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The Poverty of Historicism

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  813 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
On its publication in 1957, The Poverty of Historicism was hailed by Arthur Koestler as 'probably the only book published this year which will outlive the century.'
A devastating criticism of fixed and predictable laws in history, Popper dedicated the book to all those 'who fell victim to the fascist and communist belief in Inexorable Laws of Historical Destiny.' Short and
Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 21st 2002 by Routledge (first published 1957)
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In memory of the countless men and women of all creeds and nations who fell victims to the Fascist and Communist belief in the Inexorable Laws of Human Destiny.

Popper's topic here is more than a question of historiography. He views this problem of interpreting history as a moral imperative, one which must be discussed in order to prevent the spread of a more dangerous alternative.

Popper attacks 'historicism' as a view which attempts to place all of history within a single law, wherea
May 21, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it
I was hoping a lot more from this. Popper jumps around so much building up and knocking down aspects of historicism that it becomes to keep track of one from the other, and everything in between. The first chapter was supposed to avoid that, but in piling so many contrary points of view under the heading "historicism", it's not especially helpful.

I am one of the last people (I hope) that could be called a historicist, but certain ideas he labels as such seem far more valid than his arguments aga
Ahmad Ardy
Mar 23, 2017 Ahmad Ardy rated it it was ok
Aku menyusuli pembacaan aku terhadap buku Poverty of Historicism dengan buku Against Method, nukilan Feyerabend. Dan itu itu ternyata membenarkan beberapa persoalan-persoalan dan bantahan aku yang berbangkit sekitar pembacaan buku Popper ini.

Popper adalah, sebelum apa-apa designatori yang lain, seorang ahli falsafah sains (philosopher of science). Mungkin terdapat bayang-bayang seorang ahli falsafah politik di dalam penulisan beliau yang terdahulu, yang paling ketara antaranya adalah di dalam Op
Leonart Maruli
Buku ini saya pastikan sebagai buku yang saya baca sebagai penutup tahun 2016. Buku ini juga cukup mengganggu pikiran saya sejak beberapa hari yang lalu ketika pertama kali membukanya. Banyak ide-ide yang jika saya lemparkan kepada realitas, akan saya temukan kebenaran-kebenarannya. Belum lagi ketika Popper cukup banyak membicarakan soal metodologi penelitian sains dan humaniora di dalam buku ini.

Pantas saja beberapa orang yang kuat pemahaman sejarahnya cenderung akan memiliki sikap-sikap otorit
Sep 08, 2012 Tom rated it liked it
Methodologically, this book is a very important work. Outlining the method of the social sciences, Popper criticizes Historicism at length, and makes some good arguments. That said, he doesn't have much of a grasp on what history is, nor and overly good handle on Marxist theory. His opinions on history are laughable, and his idea of methodological individualism is so problematically ideological to almost appear as absurd that he couldn't consider the alternative. His section on institutions goes ...more
Feb 19, 2009 Blake rated it it was amazing
This was a remarkable little book with many interesting points, keen insights and worthy ideas. Popper writes with the clarity of thought and preciseness of meaning one would more expect of Russell.

Few of these main ideas are new to me (many of them are those I've previously defended in my own writing and dialogues), but Popper gives powerful, original and complex arguments for them.

A warning for some left-leaning readers that this book makes clear from the beginning Popper's distrust of communi
Esteban del Mal
Mar 07, 2011 Esteban del Mal rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Brian, Buck, MFSO, Richard
I'm going to rub my two brain cells together this weekend and see if I can't write something meaningful about this thing.
Fahad Alqurain
كان بالإمكان اختصار الكتاب في عشرين صفحة
الفكرة مكررة من اول الكتاب الى اخره
May 10, 2017 Alger rated it really liked it
Like many of Popper's publications, this is a careful refutation of the premise that social sciences respond to the scientific method. The degree to which this is now viewed as obvious is largely a measure of Popper's success. Finely written and closely reasoned, the key point is that history cannot be controlled to the degree that the causes of effects can be identified.
pisão no historicismo
Oct 04, 2011 Tom rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful critique of the popular method in the social sciences that attempts to find universal laws of history that can be used to predict how the course of society will develop. It's somewhat short, but Popper is succinct, clear, and convincing. Although I'm still not sure I agree with his position on the complete deductive nature of science, which works its way into several of his positions, it's not really a necessary point to agree with in accepting the larger arguments (which I do ...more
Feb 02, 2016 Maria rated it liked it
I 19ve always kinda liked Karl Popper from the very tiny bits of superficial information I had on him from philosophy school books, so I didn 19t expect this to be so utterly hard to get. In the first part of the book, Karl Popper exposes the two main historicist views, pro-naturalist (claiming society has rules similar to those of physics) and anti-naturalist. The second part is the critique itself, structured to attack one view and then the other. One very prominent argument is that, given the ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Dan rated it really liked it
A short yet considerably dense treatise on the futility of uncovering laws of historical development as one would find laws of nature. I cannot say I understand everything Popper is getting at, which would require a closer second reading in addition to reading some of his other works, namely The Logic of Scientific Discovery and The Open Society and its Enemies. But I can say that what I do get from Popper is an attempt to topple grand "theories of history" generally touted by Marxists and even ...more
Daniel Carr
Jan 31, 2013 Daniel Carr rated it really liked it
A great read for anyone (rightly) suspicious of the claims of social sciences in having predictive power. Popper makes the point, in an erudite (if elaborate) manner, that the future is not able to be predicted using observations from the past.

