Hans-Joachim Niemann on Karl Popper, biology and evolution

A copy of Karl Popper and the Two New Secrets of Life has arrived, courtesy of the author. This books is a fine addition to Popperian exegesis,  just when you thought the  cottage industry on the intellectual development of KRP was running out of material.  Check it out on Amazon, I agree with Luc Castelein that it is a five star performance! Unlike some of the over-priced books on the market this one is affordable and real value for money.

I am short of time and I would like to do a slow read, chapter by chapter to explain the new information and the insights of this wonderful book, but I will have to spread this over several days or even weeks.

There is a handy summary.

The story of how humans and all living things came into existence is told in two widely believed versions: the Book of Genesis and Darwin’s Origin of Species. It was the philosopher Karl Popper who presented us with a third story, no less important. His New Interpretation of Darwinism denies the creative power of blind chance and natural selection and establishes knowledge and activity of all living beings as the real driving forces of evolution. Thus, spiritual elements are back in the theory of evolution, and in Popper’s view “the entire evolution is an adventure of the mind.”

In this book, Hans-Joachim Niemann establishes Karl Popper as an eminent philosopher of biology. In the first chapter, biographical details are unearthed concerning how Popper’s biological interests were inspired by a biological meeting in the old windmill at Hunstanton in 1936. The second chapter focusses on the year 1986 when Popper, in several lectures, summarized the results of his life-long biological thinking. The most important of these, the Medawar Lecture given at the Royal Society London, was lost for a long time and is now printed in the Appendix. A new world view begins to emerge that is completely different from Creationism or Darwinism.

Twenty years after Popper’s death, the last chapter looks back on his biological thoughts in the light of new results of molecular biology. His then attacks on long-lasting dogmas of evolutionary theory turned out to be largely justified. The new biology seems even well suited to support Popper’s endeavour to overcome the gloomy aspects of Darwinism that have made organisms passive parts of a machinery of deadly competition. Neither blind chance nor natural selection are the creative forces of all life but knowledge and activity. How they came into existence is still a secret and a worthwhile research programme.

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One Response to Hans-Joachim Niemann on Karl Popper, biology and evolution

  1. Norman Paskin says:

    Rafe, many thanks for alerting us to the publication of this book, which I was unaware of (not reviewed – of course! – anywhere else I’ve seen). I am reading it now and so far it appears to be an excellent contribution, and a good piece of intellectual history to supplement Hacohen’s great book. Also, thanks for publishing your “Misreading Popper” etc in paper for those of us who still prefer pulped trees…As you note, this is a cottage industry, which is sad in many ways, but a very worthwhile one.

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