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However, his political thought has arguably had as great an impact as has his philosophy of science. Among the educated general public, Popper is best known for his critique of totalitarianism and his defense of freedom, individualism, democracy and an “open society.” His political thought resides squarely within the camp of Enlightenment rationalism and humanism.

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His defense of a freed and democratic society stems in large measure from his views on the scientific method and how it should be applied to politics, history and social science.

Indeed, his most important political texts—The Poverty of Historicism (1944) and The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945)—offer a kind of unified vision of science and politics.

He described these works as his “war effort” (Unended Quest, 115).

The arguments in the two essays overlap a great deal.

Toward these ends, the Spartan constitution sought to create a hive-like, martial society that always favored the needs of the collective over the individual and required a near total control over its citizenry.

This included a primitive eugenics, in which newborn infants deemed insufficiently vigorous were tossed into a pit of water.

In contrast, the individualism, freedom and personal responsibility that open societies necessarily engender leave many feeling isolated and anxious, but this anxiety, Popper said, must be born if we are to enjoy the greater benefits of living in an open society: freedom, social progress, growing knowledge, and enhanced cooperation.

“It is the price we have to pay for being human” (Open Society Vol. Popper charged that Plato emerged as the philosophical champion of the closed society and in the process laid the groundwork for totalitarianism.

Rather, it “belongs to a tradition which is just as old or just as young as our civilization itself” (Open Society, Vol. In The Open Society, Popper’s search for the roots of totalitarianism took him back to ancient Greece.

There he detected the emergence of what he called the first “open society” in democratic Athens of the 5 century B. E., Athenians, he argued, were the first to subject their own values, beliefs, institutions and traditions to critical scrutiny and Socrates and the city’s democratic politics exemplified this new attitude.

Popper’s rejection of these ideas was anchored in a critique of the philosophical beliefs that, he argued, underpinned them, especially a flawed understanding of the scientific method.

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