The Guides are all revised although there has been no signal, that takes over a month after Amazon decides whether the changes are significant enough to be called a revised edition. The date of the last version can be found immediately in front of the ISBN, for example 1410 or 1810 indicating the date in October.
The revisions may help new readers but they add practically no value for people who are familiar with CR.
A comment on the order of the papers in the Guide to Objective Knowledge
The Guide does not follow the sequence of the papers in the book. To reflect the title of the book and the most novel and original contents, the five papers on objective knowledge and related themes are treated first, in chronological order. The other papers follow, also in chronological order. This aroused some comments, along the lines that the first two chapters in the book, and especially the chapter on Popper’s solution to the problem of induction, are fundamentally important and should perhaps be treated first.
Re-reading the two papers with fresh eyes, it is clear that those two papers support the theme of objective knowledge by explaining some connections between the problem of induction and the traditional (subjective) theory of knowledge, especially in Hume’s influential treatment of the issues. I have not changed the order but some additional comments will help to show how some of the key themes of Popper’s work are linked in the paper on induction.
Section 13 in the paper on conjectural knowledge is especially helpful. Beyond the Problems of Induction and Demarcation explains how the solution to the problem of induction came to Popper many years after he produced a solution to the problem of demarcation, which was as early as 1919. He realized that the idea of falsifiability would make a helpful distinction between Einstein’s theory and some parts of Marx, Freud and Adler which were accepted and propagated uncritically by “true believers”. At the time he thought it was probably only a matter of definition, and not fundamentally important although he found it helpful to get clear about the best way to use evidence.
Later, when he was seriously engaged with the problem of induction, like the positivists around him, the matter of falsifiability assumed new significance, possibly because the positivists were so dedicated to verification, which could never work, and that meant that the quest for justification was unsustainable.
“I saw that what had to be given up is the quest for justification, in the sense of the justification of the claim that a theory is true. All theories are hypotheses; all may be overthrown.”
Thanks to the work of Tarski the regulative principle of truth is still sustainable even though the quest for conclusive justification is not.
When he solved the problem of induction and grasped the close connection with the problem of demarcation, he achieved a “problem shift” to a new range of problems and issues. He became alert to the way that theories can be “immunized” against criticism (with thanks to Hans Albert for the term), and this raised the issue of the social nature of science and the norms, traditions and conventions of the scientific community, which he touched without elaboration in chapter 23 of The Open Society and the final sections of The Poverty of Historicism.
“Thus I was led to the idea of methodological rules and of the fundamental importance of a critical approach; that is, of an approach which avoided the policy of immunizing our theories against refutation.”
Then came the idea of applying the critical approach to the test statements of the empirical base, to recognise the conjectural and theoretical nature of observation statements. That led to the recognition that all languages are theory-impregnated which in turn called for a radical revision of empiricism.
“It also made me look upon the critical attitude as characteristic of the rational attitude; and it led me to see the significance of the argumentative (or critical) function of language; to the idea of deductive logic as the organon of criticism…And it further led me to realize that only a formulated theory (rather than a believed theory) can be objective, and to the idea that it is this formulation or objectivity that makes criticism possible; and so to my theory of a ‘third world’.”
And so in that final section of the final paper (in the sequence of Popper’s papers in this Guide) we are led to the ideas of objective knowledge and the evolutionary link between language and critical thinking which are spelled out in the first section of the Guide.