Comparing Popper and Kuhn is not that easy because especially Karl Popper was a master
in making wise statements that did not clarify his conceptual model.
In fact Popper denied the existence of essentially different conceptual schemes
The Popper-Kuhn debate refers to a meeting that took place at the
former Bedford College, University of London in 13 July 1965.
A meeting of a just arrived genial theorist of science (Kuhn, 43) with a remarkable selfmade 'leaving'
theorist of science (Popper, 63).
Both Popper and Kuhn were traditional scientists, closely connected to 'the elite'.
Popper believed in the existence of 1 gradually growing continuous normal science that has to be cultivated, and in absolute 'good and wrong' (dualism).
Kuhn saw 'truth' as cultural and historical.
Popper: One Reality (Intelligent Design)
Kuhn: Many Paradigms (Effective Behavior)
new perspective of Popper Kuhn Debate / intelligent design vs evolution / TRUTH vs truths
In essence the Popper-Kuhn-debate is about the religious view that 'intelligence' exists (as a thing in itself that is part of the bigger thing 'universal truth'
) versus the pragmatic
view that memory archives environment dependent experience of behavior.
So it's really quite subtle,
because Karl Popper
certainly wasn't a common 'absolutist' but a quite reasonable person.
First let's make the distinction between religion and belief.
The word 'religo' in Latin means 'to bind', that meaning speaks for itself. Religion is binding people to a cultural truth.
Falsification is a dubious method, but anyway never can demask a cultural truth. Falsification only has some use WITHIN a cultural truth.
My personal opinion is that 'religion' (also the 'science'-religion
) tends to 'absolutism', and escape from a cultural prison
takes relative beliefs.
Said in another way: "God hates religion (cultural truth
)", or "beliefs want to be free".
In the Western World all of reality on earth is treated as slight variant of the own western cultural reality (Aristotelian Paradigm).
We analyze Chinese culture with use of only western concepts and often without speaking one word of Chinese.
In terms of dna (evolution long term
) Chinese people and Westerners are very similar,
but China and Western World are culturally far apart when seen on short term in evolution (= cultural behavior; see East meets West
We westerners 'think' that our dictionaries English-Chinese and English language studybooks give us a sufficient 'knowledge' of Chinese culture.
Many chinese concepts have no Western equivalent, and many aspects of Western Culture when seen from Chinese Culture while using Chinese concepts are utterly weird.
Western armies attack other cultural realities with wars on terrorism, assuming that their dominant Western cultural reality is 'truth'.
They create military bases of western culture in say Afghanistan, and start shooting.
The western notion 'thinking' points at part of western cultural reality. To western people 'thinking' seems a real activity,
and more than only the cultural tool 'in western way puzzling with western cultural memory'.
Western people 'think' to be better in 'thinking' than people in other cultures. That is correct, but western people don't
realize that people from other cultures might not 'think' in western way but measure western culture by using the dominant concepts
in own home culture.
The result of using the western tool 'thinking' is 'rational' ordering of western cultural memory, and is called knowledge
Western 'knowledge' can be seen as speed of finding in western cultural memory the skills to survive Western conflict-environment.
Cultural change can from within Western culture be experienced as very fast,
but (if 'rational' change is filtered away) be observed as standstill in parallel cultures.
Inside the western 'cultural beehive' life is ffffassst, but observers outside notice not much change,
when they filter away the hectic so called 'intelligent' behavior (dropping atom bombs, economical wars, war on terrorism, economical crisis, ..
Einstein would agree: knowledge is relative to the paradigm/culture of the observer.
The young Thomas Kuhn
was a brilliant student of theoretical physics AND curious.
Young Kuhn stumbled
on a way out of the ffasst but paralized western subreality around the dual concept 'intelligence'.
(And indirectly also away from the concept 'intelligent design'
A 25 ages old Aristotelian concept (invention of an ancient Greek wizard in the hellenic warrior world
revived by Catholicism, and anyway in the meantime part of Western Cultural Reality.
As student Kuhn studied Aristotle's works in enough depth to realize in a flash that
Aristotelian 'motion' is uncomparable with the 20th century notion motion.
The word 'motion' used in Aristotelian way points to something like our present concept 'change'.
Aristotle's work is about life in general in all its aspects, and not 'unintelligent' or 'bad' physics. Two culture dependent conceptual models.
Kuhn suddenly realized that our western concept 'intelligence' is not only arrogant but totally cultural, and can be seen as 'religious'.
