‘If in this book harsh words are spoken about some of the greatest among the intellectual leaders of mankind, my motive is not, I hope, to belittle them. It springs rather from my conviction that, if our civilization is to survive, we must break with the habit of deference to great men.’
- Karl Popper, from the Preface
Written in political exile during the Second World War and first published in two volumes in 1945, Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies is one of the most influential books of all time. 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 centrally planned political systems and through underground editions become an inspiration to lovers of freedom living under communism in Eastern Europe.
Popper’s highly accessible style, his erudite and lucid explanations of the thoughts of great philosophers and the recent resurgence of totalitarian regimes around the world are just three of the reasons for the enduring popularity of The Open Society and Its Enemies and why it demands to be read today and in years to come.
Foreword Preface: ‘Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies in the contemporary global world’ by Václav Havel. ‘Personal Recollections of the Publication of The Open Society’ by E.H. Gombrich. Acknowledgements Preface to the First Edition Preface to the Second Edition Introduction VOLUME 1: THE SPELL OF PLATO THE MYTH OF ORIGIN AND DESTINY 1. Historicism and the Myth of Destiny 2. Heraclitus 3. Plato's Theory of Forms or Ideas PLATO'S DESCRIPTIVE SOCIOLOGY 4. Change and Rest 5. Nature and Convention PLATO'S POLITICAL PROGRAMME 6. Totalitarian Justice 7. The Principle of Leadership 8. The Philosopher King 9. Aestheticism, Perfectionism, Utopianism THE BACKGROUND OF PLATO'S ATTACK 10. The Open Society and its Enemies Addenda VOLUME 2: THE HIGH TIDE OF PROPHECY THE RISE OF ORACULAR PHILOSOPHY 11. The Aristotelian Roots of Hegelianism 12. Hegel and The New Tribalism MARX'S METHOD 13. Sociological Determinism 14. The Autonomy of Sociology 15. Economic Historicism 16. The Classes 17. The Legal and the Social System MARX'S PROPHECY 18. The Coming of Socialism 19. The Social Revolution 20. Capitalism and Its Fate 21. An Evaluation MARX'S ETHICS 22. The Moral Theory of Historicism THE AFTERMATH 23. The Sociology of Knowledge 24. Oracular Philosophy and the Revolt against Reason CONCLUSION 25. Has History any Meaning? Addenda (1961, 1965) NOTES Notes to Volume 1 Notes to Volume 2 Index