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The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume 1 : The Spell of Plato (Відкрите суспільство #1)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,340 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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 focu
Paperback, 376 pages
Published February 21st 1971 by Princeton University Press (first published 1945)
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Matthew Harbowy
Popper's Open Society and its Enemies is devoted to a crushing polemic against Platonism. Plato's Republic is described as a detailed defense of what Popper calls "Closed Society", which is taken to be totalitarian in all its forms.

Platonism is hard to summarize concisely, but roughly amounts to an ontology (that is, the study of reality) which is grounded in the concept of the "form", that of an idealized and unchanging entity which is the pure, unadulterated essence of all objects in reality.
Randal Samstag
Popper's anti-Platonist tract is slander from start to finish; the book that inspired Ronald Levinson to write a 645 page rebuttal (In Defense of Plato). In much of Popper's writing he is a fitting follower of Sextus Empiricus, but here, in a perhaps-understandable post-Hitler and post-Stalin rage, he descends to dogmatic fiction. For example, on the very first page Popper counter-poses two quotes, one from Pericles that "Although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it" t ...more
John Gurney
Popper brilliantly shows how Plato was no friend of democracy or freedom (the "open society"). This highly influential work is fascinating, yet, highly readable.
This is a thorough repudiation of Plato's political and moral philosophy. Although I am definitely not any sort of historian or authority on the nature of Plato's philosophy, Popper is convincing enough to make me really question the "idealization" of Plato he so often mentions.

My criticisms are not of Popper's treatment of Plato, but of some of his other contentions on the subject of individualism/collectivism and ethics. Popper himself creates a table in which individualism is opposed to colle
Steve Evans
This is one of the most important books written in the 20th century, taken with its second volume - a searching analysis of the modes of thinking of "development" that takes in Plato, Hegel, and Marx. The best edition is this one, that keeps more detailed analysis in wee tiny print in appendices - but be sure to get the full Monty as much of this is fascinating.

People have tried to defend Plato against Popper's savage attack on his political theories, but it's pretty hard really. Plato was polit
This is brilliant. It's a radical re-reading of Plato which argues that, in his authoritarian vision of the perfect state, he is the forerunner of totalitarianism oppression (Nazism, Stalinism) and the enemy of true political freedom. Perhaps the most unsettling claim, for philosophers anyway, is that Plato's use of the character of Socrates in his dialogues is a complete distortion of what the real Socrates stood for - the opposite, in fact. The book is well-argued, clear, and - apart from some ...more
"If we dream of a return to our childhood, if we are tempted to rely on others and so be happy, if we shrink from the task of carrying our cross, the cross of humaneness, of reason, of responsibility, if we lose courage and flinch from the strain, then we must try to fortify ourselves with a clear understanding of the simple decision before us. We can return to the beasts. But if we wish to remain human, then there is only one way, the way into the open society. We must go into the unknown, the ...more
Mahmoud EL Agamey
أعداء المجتمع المفتوح هي الأفكار الشمولية التي تتضمن شموليتها انغلاقها فهي تقدم تصورا متكاملا منتهيا لتكون وتطور المجتمع التاريخي ومن هنا فهي تؤدي بالضرورة إلى الوقوف في وجه الأفكار المخالفة بل وقمعها ومن هنا ترافقت ، على مدار التاريخ البشري ، المذاهب الشمولية والقمع والديكتاتورية والاستبداد. الشيوعية وستالين النازية وهتلر الأديان والملوك في القرون الوسطى. كانت هذه متلازمة تثبت باستمرار خطر الأفكار الشمولية. المجتمع المفتوح هو المجتمع الديموقراطي الذي لا يحكمه تصور نهائي مثالي محدد بل يسير بخطوا ...more
Popper was perhaps unfashionable for loathing Plato, but I can see where he's coming from. Plato's Republic would have been a dehumanising hell on earth if ever it was instigated. But I feel Plato in his talking about the different classes of society being strictly controlled had in mind the warring factions of the psyche rather than an actual society, so he's off the hook as far as I am concerned. I liked his discussions of Hegel's historicism, however, and of the ways in which historicism with ...more
Elliott Bignell
Writing close to the time of the Anschluss in his native Austria, Popper had reason to see the threat to open society as pressing. It is all the more interesting, then, that he devotes an entire volume to the Platonic roots of authoritarian statism and social conservatism. Fascism is a slippery beast and not easily pigeon-holed, but Popper reminds us with drive and clarity that the threat to open society and the drive towards statism in his time was as much a creature of the socially conservativ ...more
Mahmoud Omar

