Copyright Mark Amadeus Notturno This is a draft. Please do not quote.
INTRODUCTION TO SCIENTIFIC METHOD
Mark A. Notturno
8. SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE
11. SOCIAL SCIENCE
12. THE RATIONALITY PRINCIPLE
13. UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES
14. BIG SCIENCE
15. CRITICISM AND THE SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE
Twenty years ago, in 1992, Sir Karl Popper asked me to produce books from his philosophical archives, which he had recently deposited at the Hoover Institute at Stanford. He secured financial support for my work - first from Werner and Annette Baumgartner
and the Ianus Foundation and later from George Soros and the Open Society Institute - and sent a microfilm copy of his archives to me in Chicago. Work went very well while Sir Karl was alive. I quickly edited two manuscripts - The Myth of the Framework and Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem - that I found among his papers. And I began work on a book called An Introduction to Scientific Methods, which we hoped would capture both the content and the spirit of his first year courses in scientific methods at the LSE.
I remember Karl’s smug sense of self-satisfaction when I told him that I had come across the lectures for his introductory course in the archives. There were ten year’s worth of them. And he told me that he had tape recorded them, and then had them transcribed into typescripts, with the idea of someday making a book from them. We talked at length about how I might do this. I could, given the resources that existed for the project, produce a series of scholarly texts giving an accurate historical record of each year’s course. Karl wanted nothing of it. I could also choose what I thought was the best single year of lectures and edit them into a book. But there were problems. Karl wanted a book that would present his ideas about scientific method in very simple language for the layman. But his lecture courses, like most lecture courses, sometimes got bogged down as his students did not follow what he said, and he needed to explain to them, over and again, what they did not understand.
In the end, Karl suggested that I try a construction.
The idea was for me to thoroughly familiarize myself with his ten year’s worth of lectures and lecture courses, develop a chapter scheme that was more or less representative of the topics that he discussed in them, master his voice, and then construct an ‘ideal’ course drawing from his best moments over the ten years: a kind of ‘Karl Popper’s Greatest ‘Introduction to Scientific Methods’ Lecture Course Hits’.
Things went well while Karl was alive. I soon produced three chapters"on ‘Values’, ‘Scientific Method’, and ‘Problems’. We sent them to Routledge for review, since I did not want to waste
too much time working on a construction if I could not do it well. The reviews were more than encouraging. One said that it had all the marks of ‘a modern classic’. In 1994, Karl persuaded George Soros to assume financial support for my work in the archives, insisting that my work in his archives be my only responsibility. I then moved to Budapest in September of 1994 at Soros’ request to be a part of the intellectual life of the Central European University that he had founded in the city. But Karl died shortly afterwards, and the winds began to shift.
A year and a half later, Sir Karl’s literary executors terminated the archival project for which he had worked so hard to find support. They said that An Introduction to Scientific Methods was ‘chatty’; that Sir Karl would not have said some of the things that he said in his lectures had he only been ‘tackled’ by one of his assistants; that he never used contractions, such as ‘don’t’ and ‘can’t’, or at least never used them in his writing (a nice conjecture, but one that is ripe for refutation); and that there is, in any event, already a book, Popper Selections, that does the same thing that this book was designed to do. I invite you to be the judge as to whether and to what extent these claims are true.
Routledge quickly decided not to publish the book rather than risk a copyright suit with Popper’s copyright holders. And you would probably not have the opportunity to read it, and certainly not here, were it not for Rafe Champion, the man Sir Karl used to call his
‘Champion in Australia’.
Rafe visited me in Washington last year and asked to read some of the manuscript, which had lain unfinished in my files ever since I returned to the States. He described the little he read as ‘pure gold’. He then visited me again a month ago, staying long enough this time to read the entire manuscript, and described it again as ‘pure gold’ -except, perhaps, for the chapter on ‘Falsity’ - and insisted that I allow him to post it on his website. We agreed that he could post its first three chapters on his website, while I garnered the strength to finish the last three.
I hope that you will think they are ‘pure gold’ too.
In closing, I want to be very clear that this book does not exist in the Popper Archives - or, at least, not in the materials that Popper himself deposited with the Hoover Institute. If you look among his papers there, you will find the ten-year’s worth of the Introduction to Scientific Method course lectures that Sir Karl gave at the LSE. And if you read through those lectures, you will recognize where the arguments and stories that appear in these chapters originated.
But you will not find any of the chapters in this book, let alone the book itself. You may not, in fact, be able to find even one sentence in this book that appears word for word in the archives. But I am happy to admit that this book originated with Sir Karl - though for the sake of certain copyright conventions, I am also quite happy to claim it as my own.
Mark Amadeus Notturno