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Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  337 ratings  ·  36 reviews
At the age of eight, Karl Popper was puzzling over the idea of infinity and by fifteen was beginning to take a keen interest in his father's well-stocked library of books. Unended Quest recounts these moments and many others in the life of one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century, providing an indispensable account of the ideas that influenced him most ...more
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published August 9th 2002 by Routledge (first published 1974)
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Yassin Omar يس
*With my unique friend, Seong-il. August, the 31st, 2016.
*With my unique friend, Seong-il. August, the 31st, 2016.
*I was lucky to get the chance to spend three nights in Vienna, and visiting university of Vienna was in the top of my list, and that's only to have a picture with the statue of my mentor who I've never met, Sir Karl Popper! I was searching among the statues of the great scientists at the university campus until I found my man! I sat in peace smiling and smoking then my eyes caught that guy who was doing exactly the same as I did! I immedi
Sep 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Required reading for school (again). Author is a philosopher of science who has an unfortunate tendency to assume that the average reader has the same knowledge base of philosophy as he has. The ideas themselves are fairly interesting, but the presentation nearly obscures them at times. A very frustrating read and a book that I would not recommend unless you have severe insomnia.
I feel guilty for saying this, but I find this book to be really boring and am having trouble making myself slog through it.

Certainly like the whole "reality exists" idea though.

(Later on).

Relieved to have finished the book. It sort of picks up after the bit where he talks about his ideas about music. Again a feeling of embarrassment, as though I were a kid who would only read books if they had pictures in them, I often found myself being much more interested in Popper's life story than his idea
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I conjecture that the origin of life and the origin of problems coincide."
Bruce Caithness
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Unended Quest" provides a lucid summary of the broad themes of Popper's work along with some background he has provided of his life. I don't think one can overstate the contribution Popper has made to the theory of knowledge, even if many philosophers seem to ignore him after making, perhaps, offhand comments against his criticism of induction. I suppose they would be prickly as, as W.W.Bartley says, if Popper is even remotely on the right track many professional philosophers have simply wasted ...more
Brendan Shea
May 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
A good, though perhaps not excellent, introduction to Popper's thinking on issues like the problem of demarcation (and the role of falsificationism in solving it), the nature of theories, political philosophy, evolutionary theory, and the role of metaphysics in science. There is also a good amount of biographical info in here, especially on Popper's early years in Vienna (among other things, Popper almost became a professional musician).

My reservations about the book are primarily due to Popper
Sep 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, philosophy
Reading this 40-chapter “Unended Quest” by Karl Popper was enriching and stimulating since the book “recounts these moments and many others in the life of one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. … Yet it is as an introduction to Popper’s philosophy that "Unended Quest" shines. …” (back cover) However, the contents from Chapter 31 (Objectivity and Criticism) towards Chapter 40 (The Place of Values in a World of Facts) seemed to focus on his philosophy gradually and theoreti ...more
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
This is a book worth reading and rereading, for Karl Popper is one of those thinkers like a magician, forever pulling rabbits from hats. He belongs to that school on middle European thinkers steeped in the modernist enlightenment. There is really no topic that he has not thought about and few on which he is unable to cast light.

This is the wrong forum for a long dissertation upon Popper, his work, his influence on the philosophy of science or politics, but it is a measure of the man that he can
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a bit of a ramble of Poppers ideas, which isn't necassarily a bad thing since he has so many good one. It's probably one of Popper's funnest books, in that it's a lighter read but still full of interesting thoughts, and if you like the idea of reading an intellectual autobigraphy it'll scratch that itch. But it's main merit is unfortunately very much the biographical element--it's fun to see where the ideas come from. As far as Popper books goes there are many deeper and more insigh ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is all over the place. Well, of course it's all about Popper, but it is as much about the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics as it is about political philosophy. If you want to know about a certain part of Popper's philosophy, I'd advise you to find a more themed book. However, the account of how certain episodes in Popper's life shaped his thought were quite interesting. So as an autobiography, I give it three stars.
Meiska Amouse
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: another-life
My first time reading this ~2003 it was a frustrating experience. I did, at the time, really enjoy the chapter about his musical interests. Rereading over a decade later and found it to have subtle charms throughout
Oct 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A very challenging biography of one of the greatest philosophers of science in the twentieth century. Popper is best known for overthrowing positivism and for his falsification criterion.
Muhammad Arqum
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Karl Popper was a Jewish pupil of an old cabinet maker who knew everything. Who asked historical questions only to answer them himself.
"I believe I learned more about the theory of knowledge from my dear omniscient master Adalbert Pösch than from any other of my teachers. None did so much to turn me into a disciple of Socrates. For it was my master who taught me not only how very little I knew but also that any wisdom to which I might ever aspire could consist only in realizing more fully the i
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Popper walks through the publication of his works and development of his philosophy. Why he left psychology and the quest for the meaning of words: "it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood" any attempt for more precision or clarity as ends themselves is pointless, "if greater precision is needed it is because the problem demands it... problems can only be solved with the help of new ideas" not better/more precise definitions of words.

