- Series: Routledge Classics
- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Routledge (January 26, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415290635
- ISBN-13: 978-0415290630
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,815,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Open Society and its Enemies: Hegel and Marx (Routledge Classics) (Vol 2) 0th Edition
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'A modern classic.' - The Independent
'A brilliant polemic It remains the best intellectual defence of liberal democracy against know-it-all totalitarianism.' - The Economist
'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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
'A work of first-class importance which ought to be widely read for its masterly criticism of the enemies of democracy, ancient and modern.'-Bertrand Russell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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)
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 treat the history of power politics as universal history -- "...[t]his is hardly better than to treat the history of embezzlement or of robbery or of poisoning as the history of mankind. For the history of power politics is nothing but the history of international crime and mass murder... This history is taught in schools, and some of the greatest criminals are extolled as its heroes." (270) Popper closes the book with rousing praise, not for blind patriotism, but for critical debate, rationalism, and pluralism as opposed to "monolithic social ends" (396).
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