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Popper: The Great Philosophers (The Great Philosophers Series) Paperback – July 29, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0415923910 ISBN-10: 0415923913 Edition: 1st

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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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,623,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE 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
This small book deals only with the political and not the scientific part of Popper's work, thus mainly with 'The open society and its enemies' and 'The poverty of historicism'.
It is an excellent introduction for this part of Popper's work.
The author clearly explains that improvement or self-correction through freedom of speech (criticism) is only possible in democracies and not in dictatorial (fascist) or pseudo-scientific (marxist) systems of government.
For me, he correctly recognizes the possible limits of Popper's proposition of 'piecemeal engineering' of political, social or environmental problems: "Is piecemeal engineering grand enough to deal with global pollution, genocidal oppression of minorities and pandemics such as AIDS?"
He also sees clearly the actual dangers for democracies: "How are major corporations, with transnational funds and managements, to be controlled by democratic authorities whose writs run only to their frontiers?"
Also some interesting facts (rare) about Popper's personal life.
A very worth-while read.
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