Poppers Falsification Theory

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Poppers Falsification Theory



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Email required Address never made public. Name required. Blog Stats 1,, hits. The role of falsifiability in Popper's philosophy is to make a deductive testing and a rational critic of the theory possible. This logical part is used within a methodology that, in Popper's own account, is hardly rigorous, because it involves irrational creative processes and, as pointed out by Duhem and others, definitive experimental falsifications are impossible. In response to the impossibility of a technologically reasonable verification and to avoid the problems of falsification, Popper argued for falsifiability and opposed this to the intuitively similar concept of verifiability. Verifying the claim "All swans are white" would require observing all swans, which is not technologically possible under reasonable assumptions in any theory that has a conventional empirical interpretation.

In contrast, the observation of a single black swan is technologically reasonable and sufficient to logically falsify it and steer a critical discussion. Moreover, even if a black swan was in principle impossible due to a fundamental law of biology, it would still be a potential falsifier because still whenever it obtains, it can be observed with available technologies. As a key notion in the separation of science from non-science and pseudo-science , falsifiability has featured prominently in many scientific controversies and applications, even being used as legal precedent. One of the questions in scientific method is: how does one move from observations to scientific laws? This is the problem of induction. Suppose we want to put the hypothesis that all swans are white to the test.

We come across a white swan. We cannot validly argue or induce from "here is a white swan" to "all swans are white"; doing so would require a logical fallacy such as, for example, affirming the consequent. Popper's idea to solve this problem is that while it is impossible to verify that every swan is white, finding a single black swan shows that not every swan is white.

We might tentatively accept the proposal that every swan is white, while looking out for examples of non-white swans that would show our conjecture to be false. For example, given the statement "all swans are white" and the initial condition "there is a swan here", we can deduce "the swan here is white", but if what is observed is "the swan here is not white" say black , then "all swans are white" is false, or it was not a swan.

For Popper, induction is actually never needed in science. Ayer wanted to formalize the idea that, for a law to be scientific, it must be possible to argue on the basis of observations either in favor of its truth or its falsity. There was no consensus among these philosophers about how to achieve that, but the thought expressed by Mach's dictum that "where neither confirmation nor refutation is possible, science is not concerned" was accepted as a basic precept of critical reflection about science.

Popper said that a demarcation criterion was possible, but we have to use the logical possibility of falsifications, which is falsifiability. He cited his encounter with psychoanalysis in the s. It did not matter what observation was presented, psychoanalysis could explain it. Unfortunately, the reason why it could explain everything is that it did not exclude anything also. From a logical standpoint, if one finds an observation that does not contradict a law, it does not mean that the law is true. A verification has no value in itself.

But, if the law makes risky predictions and these are corroborated, Popper says, there is a reason to prefer this law over another law that makes less risky predictions or no predictions at all. On the basic philosophical side of this issue, Popper said that some philosophers of the Vienna Circle had mixed two different problems, that of meaning and that of demarcation, and had proposed in verificationism a single solution to both: a statement that could not be verified was considered meaningless. In opposition to this view, Popper said that there are meaningful theories that are not scientific, and that, accordingly, a criterion of meaningfulness does not coincide with a criterion of demarcation. The problem of induction is often called Hume's problem. David Hume studied how human beings obtain new knowledge that goes beyond known laws and observations, including how we can discover new laws.

He understood that deductive logic could not explain this learning process and argued in favour of a mental or psychological process of learning that would not require deductive logic. He even argued that this learning process can not be justified by any general rules, deductive or not. Johnson-Laird , professor of psychology, also accepted Hume's conclusion that induction has no justification.

For him induction does not require justification and therefore can exist in the same manner as Popper's quasi-induction does. When Johnson-Laird says that no justification is needed, he does not refer to a general method of justification that, to avoid a circular reasoning, would not itself require any justification. On the contrary, in agreement with Hume, he refers to the fact that there is no general method of justification for induction and that's ok, because the induction steps do not require justification. Johnson-Laird wrote: "[P]hilosophers have worried about which properties of objects warrant inductive inferences. Popper was interested in the overall learning process in science, to quasi-induction, which he also called the "path of science".

