Thursday, June 17, 2010

262 : Karl Popper

Karl Popper is generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century. He was also a social and political philosopher of considerable stature, a self-professed ‘critical-rationalist’,

a dedicated opponent of all forms of skepticism, conventionalism, and relativism in science and in human affairs generally, a committed advocate and staunch defender of the ‘Open Society’, and an implacable critic of totalitarianism in all of its forms.

This is how the article on Karl Popper begins in the Stanford Encyclopedia. Reason enough for us to have a closer look at his social and political thoughts.

In his constant attack on totalitarianism there are especially two key concept in the spotlights: holism and historicism. Both closely related to the social sciences.

Holism is to be understood as the view that human social groupings are greater than the sum of their members, that such groupings are ‘organic’ entities in their own right,

that they act on their human members and shape their destinies, and that they are subject to their own independent laws of development. In other words, the classic idea, that the sum is more than all individual parts together.

Historicism, which is closely associated with holism, is the belief that history develops inexorably and necessarily according to certain principles or rules towards a determinate end (as for example in the dialectic of Hegel, which was adopted and implemented by Marx).

There is a link between the holist and the historicist. The holist believes, that individuals are essentially formed by the social groupings to which they belong.

According to the historicist we only can understand these social groupings only in terms of the internal principles which determine its development.

The claim that 10 individuals in one room are more than 10 individuals, say…a group, some abstract entity with its own behavior is a misconception, according to Popper.

Such a theory doesn't even fulfill the basic requirement of offering a possibility to proof or better, falsify this fact. Thus the idea is not scientific, in fact just nonsense.

Consequently, the idea that groups develop through history according to for instance dialectic laws is nonsense too. One only tries to apply the methodology of the natural sciences to the social sciences, which is a misconception too.

Therefore Popper holds the view, that history does not evolve in accordance with intrinsic laws or principles,

that in the absence of such laws and principles unconditional prediction in the social sciences is an impossibility, and that there is no such thing as historical necessity.

In what Popper calls "the Open Society" every individual citizen must have the possibility to evaluate critically the consequences of the implementation of government policies, which can then be abandoned or modified in the light of such critical scrutiny.

In such a society, the rights of the individual to criticize administrative policies will be formally safeguarded and upheld, undesirable policies will be eliminated in a manner analogous to the elimination of falsified scientific theories.

Popper was not a utopian, but saw this as an already empirically realized form of social organization. What he wanted was to demonstrate that the historicist and holist presuppositions were fundamentally incoherent.

Popper saw his Open Society as an association of free individuals respecting each other's rights within the framework of mutual protection supplied by the state, and achieving, through the making of responsible, rational decisions, a growing measure of humane and enlightened life. (Levinson, R.B.1957).

