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Popper: The Great Philosophers (The Great Philosophers Series) 1st Edition

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415923910
ISBN-10: 0415923913
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Once in a while, a publication comes along that on first sight seems oddly out of place but on second viewing is admirably suited to its purpose. This little series of biographical summaries of the thoughts of 24 Western philosophers from Democritus to Derrida is admirable not only for its reasonable price but even more for the intelligence and clarity of the writing. Each volume has been prepared by an expert in the subject, and the result is a series of well-drawn and exceptionally useful pocket-size (4.5 x 7 inches) sketches of major figures in the history of Western thought. The level is such that no special background in philosophy is required to understand the concepts discussed. Each volume also contains a short bibliography, some of which refer to electronic journals or web sites. Most of the individuals chosen for the series come as no surprise, e.g., Descartes, Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, Locke, Hume, Plato, and Socrates. But there are a few unexpected choices, like Alan Turing and Karl PopperAalthough on further consideration, they make more sense. Turing's influence on mathematics and on the development of computers has long been recognized, but his 1936 paper "On Compatible Numbers," which appeared in the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society in 1936-37, influenced studies in the philosophy of mind. Popper's development of the concept of "historicism" in such works as The Open Society and Its Enemies and The Poverty of Historicism significantly influenced 20th-century political thought. Ultimately, this set should be in every academic and public library as well as many school libraries.ATerry C. Skeats, Bishop's Univ. Lib., Lennoxville, Quebec
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Frederic Raphael was born in Chicago in 1931. He was educated at Charterhouse and St. John's College in Cambridge where he was a major scholar in Classics. He has written nineteen novels. His other works include translations, essays and radio plays. He is a regular contributor to The Sunday Times literary and travel pages. He is married with three children. He divides his time between France and England. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (July 29, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415923913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415923910
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.2 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,064,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight VINE VOICE on March 25, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've not read any others in the "great philosophers" series but I have read a few of the "x in 90 minutes" and " on x" series (very similar in that they run about 70 pages each and are meant to serve as brief layperson's overviews). From what I know of this type of book, this one is quite badley done.
As a long time fan of Popper, I sympathize with how Mr. Raphael must have felt in attempting this project. Karl Raimond Popper was a thinker whose ideas lead him from and to many topics. From ontological speculation (realism) to epistemology (critical rationalism) to the progress of science (conjecture and refutation) to ethics (a very bizarre and unfortunately not so discript pragmatic liberal humanism) to politics (democracy with again, not so discript piecemeal engineering). If you read his autobiography "An Unended Quest", he even has a philosophy of music!
For all that, Mr. Raphael could have done 10 times better than he did. Out of all the ideas above, Mr. Raphael talks about only conjecture and refutation (in 10 intro pages that compares in attitude to a kid being forced to eat her brussel sprouts).
The next 49 pages are spent discussing Popper's views on the impossibility of historical prophecy. Not that these views arent important but in light of Popper's humongous contribution to the philosophies of science and epistemology (and the non-contriversial nature, at least in todays world, of Popper's anti-historicism) focusing, by in large, the whole book on it is putting pages to bad use.
What caused me, though, to give the book 2 stars (I may have given it 4 otherwise) is that the book is marketed as an introduction to the ideas of Popper for those who've either never heard of him or never read of him.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Thomson on February 3, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this small book of only fifty-nine pages regarding the twentieth century philosophical giant Karl Popper with a certain degree of pessimism. Could the author truly succeed in doing justice to the person and thoughts of this great man in such a brief manner? The adamant and unhesitating answer is in the affirmative. Raphael brilliantly outlines the impact of Popper's thinking upon both the political and scientific spheres of human investigation. Popper thoroughly demolished the philosophical underpinnings of totalitarianism. It is an utter disgrace, I might add, that Popper's brilliant attack on the error of historicism is rarely discussed in today's academic circles. Much horror and blood shed could have been avoided in the previous century had the Austrian born philosopher received the attention he had overwhelmingly earned.
The blunt side of Popper's character often irritated those around him. Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein, for example, on one occasion almost came to blows. Was Popper a pleasant man to know on a personal basis? He may very well have been inclined to treat disagreement in an unfair manner. Nonetheless, this possible character fault should not blind us to the value of Popper's philosophical insights. After all, since when has philosophical inquiry been about winning a popularity contest? I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Even someone already familiar with Karl Popper's thinking will find it of value. This is the first book I have ordered in "The Great Philosophers" series put together by Frederic Raphael and Ray Monk. It most certainly will not be the last!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brint Montgomery on May 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Another short book from The Great Philosophers Series. Although Popper is most famous for his philosophy of science, this book dwells mostly upon his political theory. I suppose that is okay, but this approach somewhat misrepresents why Popper is an important philosopher for us today. After all, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of this century. I get the feeling Raphael was not comfortable with science writing, which makes me wonder why the editors put him on this project. Don't get me wrong, the writing was accessible and informative on Popper's political theory, but it just seemed a bit misplaced, given what I take this series of books is concerned with.
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Format: Paperback
I love this book with the kind of feelings I get when I am not a highly medicated individual. I forgot to take my hypertension pill the day I got this book. Living in Saint Paul, Minnesota, under constant pressure to be disguised as a normal person, I usually forget how easy it is to hop on a bus over to Minneapolis, where the University of Minnesota pretends to be a major university. Not every bookstore in that area is limited to literature that is considered suitable for students to study at the highest levels of philosophical discourse. The copy of POPPER I found was published by Routledge (1999) with a credit to the 1997 Orion House edition and had a subtitle: Historicism and Its Poverty. This is an area of Karl Popper's thought that I find extremely interesting, the book was small and cheap, and I was not as concerned about understanding Karl Popper as much as a great philosopher as I was interested in the thoughts of someone who had witnessed stupendous times and tried to analyze them at a level of abstraction that might be useful in the present situation.

In a topic called HISTORICISM AND SOCIETY, there is a sufficient quotation from page 23 of THE POVERTY OF HISTORICISM which is sufficient to show the nature of Karl Popper's thinking:

the method of historical understanding does not only fit in with the ideas of holism. It also agrees very well with the historicist's emphasis on novelty; for novelty cannot be causally or rationally explained, but only intuitively grasped.

Rhetoric consists of the manipulation of worlds, and descriptions of situations carry the kind of weight which is implied by any understanding of Plato. The negative nature of Popper's understanding of Plato is clear, as is my negative view of the current situation when I call it the monetary mulch of America.
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