His answer to the latter question is that we pick the theory that is the most tested with the available technology. It also supports some "dogmatic attitude" in defending theories against criticism, because this allows the process to be more complete. In practice, some steps based on observations can be justified under assumptions, which can be very natural. For example, Bayesian inductive logic [19] is justified by theorems that make explicit assumptions. These theorems are obtained with deductive logic, not inductive logic. They are sometimes presented as steps of induction, because they refer to laws of probability, even though they do not go beyond deductive logic.

This is yet a third notion of induction, which overlap with deductive logic in the following sense that it is supported by it. These deductive steps are not really inductive, but the overall process that includes the creation of assumptions is inductive in the usual sense. In a fallibilism perspective, a perspective that is widely accepted by philosophers, including Popper, every learning step only creates or reinforces an assumption—that is all what science does.

Imre Lakatos divided the problems of falsification in two categories. The first category corresponds to decisions that must be agreed upon by scientists before they can falsify a theory. The other category emerges when one tries to use falsifications and corroborations to explain progress in science. Lakatos said that there were two incorrect approaches, which he called dogmatic falsificationism and naive falsificationism.

Dogmatic falsificationism ignores both types of problems, whereas naive falsificationism considers the first type only. Popper's methodology is not and has never been based on one of the two incorrect approaches. A dogmatic falsificationist ignores that every observation is theory-impregnated. This leads to the critique that it is unclear which theory is falsified. Is it the one that is being studied or the one behind the observation?

An example is Galileo's refutation of the theory that celestial bodies are faultless crystal balls. Many considered that it was the optical theory of the telescope that was false, not the theory of celestial bodies. Another example is the theory that neutrinos are emitted in beta decays. Had they not been observed in the Cowan—Reines neutrino experiment , many would have considered that the strength of the beta-inverse reaction used to detect the neutrinos was not sufficiently high.

At the time, Grover Maxwell [ es ] wrote, the possibility that this strength was sufficiently high was a "pious hope". A dogmatic falsificationist ignores the role of auxiliary hypotheses, which could explain the contradicting observation. For the falsification to logically occur, a ceteris paribus clause must say that no auxiliary hypothesis is responsible for the contradicting observation. Again, this leads to the critique that it cannot be told if it is the theory or the ceteris paribus clause that is false. Lakatos gives the example of the path of a planet. If the path contradicts Newton's law, we will not know if it is Newton's law that is false or the assumption that no other body influenced the path.

Popper was aware that one can always find another auxiliary hypothesis, [W] though he clearly distinguished falsifiable theories such as Newton theory and unfalsifiable theories on this respect. Lakatos says that Popper's solution to these criticisms requires that one relaxes the assumption that an observation can show a theory to be false: [Y]. If a theory is falsified [in the usual sense], it is proven false; if it is falsified [in the technical sense], it may still be true. Methodological falsificationism replaces the contradicting observation in a falsification with a "contradicting observation" accepted by convention among scientists, a convention that implies four kinds of decisions that have these respective goals: the selection of all basic statements statements that correspond to logically possible observations , selection of the accepted basic statements among the basic statements, making statistical laws falsifiable and applying the refutation to the specific theory instead of the ceteris paribus clause.

So, Popper says that "Science does not rest upon solid bedrock". According to Lakatos, naive falsificationism is the claim that methodological falsifications can by themselves explain how scientific knowledge progresses. Very often a theory is still useful and used even after it is found in contradiction with some observations. Also, when scientists deal with two or more competing theories which are both corroborated, considering only falsifications, it is not clear why one theory is chosen above the other, even when one is corroborated more often than the other. In fact, a stronger version of the Quine-Duhem thesis says that it's not always possible to rationally pick one theory over the other using falsifications.