The Discussion

[13:24] herman Bergson: And hereby I declare Society for opened
[13:25] herman Bergson: Feel free to ask questions of add remarks
[13:26] Bruce Mowbray: no gestalt for the state - - The state cannot be greater than the sum of its citizens.
[13:26] Seeme Short: I havent read the open society, but it is famous for its attack on plato.. can you comment on that?
[13:26] Bruce Mowbray: telos.
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: Hard to square the rationality of the hoped for "Open Society" with hhot media, the 8 hour news cycle, and Glen Beck ㋡
[13:27] Bruce Mowbray: ;-)
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: I admire the hope, though
[13:27] herman Bergson: Well repose that is the point I was thinking of myself
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: ㋡
[13:27] Bruce Mowbray: Also very critical of Hegel.
[13:28] Loo Zeta: It is flawed as there is always the suppressed
[13:28] Seeme Short: well, that makes sense, given his criticism of historicism
[13:28] herman Bergson: But to answer Seeme...Plato was a totalitarian..thinking that only th ephilosopghers could rule the state
[13:28] Loo Zeta: no society is equal
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: I agree with his criticism of both holism and historicism
[13:29] herman Bergson: And even when we have the media...
[13:29] Allie Birmingham: Where does each members reason to care come from?
[13:29] herman Bergson: we alsio have other stations that offer falsifications of certain views
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: but finally his solution sounds like "science or nonsense," which is untenable
[13:29] herman Bergson: Well....basically he would say...
[13:30] herman Bergson: come up with any possible political view...
[13:30] herman Bergson: is ok...
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmm
[13:30] herman Bergson: BUT include a way to test it
[13:30] herman Bergson: sothat it can be falsified
[13:31] herman Bergson: the holistic idea cant be fasified...
[13:31] Seeme Short: haha, does his own view meet this falsification requirement?
[13:31] herman Bergson: there IS no organic entity to test
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: yes, and Marxism, then, would be a self-referential system of explanation with too little empirical ground...untestable
[13:31] Bruce Mowbray thinks to himself: "History" is in the eye of the historian.
[13:32] herman Bergson: That is a good on Seeme....
13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: well that is a one history is factual isnt it?
[[13:33] herman Bergson: Can Popper's requirement of falsifiability be falsified?
[13:33] Bruce Mowbray: Does Popper's own thinking meet his requirements for falsification...
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: distrupting class
[13:33] Seeme Short: right
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: good question
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: probably not, i think
[13:33] herman Bergson: The question this a correct approach..
[13:34] herman Bergson: In fact ..Popper's idea is based on logic...
[13:34] Seeme Short: I would argue that not all is to be approached scientifically
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:34] herman Bergson: and he showed that confirmation only increases probability
[13:34] Kiki Walpanheim: why would a problem need to be falsified to be a problem? there are so many issues that never fit in the category of science, yet important still
[13:35] herman Bergson: Here is is about government and its action...
[13:36] herman Bergson: they can be they are consequences of a theory
[13:36] Loo Zeta: /apologises as having network lag
[13:36] Seeme Short: I am not sure about falsification, but in the case of a soccer team, the team is obviously something more than the 11 individuals
[13:37] Bruce Mowbray thinks: a timely point!
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: soooo...confirmation (and falsification) are probabilistic?
[13:37] herman Bergson: No...
[13:37] Seeme Short: haha, yes, bruce
[13:37] herman Bergson: 11 individuals with 11 individual behaviors nothing more
[13:37] Bruce Mowbray: no team? no state? no community? no "philosophy class"?
[13:37] Kiki Walpanheim: in the famous game theory- prisonors dilemma, the consequence gets bad when everybody only takes care of himself rather than the whole team
[13:38] herman Bergson: that they have learnt to coordinate their behavior doesnt ad an entity to this world
[13:38] Seeme Short: well, the game isn't intelligible from the individuals behaviors
[13:38] herman Bergson: it can blame an individual for his behavior in the group
[13:38] Bruce Mowbray: excellent point, Seeme.
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:39] herman Bergson: and words like team etc..are emotional add ons
[13:39] Loo Zeta: ahh group dynamics
[13:39] Kiki Walpanheim: but holism seems to provide justification for totalitarianism, which isn't that attractive...tho the theory itself makes sense in some way
[13:39] Bruce Mowbray: Try to schedule the World Cup by naming individual players.
[13:39] Loo Zeta: who are the controllers?
