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The Open Society and Its Enemies: The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx and the Aftermath v. 2 Paperback – Mar 1968


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Product details

  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 4th Revised edition edition (Mar. 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071004626X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0710046260
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 227,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'One of the great books of the century' - Alan Ryan, The Times 'Few philosophers have combined such a vast width of knowledge with the capacity to produce important original ideas as he did.' - Anthony Quinton, The Guardian 'This is a work of great interest and significance, stimulating and suggestive throughout. Dr Popper's virtues are manifold. He has a great fertility of ideas. Almost every sentence gives us something to think about.' - G.C. Field, Philosophy --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Karl Popper (1902-1994). Philosopher, born in Vienna. One of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
The task of writing a history of the ideas in which we are interested-of historicism and its connection with totalitarianism-will not be attempted here. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Walker on 19 July 2007
Format: Paperback
This book has an impressive reputation for a number of reasons. For some it is a highly political text in being a defence of Democracy. For others it is a scholarly work on three major thinkers. However for some readers (and I would include myself in this category) it is excellent as a work of informed criticism and does not respect iconic writers simply because they have been revered by others. This spirit of independant thinking runs through this work like a fuse. Popper is not ungenerous to either Plato or Marx and fully acknowledges their originality and importance in many aspects. However he rejects closed systems of thought not simply at an intellectual level but with due regard to what can be disastrous consequences in political practice through repression. Sometimes he moves away from a specific thinker to consider other orthodoxies. Take for example in Book Two, the chapter on 'The Autonomy of Sociology'. Here he demolishes 'psychologism' the (still fashionable) belief that social phenomena can all be reduced to a form of psychological determinism. His arguments are simple yet powerful and still have much to teach us.
As with all major works there are criticisms which can be made. While I am not an advocate of Hegels thought and certainly not his writing style, there is a belittling of him by Popper which is not necessary. Schopenhauers polemics while highly quotable as insults should not be utilised in a book which argues and reasons its way through reputations.
The extensive notes in the back of the book are often excellent to read as well, and are further testimony to his scholarship.
Finally, Popper should be praised for his excellent prose. Lucid and engaging, concise and thought provoking and always unpretentious.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Too many books on 29 July 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a classic work of political liberalism, and an important critique of the variant of Marxism practised in the Cold War Eastern Bloc. It has a number of worthwhile critiques of the entire "historicist" project of Hegel, which would apply just as well to modern Hegelians such as Fukuyama.

However, like the Bible in medieval states, and the works of Marx in the old USSR, the powers that be cannot allow sacred texts to remain as they were originally penned: as too often they contradict current practice. Popper's robust defence of the welfare state and state intervention in the market economy is sadly excised from most modern editions. At least, unlike the ancient monks and the USSR apparatchiks, the editors have had the decency to put in elipsis (...) where this this has been done.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
In this provocative book Popper, in my opinion one of this century's great philosophers, attacks the idea that history can be undersood by means of abstract laws. This approach to history Popper calls historicist. For example, Marx argued that due to the innate instability of capitalism, the latter would inevitably colapse, giving way to communism - this was supposed as a scientific fact. This type of prophetic argument presupposes that one can first discern the underlying mechanisms of historical change, and then (because knowing how something works is distinct from being able to predict outcomes) predict how history is going to develop. In the book, Popper attacks this type of prophetic argument with a force and effectiveness that blows historicism appart. Popper's chapters clearly show that vast unexplained clefts exists between many of Marx's postulations. Popper also indicates that Marx had no understanding of how science works: science is not about fulfilling predictions and does not preceed on the basis of verification. At the end of the end of the book, Popper widens his scope and identifies, in my opinion correctly, CERTAINTY as the great enemy of the open society. This book is important reading. It tackles some of the most pressing arguments of the 20th century and therefore should be read. One crown is lost because Popper seems to place to much faith in scientific method as a model of how society could be run.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By concerned on 15 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
Obviously Popper is best known as a philosopher of science, and his political stuff is either looked down on or ignored by the more opaque philosophers of the left (whose work derives from Marx, one of Popper's 'enemies') and the right (who are probably closer to Plato). Popper is essentially arguing against teleology - that there is no purpose to history. If you think about it his argument is a lot more obvious than an argument that says that history is moving towards some kind of inexorable conclusion. Popper saw the consequences of that kind of idea close-up of course, in the destruction of European civilisation by two lots of teleological extremists - the Nazis and the Communists.

Should be read and understood by more people really - as a kind of vaccine against extremism.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Hugh van der Mandele on 14 July 2004
Format: Paperback
probably the only full proof antidote to philosophies that lead to totalitarian regimes and to fundamentalism. In addition it is well written and sometimes very funny. I advise my children to read the Bible, I try to force feed them this book.
It's often forgotten conclusion: the litmus test of an open society is not "how we should find the best ruler?" but "how can we be sure we can get rid of a bad ruler without having to resort to violence?".
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