The Open Society and Its Enemies: Volume 1: The Spell of Plato (Routledge Classics): Vol 1 Paperback – 11 Jul 2002
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'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
Written in political exile in New Zealand during the Second World War and first published in two volumes in 1945, Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies is one of the most famous books of the twentieth century. Hailed by Bertrand Russell as a 'vigorous and profound defence of democracy', its now legendary attack on the philosophies of Plato, Hegel and Marx prophesied the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and exposed the fatal flaws of socially engineered political systems. Popper's highly accessible style, his erudite and lucid explanations of the political thought of great philosophers and the recent resurgence of totalitarian regimes around the world are just three the reasons for the book's enduring popularity and why it demands to be read today.See all Product description
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Popper argues (convincingly in my opinion) that Plato, consciously and misleadingly, identified collectivism with altruism, and individualism with selfishness, as part of a scheme to further his own political ambitions, or at least to direct society in a way of which he approved. This has confused discussion of the subject ever since.
Plato appeared to believe that people who were terribly clever philosophers ought to be in charge of everything, and ordinary people should mind their own business and just blindly follow their superiors, somewhat like Walter Lippmann argued (though somewhat more diplomatically) in 'Public Opinion' - Public Opinion. Of course, the idea that the elites could be wrong didn't appear to occur to him (or Lippmann, for that matter).
Interesting, and troubling reading.