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Ayn Rand has the best moral philosophy ever invented. Karl Popper has the most important breakthrough in epistemology. Most Objectivists seem to think that Popper and Rand are incompatible, and Popper is an enemy of reason. They have not understood him. These lists are intended to help explain my motivation for integrating Rand and Popper, and also to help highlight many similarities they already have. Points Popperian epistemology and Objectivist epistemology have in common. In Popperian epistemology I include additions and improvements by David Deutsch and myself: - opposition to subjectivism and relativism - fallibilism - says that objective knowledge is attainable (in practice by fallible humans) - realism: says reality is objective - connected to reality: we have to observe reality, keep our ideas connected to reality - asserts there is objective truth - attention to context ("problem situation" or sometimes "problem" is the common Popperian term meaning context. E.g. a Popperian will ask "What is the problem this is addressing?" and be asking about context.) - pro-science - opposition to positivism - opposition to the language analysis school of philosophy - say that most professional philosophers are rather crap - opposition to both skeptical and authoritarian schools of epistemology - keeps our concepts "open-end[ed]" (ITOE). That means: possible to improve in the future as we learn more. - says that there are objective moral truths - does not seek a "frozen, arrested state of knowledge" (ITOE) - written clearly and understandably, unlike much philosophy - says epistemology is useful and valuable to real people; it matters to life; it's practical - you can't force an idea on someone. they can choose to accept it or not - you can't implant an idea in someone. you can't pour it in, stick it in with surgery, make them absorb it, etc. they get to think, interpret, choose. - free will - people are not born with some unchangeable nature and innate ideas. we can be self-made men. we can learn, change, improve, progress - emphasis on active use of one's mind, active learning - no inherent conflicts due to objective truth - understanding of unconscious and inexplicit ideas - if two ideas contradict, at least one is false - integration of epistemology with morality, politics, and more - rejection of authority - full rejection of idealism, solipsism - strong emphasis on clarity - rejection of limits on human minds - reject probabilistic approaches to epistemology - looks at man as rational and capable - value of critical thinking including self-criticism Strengths of Objectivist epistemology: - stolen concept - package deal - check your premises - ideas about integrating all one's knowledge and removing all contradictions - measurement omission and concept formation ideas both worthwhile, though flawed - good criticisms of many opponents of reason - good understanding of essentials vs non-essentials, e.g. for definitions - idea about automating some thinking - good explanation of what objectivity is - Judge, and be prepared to be judged Strengths of Popperian epistemology: - evolution creates knowledge - conjectures and refutations method - piecemeal, incremental method. value of every little improvement - identification of, and solution to, justificationism - addresses induction - conjectural, fallible, objective knowledge - idea that we progress from misconception to better misconception - myth of the framework - value of culture clash - emphasis on bold highly-criticizable claims, sticking your neck out to learn more - no shame in mistakes - value of criticism. criticism is a gift - understanding of rationality as being about error correction - unimportance of starting points. you can start anywhere, improve from there - criticism of definitions - criticism of foundations, bases - criticism of essentialism - criticism of manifest truth (and self-evidence, obviousness, etc) - static and dynamic memes - structural epistemology - coercion and common preferences - understanding of conflict and symmetry - applications to parenting, education, relationships - understanding of tradition - explanation of value of external criticism (if everyone has some blind spots, but some people have different blind spots then each other, then it's productive to share criticism with each other. a little like comparative advantage) - emphasis on critical method, criticism (ideas stand unless refuted) - let our ideas die in our stead Some of you are now wondering about details. I know. But it's so much! Let's do it like this: if you are interested in one of the topics, ask about it and I can elaborate. If you would preference a reference to existing material on the topic, that's fine too.
The topic "What Dictionary did Ayn Rand use?" drifted into statements about Karl Popper and Mont Pelerin that indicated an incomplete understanding of the club, its members, and their goals. Friedrich A. von Hayek called the first Mont Pelerin Society meeting April 1-10, 1947, inviting many of the world's leading liberal intellectuals and politicians. Among them was Walter Lippmann. In my RoR article, Walter Lippmann: Chronicler of Evil, I wrote: My point here is expressly that this latitude of opinion is precisely what defines liberalism as Hayek, Lippmann, and Popper understood it. If you read The Open Society and Its Enemies, you see that Popper did not at all advance a specific ideology of liberty and freedom, but only warned against those who claim absolute truth for political purposes. As I wrote more recently on RoR, the Library of Economics and Liberty carries two essays on what the Founders of the American republic read: Locke, Hume, and Hobbes; St. Paul and Machiavelli; Pufendorf, Grotius, Montesquieu... In short, we Objectivists think that we have a monopoly on truth. That way lies the Dark Side of the Force. In fact, as noted here on OL elsewhere, the Enlightenment which the Islamic jihadists fear was self-consciously a time of variances of thought and a multiplicity of opinions. The liberals of the Mont Pelerin Society had guidelines and a mandate not to extend human freedom - admirable as that is to us - but to protect liberty from encroachment, constraint, and obliteration by those who use political power for their own ideological ends.