Popper's critical rationalism uses both falsifications and corroborations to explain progress in science. Popper distinguished between the creative and informal process from which theories and accepted basic statements emerge and the logical and formal process where theories are falsified or corroborated. Also, falsifications, because they are based on methodological decisions, are useless in a strict justification perspective. The answer of Lakatos and many others to that question is that it should. Popper's way to analyze progress in science was through the concept of verisimilitude , a way to define how close a theory is to the truth, which he did not consider very significant, except as an attempt to describe a concept already clear in practice.

Later, it was shown that the specific definition proposed by Popper cannot distinguish between two theories that are false, which is the case for all theories in the history of science. Hume explained induction with a theory of the mind [25] that was in part inspired by Newton's theory of gravitation. Hume believed that his psychological induction process follows laws of nature, but, for him, this does not imply the existence of a method of justification based on logical rules.

In fact, he argued that any induction mechanism, including the mechanism described by his theory, could not be justified logically. The absence of a method of justification is a built-in aspect of Popper's trial and error explanation. As rational as they can be, these explanations that refer to laws, but cannot be turned into methods of justification and thus do not contradict Hume's argument or its premises , were not sufficient for some philosophers. It makes sense to also reject this premise in the case of principles to justify induction. Lakatos' proposal of sophisticated falsificationism was very natural in that context. Therefore, Lakatos urged Popper to find an inductive principle behind the trial and error learning process [AO] and sophisticated falsificationism was his own approach to address this challenge.

Popper's philosophy is sometimes said to fail to recognize the Quine-Duhem thesis, which would make it a form of dogmatic falsificationism. For example, Watkins wrote "apparently forgetting that he had once said 'Duhem is right [ For example, Chalmer points out that falsificationists freely admit that observation is theory impregnated. Instead, their faith rests on critical discussions around these experimental falsifications. Popper distinguished between the logic of science and its applied methodology.

The methodological part consists, in Popper's view, of informal rules, which are used to guess theories, accept observation statements as factual, etc. When this distinction is applied to the term "falsifiability", it corresponds to a distinction between two completely different meanings of the term. The same is true for the term "falsifiable". Popper said that he only uses "falsifiability" or "falsifiable" in reference to the logical side and that, when he refers to the methodological side, he speaks instead of "falsification" and its problems. Popper said that methodological problems require proposing methodological rules. For example, one such rule is that, if one refuses to go along with falsifications, then one has retired oneself from the game of science.

Methodological rules are only needed in the context of actual falsifications. So observations have two purposes in Popper's view. On the methodological side, observations can be used to show that a law is false, which Popper calls falsification. On the logical side, observations, which are purely logical constructions, do not show a law to be false, but contradict a law to show its falsifiability. Unlike falsifications and free from the problems of falsification , these contradictions establish the value of the law, which may eventually be corroborated. He wrote that an entire literature exists because this distinction was not understood.

In Popper's view of science, statements of observation can be analyzed within a logical structure independently of any factual observations. Popper calls them the basic statements or test statements. They are the statements that can be used to show the falsifiability of a theory. Popper says that basic statements do not have to be possible in practice.

It is sufficient that they are accepted by convention as belonging to the empirical language, a language that allows intersubjective verifiability : "they must be testable by intersubjective observation the material requirement ". In more than twelve pages of The Logic of Scientific Discovery , [39] Popper discusses informally which statements among those that are considered in the logical structure are basic statements. A logical structure uses universal classes to define laws. For example, in the law "all swans are white" the concept of swans is a universal class.

It corresponds to a set of properties that every swan must have. It is not restricted to the swans that exist, existed or will exist. Informally, a basic statement is simply a statement that concerns only a finite number of specific instances in universal classes. In particular, an existential statement such as "there exists a black swan" is not a basic statement, because it is not specific about the instance.

