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Friday, April 25, 2008

Popper continued Bergson's work of providing a metaphysical foundation for an open society in an open universe

Home Archives April 24, 2008
The Left's Theft of the Open Society and the Scientific Method By Jonathan David Carson

Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies was aimed at Marx, Hegel, Plato and his philosopher kings, and their anti-democratic successors, such as George Soros. The Poverty of Historicism was aimed at Marxist historical inevitability and its pink cousin Western progressivism. We cannot predict scientific discoveries. Otherwise, they would not be discoveries. Scientific discoveries have an enormous influence on the future. Therefore, we cannot predict the future. Marxists and progressives who think that they represent the future are dangerous and deluded.

The idea of an open society was invented by the French philosopher and Nobel laureate Henri Bergson, who won the prize for philosophy in 1927, one of the few times the honor has been rightly bestowed. Like Popper, Bergson was an opponent of determinism and based his social thought on the indeterminism of the future, that is, its openness.

Also like Popper, Bergson was the object of fierce criticism, some of it perhaps deserved. The scientific establishment accused him of vitalism. The Vatican accused him of pantheism. But Frederick Copleston, a traditional Catholic and a Jesuit, says this about him in A History of Philosophy: "Bergson's widest influence was exercised by his general picture, which offered an alternative to mechanistic and positivist pictures. In other words, this picture exercised a liberating influence on many minds." Late in life Bergson drew near to Catholicism and would have converted but remained a Jew out of solidarity with the victims of Nazi persecution. He died in 1941.

So Popper continued Bergson's work of providing a metaphysical foundation for an open society in an open universe, free people in a world that is free to chart its own course. But a thousand times more significant than his social thought was Popper's philosophy of science. Whenever someone says that scientific theories should be "falsifiable," he is, probably without knowing it, citing Popper.

Unfortunately, The Logic of Scientific Discovery has been as much stolen by the scientific establishment as The Open Society and Its Enemies has been stolen by George Soros. As Popper recounts in Unended Quest, he created his famous philosophy of science in reaction to Marx, Freud, and Alfred Adler, another psychoanalyst, whose advocates found confirmation of their views in everything that happened, no matter how much it contradicted their theories, much as global warming hysterics find justification in both hot and cold weather and in both floods and droughts. The Left is fond of making predictions, not so fond of checking up on them.

Popper came up with the idea that a scientific theory must be falsifiable to distinguish science and pseudo-science, not to deny the meaningfulness of other modes of thought and expression, such as religion and literature. But the scientific establishment, in true Open Society Institute fashion, holds falsifiability up to the general public long after abandoning it itself. Perhaps it had to. What it did not have to do was to abandon it without telling the general public, which would have also meant abandoning its use against religion and traditional values.

The problem that scientists face is that they can often build a myriad of mathematical models that all describe the physical systems they are investigating. They may have no way to choose one among all the others and may never have a way. If we're lucky, they will choose the one that seems most beautiful to them. If we are unlucky, they will choose the one that seems most likely to unsettle the public, as when Scientific American says that each of us has an infinite number of alter egos far away in space, that we really exist in only two spatial dimensions and gravity is an illusion, and so on. None of these bizarre assertions is remotely falsifiable.

The scientific establishment uses falsifiability the way postmodernists use deconstructionism: selectively, to tear down the ideas of their enemies but not to apply to their own ideas. The deconstructionist will happily deconstruct your ideas, but never his own. You say something about economic growth or Islamofascism, and he wants to talk metaphysics. Just don't bring up metaphysics when he condemns Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. We can't believe in God because religion is unfalsifiable. We can believe in an infinite number of other universes from which no information can ever reach us. Western governments literally spend tens of billions of dollars annually in support of such lunacy.

As for the Western society that Popper so loved, George Soros and the scientific establishment are among its most vicious and determined enemies. Contact Jonathan David Carson, Ph.D. For more information, see makehasteslowly.com.

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