May 21, 2007 at 5:37 am | Posted in Books, Philosophy, Science & Technology | Leave a comment








Three Worlds Conjectures:

Popper, Habermas, Penrose

Karl Popper

Sir Karl Raimund Popper, (July 28, 1902September 17, 1994), was an Austrian and British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics. He is counted among the most influential philosophers of science of the 20th century, and also wrote extensively on social and political philosophy.

Popperian cosmology

Popperian cosmology is Karl Popper‘s philosophical theory of reality that includes three interacting worlds, called World 1, World 2 and World 3.

Worlds 1, 2 and 3

Popperian cosmology splits the universe into three interacting sub-universes:

The interaction of World 1 and World 2

The theory of interaction between World 1 and World 2 is an alternative theory to Cartesian dualism. Cartesian dualism is based on the theory that the universe is composed of two essential substances: Res Cogitans and Res Extensa. Popperian cosmology rejects this essentialism, but maintains the common sense view that physical and mental states exist, and they interact.

The interaction of World 1 and World 2 is also an alternative to epiphenomenalism, where World 2 objects and events are real but do not have any causal action on World 1. Popperian cosmology rejects this for the reason that “downward causation” is not impossible.

World 3

Popperian cosmology claims the existence of a third world called World 3, which contains the products of the human mind. World 3 contains abstract objects such as scientific theories, stories, myths, tools, social institutions, and works of art.
Karl Popper’s theory of
objective knowledge belongs to World 3. Scientific theories are formed in World 3, which enable them to be criticised and to be potentially falsified.

The interaction of World 2 and World 3

The interaction of World 2 and World 3 is based on the theory that World 3 is partially autonomous. For example, the development of scientific theories in World 3 leads to unintended consequences, in that problems and contradictions are discovered by World 2. Another example is that the process of learning causes World 3 to change World 2.

The interaction of World 1 and World 3

Contained in World 3 are also things as feats of engineering and art. The World 3 objects, although extant in World 1, are embodied and given extra meaning by World 3. For example, the intrinsic value of Hamlet as a World 3 object has many embodiments in World 1, the physical world. This idea would be something along the lines of a meta-object, or a form of a being.


  • Three Worlds by Karl Popper – The Tanner Lecture on Human ValuesPopper proposes three worlds:World One, being the phenomenal world, or the world of direct experience; World Two, being the world of mind, or mental states, ideas, and perceptions; and World Three, being the body of human knowledge expressed in its manifold forms, or the products of the second world made manifest in the materials of the first world (i.e.–books, papers, paintings, symphonies, and all the products of the human mind).
    World Three, he argued, was the product of individual human beings in exactly the same sense that an animal path is the product of individual animals, and that, as such, has an existence and evolution independent of any individual knowing subjects. The influence of World Three, in his view, on the individual human mind (World Two) is at least as strong as the influence of World One. In other words, the knowledge held by a given individual mind owes at least as much to the total accumulated wealth of human knowledge, made manifest, as to the world of direct experience. As such, the growth of human knowledge could be said to be a function of the independent evolution of World Three (compare with Memetics). Many contemporary philosophers have not embraced Popper’s Three World conjecture, due mostly, it seems, to its resemblance to Cartesian dualism.

  • Popper theorized that man simultaneously exists in three distinct worlds: namely, 1) the physical world of nature, 2) the internal world of ideas, thoughts, and emotions, and 3) the social world of inter-subjectivity.
    From this Popperian schema, Habermas draws out the insight that if there are substantial distinctions between its three worlds, then there are substantial distinctions between the languages deployed with reference to, or within the context of, each of these worlds.
    Roger PenroseRoger Penrose has a picture of mind and matter that is not just a relation between logical and physical, but involves three worlds: Platonic, mathematical and physical.

    In his more recent The Road to Reality, Roger Penrose leaves aside the question of computability in physics, and gets down to the core of physics itself.

Penrose’s schema of three worlds is shown in the diagram below:


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