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on 19 July 2007
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. It is surely important that if you write a book abpout an Open Society you should adopt an open style of writing. It never excludes the reader. It is a commendable book which can be useful even to those that disagree with many of its perspectives.
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on 29 July 2007
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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on 15 June 2012
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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on 24 September 1999
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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on 14 July 2004
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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on 19 February 2015
A CLASSIC TEXT OF MODERN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY - A MUST READ!
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on 5 May 2009
I have only read half of this outstanding work to date. Ouch for Hegel! He used (before I started to read this book) to be one of my favourite philosophers. Actually, I cannot understand him and (like most other people) got all the stuff from other books. Well, Popper takes him to pieces good and proper. Not only has he read him in detail, he also sees right through him and comes out the other side smiling. I cannot wait for his views on Karl Marx!
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on 24 February 2010
the hegel-part of this book can be skipped but the marx-part is the true jewel of this series and i suspect poppers entire reason to write the open society. as opposed to what some of the other reviewers have said i think popper tried to treat marx fairly as for example, popper disowns rothchilds book on marx which is fare more critical.
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on 6 November 1998
A book that changed my way of viewing life, contemporary history and society in general. A must if you want to base your opinions on this century's tragedies
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on 10 January 2013
A lot of stuff attributed to Hegel here that Hegel never said, i.e., taken from lecture notes. To do philosophy properly you need to go in deep, obviously Hegel went in too deep for Popper to follow. We just need to analyze Popper's own ideas to see this, i.e., questioning authority and criticism are the tools of freedom, but what about intellectual or epistemic authority, or the fact that in such an open society any time anyone comes up with a new idea it's instantly stamped upon under a barrage of criticism? How open is that? Or falsifiability as a criterion for scientific hypotheses, i.e., empirical science is the gold standard whereby rational enquiry is to be measured. What about Hegel's science of experience, as presented in the Phenomenology of Mind? As Bartlety said, 'The gulf between Popper's way of doing philosophy and that of the bulk of contemporary professional philosophers is as great as that between astronomy and astrology'.
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