12 February 2010

Book: The Open Society and Its Enemies

A short notice for a two-volume work that is, I believe, grossly overrated and hopelessly outdated: Karl Popper's "The Open Society and Its Enemies" (first published by Routledge in 1945, and still available in the latest revised edition of 2002):

Volume 1, subtitled "The Spell of Plato":

Volume 2, subtitled "The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx and the Aftermath":

Publisher's description: "Written in political exile [in New Zealand] during the Second World War [...], Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. Hailed by Bertrand Russell as a 'vigorous and profound defence of democracy', its now legendary attack on the philosophies of Plato, Hegel and Marx exposed the dangers inherent in centrally planned political systems. Popper's highly accessible style, his erudite and lucid explanations of the thought of great philosophers and the recent resurgence of totalitarian regimes around the world are just three of the reasons for the enduring popularity of The Open Society and Its Enemies, and for why it demands to be read both today and in years to come."

Review: "[A] work of first-class importance which ought to be widely read for its masterly criticism of the enemies of democracy, ancient and modern. His attack on Plato [whom he denounces as a totalitarian], while unorthodox, is in my opinion thoroughly justified. His analysis of Hegel is deadly. Marx is dissected with equal acumen, and given his due share of responsibility for modern misfortunes." (Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970)

Austrian-born Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994) was a philosopher and Professor of Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics.

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