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Publisher's Summary

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.

©1994 The University of Klagenfurt/Karl Popper Library (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about The Open Society and Its Enemies

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A very difficult book

The beginning refutation of Plato, the total dismissal of Hegel, and the books concluding chapters are, however, worth the effort.

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Still relevant !

I'm not a reader of philosophy books but I found this book very interesting and useful as a reader of history books. His criticism on Plato has awoken my interest to revisit some dialogues of Plato ( the Republic, the laws) and see for myself. Popper's view of Hegel has made clear that I should not waste too much time on this man and his unapproachable philosophy. Voice was clear and understandable!

5 people found this helpful

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Riveting development of ideas

As Karl Popper stated in the conclusion, this subject was not his main interest nor expertise. But it's a wonderful development and summary of ideas of some influential characters from ancient Greece to our own time.
It's much aided by his main area of interest which was the epistemology of science. Of course, he is well known for his "black swan" metaphor, and also the idea that a valid scientific hypothesis or theory must be falsifiable, but he went way beyond that. This background helped Popper to understand and then to explain the dubiousness of historicism, which he shows was handed down from Plato, to Hegel, to Marx, and to current adherents. He really blasts Hegel, for one.
Lots to absorb out of a pretty long book; will have to listen again.
I hope Audible makes more of his books available.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr GS McCreadie
  • 06-23-20

Enlightening

In the context of Brexit, China, USA, Africa, the shifting political sands, #BLM, international health concetns and the post-truth world being fought over, this text seemed relevant and still addresses some of the fundamental questions of today - as historicism and its revisionists rise and fall. The clamour for attention in the instantaneous world of the now brings some of Popper's observations into a sharpened clarity and from the totalitarianist ethics of Plato to the legacy of a post-industrialized Hegel, it is maybe time to look anew at the emerging dialogue between Maoist Communism & Jesuit Liberalism as a dialectic.

3 people found this helpful