[13:39] herman Bergson: No..holism doesn make sense at all...
[13:40] Kiki Walpanheim: :/
[13:40] herman Bergson: sounds goeod perhaps but makes no sense
[13:40] Loo Zeta: who is perceived to be in authority
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: group behavior arises from the evolved social nature of individuals and social conditioning
[13:40] Bruce Mowbray: Yo, Rodney.
[13:40] Seeme Short: I still think groups impose rules on us, of course I agree with Popper this fact does not deprive us of the right to question the rules
[13:40] Rodney Handrick: Hi Bruce
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: groups are not existent things in their own right
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: except in a general social sense
[13:40] Seeme Short: of course, a statue does not exist without clay either
[13:41] herman Bergson: There is only group behavoir in the sense that a number of individual behave alike
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: reify the group gives you totalitarianism
[13:41] Abraxas Nagy: its an abstraction
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: reifying*
[13:41] herman Bergson: Very well understood Seeme..
[13:41] Bruce Mowbray: Does the concept of "citizenship" mean anything at all?
[13:42] Loo Zeta: in theory
[13:42] herman Bergson: A number of individuals thinking alike put perssure on you to think the same way....nothing more...
[13:42] Abraxas Nagy: for some maybe
[13:42] Loo Zeta: taught in UK schools
[13:42] Allie Birmingham: Loo don't drag the teacher into this :)
[13:42] Loo Zeta: taking a 'stake'
[13:43] herman Bergson: I missed Loo's point
[13:43] Loo Zeta: but the reduction of stake = no citizenship
[13:44] herman Bergson: Citizenship is nothing more than that the individual feels rsponsible for the wellbeing of his fellowman too
[13:44] Bruce Mowbray: sounds a bit like Any Rand.
[13:44] Bruce Mowbray: Ayn.
[13:44] herman Bergson: oh no....
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: oh my
[13:45] Abraxas Nagy: AH HAHAHAHA
[13:45] herman Bergson: Rand doesnt care for the wellbeing of the other for a dime
[13:45] Abraxas Nagy: please
[13:45] Abraxas Nagy: exactly
[13:45] herman Bergson: She cares for you own wellbeing primarily
[13:45] Bruce Mowbray: So. .. Popper is not an anarchist. . . Just feels that the "state" is an entity that cannot be "falsified" and therefore is not a valid entity.
[13:46] herman Bergson: No...
[13:46] herman Bergson: Popper regards the state as a group of rational individuals who use his method of falsification to find out what is best for all
[13:47] Rodney Handrick: Is that a tablet on the podium Herman?
[13:47] Rodney Handrick: I sorry..
[13:47] Rodney Handrick: I'm Sorry! had to ask...
[13:47] Kiki Walpanheim: political science , science?
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: nope
[13:48] Kiki Walpanheim: i feel science is tractable, you can always know for sure what is right
[13:48] Kiki Walpanheim: but when it comes to political science, the dispute is constant...
[13:48] herman Bergson: So..Popper the end..if we really want an open society should be ruled by scientific rationality
[13:48] Abraxas Nagy: science'ish
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: oh, like that ㋡
[13:49] Abraxas Nagy: ╔╗╔═╦╗
[13:49] Abraxas Nagy: ║╚╣║║╚╗
[13:49] Abraxas Nagy: ╚═╩═╩═╝
[13:49] herman Bergson: Well..I guess his main point is....
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: that sound good caus science means finding out how things actually work and should be
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: no matter what it is
[13:49] herman Bergson: If you have a political claim..give me to proof the truth of fasity of it..otherwise it is nonsense
[13:50] Seeme Short: I still cannot see how that would work in practice
[13:50] herman Bergson: and as you know from reality...people love to follow nonsense..
[13:50] Bruce Mowbray: "God has blessed America with abundant resources" is nonsense..., then.
[13:50] Abraxas Nagy: thats a fact herman
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:50] herman Bergson: Of course Bruce...
[13:50] Kiki Walpanheim: i just feel the absolute is much more obscure when it comes to political science, compared to the natural science
[13:50] Rodney Handrick: hmm...
[13:50] Sartre Placebo: btw. is what chomsky thinks in books like ,,manufacturing consent" philosophy ?
[13:50] Bruce Mowbray: even the idea of "blessed" is nonsense.
[13:50] Seeme Short: as long as we aren't able to falsify a view, would it follow that it is a justifiied view?
[13:51] herman Bergson: no seeme....
[13:51] Kiki Walpanheim: what about the claim "all men are created equal"
[13:51] Kiki Walpanheim: can it be falsfied
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: keep thinking of Godel here....
[13:51] Bruce Mowbray: nonsense.
[13:51] herman Bergson: it is not justified....just probably we still can be mistaken
[13:51] Seeme Short: right, the principle of equality
[13:52] herman Bergson: But if we have no alternative...we might go for it and learn
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: there are always unfalsifiable (mythic) underpinnings to any rationally held opinion or set of opinions
