In The Poverty of Historicism, Popper claimed that because the growth of human knowledge cannot be predicted, the future course of human history is not foreseeable. For this reason, historicist theories like Marxism are unscientific or untrue. The aims of this article are: first, to reconstruct Poppers argument, second, to defend it against some critics, and third, to show that it is itself based a weak form of historicism.
Philosophy is one of the most intimidating and difficult of disciplines, as any of its students can attest. This book is an important entry in a distinctive new series from Routledge: The Great Philosophers . Breaking down obstacles to understanding the ideas of history's greatest thinkers, these brief, accessible, and affordable volumes offer essential introductions to the great philosophers of the Western tradition from Plato to Wittgenstein. In just 64 pages, each author, a specialist on his subject, places the philosopher (...) and his ideas into historical perspective. Each volume explains, in simple terms, the basic concepts, enriching the narrative through the effective use of biographical detail. And instead of attempting to explain the philosopher's entire intellectual history, which can be daunting, this series takes one central theme in each philosopher's work, using it to unfold the philosopher's thoughts. (shrink)
The performance which follows, like Caesar's Gaul, falls into three parts. Part I consists in a sympathetic and reconstructive criticism of Sir Karl Popper's The Poverty of Historicism . Part II offers a somewhat less sympathetic critique of the critique of Popper offered in E. H. Carr's Trevelyan Lectures What is History? . Finally, in a shorter Part III, there will be some conclusions concerning what sociologists and historians can and cannot hope to discover about necessities and impossibilities in human (...) affairs. (shrink)
Philosophers, social thinkers, and social activists continue to puzzle over the notion of an historical law of development. What this paper attempts is: (1) a statement of what might reasonably be understood by the notion of an historical law of development as well as some historical background to the notion, (2) a discussion of the various logical possibilities regarding the status of historical laws of development, (3) an examination of the views of Karl Popper on historical laws of development and (...) social science, and (4) a suggestion or two concerning the connection between the analysis of the notion of an historical law of development and politics. (shrink)
One of Mr. Popper's earliest jousts with the historicists. In it, Popper says, "I have not hesitated to construct arguments in [historicism's] support which have not, to my knowledge, been brought forward by historicists themselves. I hope, that in this way, I have succeeded in building up a position worth attacking". It is difficult to see, however, that this sort of supplementation adds anything to the earlier books: The Open Society and Its Enemies was a dialogue ; The Poverty of (...) Historicism is a monologue.--R. F. T. (shrink)