Popper's 20th century cultural 'ratio' decides who is culturally accepted (those in power
) who 'falsify' the truth of those who are not accepted (those whose cultural truth is seen as false, and who act as 'terrorist' mutations eating away the Western World
Popper rejected Intelligent Design, but his belief in 'ratio' and a continuously improving science is not that different
Just like in Buddhism
I take the point that individual skill and 'family behavior' (group with servant leaders) need to be in balance.
I greatly admire the results in many fields of western science, but western expertise only explores 1 direction (depth) and drowns in complexity of its own 'intelligence'.
Wisdom varies position regularly, to review sense experience from a completely different 'angle'.
Others, in your eyes, can only be generally WRONG, if YOU 'think' to own truth. Western 'knowledge' is cultural, it's dominance is fading.
Common knowledge, ... having huge consequences.
Major Paradigm Shift 2400 ages ago
Kuhn's notion paradigm is a brilliant tool for reevaluation of history, in particular the cultural split between East and West.
observed that Karl Popper
behaves as a western wizard who consistently operates within
the 2400 ages old western paradigm.
The first really large empire was more than 2600 ages ago made by the Persians (start 550BC
The Persians were the first people to unite three ancient river cultures under a single government (Nile Valley, Mesopotamia and Indus Valley
And the Persians opened regular contact between Africa, Asia and Europe.
Alexander the Great/the Cursed (356-323 B.C.) with his absurd conquests as result of his megalomaniac dream to destroy Persia realized instead that the Middle East became
an Aristotelian barrier between China and Europe (the last and maybe only major paradigm shift until present
Alexander the Great/the Cursed the Persian Empire was HUGE, and Greece/Macedon a dot on the map.
.. Alexander the Great a huge Hellenic Empire seperated the Buddhist World and Europe.
It is enlightening to realize that the present Muslim World (with as extreme Al Qaida
) originated in the Hellenic Empire (is Aristotelian
And it is equally enlightening to realize that Mohammedanism practical annihilated Zoroastrianism in Persia. Zoroastianism is the source of all Christianities AND of Buddhism.
Only the dualism in ROMAN Christianity (source of Mohammedanism) is not practical like in Zoroastrianism, but idealized.
So instead of practical oppositions in Zoroastrianism like healthy/unhealthy, in Roman Catholicism you find dualisms like perfect/imperfect, good/evil, metaphysical/physical.
The Aristotelian Western World that via the Roman Empire developed out of Hellenic thought still practiced massive slavery (of 'imperfect' humans
) until start 20th century and never got acquainted with a holistic culture like Buddhism.
Slavery was forbidden in Zoroastrian Persia.
In the 20th century the opinion of the western top philosopher Karl Popper was that western insights improve by learning from mistakes, but what is a mistake? (cultural mistakes are not recognized
If learning only uses own cultural concepts, than learning will never result in recognizing cultural mistakes.
If when losing a war on terror you only learn that you need more drones and eavesdropdevices,
then you missed the point that this terror might point at a serious flaw in your own culture.
What about 'non-science' followed by whole cultures? 'Law and Order'
is a result of accepting THE Truth of only 1 (and western human made) conceptual scheme
Aristotle versus Buddha.
Buddha lived in Northern India almost two centuries before Aristotle.
The Buddhist world as Eastern belief system unlike the Aristotelian world is not a black-and-white world of 'contradictions’,
of things and no-things, of A and not-A, of perfection and imperfection.
The Aristotelian World cuts life in two, into 'perfect' and 'imperfect', into 'ideal design' and 'actual realization'.
Popper ideology and Kuhn ideology
In his 'Popper Ideology' Popper
tried to find out why some consistent ideologies never become part of 'normal' science'.
Because ideology 3 = "The world is square" is consistent with ideology 1 = "the world is flat". Popper beliefs in 'normality', in fact he sees 'rationality' as Law of Nature.
Popper sees semicontinuous replacement of scientific theories as the main engine of scientific growth.
Kuhn in his 'Kuhn ideology' was interested in the historical process by which some ideologies become science.
Kuhn saw the inevitablity for outbreaks out of addictive "puzzling".
Galileo's Ideology = "Round World" was heavily needed to remove the paradoxes of the old ideology = "the world is flat".
I feel that both believed science.
to serve progress. Popper inherently stressed controlled progress as goal of science, and that's why he focused on preventing 'anormal' = 'wrong' changes. Kuhn did not think in moralistic terms that imply ethics being absolute. He denies the absolute use of the words 'right' and 'wrong' and stressed the inevitability of 'change'.
|Kuhn did not consider 'science' itself as paradigm (he must have known better),
and thus introduced 'Kuhnian Paradigms' or scientific revolutions INSIDE 'science'.
Trying to definitely stop avalanches is similar to suicide. 9 out of 10 may be blocked, and the 10th 'rolling thunder' clears the way.