On the other hand, "this swan here is black" is a basic statement. Popper says that it is a singular existential statement or simply a singular statement. So, basic statements are singular existential statements. Thornton says that basic statements are statements that correspond to particular "observation-reports". He then gives Popper's definition of falsifiability:. As in the case of actual falsifiers, decisions must be taken by scientists to accept a logical structure and its associated empirical basis, but these are usually part of a background knowledge that scientists have in common and, often, no discussion is even necessary.

This agreement, if one can speak of agreement when there is not even a discussion, exists only in principle. This is where the distinction between the logical and methodological sides of science becomes important. This may require using a deeper empirical basis, [BB] hidden within the current empirical basis, to make sure that the properties or values used in the falsifier were obtained correctly Andersson gives some examples.

Popper says that despite the fact that the empirical basis can be shaky, more comparable to a swamp than to solid ground, [BB] the definition that is given above is simply the formalization of a natural requirement on scientific theories, without which the whole logical process of science [AX] would not be possible. In his analysis of the scientific nature of universal laws, Popper arrived at the conclusion that laws must "allow us to deduce, roughly speaking, more empirical singular statements than we can deduce from the initial conditions alone. A falsifier of a law has always two parts: the initial condition and the singular statement that contradicts the prediction.

However, there is no need to require that falsifiers have two parts in the definition itself. This removes the requirement that a falsifiable statement must make prediction. In this way, the definition is more general and allows the basic statements themselves to be falsifiable. Scientists such as the Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon have studied the semantic aspects of the logical side of falsifiability.

In response to Lakatos who suggested that Newton's theory was as hard to show falsifiable as Freud's psychoanalytic theory, Popper gave the example of an apple that moves from the ground up to a branch and then starts to dance from one branch to another. Another example of a basic statement is "The inert mass of this object is ten times larger than its gravitational mass. It is, as described by Popper, a valid falsifier for Einstein's equivalence principle. An example of a basic statement in the theory of evolution is "In this industrial area, the relative fitness of the white-bodied peppered moth is high. A famous example of a basic statement from J.

Haldane is "[These are] fossil rabbits in the Precambrian era. Despite opinions to the contrary , [47] some times wrongly attributed to Popper, [BG] this shows the scientific character of paleontology or the history of the evolution of life on Earth, because it contradicts the hypothesis in paleontology that all mammals existed in a much more recent era. Richard Dawkins adds that any other modern animal, such as a hippo, would suffice. A simple example of a non-basic statement is "this angel does not have large wings". It is not a basic statement, because though the absence of large wings can be observed, no technology independent of the presence of wings [BH] exists to identify angels.

Even if it is accepted that angels exist, the sentence "All angels have large wings" is not falsifiable. Another example from Popper of a non-basic statement is "This human action is altruistic. Because no basic statement falsifies it, the statement that "All human actions are egotistic, motivated by self-interest" is thus not falsifiable. Some adherents of young-Earth creationism make an argument called the Omphalos hypothesis after the Greek word for navel that the world was created with the appearance of age; e. This ad hoc hypothesis introduced into young-Earth creationism makes it unfalsifiable because it says that the time of creation of a species measured by the accepted technology is illusory and no accepted technology is proposed to measure the claimed "actual" time of creation.

Popper says that it's fine to modify a theory by the introduction of an auxiliary hypothesis, but the new theory must at the least remain falsifiable, which is not the case here. One can also present the Omphalos hypothesis as an auxiliary hypothesis that is introduced into the accepted theory. In this view, the new theory remains falsifiable, but its falsifiability does not increase, because no additional observations are predicted.

In both views, the ad hoc hypothesis, seen by itself, is not falsifiable because there is no way to measure the claimed "actual" time of creation that is proposed by this hypothesis. This is discussed in details by Dienes in the case of a variation on the Omphalos hypothesis, which, in addition, specifies that God made the creation in this way to test our faith. Grover Maxwell [ es ] discussed statements such as "All men are mortal". He coined the term "corroboration without demarcation". Popper's view is that it is indeed useful, but only because it is indirectly corroborated by the corroboration of the falsifiable law "All men die before the age of Maxwell also used the example "All solids have a melting point.

