Karl Popper’s division of the world into three clean segments of definable universes was, on the one hand, quite controversial — especially as the esoteric world of philosophy had been steadily ‘progressing‘ towards pure materialism and scientism; and yet, on the other, self-evident to almost a simplistic, tautological fault. Perhaps that is the very implication of profundity: it is that which appears so basic and elementary as to presuppose idiocy, but containing such inherent complexity as to remain beyond the reach of most.
In simple terms, the division of the world followed the classic lines of human history and linear development of evolutionary concordance: ‘World 1’ referred to the physical universe surrounding us; ‘World 2’, the purely psychological make-up of human beings, with a special concern to Popper concerning the internal pain and anguish which we feel; and of ‘World 3’ — that universe which is the subject of this short blog, the aggregate of human products and man’s creative injection into the world, comprised of art, literature, cars, buildings, customs and normative behavior, including dress, style, fashion, etc.
There is, of course, inevitable interaction and intersecting between the bifurcated ‘worlds’ — for example, a book of literature (say, Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye) would be both an object existing in ‘World 1’ as well as a product of human creativity from ‘World 3’. But note the peculiarity of the overlap, which makes for a unique phenomenological observation: Say you had 2 copies of the book, but one which was published in January, 2015, and another with the stated date of July, 1951. Consider further the added element that in the latter edition, a scribble appears, which happens to be the autograph of the author.
From the perspective of Popper’s ‘World 1’, both objects would appear to be essentially identical — with the former intact, and the latter somewhat damaged because of the graffiti defiling a clean page. However, from the vantage point of the person who possesses and ‘owns’ (a concept which would clearly belong to Popper’s ‘World 3’, as well) the autographed object, a sudden recognition of value, wealth and uniqueness would immediately attach — leaving aside intersecting points with ‘World 2’ involving envy, jealousy, awe and disbelief (which would be shared by the undersigned writer). Thus do the various and variegated ‘worlds’ of Karl Popper posit for our study, agreement/disagreement, and further reflection.
Such division and segmentation of worlds and universes are often proposed merely for esoteric and pedantic purposes; of ivory tower conceptual constructs which have little to do with the day-to-day lives of ordinary human beings who struggle to make a living, maneuver through the complexity of the world, and attempt to survive the manipulative machinations of a society governed by microcosms of powerful but unnamed sources of evil and collusion. But there is a recognizable worth and value to some of us, for pointing out the existence and demarcation of artifice as opposed to the natural environment from whence we came.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such a bifurcation of the universe into clean segments of definable compartments, is to recognize that the complexity of the administrative and bureaucratic process encapsulating the entirety and aggregation of the process cumulatively entitled, “Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset”, is ultimately a product of Popper’s ‘World 3’, and not merely a nightmare emanating from the deep recesses of our troubled psychosis self-contained in ‘World 2’, but of an intersection between the universe of madness created by our own desire to further separate ourselves from the simplicity of ‘World 1’, from whence we came.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire