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Karl Popper & John Eccles: Falsifiability and Freedom
A film by Fons Elders
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film stillPhilosopher of science Karl Popper and his close friend, Nobel-prize-winning neuroscientist John Eccles, discuss Popper's famous criterion of falsifiability: the idea that a statement is only scientific if it could possibility be proved false, which he had articulated against the traditional positivist view of the scientific method. Popper's approach has been widely accepted as the mechanism that distinguishes science from pseudo-science, and as a tool that allows scientists to be more intellectually honest.

film still

This, the most conversational of the exchanges in this series, also looks at the question of truth and facts. Popper believes in absolute truth, but that we have no ultimate means of attaining it. Nevertheless, he believes that humans should strive to get closer to this ideal. Eccles agrees, saying that all of our experience is mediated by our senses, meaning that we can never break free from our own perspectives. Furthermore the physiological basis of our senses leads to larger problems of understanding human consciousness. At the same time, Eccles argues against pure reductionism and materialism.

The conversation briefly turns to politics and society, with Popper calling for an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary approach, and expanding on his famous conception of the "open society."

80 minutes / Color
Release: 2012
Copyright: 1971

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This title is available for streaming only.

Subject areas:
History of Science, Neuroscience & Neurology, Philosophy, Philosophers, Science

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