Another example from Maxwell is "All beta decays are accompanied with a neutrino emission from the same nucleus. The law is falsifiable and much more useful from a scientific point of view, if the method to detect the neutrino is specified. Popper did not argue against the problems of falsification per se. He always acknowledged these problems. Popper's response was at the logical level. For example, he pointed out that, if a specific way is given to trap the neutrino, then, at the level of the language, the statement is falsifiable, because "no neutrino was detected after using this specific way" formally contradicts it and it is inter-subjectively-verifiable—people can repeat the experiment.

Another example, from the pepper moth example , is "In all areas, the white vs black trait of the pepper moth affects its fitness. When it is specified, namely, fitness in polluted industrial areas vs non polluted areas, then the law is falsifiable and it says which environmental factor should be considered to actually see an effect. In the 5th and 6th editions of On the origin of species , following a suggestion of Alfred Russel Wallace , Darwin used "Survival of the fittest", an expression first coined by Herbert Spencer , as a synonym for "Natural Selection".

Great Darwinist Ronald Fisher worked out mathematical theorems to help answer this kind of questions. But, for Popper and others, there is no falsifiable law of Natural Selection in this, because it only applies to some rare traits. Popper said that not all unfalsifiable statements are useless in science. Mathematical statements are good examples. Like all formal sciences , mathematics is not concerned with the validity of theories based on observations in the empirical world, but rather, mathematics is occupied with the theoretical, abstract study of such topics as quantity , structure , space and change.

Methods of the mathematical sciences are, however, applied in constructing and testing scientific models dealing with observable reality. Albert Einstein wrote, "One reason why mathematics enjoys special esteem, above all other sciences, is that its laws are absolutely certain and indisputable, while those of other sciences are to some extent debatable and in constant danger of being overthrown by newly discovered facts. Popper made a clear distinction between the original theory of Marx and what came to be known as Marxism later on.

Though they could not make preordained predictions, these laws constrained how changes can occur in society. One of them was that changes in society cannot "be achieved by the use of legal or political means". They thus gave a 'conventionalist twist' to the theory; and by this stratagem they destroyed its much advertised claim to scientific status. Falsifiability has been used in the McLean v. Arkansas case in , [57] the Daubert case in [58] and other cases. In the ruling of the McLean v. Arkansas case, Judge William Overton used falsifiability as one of the criteria to determine that " creation science " was not scientific and should not be taught in Arkansas public schools as such it can be taught as religion. In his testimony, philosopher Michael Ruse defined the characteristics which constitute science as see Pennock , p.

In his conclusion related to this criterion Judge Overton stated that. While anybody is free to approach a scientific inquiry in any fashion they choose, they cannot properly describe the methodology as scientific, if they start with the conclusion and refuse to change it regardless of the evidence developed during the course of the investigation. In several cases of the United States Supreme Court , the court described scientific methodology using the five Daubert factors , which include falsifiability.

Ordinarily, a key question to be answered in determining whether a theory or technique is scientific knowledge that will assist the trier of fact will be whether it can be and has been tested. Scientific methodology today is based on generating hypotheses and testing them to see if they can be falsified; indeed, this methodology is what distinguishes science from other fields of human inquiry. Green See also C. Hempel, Philosophy of Natural Science 49 [T]he statements constituting a scientific explanation must be capable of empirical test ; K. David H. Kaye [BX] said that references to the Daubert majority opinion confused falsifiability and falsification and that "inquiring into the existence of meaningful attempts at falsification is an appropriate and crucial consideration in admissibility determinations.

