Karl Popper (1902 – 1994)  

“I don’t know whether God exists or …. Some forms of atheism are arrogant and ignorant and should be rejected, but agnosticism – to admit that we don’t know and to search—is all right. … When I look at what I call the gift of life, I feel a gratitude which is in tune with some religious ideas of God.”

~ Karl Popper

In 2020 I started to build a series on Philosophers, according to their birth sign.  Descartes for Aries, Hume for Taurus, Pascal for Gemini, and Rousseau for Cancer.  I got stuck on Leo…In the intervening years, hubby and I gained two Philosophy certificates from the Institute for Continuing Studies at Cambridge University, plus a Diploma in the Philosophy of Creativity.  I also published a philosophical novel (Volume II of “The Quiet Office” ~ “The Search for the Now”) – see the Book page of my website.  At last, I am ready to resume the series (do I hear a few groans?), with Leo Philosopher Karl Popper, the scientist’s philosopher.

Birth Chart

Although here Karl Popper is representing the Leo Philosopher, he only had the Sun in that sign.  I feel that his philosophy owes a lot to its neighbouring sign Cancer, in which he has placed a triple conjunction of Neptune/Venus/Mars, and Mercury.  The Cancerian influence can be seen in his interest in the social applications of philosophy.  The philosopher I chose for Cancer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, very much applied himself to social applications, though in a more personal way than Popper.  We are missing nuances from his chart by not having a birth time.

Where Popper particularly goes against the Leo grain is that he has a particular antipathy towards totalitarianism, and though having the Sun in Leo doesn’t make you a totalitarian, the full expression of power generally appeals to the Leo personality.  This attitude of his may be due to his Sun being square to the Nodal Axis.

Leo is a sign of leadership, and Popper had half (5) of his planets in the Cardinal signs, of leadership.  He was certainly a leader in his branch of philosophy, which was about determining the right practices in scientific method, whether applied to science, politics or psychology.  Apart from the square to his Nodal Axis, Popper’s Sun was unaspected, and that confers extra individuality, on top of the natural individuality of Leo.  Indeed, he promoted individuality in his philosophy: “Individuality is necessary for diversity, as are well-manned institutions for the storage and testing of the theories that individuals propose”.*

The triple conjunction of Neptune/Venus/Mars in Cancer would have given him an exquisite emotional sensitivity, but that often caused him to be antagonized where he found that philosophers did not conform to his own personal standards.  With Mars trine his North Node, he did have the Warrior Archetype as part of his karmic mission, so he was not afraid to express his displeasure.  One area of life he was comfortable with though, was power, as seen in his trine between Jupiter and Pluto.  He had the makings of a spiritual leader in Neptune trine the North Node.  And he was a radical for change, in his opposition between Uranus and Pluto.

Life and Career

Karl Popper was born in Vienna, into a Jewish family who converted to Lutheranism.  His father was a lawyer and owned 12,000–14,000 books, which he handed down to Karl.  Portraits of Schopenhauer and Darwin hung in the study.  Karl described the family home as being “decidedly bookish”.  His mother had a passion for music and was an accomplished pianist, a leaning shared by Karl.*  His natal Moon in Taurus may point to this in his birthchart.

Popper left school at the age of 16, and was then drawn to Marxism, becoming a member of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party.  It was in this period, that he encountered a major turning point in his life.  In a street battle involving his compatriots on 15th June 1919, which killed several people, he concluded that the ideology was not worth the bloodshed, and veered away from Marxism.

The transits to his natal chart at this crucial event included Pluto on his natal Mars (police shooting unarmed comrades).  It was also a force for change in fine-tuning his philosophy and sensibilities (with Uranus trine his natal Neptune).  He turned instead to social liberalism, a belief in which he maintained for the rest of his life.

Around 1925 he met Josefine Henninger, whom he married in 1930. They chose not to have children, because of the war.  In 1928 he gained a doctorate in psychology.  He began writing a book because he needed to get an academic position, which might give him some safety, at a time when the threat of Nazism was on the rise.  This book was titled: “The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge”.  By 1935, he was able to take a study visit to the U.K. and in 1937 he and his wife relocated to New Zealand.  This was a healing solution for him, particularly on the brink of the Second World War – as his Progressed Sun trined natal Chiron in Capricorn.  He took a lectureship at the University of Canterbury.  An insight into his lifestyle while he was there describes how in his home you could hear a pin drop: he insisted on absolute silence for his studies.  In 1946, after the war had ended, he moved to England and became a reader at the London School of Economics.

Popper retired in 1969, with his progressed Sun square to his Chiron.  This leads me to believe that Chiron must be influential in his full chart which would be seen with a birth time.  In 1985, he returned to Austria, where his wife died the following year.  He then decided to live in the United Kingdom again the following year, around the time of his Uranus Return (a time of re-orientation).  He worked on his philosophy until the end of his life.


The prevailing philosophy in the Vienna circle was that of logical positivism, and Popper came to challenge this, instead putting forward a new philosophical model, that of “falsificationism”.

The central interest of the Vienna circle was the unity of science and the correct delineation of scientific method. Through the “verification” principle, they held that any statement that was not verifiable was to be ruled out.  The idea eventually floundered, due to their insistence that individual sentences gain meaning according to some  sense experience or by the grammatical structure – which proved to be a distraction from meaning.**

In his theory of “falsification”, Popper turned this on its head, and required a different scientific criteria: if a theory can be falsified by testing, then it is scientific, and if a theory can’t be tested then it is not scientific.  He showed that the traditional view (induction) was a myth, and that while empirical methods of science can never be proven, they can be falsified. Hypotheses are to be tested, rather than to be confirmed.

