Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  80 minutes
Date:  2012
Genre:  Interview
Language:  English
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available
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Karl Popper and John Eccles

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Karl Popper and neuroscientist John Eccles discuss falsifiability, truth and fact, and the open society.

Karl Popper and John Eccles

Philosopher 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.

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.'

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Main credits

Elders, Fons (Producer)

Distributor credits

Falsifiability and Freedom

A film by Fons Elders

Docuseek2 subjects

Philosophy, Critical Thinking and Ethics
History of Science
Science and Technology

Distributor subjects

History of Science
Neuroscience and Neurology


Karl Popper; John Eccles; Fons Elders; Philosophers: Debates and Dialogues; falsifiability; open society; Philosophy of Science; ; "Karl Popper and John Eccles"; Icarus Films;

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