Considering the specific detection procedure that was used in the neutrino experiment, without mentioning its probabilistic aspect, Popper wrote "it provided a test of the much more significant falsifiable theory that such emitted neutrinos could be trapped in a certain way". In this manner, in his discussion of the neutrino experiment, Popper did not raise at all the probabilistic aspect of the experiment. This is the third kind of decisions mentioned by Lakatos. In this example, the theory that impregnates observations and justifies that we conventionally accept the potential falsifier "no neutrino was detected" is statistical.

In statistical language, the potential falsifier that can be statistically accepted not rejected to say it more correctly is typically the null hypothesis, as understood even in popular accounts on falsifiability. Different ways are used by statisticians to draw conclusions about hypotheses on the basis of available evidence. Fisher , Neyman and Pearson proposed approaches that require no prior probabilities on the hypotheses that are being studied. In contrast, Bayesian inference emphasizes the importance of prior probabilities. Gelman and Shalizi mentioned that Bayes' statisticians do not have to disagree with the non-inductivists. Because statisticians often associate statistical inference with induction, Popper's philosophy is often said to have an hidden form of induction.

For example, Mayo wrote "The falsifying hypotheses [ This is hugely problematic for Popper". For Popper, the problems of falsification belong to the inductive perspective, which he also calls the bucket view of science, [73] and the correct application of falsifiability, i. In the inductive or bucket view of science, this unknown aspect takes the form of uncertainty or lack of universality in the inductive logic. In the searchlight view of science, what is unknown is the influence of biological expectations and predispositions on the conjectures.

Popper describes these biological expectations and predispositions as knowledge that has not taken and perhaps cannot fully take an objective form and in as such cannot participate in any logic that scientists can use. In the bucket view of science, observations are the basis to justify laws or theories. In this view, observation statements accumulate in a bucket through observations and various procedures are used to make sure that they are valid, so that they can fulfill their purpose.

This justificational picture was criticized by Hume on the basis of reasonable premises: non-deductive rules are in need of justification, circular arguments are not valid, etc. If we accept Hume's premises, even probabilistic attempts to explain the growth of knowledge in terms of the bucket view of science, Popper stated, are doomed to fail. Popper argued that an even greater weakness of this view is the level of certainty that it expects from the observation statements as falsifiers and even as verifiers in a logical inductive process.

Popper's solution to this problem is simply to reject the bucket view of science. His main argument is basically that he accepts Hume's argument, which shows that the bucket view fails to explain the growth of objective knowledge. Popper said that the processes in the bucket are better seen as physical processes and the laws that govern these processes are biological. Popper proposed to replace the bucket view of science with what he called the searchlight view of science. In that view, Popper wrote, there is no reason why any methodology should work.

It is easy, Popper said, to imagine universes where no methodology can work or even only exist. In Popper's case, the axiom is that the methodology of conjectures and refutations is going to work. But this axiom will not help any objective rule in the justification of scientific knowledge. For a popperian, the absence of these objective rules is expected. It is not a failure. In this line of thought, Einstein wrote that there is no logical path to science.

Popper's scientific methodology that accompanies falsifiability contains rules such as "He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game. The usefulness of falsifiability is that falsifiable conjectures say more, because they prohibit more and, in the case of their falsification, they lead to useful problems, which steer the creative process of science. But unlike Popper, Lakatos felt that if the explanation for new laws can not be deductive, it must be inductive.

He urged Popper explicitly to adopt some inductive principle [AO] and sets himself the task to find an inductive methodology. In a response to Kuhn, Feyerabend and Musgrave, Lakatos acknowledged that the methodology depends on the good judgment of the scientists. Popper also offered a methodology with rules, but these rules are also not inductive rules, because they are not by themselves used to accept laws or establish their validity. They do that through the creativity or "good judgment" of the scientists only.

For Popper, the required non deductive component of science never had to be an inductive methodology. He always viewed this component as a creative process beyond the explanatory reach of any rational methodology, but yet used to decide which theories should be studied and applied, find good problems and guess useful conjectures. Yet Lakatos's methodology extended importantly Popper's methodology: it added a historiographical component to it. This allowed Lakatos to find corroborations for his methodology in the history of science.