في رفض العودة والسكون، في درء النظريّات، التاريخانيّة واليوتيوبيا والشموليّة، وفي الدفع نحو مجتمع مفتوح: مثابرة في المجهول، واللايقيني، وغير الآمن، "مستعينين بما قد يخططه لنا العقل بقدر إمكاننا من أجل الأمان والحريّة معًا".
Straightforward and coldly logical criticism of sociological historicism as seen first in Plato, and later by Hegel and Marx (Vol. 2). Lucid and thorough.
Eduardo Garcia-Gaspar
En esta obra, Popper trata a tres enemigos de la libertad: Platón, Hegel y Marx. El volumen uno está dedicado a Platón. El segundo a los otros dos autores. Es un examen de ideas que han producido daño a la sociedad abierta, a ls libertad humana y eso lo ha colocado en un lugar de enorme importancia que también ha sufrido fuertes ataques. ¿Debe leerse? Definitivamente para cuqluiera interesado en temas políticos. Sobre una idea del libro escribí a No es Quién Sino Cómo.

A fantastically written and powerfully relevant book. Popper lays the groundwork for a larger critique of historicism, an idea prevalent in the social sciences that claims history follows some set of logical or scientific laws that allow us to predict the future or make knowledge claims about how we ought to achieve societal and political change. Popper has in mind a critique primarily of Marx and Hegel and their theories of history, but in this volume, he opts for an in depth look at Plato's Re

Maria Borland
Popper begins 150 pages of endnotes with an apology for those books he was unable to consult due to wartime (WWII) conditions. This sense of humility and thoroughness pervades Poppers work. Any satisfying soundbites - 'what we want is to moralize politics and not to politicize morals' - are invariably preceded by pages of meticulous argument and textual reference. A careful avoidance of polemic and generalisation enhances Popper's case against hitoricism and essentialism as they appear not only ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 27, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Political Philosophy
This book about one of the fundamental thinkers of Western Civilization was written in the shadow of the fascist threat to that civilization, from Popper's first conception of the book in 1938 to its publication in 1943. A blurb on its back cover describes the book as "a survey of Greek philosophy... a history of the rise and fall of Athens, a formal philosophical critique of idealism... and a defense of clarity, scientific method, and democratic procedure." I'm not sure if this should be read b ...more
Užasi Drugog Svetskog Rata, zlo do kojeg su doveli totalitarni režimi, kako nacional-socijalizam tako i komunizam u Rusiji, naveli su mnoge autore da se duboko zapitaju kako je do tako poražavajućih ishoda moglo da dođe, odnosno da preispitaju celokupnu istoriju zapadne civilizacije, pre svega istoriju ideja koje su intelektualci zastupali. Danas je opšte prihvaćeno mišljenje da takvi zločinački režimi nisu nikakvi izuzeci od toka evropske misli već da upravo iz nje proizilaze, odnosno da su nje ...more
Aaron Crofut
This is an absolutely devastating critique of Plato, which is made all the more impressive by the author and the reader openly acknowledging Plato's incredible intellectual powers. Plato spotted one of the greatest problems in both politics and individual human life, that of our lack of permanence and lack of truly objective guideposts to direct our actions, and came up with an amazingly elegant solution to the problem. Unfortunately, that solution is totalitarianism.

