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Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach Revised Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198750246
ISBN-10: 0198750242
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994) was an Austrian and British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition (November 9, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198750242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198750246
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.8 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth A. Hopf on July 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is probably the best ever written on epistemology. Here Popper presents his theory of three worlds, one of which is the world of intelligibles, of ideas in the objective sense, which are Popper's candidates for knowledge without a knowing subject, or what he calls knowledge in the objective sense. Thus the term 'objective' in the title is intended by Popper to emphasize an analogy with physical objects; it is not intended in the more common sense of meaning 'unbiased' or 'unprejudiced' or anything like that (nor does Popper's philosophy have anything in common with Ayn Rand's so-called objectivist epistemology).
The book is subtitled 'An Evolutionary Approach'. Popper sees the evolution of knowledge as continuous with biological evolution: "From the amoeba to Einstein, the growth of knowledge is always the same: we try to solve our problems, and to obtain, by a process of elimination, something approaching adequacy in our tentative solution." In Popper's view, the evolution of knowledge is not merely analogous with biological evolution; rather, it is an extension of biological evolution: it is basically the same, continuous process, from the biological evolution of the amoeba to the most sophisticated theories of science.
The first chapter in the book contains Popper's most extensive discussion of the problem of induction. Popper's interest in this problem dates back to the earliest days of his career. His conclusion is, I think, totally convincing: there is no process of induction, and the sorts of things imagined by so many academic philosophers are just fantasies and misconceptions. Science gets along perfectly well without any inductive logic, as Popper explains.
The final chapters represent some of Popper's most mature philosophy.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
(4 and a half stars)
In this book, Karl Popper developed his 'Evolutionary Epistemology', in which he proposed that our ideas and theories evolve and our knowledge 'grows'. In order to advance his case, he introduced some strange ideas, such as versillimitude (the idea that there are a certain number of possible propositions out there, and you can measure the value of a proposition relative to the total number of propositions in 'proposition-space') and his 'three worlds' (the real world, the subjective world, and the world of things that are written down and artifacts in general).
Regardless of defects in the specific arguments, his general approach was quite rich in insights and possibilities, and his notion of evolutionary epistemology in particular deserves to be taken up and further developed today in a sociocultural evolutionary context. In fact, the existing literature on evlutionary epistemology is mostly from the point of view of strict analogy with biological evolution (variation, survival of the fittest, etc) rather than evolution of ideas in a socio-cultural context. This has its place, but leaves interesting and important work to be done.
The book is a collection of papers, so there is some repetition, and sometimes you need to read another paper in the book before you really 'get' what he was saying in another paper. Some of the papers are fairly heavy going for the non-philosopher or someone who hasn't read at that sort of level of academic literature, so be warned, but if you skim to the good bits or persevere there is a lot of value in this - and a lot of ideas that are half formed, leaving you with the challenging and exciting task of redeveloping them.
Much food for thought.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Ron Dwyer on December 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
When an undergraduate in college, I was mainly exposed to so called "Continental" philosophy which seems to have a tendency, to say the least, toward bosh, and to analytic philosophy which seems to have a tendency, to say the least, toward triviality, plus, since it was a Catholic college, selections from Plato, Aristotle, and medieval metaphysicians.
I could not really acclimate myself with these doctrines. It is in a sense unfortunate that I found an alternative outside my formal schooling. With Popper I found someone who is readable--I think that any intelligent general reader can understand him--original, and with an outlook congruent with natural science.
He is known for his ideas on scientific method--that science does not really "prove" theories, but creates conjectures which have rich empirical content and withstand falsification. With ideas like this, decades ago, he attacked doctrines like Marxism, and psycho-analysis. Demolishing the claims of these doctrines may seem to be no big deal today, but decades ago they were major tools of our intellecutal elites.
This book covers old ground such as his views on science but also, it seems to me, breaks new ground. A new contribution is his theory of the Three Worlds, which I think is fruitful. He also deals with the question of free will, which I sense is the weakest part of his book.
Popper distinguishes three realms or 'worlds.' World1 is the world of physical objects; World2 is the world of our subjective beliefs, thoughts, feelings; World3 is what he calls an objective world of knowledge, the objective contents of thought--the knowledge contained in books, musuems, libraries, etc.
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