Historicism is the concept that history is subject to an intrinsic march towards a final outcome. Popper examines this notion in a robust manner to find it lacking - he makes the argument that there are no 'laws of history' that can allow one to extrapolat
Oleksandr Zholud
Jan 31, 2017 Oleksandr Zholud rated it really liked it
Historicism is a very old movement. Its oldest forms, such as the doctrines of the life-cycles of cities and races, actually precede the primitive teleological view that there are hidden purposes behind the apparently blind decrees of fate. Although this divination of hidden purposes is far removed from the scientific way of thinking it has left unmistakable traces upon even the most modern historicist theories. Every version of historicism expresses the feeling of being swept into the future by ...more
Lukas Szrot
Jan 02, 2014 Lukas Szrot rated it really liked it
It was once said (though I cannot recall by whom) that scientists need philosophers of science like birds need ornithologists. As a sociologist with some background in philosophy, Popper gives me cause to disagree. Many of the arguments in this book are explicated in greater detail in the tome "The Open Society and Its Enemies," but this little book distills many of the essentials as they apply to the actual methodology and practice of the social sciences. Popper's vision of sociology is a bit b ...more
David Greenberg
Dec 22, 2014 David Greenberg rated it really liked it
Shelves: political-theory
Karl Popper in The Poverty of Historicism, provides a fruitful analysis into a group of traditions he calls "historicism." Simply put, these are individuals who provide society at large a specific means of understanding our society and our role in history through a particular social law.
Based on my personal exploration of these particular world-views, his characterization are accurate (albeit simplified). Critics of his characterization should read his other (longer) books to gain understanding
Mar 02, 2016 Rdt rated it really liked it
I think that Karl Popper is brilliant. I loved The Logic of Scientific Discovery and The World of Parmenides, but I thought that in this book, he was a little off his mark. I agree with his basic thesis that grand theories of history don't work and if logically followed, such theories are more likely to lead to suffering than to solve human problems. But he seems to protest a bit too much. He spends much the book setting up straw men and then knocking them down. I am not so sure that someone who ...more
Earl Mcgowen
Dec 23, 2014 Earl Mcgowen rated it it was amazing
I think this will be my favorite Popper book. In the darkest night, I have definitely been on a quest to unearth myself, and Popper and other critical rationalists have been of great importance by keeping me from betraying myself. I have to admit that I used to read sociology, economy, and theology from somewhat of a historicist method. It is hard not to divorce oneself of the broad sweeps of history. The Open Society and its Enemies warns against Platonic essentialism and Hegelian Geist in such ...more
In which Karl Popper describe a method of analysing history that he calls 'historicism', proposes some reasons why it might be deemed good, and then attacks it. The arguments are clear and often (not always) very convincing when I follow it. But the book is not very easy to follow. Probably because (1) he often makes complicated arguments in a very abstract way without examples or other means to help readers understand (2) 'historicism' which he attacks IMO are not defined clearly. For example, ...more
Christian Anderson
Sep 14, 2014 Christian Anderson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Popper criticizes 'historicism', particularly its holism, its belief in trends as the proper topic of scientific analysis, and its propensity towards prophesy and utopian engineering. The first two sections of the book offer a mosaic portrait of historicism. Popper then articulates a 'piecemeal' scientific approach in contrast to the all-or-nothing approach of the historicists. His claims are empirical but have a normative undertone in their criticism of utopian engineering.

Popper's piecemeal sc
Mar 02, 2016 Yaru rated it really liked it
"Both the historicist and the Utopian believe that they can find out what the true aims or ends of 'society' are; for example, by determining its historical tendencies, or by diagnosing 'the needs of their time'. Thus they are apt to adopt some kind of historicist moral theory."

