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Karl Raimund Popper photo

Karl Raimund Popper

  • U.K. / 1902-1994
  • Philosopher
  • Professor Emeritus, University of London

A Philosopher Who Gave a Great Impact on the Intellectual World of Natural and Social Science by What He Calls Falsifiability Criterion and Advocated the Realization of Open Society Based on the "Critical Rationalism"

A philosopher symbolizing the open spirit of the 20th century who has exerted an enormous influence on the formation of the modern intellectual climate, not only in the particular realm of philosophy, but also those of cultural and social sciences, and even that of natural science. He has continued to grasp unerringly the import of new modes of societal development and his "critical rationalism" presents the possibility of disproof as the distinguishing feature of scientific thinking.
*This category then was Category of Creative Arts and Moral Sciences.
*This field then was Field of Philosophy (Philosophical thoughts of the 20th century).


Brief Biography

Born in Vienna, Austria
Graduated from University of Vienna
Fled to New Zealand
Emigrated to England
Professor (Logic and Scientific Method), School of Economics, University of London
Professor Emeritus, School of Economics, University of London

Selected Awards and Honors

Prize for Geisteswissenschaften (Germany)
Order of Companions of Honour
Fellow of the International Academy for Philosophy of Science
Fellow of the Royal Society
Prize International Catalonia (Spain)

Major Works


Logik der Forschung


The Open Society and Its Enemies


Conjectures and Refutations


Objective Knowledge


The Self and Its Brain


The Open Universe: An Argument for Indeterminism


A Philosopher Who Gave a Great Impact on the Intellectual World of Natural and Social Science by What He Calls Falsifiability Criterion and Advocated the Realization of Open Society Based on the "Critical Rationalism"

Sir Karl Raimund Popper is a philosopher of the orthodox school whose concepts have attained a degree of eminence and influence befitting the status of a representative exponent of 20th century philosophical thought. The critical rationalism of Sir Karl rejects all forms of dogmatism and is characterized by consistently flexible and receptive reasoning.

In the philosophy of science, which is the central area of his achievements, Sir Karl has criticized inductive scientific theories and expounded incisive arguments to the effect that scientific laws are universal assertions which cannot possibly be completely verified on the basis of individual facts but, conversely, can be completely refuted by even a single counter-example. Hence, the distinctive characteristic of scientific knowledge consists not in verification but rather the possibility of refutation, that is, of criticism.

Thus, Sir Karl has established the viewpoint known as “critical rationalism,” emphasizing the importance of critical activity in science and other human cognitive spheres. From this viewpoint, Sir Karl has developed a philosophical world known as evolutionary epistemology as well as presenting a multitude of superb original theories, advocating the reality of a world of objective rational content (third world) which should be distinguished from both the physical world (first world) and the psychological world (second world).

On the other hand, Sir Karl has devoted profound consideration to the circumstances of the Second World War, published the celebrated work “The Open Society and Its Enemy,” and assumed a position of thorough confrontation with both left and right-wing totalitarianism. The principal target of his scathing proposes the possibility of predicting the future of humanity through comprehension of the laws governing historical development, that is, the ideology of “historicism” as represented by Hegel and Marx. Sir Karl has rejected the “closed society” engendered by this ideology, and has advocated a field of “gradual social engineering” based upon insight into the true nature of humanity with a view to the creation of a free democratic society.

Thus, amidst the intellectual confusion characteristic of the present century, the philosophy of Sir Karl has clearly elucidated the basis of science as well as providing reliable guidelines for the ideal form of new social development, and has manifested a major influence not only upon the specialized sphere of philosophy but upon a broad spectrum of front-line intellectuals in fields ranging from natural science to the humanities and social sciences.

This record of brilliant research achievements duly attests to the preeminent qualifications of Sir Karl Raimund Popper as the laureate of the 1992 Kyoto Prize for Creative Arts and Moral Sciences.


Abstract of the Lecture

How I Became a Philosopher Without Trying

In this lecture I trace the progressive stages of my education and academic career, and the manifold influences upon my development either by reading or through friendship with people who knew more than I did.

When it came to choosing a profession, I decided to become a teacher in a primary school, and later in a secondary school; and I studied mathematics and physics at the University of Vienna with these aims.

I became greatly attracted to philosophical problems, but I felt that I would never be able to solve any of them. In any case, I found the problems of physics, and especially of Darwinism, even more exciting. After I became a schoolteacher, I published a book, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, on a subject now called the philosophy of science. When the rise of Hitler made it necessary to think of emigration, this book opined for me a university career of which I had not dreamt before.

What had set me on my path towards methodology of science was my attempt at criticizing Marxism, starting in the autumn of 1919. In trying to analyse Marx’s claim to scientific status of his theory, according to which socialism -or communism- was inevitably bound to defeat what he called “capitalism”, I had to ask myself the question: What are the criteria that distinguish genuine science from pseudo-science? Not only did my early critique of Marxism lead, after twenty-five years, to my book The Open Society and its Enemies, but the problems of the methodology of science have become the central problems of my own philosophy. They led to many other fruitful problems.

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Philosophy of Open Society

November 12, 1992 (Thu.) 13:00-17:30
Kyoto International Conference Center


Coordinators: Ryuichi Nagao (Member, Kyoto Prize Screening Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences; Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo)
Rinitsu Kawakami (Member, Kyoto Prize Screening Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences; Professor, Graduate School of Law, Kyoto University)
Opening Remarks Nobushige Sawada; Professor Emeritus, Keio University
Greetings Kazuo Inamori; President, The Inamori Foundation
Introduction of the Laureate Jyunichi Aomi; Professor, Faculty of Law, Kantogakuin University
Lecture Karl Raimund Popper; Laureate in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences
"The Origin of Western Culture and Its Literary and Scientific Roots"
Lecture I Kei Takeuchi; Member, Kyoto Prize Screening Committee in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences;
Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo
"Enemies of Open Sociaty within"
Chairperson: Osamu Hamai; Professor, Faculty of Letters, University of Tokyo
Lecture II Keiichiro Kamino; Professor, Faculty of Letters, Osaka City University
"On Popper's Critical Rationalism"
Chairperson: Junichiro Takeo; Professor, Faculty of Letters, Kansai University
Lecture III Kobun Takashima; Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Sciences, Kobe Gakuin University
"Popper's Philosophy as a Theory of the Growth of Knowledge"
Chairperson: Kogaku Arihuki; Professor, Faculty of Integrated Human Studies, Kyoto University
Lecture IV Makoto Kogawara; Associate Professor, Faculty of Law and Letters, Kagoshima University
"Open Society and Critical Rationalism"
Chairperson: Rinitsu Kawakami
Closing Remarks Mitsukuni Yazaki; Professor Emeritus, Osaka University