Karl Popper Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 33 quotes)
Philosophy is a necessary activity because we, all of us, take a great number of things for granted, and many of these assumptions are of a philosophical character; we act on them in private life, in politics, in our work, and in every other sphere of our lives -- but while some of these assumptions are no doubt true, it is likely, that more are false and some are harmful. So the critical examination of our presuppositions -- which is a philosophical activity -- is morally as well as intellectually important.
The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know; our knowledge of our ignorance. For this indeed, is the main source of our ignorance - the fact that our knowledge can be only finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.
we do not choose political freedom because it promises us this or that. We choose it because it makes possible the only dignified form of human coexistence, the only form in which we can be fully responsible for ourselves. Whether we realize its possibilities depends on all kinds of things? and above all on ourselves.
Historically, all ethics undoubtedly begin with religion; but I do not now deal with historical questions. I do not ask who was the first lawgiver. I only maintain that it is we, and we alone, who are responsible for adopting or rejecting some suggested moral laws; it is we who must distinguish between the true prophets and the false prophets. All kinds of norms have been claimed to be God-given. If you accept 'Christian' ethics of equality and toleration and freedom of conscience only because of its claim to rest upon divine authority, then you build on a weak basis; for it has been only too often claimed that inequality is willed by God, and that we must not be tolerant with unbelievers. If, however, you accept the Christian ethics not because you are commanded to do so but because of your conviction that it is the right decision to take, then it is you who have decided.
But the secret of intellectual excellence is the spirit of criticism ; it is intellectual independence. And this leads to difficulties which must prove insurmountable for any kind of authoritarianism. The authoritarian will in general select those who obey, who believe, who respond to his influence. But in doing so, he is bound to select mediocrities. For he excludes those who revolt, who doubt, who dare to resist his influence. Never can an authority admit that the intellectually courageous, i. e. those who dare to defy his authority, may be the most valuable type. Of course, the authorities will always remain convinced of their ability to detect initiative. But what they mean by this is only a quick grasp of their intentions, and they will remain for ever incapable of seeing the difference.
But are there philosophical problems? The present position of English philosophy - my point of departure - originates, I believe, in the late Professor Ludwig Wittgenstein's doctrine that there are none; that all genuine problems are scientific problems; that the alleged propositions or theories of philosophy are pseudo-propositions or pseudo-theories; that they are not false (if they were false, their negations would be true propositions or theories) but strictly meaningless combinations of words, no more meaningful than the incoherent babbling of a child who has not yet learned to speak properly.
For myself, I am interested in science and in philosophy only because I want to learn something about the riddle of the world in which we live, and the riddle of man's knowledge of that world. And I believe that only a revival of interest in these riddles can save the sciences and philosophy from an obscurantist faith in the expert's special skill and in his personal knowledge and authority.
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society... then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them... We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.
I remained a socialist for several years, even after my rejection of Marxism; and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important than equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.
A rationalist, as I use the word, is a man who attempts to reach decisions by argument and perhaps, in certain cases, by compromise, rather than by violence. He is a man who would rather be unsuccessful in convincing another man by argument than successful in crushing him by force, by intimidation and threats, or even by persuasive propaganda.
We should realize that, if [Socrates] demanded that the wisest men should rule, he clearly stressed that he did not mean the learned men; in fact, he was skeptical of all professional learnedness, whether it was that of the philosophers or of the learned men of his own generation, the Sophists. The wisdom he meant was of a different kind. It was simply the realization: how little do I know! Those who did not know this, he taught, knew nothing at all. This is the true scientific spirit.