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The Open Society and Its Enemies (Routledge Classics) by [Popper, Karl]
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The Open Society and Its Enemies (Routledge Classics) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Review

'Some time ago a wise old man came to see me in Prague and I listened to him with admiration. Shortly afterwards I learned that this man had died. His name was Karl Popper'. - Vaclav Havel, from the Preface '!a work of first-class importance which ought to be widely read for its masterly criticism of the enemies of democracy, ancient and modern. ..The book is a vigorous and profound defence of democracy, timely, very interesting, and very well written.' - Bertrand Russell 'One of the great books of the century' - The Times '!a modern classic' The Independent 'Few philosophers!have combined such a vast width of knowledge with the capacity to produce important original ideas as he did.' - The Guardian '!a powerful and important book. Dr Popper writes with extreme clarity and vigour. His studies in Greek history and Greek thought have obviously been profound and original. Platonic exegesis will never be the same again. Nor, I think, will Marxist exegesis.' - Gilbert Ryle '! a brilliant polemic. ..It remains the best intellectual defence of liberal democracy against know-it-all totalitarianism.' - The Economist

About the Author

Sir Karl Popper was one of the foremost philosophers of the Twentieth century. Born in Vienna in 1902, Popper grew up in a city witnessing great intellectual ferment. His relationship with the philosophers and scientists led to his first book, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, published in 1934. On its publication in English in 1959 it was described by The New Scientist as ‘one of the most important documents of the twentieth century’. On the eve of World War Two Popper was forced to flee to New Zealand, where he took up a teaching post at Canterbury University College at Christchurch. It was there, reflecting on the tyranny sweeping through Eastern Europe, that he wrote The Open Society and Its Enemies, published in 1945. In 1946 Popper moved to the London School of Economics, where he taught until his retirement in 1969. This period saw the publication of The Poverty of Historicism, described by the Sunday Times as ‘probably the only book which will outlive this century’. He was knighted in 1965 and appointed Companion of Honour in 1982. He died in 1994.


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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3257 KB
  • Print Length: 801 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Routledge; Revised ed. edition (12 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ABKGP4E
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #105,656 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
I give this 5 stars even though I do not agree with it entirely, but it is essential reading as a trenchant critique of totalitarian societies as well as including the embodiment of Popper's notion of 'the logic of scientic discovery' and the way in which knowledge is got through "conjectures and refutations." For Popper the key test putative knowledge must be susceptible to is the criterion of "falsifiability" which is to say what might constitute a refutation of the theory proposed must be identifiable, or it is ex hypotheosi meaningless. Taking three key political thinkers, Plato, Hegel and Marx, Popper examines each since in them he detects a fatal weakness: since in principle it is not possible to imagine what might prove each theory wrong, they cannot be scientific. As Popper believes that democracy is the best system and its essence is openness and questioning, these three intellectuals propose what he calls 'closed societies" which are always right, ever rigid and inimical to freedom thus progress. Formerly in two tan coloured RKP tomes, this one brick of a book gives you an intellectual feast that is stimulating and well-written for Popper has a clear and engaging style. Of course Plato as totalitarian was thought infra dig,, yes he favoured a Guardian Class and a Noble Lie to justify it, and it is an unusual attack on the great Greek. Many too thought, and think, Marx not necessarily undemocratic even if Stalinism was. Of course if like Hegel and Marx you do not see freedom and individualism as always harmonious, mutually exclusive even, then you will not find Popper persuasive. He thinks little of Social Laws, what he calls 'Historicism' and argues that belief in them is simply wrong.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book has been an inspiration to many, especially those who contributed to the overthrow of the totalitarian communist bloc in Eastern Europe established after the second world war. Popper contrasts 'open societies' based on democracy, where people are free and allowed to express criticism, with 'closed (or tribal) societies' which have rigid codes of ethics and politics, and ruling elites which are impossible to change without violence. With the growth of religious fundamentalist attitudes and forms of governments which is occurring today around the world, Popper's critique is as valuable now as it was when he wrote this book during the second world war. There are many countries where democracy is non-existent and a ruling elite brutally imposes a single uncriticisable government on its citizens. Popper correctly shows that these governments fear free thought and long for the tribal certainties which they do not want questioned.
Volume 1 is devoted to Plato. Popper translated Plato himself to avoid the usual translation euphemisms made by those unwilling to criticise Plato. In volume 2, Popper's view of Hegel as a charlatan is in line with the views of Schopenhauer. Popper exposes a passage of Hegel's supposed scientific writings as empty nonsense.
Most of volume 2 is devoted to Marx, a thinker who Popper admires but thinks is mistaken in his historicist prophesying analysis of history.
The phrase 'open society' has become a touchstone for those who value freedom and democracy.
A great book which should be widely known.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book "The Open Society and Its Enemies" appeared as a philosophical and methodological development of Karl Popper's work: "The Poverty of Historicism", all written in political exile in New Zealand during the Second World War . This was his war effort (1rst Published in 1945), as well as "The Road to Serfdom" (1944) of his friend Hayek.
Popper (1902-1994), wanted to study the roots of historicism and of totalitarianism in philosophy, social sciences and politics. Upon his own methodology, he delivered his attacks on the philosophies of Plato, Hegel and Marx, the fathers of the ancient (tribalism) and the modern vision (nazism and stalinism) of the closed society; states without democracy and freedom for the individuals. He applied his research concerning the method or the logic of scientific discovery to the study of the societies. It is the same methodology of trial and error, of problem solving, with testability and falsifiability, in the natural sciences and in the social sciences. Hence his methodological individualism (Cf. also Hayek) to study the society, with its institutions as an evolutionary process, and the "piecemeal social engineering" for the policy measures. So he grasped all the conditions: in theory, economics and politics, to preserve the "open society", liberty and democracy.
In the XXth Century Popper and Hayek were the great philosophers of the liberal democracy.
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Format: Paperback
Given the reputation of the book and indeed the theme, I was disappointed.

I was expecting an attack on idealism, on its possible dangers with magnates of irresponsibility.
What I got was an idealized defence of the autonomous "individual" rather than a case that would give understanding, belief and realization of an "open society".

The other disappointing feature was a lack to understanding of the two Big Hitters which Popper fires against in the second volume: Hegel and Marx. This charge is particularly acute with Hegel.

The main theme of the book is the concept of Historicism. Popper uses a reverse Historicism in the first volume - which he applies to Plato, viewing History as a spiral of decline, starting with perfection of the City State of Athens, only for it do be dragged down with every enactment of change, the more the slaves demanded a greater share of the spoils and worked towards their own freedom. That this is, nonetheless inevitable, played out like a Greek Tragedy, enacted in the war against Sparta. An early 20th Century example of this reverse Historicism can be seen in Oswald Spengler's "Decline of the West".

The second volume applies a historicist Historicism, or if you like a teleology, which paints a bright picture of the future towards which we are surely headed. Methodologically speaking, however, both are the same.

The main problem with Popper's treatment of Hegel is that he does not work with Hegel's key texts but instead rushes out to some of Hegel's conclusions without looking how he might have arrived at them. So we learn that: "The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on Earth ..The State is the march of God through the world.
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