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Paperback Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume 2: The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath Book

ISBN: 069101972X

ISBN13: 9780691019727

Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume 2: The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath

(Book #2 in the The Open Society and its Enemies Series)

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Book Overview

Popper was born in 1902 to a Viennese family of Jewish origin. He taught in Austria until 1937, when he emigrated to New Zealand in anticipation of the Nazi annexation of Austria the following year, and he settled in England in 1949. Before the annexation, Popper had written mainly about the philosophy of science, but from 1938 until the end of the Second World War he focused his energies on political philosophy, seeking to diagnose the intellectual...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

One of my favorites!

I first read Open Society a year and a half ago (reading volume 2 first.) I've come back to many of its quotes and arguments since, so I recently reread it and let me tell you - it's better the second time. Popper's goal is to go through (in brief) some of the worlds most mistaken large-name philosophers who he feels were responsible for creating closed social systems. This second volume focuses on Hegel (from an Aristotlean tradition) and Marx. Hegel alone is enough to earn Popper 5 stars as anyone who can (at least attempt to) explain the dialectic in anything approaching language is an amazing feat. In fact, a few reviewers below take issue with Popper's 'mischaracterization' of Hegel but due to Hegels chimeric and unintelligible explanations, I would suspect that no correct representation would be possible. In fact, this is one of Popper's arguments and that, in itself, is about as close to the truth of Hegel as one could get. Marx simply transforms Hegelian dialectic into a (to his credit) more intelligible, material one. Here, we get into crucial discussion of historicism and any deterministic system trying to plan history in advance. This, Popper notes, ALWAYS leads to totalitarian thinking as when one accepts the a priori 'direction' of history, one will become slave to she who dictates it (i.e., Marx or Lenin). Honestly, even if these parts of the book were never written, the list price is more then returned to the reader by the ending essays, where Popper discusses 'the sociology of knowledge' and why most ideas therein are antithetical to open societies. Popper's prose throughout the book is clear, entertaining and unrelenting. Trust me, you will be as entertained as you will informed. (can be read without prior reading of part 1)

great liberal, no friend to dogmatic libertarians

Karl Popper stood against all forms of dogmatism. Popper's ideas were used for ideological purposes during the Cold War, and continue to be used today by libertarians and "conservatives" to advance ideas that Popper rejected. What Popper means by "The Open Society" is a society based on reflection and deliberation, not one based on "laws of supply and demand." THE OPEN SOCIETY AND ITS ENEMIES is one of those books much more often cited than actually read, and upon examination there is much here that is quite surprising. For instance, though Popper is mainly critical of Marx, who he calls a "false prophet," he also says "[o]ne cannot do justice to Marx without recognizing his sincerity. His open-mindedness, his sense of facts, his distrust of verbiage, and especially of moralizing verbiage, made him one of the world's most influential fighters against hypocrisy and pharisaism." (82) He also notes "...how justified [Marx] was in his glowing protest against the hell of an unrestrained capitalism..." (185) And Popper devotes an entire chapter to *agreeing* with Marx's anti-psychologism, his sociological insight that "social existence determines consciousness." (Chapter 14, "The Autonomy of Sociology") It is precisely in reference to the way in which Marx's prophesy of capitalism's demise failed to come true that Popper distinguishes himself as a flexible liberal and not a dogmatic libertarian. Because, he says, "[u]nrestrained capitalism is gone. Since the day of Marx, democratic interventionism has made immense advances..." (187) The living standards of the working majority were raised through democratic social reforms which included the 8-hour day, recognition of trade unions, women's suffrage, and much more. What Popper means by "the open society" is a democratic society in which citizens reflect and participate, not one in which people are subject to any iron external force, whether a dictator, a permanent bureaucracy, or the so-called "laws of supply and demand," which has nowadays been dubbed TINA -- There Is No Alternative to The Market, harsh and capricious though it may be. Popper says there IS an alternative, though we have to think, and fight, to bring it about. There is no need to submit to an abstraction such as The Free Market -- the very success of the postindustrial democracies is testimony to their success in democratic social engineering. Popper's main critique of Marx is that he, like Plato, was a historicist who believed in a universal history of humanity. "Historicist" is not exactly an everyday epithet -- why did Popper see historicism as dangerous? According to Popper, there are but multiple histories of various aspects of human life, such as religion, art, and so forth. He objects to anyone believing they have the key to the future, whether that results in socialist dogmatism, or libertarian dogmatism, or any other form of teleology. Popper makes this incredibly timely observation about the tendency to

Popper's "war work" still speaks to us

Karl Popper's two-volume tracing of the philosophical ancestry of 20th Century totalitarianism remains for me a marvelous work. As I spent several graduate school years in the company self-styled neo-Marxists and Maoist wannabees, Popper's courteous but radical (in the sense of getting at the roots) criticism of Marxist thought was my candle in the darkness. Now that my daughter reads Plato at St. John's College, I look forward to discussing Popper's ideas once again!

"deconstructing heidegger"

"deconstructing heidegger" Popper's attempt at saving the Western World, part II. After refuting Plato in part I -to many shocking and "a priori" intellectually suicidal already- Popper went one better yet in part II: taking on Heidegger and Hegel (amongst others), the German fuehrers of contemporary philosophical thinking. - Unprecedented impertinence, utter blasphemy. Well, he did it nevertheless and did it mercilessly, again. The philosophical establishment was not pleased. But the world at large, us, left with a much clearer picture about what kind of ideas we better NOT base our civic order, life and liberty on. Mankind owes Popper for his "open society" book(s). Some of the greatest stuff ever printed. Do your civic self, your community, a favor. Don't let the century expire without reading this, one of its, yes, "most important" books.

"deconstructing heidegger"

Popper's attempt at saving the Western World, part II. After refuting Plato in part I -to many shocking and "a priori" intellectually suicidal already- Popper went one better yet in part II: taking on Heidegger and Hegel (amongst others), the German fuehrers of contemporary philosophical thinking (at the time). - Unprecedented impertinence, utter blasphemy. Well, he did it nevertheless and did it mercilessly, again. The philosophical establishment was not pleased. But the world at large, us, left with a much clearer picture about what kind of ideas we better NOT base our civic order, life and liberty on. Mankind owes Popper for his "open society" book(s). Some of the greatest stuff ever printed. Do your civic self, your community, a favor. Don't let the century expire without reading this, one of its, yes, "most important" books.
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