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karl popper


“…his championship of rational thought and his effective exposure of confusion and fanaticism in this region, and their often terrible consequences are a genuine asset of Western Culture.” Isaiah Berlin

Karl Popper is one of the most influential philosophers and thinkers of the Twentieth century. His most celebrated books, The Logic of Scientific Discovery and The Open Society and Its Enemies, continue to have a profound effect on philosophers, scientists, politicians and a generation of intellectuals and others concerned for the future of freedom and democracy.

Born in Vienna in 1902, Popper grew up in a city witnessing great intellectual ferment and excitement. His relationship with the philosophers and scientists of the well-known Vienna Circle led up to his first book, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, which appeared in German in 1934. It stressed Popper's fundamental disagreement with many of the doctrines of the Vienna Circle and presented many of his most influential arguments, above all his theory of how scientific knowledge grows. On its publication in English in 1959, the book was described by the New Scientist as 'one of the most important documents of the twentieth century'.

On the eve of World War Two, Popper's life took a dramatic turn. He left Austria under the threat of German invasion and emigrated to New Zealand in 1937, where he took up a teaching post at Canterbury University College at Christchurch. It was here, deeply troubled by the tyranny that was sweeping through Europe, that he wrote The Open Society and Its Enemies. First published in 1945, its passionate but reasoned call to break with some of the dangerous ideas of the past makes it his most compelling and widely read book.

In 1946, Popper took up an invitation to teach philosophy at the London School of Economics, where he was Professor of Logic and Scientific Method until retirement in 1969. This period saw the publication of The Poverty of Historicism, described by the Sunday Times as 'probably the only book which will outlive this century' and Conjectures and Refutations, a collection of many of Popper's classic essays.

Karl Popper was knighted in 1965 and appointed Companion of Honour in 1982. He continued to write and inspire colleagues, students and friends until his death in 1994.


© 2002 Taylor & Francis Group plc

karl popper
karl popper

“Karl Popper is one of the truly great men of the century. Like Einstein, or Keynes, he has transformed the way in which we see the world.”
Sir Ralf Dahrendorf