[13:53] herman Bergson: yes the end we end up with axioms
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: these are very big questions here
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: yes, Sir
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: :D
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: :)
[13:53] Bruce Mowbray: Axioms.... as in Platonic "ideals"?
[13:53] herman Bergson: And that makes life so fascinating ㋡
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: yep
[13:53] Seeme Short: falsification applies to empirical methods, political views (ideally) are subject to rational scrutiny
[13:53] herman Bergson: No Bruce..never
[13:53] Seeme Short: not really the same
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: yes!
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: heheheh
[13:53] Kiki Walpanheim: i think instead to seek for an absolute "scientific" answer for the truth, we could
[13:54] Seeme Short: haha, reposes point too, I see
[13:54] herman Bergson: Axioms in the sense that we formulate statements of facts which we can not proof or falsify
[13:54] Bruce Mowbray: Axions "determine" outcomes in math. "Ideals" determine outcomes in . . . history (?)
[13:54] Bruce Mowbray: OK. I see.
[13:54] herman Bergson: I dont agree with you bruce...
[13:55] herman Bergson: Teleological thinking
[13:55] Kiki Walpanheim: maybe just to admit that some theories are not science, so debate is allowed, this indulgence itself is the spirit of science...
[13:55] Seeme Short: ideals don' determine, to start with
[13:55] Bruce Mowbray: yep.
[13:55] Bruce Mowbray: more Aristotle than Plato, there.
[13:55] herman Bergson: Yes Kiki
[13:55] Bruce Mowbray: "final cause"
[13:55] Kiki Walpanheim: because, there are so many theories in philosophy, more specifically, political science that can not be falsified
[13:55] Kiki Walpanheim: which are not that scientific
[13:56] Seeme Short: as such, it is rather a matter of rationality
[13:56] Seeme Short: did popper comment on Rawls, herman?
[13:56] herman Bergson: Yes...rationality....
[13:56] herman Bergson: the most peculiar phenomenon in human behavior.. ㋡
[13:56] herman Bergson: Good for a next project..
[13:56] Seeme Short: hehe
[13:57] Kiki Walpanheim: the problem with holism and historicism is that, the totalitariamnism state they provide justification for, hindered the channel ppl could discuss and debate about ideas
[13:57] Daruma Boa: so yes, i must leave now.
[13:57] Kiki Walpanheim: tho i see holism and historicism make sense in some way
[13:57] Daruma Boa: see u thursday.
[13:57] Kiki Walpanheim: only the ideology they provide justification for is problematic
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: see you thursday i hope
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: cu Daruma
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:57] Bruce Mowbray: bye, Daruma.
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:57] Seeme Short: thanks, herman
[13:58] herman Bergson: I think the holism of this class is
[13:58] Kiki Walpanheim: thank you professor
[13:58] Bruce Mowbray: hehehe
[13:58] Sartre Placebo: thx herman
[13:58] Kiki Walpanheim: LOL
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: :)
[13:58] herman Bergson: so time to thank you all for your participation...
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: hmm this was interesting for sure
[13:58] herman Bergson: Class dissolved
[13:58] Kiki Walpanheim: thanks all
[13:58] Bruce Mowbray: Are you implying that there WAS holism to begin with?
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: :)
[13:58] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Bye ! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡
[13:58] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:58] Sartre Placebo: what will be the next topic ?
[13:58] Seeme Short: it is historically determined that classes cannot maintain holism for long
[13:58] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor ㋡
[13:58] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:58] Bruce Mowbray: rationalism.
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: oki whats up next
[13:59] Loo Zeta: ty
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: somthing fun
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: Hooo!!!
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: Hoooo!
[13:59] Qwark Allen: partyy at space station now
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: great!
[13:59] Qwark Allen: i`ll send tp
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: a
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: ys
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: :)
[14:00] Seeme Short: bye all, ciao herman
[14:00] herman Bergson: Bye Seeme
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: cu
[14:00] herman Bergson: See you ㋡
[14:00] Loo Zeta: bye take care
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum: danke herman! byebye class :-)
[14:00] Kiki Walpanheim: see you ppl
[14:00] herman Bergson: Bye Bergie
[14:00] Sartre Placebo: night kiki
[14:01] Sartre Placebo: bye everyone
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