Sunday, February 10, 2008

Popper's Open Society for Busy People

From the introduction to a highly desirable precis of Popper's Open Society and it's Enemies:

"Western thought has been described as a series of footnotes to Plato. This is a tribute to his achievement and to the way that his ideas have continued to exert influence to the present day. Many of our problems in politics and the social sciences are complicated by methods and doctrines that we have inherited from him.

Some of these are:

Essentialism – excessive concern with the “correct” definition of terms.
The idea that individualism and altruism are not compatible.
The idea that “who shall rule?” is the most important question in political philosophy.
The quest for a utopian society by means of violent and revolutionary reform.

Karl Popper subjected Plato’s social and political thought to searching scrutiny in the first volume of The Open Society and its Enemies. My aim here is to make this work more accessible by providing the bare bones of the arguments with some supporting text from the book."

Now that should tickle the fancy! Am off to read the precis with a view to considering the place of home education in Popper's scheme of things.


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be more Critical Rationalist not to read texts by philosophers you agree with, but, rather, the philosophers who *disagree* with Popper?

If your position is a Popperist one, then, as a Critical Rationalist, you ought really to be looking to read arguments that *criticise* Popperist positions, rather than his own works.

Reading Popper is like a Christian reading the Letters of Saint Paul. Great for relaxation and a reinforcing of beliefs currently held, but is it the right way forward for a Critical Rationalist? If you already believe this man to be speaking the truth, then you might do better to examine the opinions of his opponents.

The followers of your philosphies have already criticised Plato's arguments and decided they are invalid, and there is little learning in reading texts that criticise something you have already discarded.

If you wish to examine Plato's arguments freshly, and truth seek with an open mind, then perhaps a better idea would be to read *Plato*?

Carlotta said...

Just in case you are seriously worried, Anon, I have in the past fairly often read critiques of Popper. So far, I haven't been able to make their ideas stack up in the way that Popper's mostly seem to. I will keep an eye open for the next serious attempt at a refutation.

Rafe said...

The point of re-reading Popper (or reading for the first time if you have not done so before) is to realise how many damaging ideas that were refuted by Popper are still circulating. He is still speaking to our condition but his critics (or people who have just ignored him) still get the major exposure in uni courses. If you want to help people to take control of their lives and achive peace, freedom and prosperity then spreading the ideas of Popper, critical rationalism and the Austrian economists is a really practical thing to do. If you care!