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Sir Karl R. Popper (Sir Karl Raimund Popper) Biography

(1902–94), (Sir Karl Raimund Popper), Logik der Forschung, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

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British philosopher of science and political philosopher, born in Vienna, educated at the University of Vienna. He was acquainted with Rudolf Carnap and other members of the Vienna Circle of logical positivists, with whom he disagreed over the status of inductive reasoning. He left Vienna as the ascendancy of Nazism intensified and lectured at Canterbury University College, Christchurch, New Zealand. In 1945 he became a reader at the London School of Economics, where he was Professor of Logic and Scientific Method from 1949 to 1969. Widely regarded as the twentieth century's most eminent philosopher of science, he was knighted in 1964. His first major work, Logik der Forschung (1935), translated as The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959), was centrally concerned with the task of distinguishing science from the pseudosciences. Popper rejected induction as the identifying characteristic of science, arguing that scientists did not proceed on the basis of pure observation but were actively creative in bringing anticipatory hypotheses to their work. He proposed the principle of falsifiability as a fundamental criterion of authentic science; the theorist's concern, he maintained, should be with the establishment of instances which negate a statement rather than with attempts at confirmation. The pseudo-sciences, among which he numbered Marxism and psychoanalysis, were by comparison beyond the scope of logical falsification. He criticized rational empiricism for its fallacious desire to substitute an infallible theoretical system for the former absolutes of theology. His critiques of social and historical determinisms in The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) and The Poverty of Historicism (1957) are similarly based on his refusal to endorse the quest for certainty. Popper's other works include Objective Knowledge (1972), A World of Propensities (1990), and the autobiography Unended Quest (1976, revised edition 1986).

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