The basic units in his methodology, which can be abandoned or pursued, are research programmes. Research programmes can be degenerative or progressive and only degenerative research programmes must be abandoned at some point. For Lakatos, this is mostly corroborated by facts in history. In contradistinction, Popper did not propose his methodology as a tool to reconstruct the history of science. Yet, some times, he did refer to history to corroborate his methodology. For example, he remarked that theories that were considered great successes were also the most likely to be falsified.

Zahar's view was that, with regard to corroborations found in the history of science, there was only a difference of emphasis between Popper and Lakatos. As an anecdotal example, in one of his articles Lakatos challenged Popper to show that his theory was falsifiable: he asked "Under what conditions would you give up your demarcation criterion? Thomas Kuhn analyzed what he calls periods of normal science as well as revolutions from one period of normal science to another, [80] whereas Popper's view is that only revolutions are relevant. It's only when important new puzzles emerge that cannot be solved by accepted theories that a revolution might occur.

In the big picture presented by Kuhn, the routinely solved puzzles are corroborations. Falsifications or otherwise unexplained observations are unsolved puzzles. All of these are used in the informal process that generates a new kind of theory. Kuhn says that Popper emphasizes formal or logical falsifications and fails to explain how the social and informal process works. Popper often uses astrology as an example of a pseudo-science. He says that it is not falsifiable because both the theory itself and its predictions are too imprecise. He also said that astrologers themselves acknowledged these falsifications. Paul Feyerabend rejected any prescriptive methodology at all.

He rejected Lakatos' argument for ad hoc hypothesis , arguing that science would not have progressed without making use of any and all available methods to support new theories. He rejected any reliance on a scientific method, along with any special authority for science that might derive from such a method. Even though Popper is clearly not a relativist, Sokal and Bricmont discuss falsifiability because they see postmodernist epistemological relativism as a reaction to Popper's description of falsifiability, and more generally, to his theory of science. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Property of a statement that is written in an empirical language and contradicts some observations, realistic or not, that can be described in that language.

See also: Inductivism , Problem of induction , and demarcation problem. Main article: Newton's law of universal gravitation. Main article: Einstein's equivalence principle. Main article: Industrial melanism. Main article: Precambrian rabbit. Daar werd ook het idee van het Unbewusste onbewuste in gepostuleerd. In deze studie wordt de hysterie nog psychologisch verklaard, maar later distantieerde Breuer zich hiervan. Breuer zocht een eenheid in het klinische denken, en begon hysterie weer fysiologisch te verklaren.

Uiteindelijk stopte Freud met het gebruik van hypnose als therapeutisch middel. Freud ging hierbij uit van een 'niet-willen-weten' van de seksuele oorsprong van deze klachten. In verscheen Die Traumdeutung , over de relatie tussen het onbewuste en de inhoud van dromen. Vaak wordt het verschijnen van Die Traumdeutung beschouwd als de grondlegging van de psychoanalyse.

In dromen zouden verborgen boodschappen van het onderbewustzijn zitten: dromen zijn verkapte vervullingen van onbewuste wensen. Door dromen te analyseren kon men dus dingen over het onbewuste te weten komen. Dit leidde tot het ontstaan van de psychoanalytische beweging. Maar er ontstonden ook conflicten tussen deze mannen. Bekende collega- psychiaters van Freud, Jung en Adler , die veel met Freud correspondeerden, namen na afstand van diens pas opgerichte internationale psychoanalytische vereniging, en werkten hun eigen varianten van de psycho-analyse uit. Sigmund Freud zag geest en lichaam als een geheel van energiestromen. Die energiestromen noemde Freud "driften" Triebe.