Dogma vs critical thinking: "
Alejandro Teruel
What you think of this book will very much depend on where you are coming from and what you are looking for. If you are more interesting the autobiographical aspects of this book, then you will probably enjoy the first twenty five or so chapters -even as you marvel at Popper's reticence- and feel the book falls apart in the last ten chapters. It is an intellectual autobiography, which means that Popper is more interested in writing about the genesis, development, and sharpening of his ideas on t ...more
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable autobiography by Karl Popper. As the subtitle implies, it's mainly about his ideas, interspersed with some very general personal history and anecdotes, which still give a good impression of who Popper was. A man who was, as he says himself, perfectly happy in struggling with ideas, and very fond of (scientific and philosophical) problems.

Because he was born and grew up in Vienna in the beginning of the 20th century many used to think he was a member of the Wiener Kreis and a posit
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Oh God did I need some Popper in my life. His rational epistemology is such a welcome balm from the antifoundationalism/humanism/dialecticalmaterialism/irrationalscientism/subjectivism we get these days. Not that I agree with everything here, but what a great introduction to the philosophy and metaphysics of Popper. As scientists cling dearer to their irrational pet beliefs (nothing wrong with that, we all do it - but a scientist should hold truth most dear (science itself being more and more co ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fun and valuable read, but would only recommend if you have read a decent amount of Popper (which I couldn't recommend enough).

Otherwise, I'd recommend starting with David Deutsch who has explained and improved on Popper and then move onto some of Poppers classic essays in Conjectures and Refutations such as:
- On the Sources of Knowledge and Ignorance
- Science: Conjectures and Refutations
- The Nature of Philosophical Problems and their Roots in Science
- Back to the Presocratics
Luis Celhay
After giving my lowest rating ever in “Goodreads” I have to say I really liked the postcript of the book, even if the rest is just a compendium of loose ideas if not outright speculation (On of my favorite books is “The Open Society and its enemies” so I hold the author to a very high standards).

“I know very well that much is wrong in our Western society. But I still have no doubt that it is the best that ever existes”.

“The intellectuals are rightly progressive; but progress is not easy to achie
Angus Stirling
Jul 20, 2020 rated it liked it
An autobiography foregrounding one's intellectual development is an odd thing. It works best in Popper's early years as his life and world events are shown to shape his mind, but as Popper's non-intellectual life becomes stripped away what is left is eventually a hodgepodge of ideas Popper was working on at time of writing that feel underdeveloped in their communication and so very abstract and removed from the biographical ties to the premise. Russell's autobiography fell to pieces in its last ...more
Toomas Tuul
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Occasionally light-hearted, but always deep in philosophy.
The autobiographical parts (about one third of the book) are a great way to understand the context of Poppers' other work, but philosophical parts (the other two thirds) require extensive knowledge of Poppers' favourite subjects (physics, philosophy, epistemology and logics) to actually understand. Readers are expected to have read most of his earlier work.
Christopher Elliott
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aquired
I started on 'The Open Society and Its Enemies' and then Pocket Popper before getting this recommendation from David Deutsch's Twitter Feed. Popper's Autobiography was the perfect (accessible) introduction to his ideas. With this context I think the Pocket Popper will be much more interesting.
Twój Cichy Wielbiciel
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are people who complain it is a boring read. You might very well be(come) one of them.
Abraham Lewik
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: intellectual
Let's be clear, it is an !intellectual! biography. So although Mr. Popper met Einstein, Oppenheim, Mach (as in who Mach speed is named after), and fled Austria during the invasion of WWII, this is about him trying to describe how his mind matured, and not that one time Einstein farted in a lecture or something so human.

Karl Poppers' work on the scientific method is demonstration of the worth of philosophy, an inspiration. Mr. Popper developed improvements of the scientific method, how to create
Mar 15, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really like the philosophy of Karl Popper, and The Logic of Scientific Discovery has made a big impact on my life as a young scientist in training. However, asking famous philosophers to wax-reminiscent about their life experiences may be somewhat ill-advised. He comes of as somewhat of a self-effacing, yet pompous know-it-all. Kind of a disappointing read.
Craig Bolton
Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography by Karl Raimund Popper (1982)
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic intro to popper's philosophy. Not a biography in the conventional sense. His life is his work; the book is a collection of problems he has solved and wants to solve.
Garrick Anderson
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't have enough of a formal background in philosophy to have understood all of what transpired in this book, but I found much to think about and mull over and discuss.
Tanvirul Islam
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring and thought provoking, gives an intimate view of the life of a lover of knowledge.
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Quite a short book, but most entertaining and reading it was time well spent.
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Sir Karl Raimund Popper, FRS, rose from a modest background as an assistant cabinet maker and school teacher to become one of the most influential theorists and leading philosophers. Popper commanded international audiences and conversation with him was an intellectual adventure—even if a little rough—animated by a myriad of philosophical problems. He contributed to a field of thought encompassing ...more

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