Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Karl Popper's Birthday tomorrow. He's 108, or would have been. An intellectual giant of the last century. Hugely underrated, partly for a silly reason - his name, Popper. Sounds like a child's toy or, nowadays, a night-club drug.
If only he'd been called Wittgenstein. The Open Society should be enforced reading for everyone over the age of 16 in the world.
Yea, right.

Couple of quotes:

The open society is one in which men have learned to be to some extent critical of taboos, and to base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence.

The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato. Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

If you have not read 'The Open Society,' and are daunted by its size, just read the last chapter, 'Has History Any Meaning?' Then, unless I am sadly mistaken, you will want to read the whole thing.


Tracy Saunders. said...

A good friend of mine in Canada, Calvin Hayes,wrote his doctoral thesis on Popper.Calvin´s recent book is called Fallibilism, Democracy and the Market:The Meta-Theoretical Foundations of Popper's Political Philosophy.I have a copy.I admit I haven't read it.In fact, none of his friends have.I don't even understand the title!But if you say Popper is Good, then I will have a go...
Hope all well with you,Rebekah, and dogs (and Kim if still with you).
Tracy Saunders

Patrick O'Gara said...

Tracy, Popper is good. And he writes clearly, but often about dense stuff. Still, go for it! Calvin will be happy at least.