I've read most of Plato's w
Come le idee possono cambiare la storia.
La societa' aperta e i suoi nemici (vol. I e II)e' il libro che volevo leggere da sempre e poi per vari motivi non avevo mai acquistato, non ultimo un blocco "mentale" pensando che fosse troppo ostico. Ora che finalmente ho letto entrambe i volumi devo dire che ne e' valsa la pena. I libri sono una lucida analisi degli effetti che le due ideologie, prima quella di Platone e dopo quella di Hegel hanno avuto sulla societa' nelle diverse epoche. La cosa impre
A brilliant continuation of Poppers theory of science into the political realm: political systems need to be corroborated just like scientific theories. Utopian ideals will probably never work as envisioned and trying to rebuild a society to fit them might do more harm than good. A better way is to find the worst flaw of the current system and fix that ... repeat until no flaws left.
Apart from proposing this simple and attractive program of developing our society, Popper paints an interesting an
I'm still in some shock from the utter thrashing that Popper perpetrates upon Plato, maybe the most venerated philosopher in the history of the world. For that alone the book is exceedingly welcome, although I'm admittedly no expert on ancient Greek philosophy, so it's not prudent to accept everything Popper says on just his word. Indeed, one of the problems I had with the book is that, despite his various reminders that he means nothing personal, and that he still holds Plato in the highest est ...more
I remember him going through length criticizing Plato. Love him for Soro's foundation. What mighty impact it has on post Communist countries.
Popper introduced me to Classical thought with this book, an explication of and critique of Plato, and a defense of Socrates. Enlightening. Best of all, Popper was first and foremost a teacher, and this book fully reveals that in the easily graspable expression and reasoning by which he engages the non-specialist reader. This book addresses the arcane world of classical political thought and applies it decisively to what's in the headlines right now. If you like the feeling of having covered a l ...more
This was great. I haven't read Plato, but Popper takes him to cleaners and back again. He clearly shows that Plato had a pretty scary vision for the state, and makes certain his readers know how he came to this conclusion. There are some frightening parallels between Plato and modern leftist thinking, and some obvious ones between Platonism and modern Totalitarianism. At its heart this is a criticism of the historicist school of thinking, and the impact it has on society today. Highly recommende ...more
Rafal Pruszynski
A brilliant insight on Plato, stripping away all that has been romanticized about him and revealing the totalitarian character of the man and his thought. Plato is an enigma, offering us one of the most disturbing views of totalitarianism, collectivism, eugenics in what has to be the most beautiful style of any Philosopher since...both a great pleasure and an uncomfortable read.
Popper is a pretty persuasive writer, a real scholar. I was a bit skeptical when I started this book, since I had always held Plato in pretty high esteem. But Popper brought together a lot of what I already knew in a way that made me rethink some of my opinions.

I would like to read the other volume of The Open Society and Its Enemies, on Hegel and Marx, but don't yet have it.
Jaroslav Paták
Kniha, která je skvělou ukázkou propracovaného kritického myšlení. Brilantní argumentace a pečlivá stylistika z ní dělají jedno ze zásadních děl 20. století. Kdokoli, kdo si přečte Poppera, se bude na Platóna s jeho ideově pochybnou "Ústavou", joakož i podobná díla propagující údajně nejlepší státní zřízení, dívat s apriorní nedůvěrou. Nelze než vřele doporučit.
The book reads more like a text book, meaning it is a little slow & one can get bogged down. It is pretty good but it is a little thick so unless you are very interested you might do better reading a more popular type of book dealing with issues of real freedom, freedom in society, how that freedom can be hindered, & the imprtance of freedom etc.
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Sir Karl Raimund Popper CH, FRS, FBA (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austrian and British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics. He is counted among the most influential philosophers of science of the 20th century, and also wrote extensively on social and political philosophy. Popper is known for repudiating the classical observationalist/inductivist account of sc ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Відкрите суспільство (2 books)
  • The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume Two: Hegel and Marx
The Logic of Scientific Discovery The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume Two: Hegel and Marx Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge The Poverty of Historicism The Open Society and Its Enemies

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“But the secret of intellectual excellence is the spirit of criticism ; it is intellectual independence. And this leads to difficulties which must prove insurmountable for any kind of authoritarianism. The authoritarian will in general select those who obey, who believe, who respond to his influence. But in doing so, he is bound to select mediocrities. For he excludes those who revolt, who doubt, who dare to resist his influence. Never can an authority admit that the intellectually courageous, i.e. those who dare to defy his authority, may be the most valuable type. Of course, the authorities will always remain convinced of their ability to detect initiative. But what they mean by this is only a quick grasp of their intentions, and they will remain for ever incapable of seeing the difference.” 21 likes
“Nature consists of facts and of regularities, and is in itself neither moral nor immoral. It is we who impose our standards upon nature, and who in this way introduce morals into the natural world, in spite the fact that we are part of this world. We are products of nature, but nature has made us together with our power of altering the world, of foreseeing and of planning for the future, and of making far-reaching decisions for which we are morally responsible. Yet, responsibility, decisions, enter the world of nature only with us” 13 likes
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