Sir Karl Raimund Popper, (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austro-British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics. He is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century; he also wrote extensively on social and political philosophy. He was born in Vienna (then in Austria-Hungary), to upper middle-class parents of assimilated Jewish origins, both of whom had converted to Christianity. Karl’s father Simon Siegmund Carl Popper was a lawyer from Bohemia, and mother Jenny Schiff was of Silesian and Hungarian descent. After establishing themselves in Vienna, the Poppers made a rapid social climb in Viennese society: Simon Siegmund Carl became a legal partner of Vienna’s liberal mayor Raimond Grübl and, after his death in 1898, took over the firm (Karl received his middle name from the mayor).
Popper received a Lutheran upbringing and was educated at the University of Vienna. His father was a doctor of law at the Vienna University and a bibliophile who had 12,000–14,000 volumes in his personal library. Popper inherited from him both the library and the disposition.
In 1919, Popper became attracted by Marxism and subsequently joined the Association of Socialist School Students. He also became a member of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Austria, which was at that time a party that fully adopted the Marxist ideology. He soon became disillusioned by what he saw to be the philosophical restraints imposed by the historical materialism of Marx, abandoned the ideology and remained a supporter of social liberalism throughout his life.
In 1928, he earned a doctorate in Philosophy and then, from 1930 to 1936, taught secondary school. Popper published his first book, Logik der Forschung (The Logic of Scientific Discovery), in 1934. Here, he criticised psychologism, naturalism, inductionism, and logical positivism, and put forth his theory of potential falsifiability as the criterion demarcating science from non-science.
Popper won many awards and honours in his field, including the Lippincott Award of the American Political Science Association, the Sonning Prize, and fellowships in the Royal Society, British Academy, London School of Economics, King’s College London, Darwin College Cambridge, and Charles University, Prague. Austria awarded him the Grand Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria in Gold.
Popper died in Croydon, UK at the age of 92 on 17 September 1994. After cremation, his ashes were taken to Vienna and buried at Lainzer cemetery adjacent to the ORF Centre, where his wife Josefine Anna Henninger, who had died in Austria several years before, had already been buried.