
[13:56] Herman Bergson: it is again that binary thinking.....Order <---> Chaos
[13:56] oola Neruda: which chaos Mick
[13:57] oola Neruda: the mathematical one?
[13:57] Mickorod Renard: chaos in anything,,,where there is no disaplin,,or consideration 4 others
[13:57] oola Neruda: ahh
[13:58] Mickorod Renard: I like quantum idea's too
[13:58] Mickorod Renard: is quantum chaos?
[13:58] oola Neruda: lololol
[13:58] Herman Bergson: I wouldnt say that...
[13:58] Qwark Allen: oki
[13:58] Mickorod Renard: nor me really
[13:58] oola Neruda: i would say depends upon who you ask... lolol ...good one Mick
[13:58] Herman Bergson: it is a multitude of possibilities
[13:58] Mickorod Renard: and so is chaos
[13:59] Qwark Allen: no
[13:59] Herman Bergson: yes....and we are in the midst of it making decisions and choices
[13:59] Qwark Allen: cause there is a probability of beeing there
[13:59] Qwark Allen: it`s a organized caos
[13:59] Vladimir Apparatchik: chaos can come out of a deterministic system - that's different to quantum mechanics
[14:00] Qwark Allen: yes
[14:00] Qwark Allen: :-)
[14:00] Mickorod Renard: true
[14:00] Herman Bergson: At least Popper is the start of a new approach in the philosophy of science
[14:00] Mickorod Renard: although one day quantum mechanics may prove to be deterministic
[14:01] Vladimir Apparatchik: yes it might
[14:01] Herman Bergson: and we'll meet a few philosophers who will elaborate on his ideas...
[14:01] Mickorod Renard: yes>?
[14:01] Herman Bergson: But to be honest....
[14:02] Herman Bergson: He didnt answer all that I thought ( as a student) he answered ^_^
[14:02] Herman Bergson: In other words..he isnt as big anymore for me as I once believed..:-)
[14:02] Mickorod Renard: is that sweet of herman?
[14:03] Herman Bergson: But regarding the philosophy of science and his epistemological views he is still important to me
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[14:03] Mickorod Renard: cool,,well I like him
[14:03] Herman Bergson: So do I, Mickorod
[14:03] Mickorod Renard: stimulating
[14:04] Herman Bergson: Yes he is
[14:04] oola Neruda: sorry... have to leave... baiee
[14:04] Gemma Cleanslate: bye oola
[14:04] Qwark Allen: i`ve studie poper at psicology class
[14:04] Mickorod Renard: by oola
[14:04] Vladimir Apparatchik: anyone who Wittgenstein threatened with a poker can't be all bad !
[14:05] Herman Bergson: Your mind is still clear, Rough????
[14:05] Mickorod Renard: I was thinking earlier,,if God was the opposite of chaos, wud that mean quantum physics is the devil~?
[14:05] Qwark Allen: lool
[14:05] Qwark Allen: :-)
[14:06] Rough Jewell: yeah no prob... vodka clears all cobwebs
[14:06] Herman Bergson: Well..philosophically I would say that I can not verify nor falsify your statement, Mickorod....
[14:06] Mickorod Renard: grin
[14:06] herman Bergson smiles
[14:06] Alarice Beaumont: LOL
[14:07] Samuel Okelly: :)
[14:07] Ze Novikov: must fly ..thanks herman bb everyone..
[14:07] AristotleVon Doobie: bye bye for now Ze
[14:07] Herman Bergson: By Ze :-)
[14:07] Qwark Allen: bye
[14:07] Mickorod Renard: bye ze
[14:07] Alarice Beaumont: bye Ze :-)
[14:07] Tiara Calvert: Be well:)
[14:07] Gemma Cleanslate: bye
[14:07] Herman Bergson: Neverknew Ze could fly....^_^
[14:07] Alarice Beaumont: ,-)
[14:08] Herman Bergson: Well..I thank you all for your participation..I guess time to fly for you all ^_^
[14:08] Qwark Allen: indeed
[14:08] Qwark Allen: time allways agains`t us
[14:08] Mickorod Renard: thankyou Herman
[14:08] Alarice Beaumont: yes..right
[14:08] Qwark Allen: thank you herman
[14:08] Mickorod Renard: I am off now,,bye everyone
[14:08] Tiara Calvert: Thank you for a wonderful class. My apologies to all about arriving late. Please have a great rest of your days:)
[14:08] Alarice Beaumont: thank you Herman :-)
[14:08] Era Lucas: thank you herman
[14:08] Qwark Allen: interesting class
[14:08] Herman Bergson: my pleasure :-)
[14:08] Menard Wemyss: tyvm herman
[14:08] Samuel Okelly: thanks again herman :) take care every1 :)
[14:08] Alarice Beaumont: you too, tiara
[14:08] Rough Jewell: ta ta
[14:08] Gemma Cleanslate: bye all!!!!
[14:08] Vladimir Apparatchik: thanks Herman - I hadn't really spotted the induction in Popper until tonight - thanks very much for that
[14:08] Gemma Cleanslate: have to fly

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-10-15 07:29:35

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