The Open Society and its Enemies

The Open Society and its Enemies

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By (author) Sir Karl Popper, Introduction by Alan Ryan, Contributions by Ernst H. Gombrich

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 808 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 226mm x 43mm | 1,080g
  • Publication date: 3 May 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691158134
  • ISBN 13: 9780691158136
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: 1st New edition
  • Illustrations note: black & white line drawings
  • Sales rank: 221,845

Product description

One of the most important books of the twentieth century, Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies is an uncompromising defense of liberal democracy and a powerful attack on the intellectual origins of totalitarianism. 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 origins of German and Soviet totalitarianism. The Open Society and Its Enemies was the result. An immediate sensation when it was first published in two volumes in 1945, Popper's monumental achievement has attained legendary status on both the Left and Right and is credited with inspiring anticommunist dissidents during the Cold War. Arguing that the spirit of free, critical inquiry that governs scientific investigation should also apply to politics, Popper traces the roots of an opposite, authoritarian tendency to a tradition represented by Plato, Marx, and Hegel. In a substantial new introduction written for this edition, acclaimed political philosopher Alan Ryan puts Popper's landmark work in biographical, intellectual, and historical context. Also included is a personal essay by eminent art historian E. H. Gombrich, in which he recounts the story of the book's eventual publication despite numerous rejections and wartime deprivations.

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Author information

Karl Popper (1902-1994) was one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. His books include "The Logic of Scientific Discovery", "The Poverty of Historicism, Conjectures and Refutations", and an autobiography, "Unended Quest". He was a professor at the London School of Economics.

Review quote

One of the Modern Library's 100 best nonfiction books of the twentieth century "Learned, subtly argued, and passionately written."--Sidney Hook, New York Times "No thinking person would be doing himself a service by neglecting Popper's book."--Joseph Craft, The Nation "One of the great books of the century."--Times (London) "Brilliant... It remains the best intellectual defence of liberal democracy."--Economist "Magnificent."--Hugh Trevor-Roper, Polemic "Few philosophers ... have combined such a vast width of knowledge with the capacity to produce important original ideas as [Popper] did."--Guardian "A major work. Combining the clarity of thought of the trained scientist with lucidity of presentation, Mr. Popper has written an unusually thoughtful and provocative book."--Hans Kohn, Yale Review

Back cover copy

"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 "Sir Karl Popper was right."--Vclav Havel "A powerful and important book. Dr. Popper writes with extreme clarity and vigour. His studies in Greek history and Greek thought have obviously been profound and original. Platonic exegesis will never be the same again. Nor, I think, will Marxist exegesis."--Gilbert Ryle

Table of contents

INTRODUCTION BY ALAN RYAN ix 'PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF THE PUBLICATION OF THE OPEN SOCIETY ' BY E.H. GOMBRICH xxiii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS xxxv PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION xxxvii PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION xxxix AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION xli VOLUME I: THE SPELL OF PLATO 1 The Myth of Origin and Destiny 5 1 Historicism and the Myth of Destiny 7 2 Heraclitus 10 3 Plato's Theory of Forms or Ideas 17 Plato's Descriptive Sociology 33 4 Change and Rest 35 5 Nature and Convention 55 Plato's Political Programme 81 6 Totalitarian Justice 83 7 The Principle of Leadership 114 8 The Philosopher King 130 9 Aestheticism, Perfectionism, Utopianism 147 The Background of Plato's Attack 159 10 The Open Society and Its Enemies 161 Addenda (1957, 1961, 1965) 190 VOLUME II: THE HIGH TIDE OF PROPHECY 213 The Rise of Oracular Philosophy 217 11 The Aristotelian Roots of Hegelianism 219 12 Hegel and the New Tribalism 242 Marx's Method 291 13 Marx's Sociological Determinism 293 14 The Autonomy of Sociology 301 15 Economic Historicism 311 16 The Classes 321 17 The Legal and the Social System 327 Marx's Prophecy 343 18 The Coming of Socialism 345 19 The Social Revolution 355 20 Capitalism and Its Fate 373 21 An Evaluation of the Prophecy 397 Marx's Ethics 403 22 The Moral Theory of Historicism 405 The Aftermath 417 23 The Sociology of Knowledge 419 24 Oracular Philosophy and the Revolt against Reason 430 Conclusion 463 25 Has History Any Meaning? 465 Addenda (1961, 1965) 485 NOTES 512 NOTES TO VOLUME I 514 NOTES TO VOLUME II 640 INDEX 735