Conjectures and Refutations – Karl Popper

How I wish all books of Philosophy are written like Conjectures and Refutations… It is entertaining whilst staying profound. What more can I ask?

Perhaps because Popper is a philosopher of Science, there is little bull***tStarting from the idea of falsification as the criteria of demarkation between Philosophy and Science, Popper moves on and applies falsification to all facets of life.

Falsification

What is the true process of science? What differs science from other subjects? Is it induction – the collection of data and ascertaining patterns? Or to take out a spreadsheet stare at it all day? Popper says no. The problem is that there are always multiple theories that can be conjured to fit with a set of data, then, how do we formulate scientific theories?

We use our imagination. We come up with diverse hypotheses which conforms with current data, but ones which has predictive power in realms outside of our knowledge. Then we falsify them – we falsify them by testing whether their predictions stand. We test them again and again; the cycle of falsification and hypothezation is the cycle of science; the cycle is the cycle towards truth. However, saying this, although we can falsify a theory, we can never verify it, we can never be sure that we have hit upon the truth. In fact, we will never know that our theories are true, our only hope is to prove that they’re false.

Damn, can any theory be better than this? A theory that saves science from both the Skeptics and the Positivists? You see why I like Popper so much now?

Duty to Become an Optimist

Falsification is Popper’s epistemology, but through this epistemology comes his ethics, this ethics is one that I particularly enjoy.

Because we can never be sure that we are right, we can never be certain that the future will be better than the past. Saying that, we have a duty to believe that it will, and we have a duty to turn our belief into reality. Because history can never be predicted, we are responsible for the trajectory of history, and we have the moral responsibility to make it a better place. This is what it means to be an optimist.

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