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The Open Society and Its Enemies

(The Open Society and its Enemies #2)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,872 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Written in political exile during the Second World War and first published in 1945, 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 c ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published January 26th 2002 by Routledge (Routledge Classics) (first published 1945)
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4.01  · 
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Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second volume of Popper's work that warns of the great influence of thinkers who were no friends of the open society, a society in which the rights of the individual are valued over the glory of the state.

In volume one, Popper uses Plato's writings, quoted extensively, to indict Plato very effectively as an advocate of totalitarianism. In this volume, it is Hegel and Marx that are up on charges of abandoning reason for historicism, Popper's term for a mythological belief that there i
Apr 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, critical
I don't know what I would do without this book.

Popper fled the Nazi takeover of Austria, and set out to write a book that would somehow fight bad ideologies. He succeeded. If only anyone actually read it.

Open Society begins with an attack on Plato. Popper argues that we need to realize that Plato chose Sparta over Athens, and every other vaguely cosmopolitan city. He spends time describing just how controlled, misogynistic, and totalitarian Spartan life really was. Popper then moves on to show
C. Varn
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While Popper's critiques on the dangers of total ideas can be helpful, but ultimately this is a fairly vapid critique.
Just a quote:

"It should perhaps be admitted that the Heraclitean ethics, the doctrine that the higher reward is that which only posterity can offer, may in some way perhaps be slightly superior to an ethical doctrine which teaches us to look out for reward now. But it is not what we need. We need an ethics which defies success and reward. And such an ethics need not be invented. It is not new. It has been taught by Christianity, at least in its beginnings. It is, again, taught by the industrial
Naing Lin
I personally found it more intriguing to read than the previous volume, part of the reason is I'm not familiar with Plato and Aristotle than that of Karl Max and Hegal. It's perhaps either incorrect notions of representation has existed over our culture like their hardliners used to say about it. Nevertheless, the ideas and concepts are distributed via various media outlets after all.

I still feel that His attack on the particular concept is not always rigorous but occasionally the other are pre
Gabriel Thy
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all serious citizens of the West, especially now that capitalism is under fierce assault.
From Plato to Hegel, the philosopher king is the summit of socialism everywhere, a system in which the "good" thinker knows what is best for all individuals. Karl Popper prefers the free society and counts neo-Platonism among his enemies.

Having been raised in an authoritarian Communist culture in Austria, Popper rejected "historicism" in ascertaining that the growth of human knowledge is a causal factor in the evolution of human history, and since "no society can predict, scientifically, its ow

Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well written, and some interesting insights, but generally disingenuous towards Hegel and Marx, and I think unfairly and quite incorrectly attributes 'methods' to them that are not quite right, but which become convenient anchors for Popper to "deconstruct" them and show their inherrant weaknesses.In this regard he is dishonest and disappointing. But like many conservatives, his criticisms do apply to a certain clique within the left, and no doubt has won him many admirers.
Not nearly as engaging as Volume I. It might be because the material of Hegel's and Marx's philosophies are necessarily more complex than that of Plato and Aristotle. But I also got the impression that Popper, through a large part of the volume, left the discussion of an "open society" off to the side while he treated his preferred topic of historicism, along with other, less relevant tangents (many having to do with Marx's economic theories). The result was a book that I labored to get through, ...more
Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
- thinking in the solving problems need logics or an experience?

- are we should trade one way?
- are we all search for many answers at same time?
- is there an answer without a question?
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars. This is a pretty extensive refutation of Marx's (inspired by Hegel's) historicism. "Scientific Marxism is dead," Popper claims, and that's also an apt summary of the work as a whole. I think that he is undoubtedly right in the main in his treatment of Marx, and I'm obviously not going to go through the arguments he proffers against Marx's historicism, but I'll just provide some general remarks and one criticism.

