Laurie Wastell | newdiscourses.com
Everyone knows the names Plato and Aristotle. The Ancient Athenian philosophers are widely celebrated as founders of the western intellectual tradition, and they continue to exert immense influence on our thought and culture today. Yet since they are customarily so revered, far fewer are aware that they have also saddled academia with some of its most dangerous tendencies and longest lasting dogmas.
These are the subject matter of Karl Popper’s 1945 masterwork, The Open Society and its Enemies. Popper first documents and exposes the reactionary political philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, created at a time where the birth of democracy was causing rapid change to Athenian society. This was a development which Plato greatly feared, and which he therefore tried to stop in its tracks. Popper goes on to show how these flawed philosophical ideas were taken up in modernity by Hegel, whose work as an apologist for Prussian absolutism marks him out in ignominy as the intellectual father of modern totalitarianism.