Karl Popper is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science in the 20th century. He created concepts that developed scientific methodology, notably his empirical falsification that impacted the way we prove/ disprove theories in science today, it completely changes (makes it more accurate)  how we qualify the status of scientific truth since it creates a new basis in scientific methodology.

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and is known worldwide for founding psychoanalysis. His ideas helped understand the fundamental subconscious issues in people’s lives and therefore had a huge impact on main domains, such as marketing. The point where these two philosophers meet is that Karl popper didn’t believe that Freud’s work was a science.

Popper used to be a believer of psychoanalysis, he observed his friends and the people of Vienna and Freud’s analysis seemed to work, if a man was dishonest or honest it was because of what happened during their development in childhood, it made sense. Further on, after working on his falsification he realized that Freud’s theories were flawed.

He worked with Adler who was telling stories about how the past proved or confirmed his theory, never claiming how a possible future state of events could disprove it. He had no predictions, and thus, no truly scientific experiments. He could not unfalisfy his theories making it unscientific. Freudians did not make bold conjectures and did not attempt to falsify their theory with truly scientific experiments.

Therefore, Popper gave up on psychoanalysis and used it as an example of a pseudoscience. In the first chapter of his Science: Conjectures and Refutations Popper distinguishes a science and a pseudoscience by his falsifiability criterion of demarcation, it was new but successful over its predecessor which he labelled ‘inductivism’- induction from observation or experiment.

One of Popper’s reasons for his rejection of this inductive method is the example of psychoanalysis. He said psychoanalysis has much more in common with astrology than with genuine sciences and yet inductivism validates Freud’s psychoanalysis as scientific and so when he rejects inductivism he rejects psychoanalysis with it.

On the other hand, since Freudian analysis is so important and useful in modern society, we can make a case against Popper’s complaints. His developmental theory; linking events from different phases in people’s development to explain their current problems, can be regarded as much more scientific. In Freud’s typology of the ‘oral’ character, there is a need for approval tendency and for the ‘anal’ character there is a clustering tendency, in need for order.

Freud explains these traits by saying that events during each respective phase impacted their characters, such as premature weaning and fierce toilet training. Freud’s typologies for oral and anal characters and his affirmations of the corresponding theories are, at least at first glance, falsifiable hypotheses, so we can wonder why Popper felt entitled to dismiss psychoanalysis as completely unscientific.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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