Division of ‘Art’ and ‘Science’: Comparison of Popper and Woolf’s Theories

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The question of how and where to draw boundaries around science remains controversial issue till today. Since emergence of modern science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many philosophers and thinkers tried to set up clear boundaries or criteria that separated it from other forms of knowledge. However, no consensus on the given issue has emerged up to now. This issue is known as a “demarcation problem” in philosophy and it has always been of the utmost importance to the science itself, since it give a rise to many other problems concerning general status of science in the modern society. For example, if we cannot draw clear line between science and myths, how can we judge about superiority of the former against the latter?

Popper and Woolf both had touched upon this issue in their works, however doing this in different ways and for different purposes. To be more precise, Popper tried to set up clear line that delineated science from other forms of knowledge, on the contrary, Woolf was trying to blur this line.

The roots of the Popper’s problem go to his dissatisfaction with theories that gained mass popularity at those times, namely, Marx's theory of history, Freud's psycho-analysis, and Alfred Adler's individual psychology. The source of his dissatisfaction was in his doubts about the status of these theories as truly scientific ones. And most interesting things begin here. Popper challenged these theories from completely different perspectives for those times. For Popper established and widely acknowledged principles of scientific theories, such as principle of verification and observation, were of little use since they could be easily manipulated. All three mentioned theories satisfied these principles, and had e...

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...o what is the main conclusion I arrived at after reading two authors? It is twofold: science should not be messed with other forms of knowledge, however this doesn’t mean that other forms of knowledge, such as imagination, do not possess any importance in our strive for truth. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Science does not know its debt to imagination”. I totally agree with that, the former should always go hand in hand with the latter.

Works Cited

Popper, Karl. “Science as Falsification”. Conjectures and Refutations, London: Routledge and Keagan Paul, 1963, pp. 33-39; from Theodore Schick, ed., Readings in the Philosophy of Science, Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 2000, pp. 9-13.

Woolf, Virginia. “Shakespeare’s Sister”. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 837-854.
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