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The Great Philosophers: Popper: Popper

The Great Philosophers: Popper: Popper [Kindle Edition]

Frederic Raphael
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Karl Popper 1902-1994

The political history of the twentieth century has been full of savage ‘certainties’. A similar idea of history warranted the callous savageries of both Marxism and Fascism. They shared a faith in what Karl Popper called ‘Historicism’: the belief that the future could be predicted and that man had to align himself with its bloody progress.

Totalitarianism, Popper maintained, was based on ideas implicit in Western philosophy, from Plato to Hegel and Marx. It was his unique achievement to challenge the fundamental arguments in which Left and Right cloaked their authority.

At a time when Communism and Fascism were devastatingly alluring to many intellectuals, Popper attacked their philosophical roots with passionate reasonableness and unflinching scepticism. As Frederic Raphael suggests in this elegant and intriguing introduction to his philosophy of science and history, Popper’s epic modesty may have made him the most radical thinker of our times.

About the Author

Frederic Raphael was born in Chicago in 1931. He was educated at Charterhouse and St. John's College in Cambridge where he was a major scholar in Classics. He has written nineteen novels. His other works include translations, essays and radio plays. He is a regular contributor to The Sunday Times literary and travel pages. He is married with three children. He divides his time between France and England.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 153 KB
  • Print Length: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (14 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005KKPZX2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #214,167 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Concise 16 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good introduction, I think, but only that, I was looking for a bit more about the man & his contemporaries
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT the book to start with; reductionistic and misleading! 26 Mar 2003
By Kevin Currie-Knight - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've not read any others in the "great philosophers" series but I have read a few of the "x in 90 minutes" and " on x" series (very similar in that they run about 70 pages each and are meant to serve as brief layperson's overviews). From what I know of this type of book, this one is quite badley done.
As a long time fan of Popper, I sympathize with how Mr. Raphael must have felt in attempting this project. Karl Raimond Popper was a thinker whose ideas lead him from and to many topics. From ontological speculation (realism) to epistemology (critical rationalism) to the progress of science (conjecture and refutation) to ethics (a very bizarre and unfortunately not so discript pragmatic liberal humanism) to politics (democracy with again, not so discript piecemeal engineering). If you read his autobiography "An Unended Quest", he even has a philosophy of music!
For all that, Mr. Raphael could have done 10 times better than he did. Out of all the ideas above, Mr. Raphael talks about only conjecture and refutation (in 10 intro pages that compares in attitude to a kid being forced to eat her brussel sprouts).
The next 49 pages are spent discussing Popper's views on the impossibility of historical prophecy. Not that these views arent important but in light of Popper's humongous contribution to the philosophies of science and epistemology (and the non-contriversial nature, at least in todays world, of Popper's anti-historicism) focusing, by in large, the whole book on it is putting pages to bad use.
What caused me, though, to give the book 2 stars (I may have given it 4 otherwise) is that the book is marketed as an introduction to the ideas of Popper for those who've either never heard of him or never read of him. Had this book been marketed as an intro specifically to his anti-historicism, it would have been much easier to swallow. As it is, the reader taking this as an apropos introduction will be infinitely misled.
Fortunately there are better introductions. Bryan Magee's "Philosophy in the Real World: An introduction to Karl Popper" is, with maybe 40 more pages than this volume, a much better, more accurate, and proportional volume written by someone who knew Popper as a teacher and friend. For the student who has more time, Geoffrey Stokes "Popper: Philosophy, Politics and the Scientific Method" is a book that examines, first, Popper's political philosophy and works backwards to reveal how his philosophy of science gets him there. The best introduction, however, is going to be Popper's own "In Search of a Better World".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frederic Raphael's Brief Book On Karl Popper is Invaluable 3 Feb 2001
By David Thomson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this small book of only fifty-nine pages regarding the twentieth century philosophical giant Karl Popper with a certain degree of pessimism. Could the author truly succeed in doing justice to the person and thoughts of this great man in such a brief manner? The adamant and unhesitating answer is in the affirmative. Raphael brilliantly outlines the impact of Popper's thinking upon both the political and scientific spheres of human investigation. Popper thoroughly demolished the philosophical underpinnings of totalitarianism. It is an utter disgrace, I might add, that Popper's brilliant attack on the error of historicism is rarely discussed in today's academic circles. Much horror and blood shed could have been avoided in the previous century had the Austrian born philosopher received the attention he had overwhelmingly earned.
The blunt side of Popper's character often irritated those around him. Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein, for example, on one occasion almost came to blows. Was Popper a pleasant man to know on a personal basis? He may very well have been inclined to treat disagreement in an unfair manner. Nonetheless, this possible character fault should not blind us to the value of Popper's philosophical insights. After all, since when has philosophical inquiry been about winning a popularity contest? I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Even someone already familiar with Karl Popper's thinking will find it of value. This is the first book I have ordered in "The Great Philosophers" series put together by Frederic Raphael and Ray Monk. It most certainly will not be the last!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but a bit misplaced in my eyes 26 May 2002
By Brint Montgomery - Published on
Another short book from The Great Philosophers Series. Although Popper is most famous for his philosophy of science, this book dwells mostly upon his political theory. I suppose that is okay, but this approach somewhat misrepresents why Popper is an important philosopher for us today. After all, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of this century. I get the feeling Raphael was not comfortable with science writing, which makes me wonder why the editors put him on this project. Don't get me wrong, the writing was accessible and informative on Popper's political theory, but it just seemed a bit misplaced, given what I take this series of books is concerned with.
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction but not complete. 13 Nov 2002
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on
This small book deals only with the political and not the scientific part of Popper's work, thus mainly with 'The open society and its enemies' and 'The poverty of historicism'.
It is an excellent introduction for this part of Popper's work.
The author clearly explains that improvement or self-correction through freedom of speech (criticism) is only possible in democracies and not in dictatorial (fascist) or pseudo-scientific (marxist) systems of government.
For me, he correctly recognizes the possible limits of Popper's proposition of 'piecemeal engineering' of political, social or environmental problems: "Is piecemeal engineering grand enough to deal with global pollution, genocidal oppression of minorities and pandemics such as AIDS?"
He also sees clearly the actual dangers for democracies: "How are major corporations, with transnational funds and managements, to be controlled by democratic authorities whose writs run only to their frontiers?"
Also some interesting facts (rare) about Popper's personal life.
A very worth-while read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great short summary 23 Mar 2001
By Christopher - Published on
I will ditto the previous review... an outstanding short summary. Raphael does an outstanding survey and treatment. He grandly collapses pages of Popper into individual "magic paragraphs". My only complaint is that Raphael often uses a past and almost passive tense, which really saps some of his sentences' potential electricity.

I would dearly love to see a full Raphael treatment of the entire Popper library.
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