Popper’s World Three and the World Wide Web: A Technological Metaphysic and Epistemology
Karl Popper’s last contribution to the philosophical literature was his theory of Objective Knowledge. In the theory he describes three worlds. World One is the world of things, and of organisms. World Two is the psychological state of organisms, in particular human organisms. World Three is the product of human organisms, in particular the intellectual products—books, musical compositions, and art, just to name a few. Psychologically the most important work that humans do is to have their World 2 mental states interact with the World 3 products that they (including others) have created. Doing so gives humans a reason to expand the domain of knowledge. They aren't limited to simply re-learning the biological and psychological behaviors of their predecessors. Unlike other animals, they can enlarge the canon of their knowledge. They can grow World 3. Popper never realized (he died too early) the extent to which the World Wide Web demonstrates the exponential potential to showcase human knowledge. Further he wasn’t able to see or realize how knowledge need simply not just be archived and accessed. It is always “up and running,” and is accessible at all times and in all locations. One thing Popper clearly did not recognize is that World 3 objects, in a networked environment, interact with themselves, creating an unanticipated dimension to his theory. Perhaps most important, Popper’s theory gives insight in to how humans manipulate world 3 objects. The existence of Internet 2.0 and 3.0 constructs underscore a new more dynamic World 2-World 3 interaction. Such interaction expands the scope of Popper’s theory, enabling it to explain objective knowledge in an infinitely socialized technological environment.
Keywords: Epistemology, Technology, Web, Popper
Dr. Steven Weiss
Professor, Department of Communication