Letter: It was a privilege to criticise Popper

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The Independent Online
Sir: Former students of Sir Karl Popper will be amazed by Rom Harre's contention (obituary, 19 September) that Popper's methodology of falsification is itself refuted by an assumption which he never made, but which the apologists for induction invoked as a last-ditch defence of their position - especially when the assumption is as wide-sweeping as the Law of Uniformity of Nature. Which parts of nature?

For many of us at the LSE in the 1950s, Professor Popper was the leading intellectual influence there. It was a privilege for second-year undergraduates to be taught by such a major figure. The biggest eye-opener was his insistence on the fallibility of knowledge, including his own.

In keeping with this arresting proposition, he would ask us to spend the second hour of each lecture period in criticising him. He would shout 'Criticise]' in a thick Germanic accent, and we would do our best to stand up to him. Needless to say, nobody ever got the better of him.

Yours etc,


School of Economic Studies

University of Manchester