Politics and Psychology

Politics – Popper staunchly defended liberal democracy.  He believed that was the only form of government that allows institutional improvements without violence and bloodshed.  He attempted to reconcile libertarianism, classical liberalism, socialism, social democracy and conservatism.  As mentioned earlier, he was resolutely opposed to totalitarianism.

Psychology – In contrast, he strongly criticised psychoanalysis as being unscientific, despite a life-long interest in the subject.  His parents were close friends of Sigmund Freud’s sister Rosa.  As a young man, he did some voluntary work in one of Alfred Adler’s clinics for children. The nature of psychoanalytical theory, he contended, made it impossible for any criticism or experiment to show them to be false.  Therefore they could not submit to the criteria of falsificationism.


In one of his most influential books “The Open Society and its Enemies” Popper critiqued “historicism” (A belief in the necessity of historical processes, that such processes are governed by laws, and are immune to human choice and agency).** He therefore believed that that there can be no predictive science of human history. Freedom in society was of the utmost importance to him, and he saw that Socialism placed equality before freedom and therefore incompatible with individual liberty. I see this struggle in the natal opposition between Uranus and Pluto.   In his 1957 book “The Poverty of Historicism” he made the following dedication:

“to the memory of the countless men, women and children of all creeds or nations or races who fell victims to the fascist and communist belief in Inexorable Laws of Historical Destiny.”


* Frederic Raphael – Popper 1998. Phoenix

** Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy

Philosophy Now, Issue 38 – Alan Haworth


Four astrological features appear tomorrow, at the start of the working week, which may inform your office practice.  The first three occur in the morning, and the fourth at lunch time.

First Mercury enters Aquarius, early in the morning, joining the Sun and Pluto  in that sign.  You may see a surge in space-age related news items and influences.  Technology, too will flourish, and more conjectures about the implications of A.I.

Chiron then squares Venus: this highlights self-nursing and relationship issues.  You may, for instance, be having to rest a knee through over-exertion, or you may be having to examine a relationship wound.  If there is an emotional crisis, then healing could be nearby – if in doubt, go within.

This is followed by a more comfortable aspect involving Chiron, that of a sextile with the Sun.  That is a more cheery and healing prospect.  It’s onwards and upwards, and also helpful for problem-solving.  What do you yearn to solve?  There will be an attempt to bring everything to a wholeness.  If you are meeting a friend for coffee, you could discover more in common than you thought, and more potential for the friendship.

The fourth feature of the day is a conjunction between Mercury and Pluto.  This is about serious thought and communication. Words will have a profound effect.  Deeper motives may be revealed.  Listening too is important, and exchanges may become cathartic, if sincerely transacted.  As you can see, Monday could be complex, and for some a roller coaster.

Tuesday (6th) brings two aspects to the Moon’s Nodes, and may therefore be karmic in tone.  First, Venus squares the Nodal Axis, and this challenges us to take note of the karma of personal relationships, and group dynamics.  You may work with past life patterns, or present life practicalities.

Secondly on that day, the Sun is sextile the North Node, which favours right action and expression on a karmic level.  It is a good day to look at your life path as a whole, your creativity and self-expression and where you would like it to go.  Visualize your best possible path for the coming month.

In the evening of Wednesday (7th) Venus trines Uranus, marking it out as the best day of the week.  This can bring spontaneous exciting meetings!  The aspect may set you up with insights, or bring other encounters of the illuminating kind.  In the field of the Arts, it can bring originality and surprise, e.g. to a performance of music or a pantomime.  Ideas for assisting the problems in our society may also crop up, such as community based solutions. You may bump into an old friend.

Mixed fortunes on Thursday (8th), with the first hour of the day bringing a sextile between Mars and Neptune, but a challenging square later in the morning.  So sweet dreams may be yours, which could be quite sensational in nature.  Though we have energy early morning (Mars), it is softened, made more gentle, and spiritualized by virtue of the involvement of Neptune.  It brings refinement to your actions and activities.  This favours flowing exercise such as Tai Chi, Qijong and Yoga.  Combining the physical with the spiritual is ideal, and achievable.  So start your day with your ideal spiritual fitness regime.

As promised (or threatened), mid-morning brings a square from Uranus to the Sun.  During the day, be aware of possible loopholes through which the element of the unexpected can enter.  Disruption can occur, but unexpected twists and turns may give you new ideas for future reference.

There’s a new beginning to be had at the 20 degree New Moon in Aquarius late evening on Friday (9th), the newest of the new.   Any forward looking projects you are engaged with receive the blessing of the Universe.  Science, technology, invention and future vision may also be a significant part of the way forward.  Set your intentions with confidence and hope, focussing on the area of your life it falls in, if you know your Houses.  If the Uranian spanner in the works is still operating from the day before, be confident that you can invent new strategies to deal with loopholes.

Another challenge on Saturday (10th) but of a gentler sort: that of Jupiter square to Mercury.  The outcome of that square is much more within your control, according to your response.  You may have far to travel, or a lot to learn, and feel overstretched, but could enjoy the ride nevertheless.

The week in bullet points:

  • Tomorrow – complex, roller-coaster: technological conjectures; nursing relationships; problem-solving; serious thought and communication
  • Tuesday – karmic: relationship karma; right action and expression
  • Wednesday – best day: exciting meetings
  • Thursday – mixed fortunes: sweet dreams; element of the unexpected
  • Friday – new beginning
  • Saturday – mind-broadening or over-stretching