Popper never knew Wikipedia. But Wikipedia knows (figuratively) Popper.
Under 'falsification', Wikipedia provides what Wikipedia calls a naive view of
Falsification is different from an absence of verification.
This is important, because my point in providing or engaging into a
linguistic botany for 'falsify' is to compare its usages to that of 'verify'.
The falsification of statements occurs through modus tollens, via some
Suppose some universal statement U forbids some observation O.
i. U ⊃ ~O
Observation O, however, is made:
So by modus tollens,
Then why is it that 'falsify' has so many other usages? Why did Popper ever
consider them. We can falsify a record, say -- and this has nothing to do
with "U" and "O" in the modus tollens schema.
Falsum, as I noted, comes from a Latin verb which means things other than
turn 'false': fallo -- It is the root for 'failure'.
It is amazing that while the Teutonic lingo had managed to keep so many
Teutonic roots, Popper had to stick with 'falsch', which is a Latinism. This
makes his prose hybrid.
"To fail" is to be unsuccessful in accomplishing a purpose. Ite can also be
used to mean to cease to exist or to function, come to an end, as when you
fail in expectation or performance.
If Popper bases his thing on 'falsch' (while the logical positivists's
notion of truth, as used in the Vienna Circle, was not a Latinism), so does
'fail': a Latinism via Old Norma. To fail is from Old French "falir", be
lacking, miss, not succeed; run out, come to an end; err, make a mistake; be
dying; let down, disappoint" -- cfr. modern French faillir, one of Sartre's
The sad thing is that its pedigree leaves something to be desired to the
classicist. It is from Vulgar Latin "fallire", from Latin "fallere" "to trip,
cause to fall;" but used figuratively to mean "to deceive, trick, dupe,
cheat, elude; fail, be lacking or defective."
The concept on which Popper bases his definition of demarcation criterion
(abgrenzungskriterium) for 'science'!
No wonder he had so many critics!
Another sad thing is that 'he failed to do it' replaced a good-pediegree
Old English "abreoðan", that perhaps Popper should have revived, figurative.
"To fail" can be applied to food, goods, and Newton ('he failed', Einstein
said -- and this gave Popper the idea), "to run short in supply, be used
up". It can also be used of crops, seeds, land. It can also be used as
applied to strength, spirits, courage, etc., "suffer loss of vigour; grow
("Einstein found that Newtonian mechanics suffered loss of vigour"). It
can be applied to persons -- as in the Copernican revolution, a favourite
revolution of Kuhn's -- "Ptolemy failed miserably". "To fail" can also be
applied to material objects, "break down, go to pieces" -- "With quantum
theory, classical atomic theory broke down, to little pieces, that from now on
we'll call quarks."
"I prefer wavicle," -- said Eddington.
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