First, although it's clear that Popper abhors historicism, his treatment
Kraig Grady
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politics, philosophy
I had never heard of Popper until Ligeti used a title of his for his pieces "Clouds and Clouds". So when in a book store, i search it out but ended up buying this one . Now here was a philosopher who didn't need to use big terms to impress you. His language is as simple as he could make it. And he ask the really important question-how open in terms of individual rights does a citizen have within a society. He takes Plato as a starting point and shows how much he was against such an idea and how ...more
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought that this book was great (both Volume 1 and 2, although people more frequently refer to Volume 2, likely since it discusses Marxism which seems to be more near and dear to people's hearts). Popper wrote The Open Society during World War II when he thought that Europe might soon be under a totalitarian regime.
Maggie Koerth Baker
Oct 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who ever wanted a better reason to dislike Plato
Still reading currently. Will definitely have more to say about it when I'm done. Given the time frame this is written in, Popper is talking about issues between liberal democracy and the communism-based totalitarian states. But really, a lot of what he's talking about is also applicable to religion and tribalism-based totalitarianism and is, thus, still pretty relevant today.
Feb 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
Shelves: philosophy
A book to learn more about marxism and democracy
It changed my mind about old good Plato. About Marx and Hegel, my mind had been changed beforehand!
Melusine Parry
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
don't agree with the angry man at all, but a good read.
Dec 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Volume 2, dealing with Hegel and Marx, with an in-depth critique of the moral theory of historicism and whether history has any meaning, in light of oracular philosophy and the revolt against reason.
Jun 11, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
very plausibly skips over 25 centuries to tie marxism directly into plato.
Andrew Endicott
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second part (the cover isn't correct, but oh well), and it's equally good. You should read this if you're uninspired to read anything else.
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Vol 2 of The Open Society, Popper describes how the historicist approach of Hegel forms the foundation of facism and how the historicist approach of Marx - never mind its good intentions - led to immense suffering. His treatment of Hegel's philosophy is somewhat irritating, due to the long list of witty comments on how corrupted and wrong Hegel was. (Nonetheless, I completely agree with Popper on this).

Hegel, according to Popper, was a scam. He developed a collectivist, historicist philosophy
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many Marxists consider that knowledge is determined by cultural and social norms, but Popper rejects this idea as absurd. His main argument is that Marxists ignored famous examples from the history of science, such as Copernicus’s heliocentric theory of the solar system that was created independently from the cultural prejudices of the sixteenth century. This leads us to the conclusion that scientific knowledge does not depend on society. Popper totally destroyed the so-called,,sociology of know ...more
Philip Coulter
Interesting but uneven. I'm not overly familiar with the material than Popper is critiquing but as ever a lot of it may be an idiosyncratic interpretation or very focused take on certain aspects. Popper feels on safer territory when he turn to a more general discussion of historicism towards the end of the book.
André Pereira
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Modern totalitarianism is only an episode within the perennial revolt against freedom and reason. From older episodes it is distinguished not so much by its ideology, as by the fact that its leaders succeeded in realizing one of the boldest dreams of their predecessors; they made the revolt against freedom a popular movement.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Must Read! Intelligenr, witty, important.
I finally understood the reactionary philosophy of Hegel leading to two world wars and how the profound analyses of Marx could turn (or be turned) into the totalitarism of Stalin.
Angus Stirling
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The greatest work, in any field, I have yet read.
Jack Adams
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
actually read Logic Scientific Discovery. Referred by Soros. Historic theory.
Charity Jenkins
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing. It has adjusted and clarified my way of thinking about so many things.
We cannot use history to predict the future. Theories need to be falsifiable. And so much more.
Aaron Crofut
Well, that was a let down. The cranks on Hegel are worth the while, as is the question of the use of history in the last chapter, but everything else...meh. Popper's thoughts on Marx are like a new invention that protects you against spears: not particularly important anymore, because I can't recall the last time I met a legitimate Marxist. Communists, sure, but out and out Marxists? A thing of the past.

Ironically, Popper spends a great deal of time justifying what I see to be the largest threa
Rafal Pruszynski
I liked this book, though not as much as the first volume. Though that probably has a lot to do with having read much of Plato while having read very little of Hegel and Marx. One thing that bothered me a bit here was how Popper never really gives a very good justification for his morality of interventionism and his take on humanitarianism. He asserts, often enough, that we have moral duties to help those in need, for example, without providing much of a defense for why we should. I do not share ...more
Lukas Szrot
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, overall. A great exegesis on both Marx and historicist philosophy. A bit uncharitable to Hegel (though not without reason) and somewhat off-base in the criticism of the sociology of knowledge (philosophers and sociologists of knowledge continue in many ways to talk past each other regarding whether epistemology is a somewhat a priori, criterion-oriented discipline or a socially constructed phenomenon. Having a background in both views, I would suggest that both have merit in their own ...more
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Sir Karl Raimund Popper, FRS, rose from a modest background as an assistant cabinet maker and school teacher to become one of the most influential theorists and leading philosophers. Popper commanded international audiences and conversation with him was an intellectual adventure—even if a little rough—animated by a myriad of philosophical problems. He contributed to a field of thought encompassing ...more

Other books in the series

The Open Society and its Enemies (4 books)
  • The Open Society and Its Enemies
  • The Open Society and Its Enemies - Volume One: The Spell of Plato
  • After the Open Society: Selected Social and Political Writings