"The way out of this dilemma, of course, is to be clear about the necessity of adopting a point of view; to state this point of view plainly, and always to remain conscious that it is one among many, and that even if it s
Aleksey Timin
Jan 30, 2017 Aleksey Timin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
В данной книге Поппер последовательно доказывает несостоятельность историцизма, как учения о "законе" истории, согласно которому существует никоторый заранее заданный маршрут движения истории человечества.

Могу порекомендовать любителям геополитики - немного проветрить голову, хотя для многих может оказаться сложновато..

Кроме критики историцизма Поппер вводит понятие "поэлементный социальный инжениринг", как альтернативу революционному изменению общества . Это очень похоже на Agile методологию.
Jul 09, 2015 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this short work Karl Popper attempts to debunk historicism and to demonstrate that social science would benefit from a small dose of scientific rationalism. Rather than ignoring a theoretical structure for history, for example, it is necessary to set the methodology firmly in a scientific context. Whether he succeeded or not is moot, since I know of no historian of merit who has adopted his proposals...
David Antoš
Feb 14, 2014 David Antoš rated it liked it
Didn't overwhelm as the debate is largely over. Some arguments felt inconclusive. Being in apparent love with economics - which I surely approve :-) - he doesn't address well the biggest pain of social sciences (in my perception) of impossibility to isolate effects of some phenomenon / intervention. That allows libertarians, Keynesians and free market economists all keep using the recent economic crisis as a proof of their (mutually incompatible) teachings.
Gabriel Giambastiani
“E só avançamos se estivermos preparados para aprender com nossos erros: reconhecê-los e utilizá-los criticamente, em vez de neles dogmaticamente perseverar. Conquanto essa análise possa parecer trivial, descreve, segundo creio, o método de todas as ciências empíricas. Esse método assume caráter mais e mais científico, quanto mais livre e conscientemente estivermos preparados para fazer tentativas e quanto mais criticamente observarmos os erros em que sempre incidimos.”
Jan 23, 2013 J-Man rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Izvrsno delo najznačajnijeg filozofa nauke dvadesetog veka u kojem sjajnim analitičkim pristupom denuncira 'istoricizam' kao sklonost ka verovanju u skrivene tokove istorije pri čemu metafizičko Jedno pokreće Sve. Elemente takvog razmišljanja on argumentovano lokalizuje kod Marksa, Mila, Konta i velikim brojem profinjenih i minucioznih zapažanja uspostavlja jasnu granicu između naučnog i prednaučnog ili metafizičkog mišljenja.
Published shortly after the end of World War Two, Popper dedicated the Poverty of Historicism to all those who fell "victim to the fascist and communist belief in Inexorable Laws of Historical Destiny." That so little about the Poverty of Historicism strikes me as remotely controversial is a testament to the generally conservative intellectual currents of the postwar era - of which Popper's lucid critique of "historicism" was a significant part.
Jun 27, 2008 Nicky rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I read this book because I had previously read After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre. MacIntyre incorporates Popper's argument against prediction of the future course of human events into his own critique of the social sciences.

Popper's philosophy of science, applied to the social sciences in this book, is interesting. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around some parts of it, but it was an enjoyable, intelligent read.
May 10, 2011 Phil rated it it was amazing
Popper crams more useful logic into these 150 pages than in the entire corpus of LSAT preparation material. Popper proves his scientific legitimacy through clarifying his terms from his vast erudition. This book requires the reader's attention, but it's rewarding, especially in the validity of his main points. I definitely need to enter "The Open Society."
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Sir Karl Raimund Popper was born in Vienna on 28 July 1902. His rise from a modest background as an assistant cabinet maker and school teacher to one of the most influential theorists and leading philosophers was characteristically Austrian. Popper commanded international audiences and conversation with him was an intellectual adventure - even if a little rough -, animated by a myriad of philosoph ...more
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“The discovery of instances which confirm a theory means very little if we have not tried, and failed, to discover refutations. For if we are uncritical we shall always find what we want: we shall look for, and find, confirmation, and we shall look away from, and not see, whatever might be dangerous to our pet theories. In this way it is only too easy to obtain what appears to be overwhelming evidence in favour of a theory which, if approached critically, would have been refuted.” 13 likes
“We all have an unscientific weakness for being always in the right, and this weakness seems to be particularly common among professional and amateur politicians. But the only way to apply something like scientific method in politics is to proceed on the assumption that there can be no political move which has no drawbacks, no undesirable consequences. To look out for these mistakes, to find them, to bring them into the open, to analyse them, and to learn from them, this is what a scientific politician as well as a political scientist must do. Scientific method in politics means that the great art of convincing ourselves that we have not made any mistakes, of ignoring them, of hiding them, and of blaming others from them, is replaced by the greater art of accepting the responsibility for them, of trying to learn from them, and of applying this knowledge so that we may avoid them in future.” 6 likes
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