Deze driften werken doorgaans ongemerkt, en zijn "primair". Zo onderscheidde Freud een levensdrift eros , de primaire drang tot zelfbehoud voortzetting van de soort, liefde voor jezelf en voor de anderen. In zijn latere werk meent Freud ook een doodsdrift thanatos te kunnen onderscheiden, het streven naar een spanningsloze toestand oceanisch gevoel. De seksuele driften noemde hij libido. Deze driften zijn in aanvang ongestuurd en ongeremd. Freud noemde dit het Es.

De mens leert deze driften te beheersen door zich aan te passen aan de verwachtingen van anderen. Het is het Ich ik , of ego in het Latijn, het bewuste deel van het psychische apparaat, dat leert om die driften te beheersen. De opvoeding en de cultuur dwingen deze aanpassing af, en geven de voorbeelden waar het bewuste zich op kan richten. Deze indeling van de menselijke geest doet enigszins denken aan de leer van Plato. Hij beschrijft dat de mens bestaat uit het onderlichaam verlangens dat door de borst in bedwang moet worden gehouden. De perfecte mens leeft uit het hoofd, dat daar weer boven staat. Lichamelijke stoornissen herleidde Freud tot verstoringen in de psychische energiehuishouding van de mens.

Traumatische gebeurtenissen, bijvoorbeeld de vermeende aanblik van seksuele omgang tussen de ouders zie Sergej Pankejev , worden door het psychisch apparaat verdrongen. De energie die niet meer toegankelijk is voor het bewuste, en dus ook niet rationeel gestuurd kan worden, zoekt een uitweg, en uit zich in lichamelijke symptomen. Door deze bewust te maken, zou de energie weer rationeel beheersbaar worden, waardoor de klacht zou verdwijnen. Freud zag het onbewuste als cruciaal voor de psychoanalyse. Volgens Freud bestaat de menselijke geest uit een ingewikkeld web van gebeurtenissen en processen waarvan slechts een deel voor het bewustzijn toegankelijk is. De geest is als het ware opgedeeld in twee afdelingen, min of meer onafhankelijk van elkaar.

Het onbewuste bestaat uit de aangeboren driften, maar ook de verdrongen wensen en traumatische ervaringen. Daarnaast bevat het ook sluimerende gedachten, herinneringen, kennis, beelden, die zonder veel problemen wel tot inhoud van het bewustzijn kunnen worden gemaakt. Om redenen die niet zijn opgehelderd kwam Freud rond terug op deze "verleidingstheorie", die dus eigenlijk een "misbruiktheorie" was. Dit complex zou tot angsten en trauma's kunnen leiden zie ' Kleine Hans '. Freud stelde dat kinderen een psychoseksuele ontwikkeling doormaken, welke theorie tegenwoordig wordt betwist; orale fase , anale fase , fallische fase , latentiefase en tot slot de genitale fase.

Hiermee kon hij zijn verdringingsthese, de hoeksteen van zijn psychoanalytische theorie, in stand houden. Doordat een aantal vrouwelijke leden van de bourgeoisie zich aangetrokken voelden tot de psychoanalyse en zich lieten behandelen, groeide de psychoanalyse en kreeg deze veel internationale allure. De psychoanalyse kan gezien worden als een van de eerste vormen van de moderne psychotherapie. Freuds idee van verdringing als oorzaak van psychische problemen is wijdverbreid geraakt, en maakt deel uit van het collectieve denken over de werking van de geest. De naam van Freud heeft in het dagelijkse taalgebruik een bekende klank; de meeste mensen kennen bijvoorbeeld de zogenaamde freudiaanse verspreking , als voorbeeld van wat Freud zelf een Fehlleistung noemde.

De psychoanalyse van Freud had invloed op de surrealistische beweging in In schilderijen en films van het surrealisme werd een onbewuste, een droomomgeving geschilderd. In een van zijn bekendste werken, De volharding der herinnering , bijvoorbeeld, duiden de slappe, uitgelopen uurwerken en objecten op impotentie.

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