The enlightenment, Popper and Einstein

In ShiY (ed.), Knowledge and Wisdom. IOS Press (2005)

Authors
Nicholas Maxwell
University College London
Abstract
The Enlightenment, Popper and Einstein Abstract Nicholas Maxwell Email: nicholas.maxwell@ucl.ac.uk In this paper I discuss four versions of the basic idea of the French Enlightenment of the 18th century, namely: To learn from scientific progress how to achieve social progress towards an enlightened world. These four versions are: 1. The Traditional Enlightenment Programme. 2. The Popperian Version of the Enlightenment Programme. 3. The Improved Popperian Enlightenment Programme. 4. The New Enlightenment Programme. The Traditional Enlightenment Programme is the version of the idea upheld by the philosophes of the French Enlightenment. It was developed throughout the 19th century and put into practice in the early 20th century with the creation of departments of social science in universities all over the world. It is however damagingly defective. The Popperian Version of the Enlightenment Programme is an improvement, but still defective. As we go down the list, from 1 and 2 to 3 and 4, each Programme improves on its predecessor, until with The New Enlightenment, which can in some respects be associated with Einstein, we arrive at a version of the idea which can genuinely help humanity make social progress towards an enlightened world.
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