Karl Popper and the Reconstruction of Progressive Politics
4. Ascent from the Cave 95
Chapter 4 Ascent from the Cave Popper found in Socrates an alternative to the verificationist conception of science. As he is depicted in the early dialogues of Plato, Socrates examined each hypothesis for logical or evidentiary error. The Socratic method was to refute or to attempt to refute claims to knowledge (including claims to knowledge implied in a policy or a course of action). By this process, Socrates revealed that much that had been presumed to be certain knowledge was no more than mistaken theory. In so doing, he discomforted those who prided themselves on the sufficiency and accuracy of their knowledge; by sowing seeds of self-doubt (aporia, perplexity or bafflement), he opened the way for each person to explore new theories, new avenues to possible knowledge. Thus, exploration of new theoretical avenues should be pursued with an awareness of human fallibility and the recognition that a truly wise person is conscious of his own ignorance. Doxa and Episteme Popper believed that his own philosophy of ‘critical rationalism’ linked the tradition of Socratic rationalism and the modern scientific attitude. He identified himself as “a disciple of Socrates, that is, of the speaker of the Apology, and I love the man.”1 Popper asserted that, “The spirit of science is that of Socrates.”2 Rejecting the “pre-Socratic magical attitude towards science,” which regarded the scientist “as a somewhat glorified shaman,” Popper embraced Socratic fallibilism as “the true scientific spirit,” an approach that took an intellectual’s “awareness of what he does not...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.