Even in the case of 999 out of 1000 evolution proves patient. 'Nature' obviously
doesn't behave 'rational' . That's why Kuhn was primarily interested the unmistakebly relative logical force behind such inevitable change. For him volcanoes must have been
just part of the by him studied process 'scientific change'. Kuhn
focused on science but surely realized that he also entered the domain of 'sociology'.
The terms 'normal' science and 'historical truth' show the differences in the approaches of Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn.
Popper believed in the existence of 1 gradually growing continuous normal science that has to be cultivated, and in absolute 'good and wrong' (dualism).
This dualism is what makes American leaders
think that American Culture is superior and that they should export own puritan ethics (democracy and freedom of speech);
Kuhn thought science to be relative (no general good and wrong) and to change in jumps.
But in essence, its the difference between a 'rational' (continuous=absolute) view on happenings on the world, and a discrete (relative). Or thinking that progress can be totally explained by detailling
(critical rationalism as basic truth) , or believing that important progress is made in jumps [deep plowing = drastically different conceptual scheme] to reach a different paradigm.
Kuhn has deep respect for gardening (normal science) but also like Friedrich Nietzsche believes that every autumn (when the garden dies = in recession) the garden needs thorough plowing. You can understand that gardeners have
difficulty to allow a plow in their refined artestry. Nietzsche was seen as a devil in 'rational' paradise.
Popper follows Darwin and Descartes / Kuhn follows Nietzsche
showed that humans developed in tiny incremental steps out of apes. The tiny cartesian steps are still in the view that Karl Popper
is using around WWII ('tiptoe through the tulips'
around 1970 doesn't deny this part of progress, but adds that intelligence
is much more than
abstract thinking (like rationality).
once in a while makes/needs abrupt jumps in thought (total paradigm shifts
's kind of progress is based
on 'loving' patience and hard work, the jumps in thought are based on 'brutal' geniality. That geniality is not only rational, but can be based on usage of every sense. So Beethoven
was a genius in thundering through music, as well as Picasso
plowed brilliantly through painting.
focused on the logic reasoning part of intelligence, and recognized major partial paradigm shifts caused by people like
It's like attacking a wall with a extendable ladder, or just jumping over it. In essence it's the difference between
mathematical analysis and discrete mathematics. Most problems can be solved by extending existent views, but very few need a jump in thought. Or mostly compromise is
enough (politics), but sometimes taking decisions is needed (leadership).
Unluckily Kuhn's view was not broadly accepted.
The garden decorators (rational Thinkers), thinking in compromise (inherent in a dual view), had still too much power.
Looking at todays HUGE problems it is clear that abrupt change is needed.
Substituting fossile fuel for energy purposes with vegetative fuel only makes things worse.
The 'rational' way of attacking problem in controlled 'continuous' fashion has become way too dominant, costs are a poor argument to slow down change.
High time to leave the rigid thinking about transportation means like cars on wheels on asphalt/concrete and petrol slurping brute force airplanes, and to stop thinking
in minute unrisky changes.
If you are not going to grasp that the present shape of on individualism based democracy is strangling all other
then you risk unexpected death in a desert of record height skyscrapers of beautifully subtile design.
Popper about Kuhn: 'Normal' science, in Kuhn's sense, exists. [..] ... in my view the 'normal' scientist,
as Kuhn describes him, is a person one ought to be sorry for... He has been taught in a dogmatic spirit: he is a victim of indoctrination...
I can only say that I see a very great danger in it and in the possibility of its becoming normal... a danger to science and, indeed, to our civilization.
And this shows why I regard Kuhn's emphasis on the existence of this kind of science as so important.
in the present shape even in the rational paradigms is suspect. Together with another other suspect concept capitalism
this seems responsible for enormous differences
in undergone social emotions.
|In other words: HIGH time in the Western World to stop hiding and revalue: democracy, capitalism, and intelligence as found in feelings.
Many communication problems on earth are in fact paradigm (culture) clashes. There's only one solution:
teaching the history of say the three major paradigms (Christianity, Islam and Buddhism) in a nutshell
in every paradigm. As well as their major paradigm shifts and major myths. This should be done
by someone still belonging to that paradigm.
Based on upgraded concepts and improved knowledge about each other communication between different cultures on earth will be much simpler.
's interesm in Buddhism could be seen as recognizing the far reaching effects of relativism in
Looking 5 minutes at television I saw one message about a group of pinguins being saved by being flown back by the
Brazilian army from one of their beaches to the South Pole. And I read about a kangaroo in Australity getting
a National Bravity Medal. That's fine, but it would be nice to if more attention was spent as well
on beings that are a lot closer to us. People living in different cultures.