Karl Popper, fully Sir Karl Raimund Popper

Karl
Popper, fully Sir Karl Raimund Popper
1902
1994

Austro-British Scientific Philosopher and Professor at the London School of Economics

Author Quotes

I would rather find a single causal law than be the king of Persia!

It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.

No book can ever be finished. While working on it we learn just enough to find it immature the moment we turn away from it

Piecemeal social engineering resembles physical engineering in regarding the ends as beyond the province of technology. (All that technology may say about ends is whether or not they are compatible with each other or realizable.)

If God had wanted to put everything into the universe from the beginning, He would have created a universe without change, without organisms and evolution, and without man and man's experience of change. But he seems to have thought that a live universe with events unexpected even by Himself would be more interesting than a dead one.

It is not his possession of knowledge, of irrefutable truth, that makes the man of science, but his persistent and recklessly critical quest for truth.

No matter how many instances of white swans we may have observed, this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white.

If in this book harsh words are spoken about some of the greatest among the intellectual leaders of mankind, my motive is not, I hope, the wish to belittle them. It springs rather from my conviction that, if our civilization is to survive, we must break with the habit of deference to great men. Great men may make great mistakes; and as the book tries to show, some of the greatest leaders of the past supported the perennial attack on freedom and reason. Their influence, too rarely challenged, continues to mislead those on whose defense civilization depends, and to divide them. The responsibility of this tragic and possibly fatal division becomes ours if we hesitate to be outspoken in our criticism of what admittedly is a part of our intellectual heritage. By reluctance to criticize some of it, we may help to destroy it all.

It is not intuitive ease I am after, but rather a point of view which is sufficiently definite to clear up some difficulties, and to be criticized in rational terms. (Bohr's complementarity cannot be so criticized, I fear; it can only be accepted or denounced - perhaps as being ad hoc, or as being irrational, or as being hopelessly vague.)

No number of sightings of white swans can prove the theory that all swans are white. The sighting of just one black one may disprove it.

I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program.

If only we would stop setting man against man - often with the best intentions - much would be gained. Nobody can say that it is impossible for us to stop doing this.

It is not possible to write clearly enough to avoid being misrepresented by people who are sufficiently determined to do so.

No particular theory may ever be regarded as absolutely certain.... No scientific theory is sacrosanct.

I have insisted that we must be tolerant. But I also believe that this tolerance has its limits. We must not trust those anti-humanitarian religions which not only preach destruction but act accordingly. For if we tolerate them, then we become ourselves responsible for their deeds.

If our civilization is to survive, we must break with the habit of deference to great men. Great men may make great mistakes; ...some of the greatest leaders of the past supported the perennial attack on freedom and reason.

It is often asserted that discussion is only possible between people who have a common language and accept common basic assumptions. I think that this is a mistake. All that is needed is a readiness to learn from one's partner in the discussion, which includes a genuine wish to understand what he intends to say. If this readiness is there, the discussion righteous stupidity will be the more fruitful the more the partner's backgrounds differ.

No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.

I have learned more from Hayek than from any other living thinker, except perhaps Alfred Tarski - but not even excepting Russell.

If we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

It is our duty to help those who need help; but it cannot be our duty to make others happy, since this does not depend on us, and since it would only too often mean intruding on the privacy of those towards whom we have such amiable intentions.

'Normal' science, in Kuhn's sense, exists. It is the activity of the non-revolutionary, or more precisely, the not-too-critical professional: of the science student who accepts the ruling dogma of the day... in my view the 'normal' scientist, as Kuhn describes him, is a person one ought to be sorry for... He has been taught in a dogmatic spirit: he is a victim of indoctrination... I can only say that I see a very great danger in it and in the possibility of its becoming normal... a danger to science and, indeed, to our civilization. And this shows why I regard Kuhn's emphasis on the existence of this kind of science as so important.

I have spoken to Einstein and he admitted to me that his theory was in fact no different from the one of Parmenides.

If we wish our civilization to survive we must break with the habit of deference to great men.

It is part of my thesis that all our knowledge grows only through the correcting of our mistakes.

Author Picture
First Name
Karl
Last Name
Popper, fully Sir Karl Raimund Popper
Birth Date
1902
Death Date
1994
Bio

Austro-British Scientific Philosopher and Professor at the London School of Economics